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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Thriller > Adventure > Comedy > Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014/Disney/Marvel Studios Blu-ray)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014/Disney/Marvel Studios Blu-ray)

Picture: B Sound: B+ Extras: B Film: B

The second film in the series, Anthony & Joe Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) is one of the best Superhero genre films ever made, following up the 2011 avoid-the-mistakes-of-all-previous-live-action-versions film, enhanced by appearances in The Avengers (2012) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). But all that build-up could not have prepared anyone for just how superior this film would be, up there with the finer points of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and Jon Favreau's first Iron Man (2008) in a bold script that asks what the best thrillers ask. What to do in the face of the evil when it hides behind a cloak of authority, official dress and lies?

The title refers to an assassin no one can catch, let alone detect before he strikes, therefore making him very dangerous. However, someone has to know the truth and uncovering it will open up what is already some problematic goings-on since Captain Rogers (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) finished their last mission. Starting with saving a kidnapped group on boat, they are debating various things and Rogers has a new jogging buddy of sorts in Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) who turns out has some different secrets of his own. Things take a bizarre turn when Sgt. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is the target of a massive gang-up murder attempt in the middle of the city for which someone with too much power has taken liberties (or taken away liberties as the case may be) to get certain people out of the way whose integrity might be a threat to something dark and hidden that is about to be unleashed.

Cap and company are not going to give up so easily and continue to investigate on their own even when Fury is named a traitor to S.H.I.E.L.D. by an old friend of his, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford in a gloriously great performance) who is concerned about protecting the organization and the country, but something does not add up and the silent assassin (Sebastian Stan) keeps turning up at the most interesting times and places ready to kill. So who's conning who?

There are some great twists and turns here, the action is first rate, the cast has endless chemistry and this is the kind of film that could only happen by a company or studio so up to speed that it is an all too rare occurrence in any kind of filmmaking these days, but shows how serious producers and fans teaming up with serious actors and filmmakers, backed by big budgets and (now) big studios can deliver films about something on a commercial level that make a mint and are still about something. One of the biggest films of the year worldwide and in the U.S., Captain America: The Winter Soldier never has a down moment and except for having to overcoming issues from the 2011 film, never misses a beat and is top rate entertainment with heart and soul like Hollywood used to make before they fell into safe, tired formulas by the late 1980s.

Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones, Callan Mulvey, Jenny Agutter, Garry Shandling and once again, Stan Lee are among the terrific supporting cast with Evans transformation into Captain America beyond complete and never sold out. Highly rewatchable, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is instantly a genre classic and manages to exceed genre with bold moments most films these days would not have the guts to take on. Don't miss it!!!

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer was shot with an impressive combination of the Arri Alexa and RED Epic HD cameras, with plenty of unprecedented handheld work for an HD shoot by Director of Photography Trent Opaloch (District 9) that manages to look pretty solid, though some motion blur and detail issues creep into a few shots. However, this 2D transfer is as good as it could get in this format (I remember less blur in my theatrical D-BOX 3D screening) often using the widescreen frame to its fullest extent. It was also issued on a Blu-ray 3D disc, but our version does not include that.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is even more impressive, another state-of-the-art mix from the original Dolby Atmos 11.1 theatrical release at its sonic best with exceptional directionality, top rate mixing, top rate recording and demo quality fidelity throughout. Henry Jackman's score is easy to underrate.

Extras include a too-brief Gag Reel, a feature length audio commentary track by the Russo Brothers and co-writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely that is very thorough, On The Set with Anthony Mackie let's us in on his tageline joke after each scene is over where he yells Cut The Check!, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Steve Rogers' Notebook about how a list of must see & hear books, movies, TV shows, historical events, pop culture events and the like was customized for each country for that audience and to expand what might be necessary to have in such a notebook and On The Front Line: An Inside Look At Captain America's Battlegrounds featurette with Kevin Feige (longtime Marvel Studios producer, et al) taking for 10 minutes about the development of the ultimate portrayal of Cap and company.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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