A tad over-hyped but still entertaining, Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened to heaps of praise when it was released earlier this year. Said to blend the Superhero genre with the feel of a cold-war era political thriller, the film is actually a lot more generic than it has been given credit for. For all the talk of intriguing espionage and complex conspiracy plot-lines, this is as post-Bourne as they come, with some scenes offering pretty much carbon copies of moments from the franchise.
Normally, comparisons to unrelated films should be reprimanded, however it’s hard to deny that The Winter Soldier is a lot blander than many of the other tent-pole releases of 2014’s admittedly stunning summer season. It lacks the snark and fun of Marvel’s superior offering, Guardians of the Galaxy and it doesn’t have the same sense of grandeur as Gareth Edward’s Godzilla. Nor does it come with the emotional resonance of X-Men: Days of Future Past and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Not only that, but its determination to provide something more intellectual and mature is frequently hindered by its comic-book origins. There is a noticeable struggle to maintain the political thriller edge when one of the characters starts to fly around with robotic wings, firing machine guns, looking like a GI-Joe collectible whilst he does it. Moreover, the paranoia theme doesn’t work too well when the identity of your villain is as hard to decipher as it is in a standard episode of Scooby-Doo.
That is not to say that The Winter Soldier is bad, there is a lot to enjoy in fact. The heavy use of practical effects makes for a welcome change of pace in the genre and the numerous set-pieces are rather thrilling. It’s also nice to see Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow get more to do with a newly expanded role. Praise is also in order for one of the most exciting post-credit stings in a while, teasing new characters for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Even on Blu-Ray the extras are slight, the lack of the expected one-shot is disappointing and the deleted scenes were rightly cut. It does at least boast two of the weirdest extras in a long time in the form of brief featurettes, one chronicles the use of Anthony Mackie’s on set catchphrase “cut the cheque”, and the other shows how Cap’s notebook had different cultural references when shown in different territories.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, is released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Certificate 12. Watch the trailer below: