Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an exciting, action-packed film that goes beyond being just a sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger as its story alters the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a major way.
Taking place two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) works as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. alongside Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) at the command of Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Under the guidance of Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), an agency senior leader, S.H.I.E.L.D. has begun work on Project Insight, which intends to use three Helicarriers to “neutralize many threats before they happen.”
Steve is not comfortable with the prospect of the punishment coming before the crime and his instincts prove correct regarding those who want such power as it is soon revealed S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised by a shadow organization, which begins to target those who stand in the way of Insight’s completion. They do this with the help of the Winter Soldier, a different type of super solider who, as readers of the comic books know, has a connection to Captain America.
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do a great job creating a suspenseful thriller in a genre where the eventual outcome is well known before the film begins. Their script adds to Black Widow’s character background, expands the heroes in the MCU by introducing Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and having Dr. Strange mentioned briefly, and impacts future MCU movies and especially the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and their teams do a great job with the action sequences, making the small scenes like Steve fighting a group of men in an elevator just as compelling as the enormous scenes that play out over large area like a ship. They also allow the characters to ground the story and keep them from getting lost in the spectacle by showing their humanity and allowing for natural moments of levity.
The Blu-ray has been given an impressive 1080p/AVC MPEG 4 encoded transfer displayed in the original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Colors are vibrant and blacks are inky. The contrast is strong and the detail is impressive throughout.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 immerses the viewer as the score and effects fill the surrounds. Objects can be heard moving through the channels. The bass is thunderous and constantly in use during the action, occasionally distorting. Gunfire sounds authentic. Dialogue is always clear.
The Audio Commentary features the Russos. Markus, and McFeely having an engaging discussion about all aspects of the production together. All the video extras are in HD. “On the Front Line: An Inside Look at Captain America’s Battlegrounds” (10 min) – interviews of cast and crew discussing the film. “On Set with Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check!” (2 min) – Mackie’s catchphrase when a take goes well gets the spotlight. “Steve Rogers’ Notebook” (2 min) – Cap’s notebook of culture to catch up on was different for each region and this featurette shows them. “Deleted and Extended Scenes” (4 min) – With optional commentary, four scenes are presented. And of course, the Gag Reel (3 min).
The Winter Soldier is such a great movie and the high-def presentation so well done it makes up for the limited amount of extras. It’s one of the top action movies of 2014 and highly recommend for superhero fans.