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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

September 6th, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray, or 3D Combo Pack

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the latest in an unending string of hits for Marvel Studios. It was for quite a while the biggest hit of the year, but was recently overtaken by Guardians of the Galaxy. Is this film worth checking out for those who have enjoyed the previous Avengers films? And if you've never seen any of the previous Avengers films, is this a good place to start?

The Movie

The answer to that second question is no. This film goes pretty deep into the lore and if you are not up-to-date you might get lost. You don't need to have seen every film, but the original Captain America is essential.

The film begins with a man jogging, a man who is repeatedly passed by Steve Rogers. He tries to keep up, but he can't and ends up having to take a break. Steve Rogers introduces himself to the man, Sam Wilson, and thye bond for a little bit over shared experiences. They are both soldiers who are having trouble adjusting to being back. Their bonding ends when Steve Rogers is called into a mission. A S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite launch ship was captured by French pirates and they are demanding $1.5 billion, or they will start killing people. The rescue mission goes great, except Natasha Romanoff runs off during the mission, because she's there on a mission of her own under orders of Nick Fury.

When Steve Rogers gets back from his mission, he confronts Nick Fury and Nick Fury explains that there is something massive in the works: Project Insight. Three Helicarriers are being built and once launched they will never need to land and will be able to destroy threats before they start. Steve Rogers is obvisouly troubled by this and leaves to get his mind around the situation. However, Nick Fury is also troubled. He goes to Alexander Pierce, the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., and tells Pierce they need to delay Project Insight, until he can look into it. He contacts Agent Maria Hill, but doesn't get very far before he's ambushed, first by people dressed as cops, then by a mysterious attacker.

Nick Fury manages to get away and arrives at Steve Rogers' apartment, but after a short talk... spoilers happen.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an amazing story that has several significant assets as far as the story is concerned. It goes without saying that the action in the film is top-notch. However, if the film were just action, it wouldn't work, at least not as well as it does. The film also has a very strong emotional core. At lot of the movie has to do with Steve Rogers trying to adjust to life in the modern world and how it seems a lot more complicated than his time was. I'm not talking about modern technology, but morality. The lines between the good guys and the bad guys were a lot clearer. There is also a lot more intrigue this time around with possibly compromised loyalties. I really like the behind-the-scenes political machinations of the film.

The Winter Soldier also has all of the assets of the original as well, except arguably the World War II setting. The acting is great from both the returning cast and the newcomers. I've heard some speculation that Anthony Mackie might get a movie of his own in the franchise, and if this film is any indication, he will be able to carry a movie. I also really liked the humor in the movie. For instance, there's a running gag where Natasha Romanoff is trying to set up Steve Rogers on a date. Both the characters and the actors have great chemistry together and this is highlighted in the humor. I really hope Scarlett Johansson gets to star in a Black Widow movie, but I fear her market value is too high for the notoriously stingy Marvel Studios.

The Extras

There are not as many extras as I would have thought given the film's box office dollars. There is an audio commentary track with the two directors and the two screenwriters. There are three featurettes, the first being a 10-minute making of featurette. There is also a two-minute featurette on Anthony Mackie. Finally, there's a two-minute featurette on Steve Rogers' notebook, which includes all the things he needs to catch up on. It was localized for a number of markets, to help make the characters more international. Up next is four minutes of deleted / extended scenes, with optional audio commentary. Finally, there are three minutes of outtakes. I don't have the DVD to compare, but I believe the audio commentary track and the outtakes are on the Blu-ray only.

As for the technical presentation... It is reference quality. It is as simple as that. Not only are there not problems with the audio and video, there are no scenes I can remember where I wasn't impressed. If you want to show off your home theater system, buy this Blu-ray.

Sadly, I don't have the 3D Blu-ray to review, so I can't comment on the 3D effects.

The DVD costs $15, while the Blu-ray costs $20 and the 3D Blu-ray costs $25.

The Verdict

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best installments in the Avengers series and while the DVD, Blu-ray, or 3D Combo Pack are not loaded with extras, it is still a pick of the week contender.

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Filed under: Video Review, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, Cobie Smulders