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Captain America: The Winter Solider is one of the biggest blockbuster releases of the year so far. Film reviewer Andrew Pollard gives his review of Marvel Studios and Disney’s newest release.

Cert: 12A

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Screenplay: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford

This latest offering from Marvel Studios and Disney sees Steve Rogers (Evans), aka Captain America, picking up the pieces of his life in the modern world after the events of Avengers Assemble. Whilst trying to get up to speed with essentially 70 years worth of missing time, Rogers’ also has to reassess the morals and governance of the present day. As a man who is effectively tied to his flag and to serving his country, Rogers becomes uncomfortable with certain methods and ideas that are being implemented by S.H.I.E.L.D., headed up by Alexander Pierce (Redford). With Cap questioning what it is he’s fighting for, it soon becomes clear that corruption is rife within S.H.I.E.L.D. Quickly becoming public enemy #1, Rogers is on the run, aided by Black Widow (Johansson), Nick Fury (Jackson) and newcomer Sam Wilson (Mackie), aka the Falcon.

If the threat of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents hunting him down wasn’t enough, the Sentinel of Liberty also has to deal with a foe that seems unnervingly familiar – the Winter Soldier (Stan). A master assassin with a relentless streak that makes the Terminator look like a quitter, the Winter Soldier is a truly worthy villain for such a large-scale film. Armed with a vast array of weapons and a remarkably cool looking metal arm, the Winter Soldier does not waste time or motion in; every single thing he does seem to have consequence and results. But who is pulling the strings of the Winter Soldier?

Immersing itself in the political and spy elements that the S.H.I.E.L.D. plot point offers up, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is as dramatic as it is action-packed. And that’s saying a lot. From the movie’s opening attack on a group of pirates to the film’s climactic battle and aftermath, the Cap-centric sequel rarely pauses for breath. Along the way, we get treated to some harks back to Steve Rogers’ past, some nice nods and winks for long-time comic book aficionados, and plenty of questions as to just what lies ahead for Captain America and the rest of the universe that Marvel Studios have been creating.

Stylish, serious and exhilarating, Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivers up a movie that matches, if not betters, the standard that has been set by previous Marvel/Disney productions. It’s quite amazing that the studio continues to churn out such frequent films whilst maintaining such a high standard, but I guess that’s one of the many bonuses of having a clear direction in where you’re looking to take your cinematic world and the characters that inhabit it. And with that said, as ever with Marvel movies, be sure to stick around for the post-credits scenes. Yes, scenes; there’s two of them this time out, both foreshadowing what’s to come in the Marvel world that is being overseen by Joss Whedon.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fantastic film in its own right, but it’s similarly the perfect successor to Captain America: The First Avenger and to Whedon’s Avengers Assemble. Also, props to the Odeon at Eagles Meadow for having an opening day midnight showing of the film, which was nicely preceded by a showing of the first Captain America film.

Rating: 8/10