“So far, Phase Two has yet to have its stand out hit, and this remains true to date.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
By Matt Allen

Certificate: 12A
Cast: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Robert redford, Sebastian Stan, Frank Grillo
Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Screenwriter(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Running Time: 136 minutes

That magnanimous Marvel machine has been churning away at Phase Two of its Avengers-centric master plan for almost 12 months now. Starting off poorly with the abysmal Iron Man 3, the franchise carried straight through the mediocre Thor: The Dark World and currently grinds on with the release of the second in the series of Captain America films, the ominously subtitled, The Winter Soldier. With only the eclectic Guardians of the Galaxy (which in itself is a huge gamble on Marvel’s part) left for release this year, the comic book studio will be looking to Cap set the standard again before 2015’s highly anticipated Marvel movie mash-up, The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

After being thawed out in time for the events of 
Avengers Assemble, Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) finds himself on the end of S.H.I.E.L.D’s morally ambiguous leash. Soon, Rogers uncovers a diabolical plot that could jeopardise the freedom of everyone on the planet…

As a rule, the Marvel films are generally hit and miss. Phase One proved that the established franchises (such as Iron Man) were no guarantee of quality whilst the seemingly impossible to translate (such as Thor) could be bent to the big screen quite gracefully. So far, Phase Two has yet to have its stand out hit, and this remains true to date.

Essentially an espionage film, writers Anthony and Joe Russo have certainly steered in the right direction with the character. Rogers goes from Super Soldier to Super Spy with ease and is given the chance to showcase his abilities impressively as the acrobatic one-man-army steals his way onto a hostile ship and proceeds to take out everyman on it single handed. And, although every twist and turn is as predictable as the sun set, the plot moves fairly fluidly and rarely drags its heels.

It may, however, surprise you to discover that the Winter Soldier storyline that is so predominantly featured in the title of the film is essentially a side-plot and a weak one at that which has been played out to endless tedium so many times before. This can be forgiven until it is made clear that the character could have been completely removed from the script and events would still essentially run the same course (known by some as Indy’s Law).

Cap’s supporting cast include Movie Maniac’s favourite husky voiced goddess, Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow. Having already appeared in pervious Marvel outings, her character is ever so slightly expanded to reveal a vulnerable side that has only been alluded to in the past.

Alongside ScarJo is newcomer to the franchise Anthony Mackie as Falcon: an ex-fighter pilot with a twist. Disappointingly, Falcon’s winged flight suit is, for lack of a better word, crap and his inclusion seems only to make up for the fact that Cap’s powers don’t include levitation.

Marvel’s signature sense of humour is present as ever, but never has it been so groan-inducing as it is here. The one-liners are as stiff as the 1940’s sensibility of the red white and blue jarhead himself and all fall to the floor with a notable clang which will force many to undergo corrective surgery to retrieve their eyeballs from the back of their sockets.

Another average entry for Marvel on the road to Avengers. Captain America: The Winter Soldier seems to serve primarily as a precursor to the third installation of the franchise and suffers dearly for it.

Maniac Rating - 3 Stars