Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (1st January 2015).
The Film

Marvel Studios has, over the course of these last few years become a juggernaut, and now thanks to Disney is a juggernaut with deep pockets allowing the studio to release films with incredible ambition and scale. Over the last "Phase" and now nearing the end of "Phase Two" each film in the cannon is linked, part of a larger universe, in order to juggle these properties, talented actors and a multitude of directors is one man and a committee. Kevin Feige, the all encompassing overlord of all things Marvel and his group of like minded producers work hard to ensure that at the end of the day it's Marvel's vision that is being put forward. It surprises me that in a world where filmmakers ultimately clammer for creative control, final cut, etc, that they (for the most part) have let those things go in order to work for Marvel. While the director's visions and styles are evident, all the films fall into the Marvel stranglehold. It's a format that I don't foresee changing in the near future, because so far its worked.

The current "directors for hire" brought on board to helm "Captain America: The Winter Solider" are brother duo Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, fans might know their work mostly in television comedy, "Community" (2009-Present) and "Happy Endings" (2011-2013) and a handful of feature films including the vastly under-appreciated "Welcome to Collinwood" (2002) - they're not the typical choice to helm a Captain America movie but for all intents and purposes they succeeded delivering an action-packed espionage thriller homage to one of comic books' most impressive story lines. The Winter Solider arc occurred during Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's best selling run on Captain America, it's a beloved story which is steeped in mystery. It's the perfect subject for a sequel.

Following on from the first "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) and the blockbuster super-team "Avengers" (2012) Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still trying to get used to the modern world, many things have changed while he spent decades in suspended animation. Catching up on the current culture but also dealing with the events of his past, as a result he faces a most dangerous enemy. From the ashes of the cold war comes The Winter Solider (Sebastian Stan), a mysterious assassin credited with taking out S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but before doing so manages to warn Steve that the agency has been compromised and subverted by its enemies. Roger's attempts to investigate results in being ostracized from S.H.I.E.L.D and branded a traitor. The once patriotic Captain America is now an enemy of the state, and with the help of new recruit Sam Wilson AKA Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Natasha Romanoff AKA The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) they must get to the bottom of of the mystery of who is really controlling S.H.I.E.L.D from behind the curtain.

2014 has resulted in a plethora of comic book films (some good some bad), it's truly a golden age of comic book movies and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is among the best of them. Adapting a terrific story arc that was both a critical hit and a hit with the fans, weaving espionage themes reminiscent of the classic Hollywood spy films of the 70's and incorporating thrilling adventure, incredible action and a new villain that is both mysterious and simply bada** all comes together mixing a winning formula. There's not a lot to complain about when it comes to this film, filmmaking brothers Anthony and Joe Russo have delivered a tight action thriller that lives up to all the nerd hallmarks Marvel fans expect.

For the third time Chris Evans takes on the mantle of the Sentinel of Liberty and he fits perfectly into the role, much like other actors have embodied Marvel heroes (Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark for example) it's hard to imagine anyone else wearing that winged cowl. Scarlett Johansson gets some room to play here as well, The Black Widow is given a larger role and helps to carry some of the weight, it's nice to see her character expanded, adding further depth to her background and who she is. Newcomer to the Marvel universe, Anthony Mackie enters the fray as The Falcon, the newest hero on the block and makes for a welcomed addition, injecting the series with some energy and his chemistry with Evans makes their scenes work on a much higher level.

The real scene stealer is The Winter Soldier himself, powerful, mysterious, brandishing a cool cybernetic arm and a slick costume - Sebastian Stan ups the ante and offers Cap a villain he can go toe-to-toe with. The action scenes involving him are among the films best, they're kinetic, energetic and incredibly well composed. All coming together to make a super fun film that doesn't relent from the moment it starts. "Captain America" The Winter Soldier" is about the most fun you'll have with a superhero movie this year... aside from maybe "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014).

Video

Presented in the films original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression, this image transfer is incredibly good. Sharpness is like a razor, detail looks good right down to the minute details in the character's costumes. Colors are solid, verging on the steel, lots of toned down greys, metals and dark color palate all rendered perfectly. Skin tones are nature, black levels are deep and inky. There's some grain which helps retain a filmic look, and the overall picture is clean from imperfections. You can't ask for any better.

Audio

Three audio tracks are presented here in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, French (Quebecois) Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English audio. The 7.1 track is for lack of a better word - incredible. Boasting a bombastic mix, that perfectly balances the over-the-top action sequences with the more quieter subtle moments. The dialogue is clean and clear, but let us be real for a moment, it's the fights, explosions and big set pieces why we're here and the audio doesn't let up. It's clear reference quality stuff that will put anyone's home theater through the ringer, turn this one up nice and loud. Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Marvel and Disney have released this film with a small collection of supplements that include an audio commentary, three featurettes, a collection of deleted scenes and a gag reel.

First up is an audio commentary by directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and screenwriters >a href=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1321655/>Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The participants talk about the inspirations for the tone of the film, their general love of espionage thrillers and on delivering a film much like the 70's era of spy movies. They comment on the writing process and on working with Marvel to craft a film that fits into their overarching cinematic universe. They comment on the production process, shooting the action heavy scenes and on working with a dream cast among other things. Overall it's a solid track that has plenty of trivia for fans to devour.

The first featurette is entitled "On the Frontline: An Inside Look at Captain America's Battlegrounds" (1080p) which runs for 5 minutes 4 seconds, key personnel are interviewed about the production in this fairly rudimentary EPK style clip.

"On Set with Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check!" is the second featurette (1080p) which runs for a brief 1 minute 55 seconds, this is a look behind the scenes with the newest addition to the MCU, The Falcon.

"Steve Rogers' Notebook" is the final featurette (1080p) which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds, takes a look at the notebook in which Rogers' is writing down all the pop culture references he needs to catch up on and on the different versions that were used for other International territories.

A selection of four deleted and extended scenes (1080p) is next and can be viewed with optional audio commentary by directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, they comment on the scenes and on why they were omitted. The scenes included are:

- "Hill and Sitwell Talk Loyalty" which runs for 1 minute.
- "In Pursuit of Captain America" which runs for 1 minute 4 seconds.
- "Nick Fury's Circle" which runs for 49 seconds.
- "Widow Reveals Her Past" which runs for 41 seconds.

A fairly generic gag reel (1080p) is the last extra on this disc and runs for 2 minutes 57 seconds.

Bonus trailers (1080p) are included for:

- "Guardians of the Galaxy"
- "Marvelís Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season One"
- "Avengers Assemble"
- "Hulk and the Agents of SMASH"
- "Disney Movies Anywhere" spot

Packaging

Packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: B+ Overall: A-

 


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