Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER Blu-ray Review

I was thrilled to have gotten my advance Blu-ray copy of my favorite movie of 2014 – CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Directed with perfection by Anthony and Joe Russo who are notable for their off-kilter sitcoms, Arrested Development and Community. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER picks up right after the events of Marvel’s THE AVENGERS. Now Steve Rogers (AKA Cap as he will be called here) lives in Washington DC and is trying to adjust to the modern world. To keep up with conversation around the water cooler, Steve keeps a notebook of what he should keep up with in regards to pop culture (more on that later).

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Let me get you up to speed on what’s happening with the overall story, when a S.H.I.E.L.D colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web  (cue Spider-Man. No wait, wrong studio. Shucks!) of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Black Widow, Cap struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off the bad guys sent to do him in. When the full scope of the evil (we won’t spoil that) is revealed, Cap and Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, Falcon! Think things will now go their way? Guess again. The trio of heroes find themselves up against an unexpected and familiar enemy – The Winter Soldier!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), photo by Zade Rosenthal © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Bonus Features on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER run the gamut of the usual, which is not a bad thing here. My go-to feature is always the gag reel. Ease into the wealth of featurettes with a hearty chuckle. With so much green screen and on-set special effects you just know nothing will go right when you need it to. Harrison Ford had a saying on the set of Star Wars whenever George Lucas got upset when he messed up his lines, “you can type this sh*t,  George, you just can’t say it!” The same applies here. It’s a riot to see Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson trying to get out their lines of expositional dialogue as they’re being pursued by the evil (still not going to spoil it).

A featurette that gives the viewer an inside look into the stunts and battle rehearsals is titled, On The Front Line: an inside look at Captain America’s battlegrounds. This makes you want to immediately watch the film again when you see how much attention went into every small detail. No film this size could completely do away with digital stunts but it is amazing to see how much practical work is done here. The hero actors looked like they spent a majority of their time up on wires. As hard as they worked while being beaten by the evil (no spoiler here) one thing is for sure, they had tons of fun making this film.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Anthony Mackie behind the scenes as Falcon/Sam Wilson. Photo by Zade Rosenthal © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER behind the scenes. Photo by Zade Rosenthal © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Sebastian Stan on set as Winter Soldier. Photo by Zade Rosenthal © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

 

I was very happy to see the featurette, On set with Anthony Mackie: cut the check! It was only a matter of time before Cap’s old comic book friend, Falcon, would join the fight, and I’m glad they didn’t make us wait until Cap 3 in 2016.  Anthony Mackie who plays the winged hero would shout “Cut The Check!” when he felt he nailed a stunt or a take.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) Film Frame © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

However, that was something the actor didn’t exclaim when he first found out that Falcon would not be wearing his red and white glamrock spandex from the comics. (Note: detail the actor told on the Ellen Degeneres show earlier this year.)

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As promised, let’s talk a little about the notebook. Steve Rogers’ Notebook is the best featurette here since it contains many easter eggs as placed by the fans. During the encounter between Steve Rogers and Sam (Falcon) Wilson, Sam mentions Marvin Gaye’s 1972 ‘Troubleman’ soundtrack. Steve whips out his notebook and adds this onto his must-look-into list. This list contains numerous pop culture items Steve wants to catch up on in order to feel acclimated in this new era since he had been frozen since the 1940’s.

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For the film’s release, each worldwide territory had certain items in Steve’s notebook. The producers didn’t want worldwide regions to feel like Cap was just a hero for America but a hero for the world. An internet campaign asked fans to pick out things Steve would have in his notebook. The top 5 vote getters would be implemented in the notebook in each region. As producers of these films with such huge fandom communities are finding out, getting fans involved is a great way to keep them happy. And a happy fan is a ticket-buying fan. Standards like Star Wars is on every list, but Germany included Oktoberfest. Russia surprisingly had disco. Korea had Dance Dance Revolution (really?). Australia had Steve Irwin. Latin America had pop star Shakira. That’s just to name a few. There are more specific entries but that we will up to you to find.

I was disappointed that CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER did not include an episode from their Marvel One-Shots. This is the series of short films that shows peripheral stories within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or expands the backstory of characters such as the fabulous All Hail the King showing us what happened to Trevor Slattery (aka “The Mandarin”) from IRON MAN 3.  All Hail the King was the Marvel One-Shot included with Marvel’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD Blu-ray.  However, what CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER does include will certainly keep you entertained until you see Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Again. You’re welcome.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy

L to R: Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) ©Marvel 2014


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About Richard Woloski

Richard Woloski is the co-creator and co-host of the Star Wars/Disney podcast, Skywalking Through Neverland. Here, Richard and his wife Sarah (Jedi Tink to some) spotlight those who keep fandom alive - the fans!