Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a 2014 live-action action adventure scifi film rated PG-13 and is appropriate for most ages. There is intense action and some killing so you may want to leave the very little ones at home. It is the second Captain America movie in this franchise.
The Story. The movie has a solid story and tight plot that perfectly picked up where the first movie and The Avengers left off. Everything that happened had a reason and tied into the film. At the same time, this was a very different movie so while it felt like it was part of the same story and universe, it did not feel like we were watching a remake of the first for even a second, something that almost never happens in sequels.
The Themes. This movie had two major themes -- 1) what does a soldier do after the war is over and he comes home, and 2) when does protection become oppression -- and both were fully developed and integral to the plot and the action and very appropriate for the characters and larger story.
The Cast. I was a little nervous when I heard Chris Evans was cast as Captain America thinking he was too much of a goof off to pull off the role, but for the third time he's proven he is the perfect choice for the role. I can't imagine anyone else playing it. Scarlett Johanson as Black Widow was brilliant as usual. Robert Redford did an excellent job as the Director playing it both as a friendly guy you can trust and evil madman bent on taking over the world without missing a beat. The only character that wasn't excellent was Samuel Jackson's portrayal of Nick Fury. He played him like he plays every character -- over the top and angry. Sam could use a few acting lessons.
Falcon. Marvel is well known for their racism such as creating uninteresting, two-dimensional cardboard cutout ripoffs of established heroes that happen to be black and act as stereotypical as possible so everyone knows it (such as Falcon and War Machine in the comics) and putting existing characters in black face (such as Nick Fury in Iron Man, or Heimdall in Thor, or Spider-man in the Ultimate Spider-man comics). So when I saw Falcon in the previews, I naturally thought, "Oh, boy, the racists at Marvel have struck again." But unlike almost every previous "diversity hire" stunt, Falcon was a real character who was well developed. The actor they chose was very likeable, and the character added to and helped develop the theme of a soldier coming home after war. I believed he was someone Cap would confide in. But they didn't stop there. Falcon was an integral part of the action to preserve freedom without pulling a Super Friends "look, I just magically saved everyone by my simple act after everyone else uncharacteristically failed" plot twist. The movie wouldn't have worked without him.
The Action. I was so impressed with the level of action and how I never got bored of it. The fight scenes were carefully choreographed to match the look and feel of the fights in the comic book without becoming silly.
The Visuals. This movie was big and visually stunning. The cinematography stepped back enough to really showed off the environments, something most modern films eschew in favor of trying to make the viewer feel like he's getting punched in the face.
There were only two small parts that weren't absolute perfection.
The first was upon finding Zola in the computer, Zola spills the whole plot for apparently no reason. For the viewer this was great, because it tied everything up quickly and neatly, but it seemed unbelievable, because it gave Captain America the information he needed to thwart Hydra. No genius scientist would willingly do that no matter how large his ego.
The second was the final action scene where Captain America and Winter Soldier are fighting on the helicarrier to put the McGuffin in its place. The action looked over the top and unbelievable it took me out of the move, which is a shame because everything else was so carefully done and so believable.
But these are minor complaints and too insignificant to ruin the overall movie.
What I Would Like to Have Seen
Honestly, I saw everything I wanted to see and more. I was left wanting for nothing.
Except for another sequel.
Overall this was a thoroughly entertaining movie that had me at the edge of my seat from start to finish. It succeeded on every level a movie can from story to casting to acting to script to action to theme to message to pure enjoyment. It had action, it had drama, it had romance, it had friendship, it had philosophical meanderings, and it had brilliant visuals. It's no surprise this movie has been number one for three weeks in a row. I highly recommend Captain America: The Winter Soldier to everyone. It is well worth your time. I give it a solid 5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.