April 4, 2014 2:56 pm

What the critics are saying: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

ABOVE: Watch the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

TORONTO — Like so many Canadians, Steve Rogers has come out of a long deep freeze and is ready for action.

Rogers, of course, is the alter ego of Captain America — the Marvel superhero who’s back in cinemas in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Chris Evans reprises the title role from 2011’s The First Avenger, which grossed a decent $370 million worldwide.

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Is The Winter Soldier strictly for diehard fans or is it good enough to entertain the masses? Here’s a look at some of the reviews.

Winter Soldier delivers all the 3-D CGI mayhem audiences have come to expect from the Marvel entertainment juggernaut but there’s darkness and confusion just under its comic-book surface,” wrote Ty Burr in the Boston Globe.

“The foot chases are athletic exercises in parkour, the fistfights brutal ballets influenced by martial arts films. Cars flip, soar, and burn, buildings collapse, and doomsday clocks tick down. Again. It feels like more ammunition is expended than in our last three wars combined.”

Burr said although the movie is a thrill ride, it’s not necessarily fun to watch. And, he added, “a kids’ film it’s not, and anyone who takes a child under, say, 9 or 10 is an idiot.”

In the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday described the movie as “a baggy, at times brutal conglomeration of surprisingly deep character development and aggressively percussive action.

“In its relentless violence and dark political subtext, this might be the most grown-up Avengers episode yet.”

Hornaday opined The Winter Soldier didn’t need to be as long as it is — over two hours — because a lot of the action is repetitive.

“For all of its overstatement, though, The Winter Soldier is superbly made and well-acted, neatly setting up the next few installments with just the right enticing sense of ongoing mystery.”

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike LaSalle also noted the movie’s excessive running time.

He also complained about “the halfhearted feints in the direction of human feeling and the obligatory action sequences that are big without being either exciting or particularly legible.”

Conceding the movie isn’t “stupid,” LaSalle said: “Captain America is simply what one might imagine it to be going in – watchable and reasonably entertaining, the product of two non-action directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, who set out to make an action movie. Now they’ve made one, no worse and no better than anybody else’s.”

READ MORE: See what the critics are saying about more recent movies

Carla Meyer at the Sacramento Bee called Winter Soldier “the best comic-book film in years” and didn’t seem to have an issue with its duration.

Meyer raved the film “excites, engages and best of all, hangs together for almost all of its nearly 2 1/2-hour run time.”

But at the New York Times, Manohla Dargis found that Winter Soldier “becomes progressively less enjoyable once the plot thickens and a menace looms.”

Dargis found Evans a “recessive screen presence” and bland.

On the other side of the country, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called it “one of the better Marvel films” but added: “This is one film that should be engrossing. Except it’s not.”

Turan wrote: “It’s saddled with the defects of its virtues. It’s a product of the highest quality, but at the end of the day that’s what it is: a machine-made, assembly-line product whose strengths tend to feel like items checked off a master list rather than being the result of any kind of individual creative touch. Captain America is everything a big budget superhero film should be — except inspired.”

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly disagreed and declared the movie “fresh and bold.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the first superhero film since the terrorist-inflected The Dark Knight that plugs you right into what’s happening now. Told in enjoyably blunt, heavy-duty strokes, the movie doesn’t try for the artistry of The Dark Knight — it’s action-fantasy prose, not poetry. Yet there’s a hell-bent vitality to its paranoia.”

The modern-day theme also resonated with Randall King of the Winnipeg Free Press.

“It hits the big action beats we have come to expect from Marvel adaptations. But it also achieves a certain ripped-from-the-headlines pertinence reminiscent of the so-called Bronze Age of Comics of the ’70s and ’80s in the way it addresses, of all things, government secrecy,” he opined.

“This is also one of the rare superhero movies with the power to surprise.”

The Associated Press‘ movie reviewer Jake Coyle said the best thing about The Winter Soldier is its “likeable bunch” of actors.

But, he added: “It’s getting difficult to tell the Marvel movies apart. The fight scenes on a departing aircraft blur together. The reversals of friend and foe refract like an infinity mirror. The characters are spread across so many movies that you’d need a detective’s cork board to keep it straight.

“So while The Winter Soldier succeeds as finely engineered merchandise built to be crowd-pleasing entertainment, for moviegoers and shareholder alike, it has a shelf life that won’t last much past its running time.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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