Given the advanced reviews for Captain America: the Winter Soldier, I expected it was going to be one of the bestMarvelfilms so far.
Maybe because I had just sat through Martin Scorsese's three-hour epic The Wolf of Wall Street, or maybe because the premiere was at midnight, but the sequel didn't grab me as much as I wanted it to.
It certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to epic set pieces and impressive visuals. Alas, after a while I tired of the blurry hand-to-hand combat, and was a little bored during the third act, which felt too much like the deafening heli-carrier battle from Avengers Assemble. (My spellcheck aptly changed that to 'headache' carrier.)
Okay, there is much to admire about Joe and Anthony Russo's film. The shadowy Three Days of the Condor/Jason Bourne style-plot marked a welcome change for a superhero epic. But the sight of Robert Redford, with that extraordinary hair, giving a rather lacklustre performance, left me colder than Christmas.
Chris Evans is good, not great as Steve Rogers; Scarlett Johannson sexier than ever asNatasha Romanov, and Samuel L Jackson on good form as Nick Fury, as usual. (Fans of SLJ's work will spot a nice little in-joke during a graveyard scene).
There are also good support turns from Jenny Agutter and Colbie Smulders, but it's just a pity that Neighbours veteran Alan Dale pops up and spoils any tension as a World Council member.
I did get a frisson of excitement like a child on Christmas morning when Steve and Nickentered a hangar with heli-carriers, but for me there were none of those moments like in the first film when I was moved as selfless Steve threw himself on a grenade.
In a previous blog, I said the problem with Capt America is partly down to Chris Evans. He hasn't got the acting chops to carry a film of the scale, but having seen the film the key problem is the fact that Cap is just not that great a hero. A little too goody goody for my tastes, and although he acts as a great foil for warriors like Iron Man and Thor, as the star of his own show he is a little disappointing.
One great addition to the Marvel universe is Anthony Mackie's Falcon. As a fan of the Capt America comics, it was great to see this iconic supporting character finally given his big screen chance. Admittedly, some of his aerial action scenes tended to grate a little after a while, but Mackieis a great actor and I wouldn't mind seeing him in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron or the inevitable Cap 3.
Stay tuned for the inevitable credits teaser for one of the next big Marvel films and some rather cool closing titles. It's certainly not the worst film you'll see all year, but it could have been so much better.