Captain America: The Winter Soldier — 6/10

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014, Anthony & Joe Russo)

Marvel is getting really good at making Marvel movies. This time around, sitcom directors Anthony & Joe Russo barely bring anything new to the table visually or tonally, only making their presence known by casting their COMMUNITY buddy Danny Pudi in a small role. Otherwise, this might as well be Joss Whedon or Jon Favreau at the helm. Not that that’s a bad thing — the money is all on the screen and the craft is quite good — but I’m starting to feel a lot of deja vu in the theater.

Shane Black certainly made his presence felt a little more loudly with IRON MAN THREE, but even that suffered from a sense of sausage-making. This entry is one of the most entertaining of all recent Marvel films, thanks to no more than ten minutes ever elapsing without some crazy action scene. But there just isn’t anything more here beyond superficial entertainment. No scene on the level of the Evans-Tucci Schnapps conversation in the first CAPTAIN, for example, and no performance as electrifying as Downey’s in IRON MAN. The Russos toss in a few jokes for the geeks — one notable over-the-top one is a nod to Sam Jackson’s PULP FICTION “Ezekiel 25:17” speech, though it’s annoying how elbow-ribbing that is — but then we might as well be asking geek-type questions. Where was Tony Stark or Banner or Thor to help out when Cap and Black Window and whoever the hell Anthony Mackie is were under the gun? Robert Redford has a ball playing what I think is his first villainous role, and I could even see myself wasting another two hours re-watching this on cable in a couple years. But I’ll also forget which one it is — it’s just another episode in a long, expensive, theatrical TV series called THE AVENGERS.

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