I'm not much of a Captain America fan. While I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some reason I've never cared for him that much. This is bizarre to me because out of all the heroes I probably agree with his morals the most. Why am I telling you this? Well, it is because I want you know I have prejudice.
Let's give praise where praise is due. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has some of the best action and visual effects ever put to a comic book movie. It is second only to The Avengers in my estimation. Let's just hope that it is at least nominated at the Academy Awards. The fight choreography also is above and beyond superb. What confused me was how at times the director decided to use shaky cam and closeups that aren't needed. While I am not against shaky cam and strong close ups if they can enhance the film, these are used in the middle of important battle sequences where you want to see the fight as a whole. Though that doesn't matter, because for the mass majority of the film the action and suspense is hardcore.
Then there's the acting. It was solid. I want to say it was more than that but based on my feelings coming out of the film I can't justify that. If there is any standout I would probably say it is Robert Redford. He typically is great. My favorite character though is Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon). He is one of the coolest heroes I've seen in the Marvel universe. Although, more than anything, this film is best at showing how badass Captain America and the Winter Soldier are.
As far as the overall plot goes, it is better than most Marvel films. This is not a spoiler but some don't want too much detail. So don't read the highlighted section if you are hard core and don't want to know anything. At times the plot feels overly formulaic, simplified, and too similar to an old fashioned James Bond film. That, however, is my personal preference for it being different. I like my mind to be challenged when I am in a film. I know many don't (at least not too much), so I guess they are striking a balance between being complex while not being too much to throw you off.
Moving on to my complaints for the film, I've pretty much already mentioned them. There's the shaky cam and strong close ups. That is my most solid criticism, though you can throw this to the side if you want considering the rest of the strong action. The solid but not phenomenal acting is not a flaw; it just doesn't enhance the film to where it could be. Then, of course there is my nitpicks with the plot. As I said before that is my personal preference and doesn't necessarily distract from the film as a whole.
Overall impressions of the movie for me were at first let down. Though, with that being said, more and more I am starting to think my expectations for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier were too high. With all the high reviews and praise I bought into I was overly hyped. I tried not to be (as everyone “should” before they walk into a film) but I think my expectations were ingrained too deeply in my brain. Part of me feels I should have been blown away when I wasn't but that's okay. I'll probably like it more the second time I see it.
My personal preference: 3.75/5 (for now)
How well it was made: 4.5/5
Note: There are two scenes after the end credits, so stick around for those.