“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the latest chapter in the Marvel Comics universe, proves to be a transcendent piece of filmmaking.

Comic book fans will love this movie, but it works as a standalone film as well. It’s actually a pretty entertaining political espionage thriller disguised as a superherofilm.

“The Winter Soldier” picks up with Avenger Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), also known as Captain America, struggling to embrace his role in the modern world while working for S.H.I.E.L.D.

His struggles are further complicated when his supervisor Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is murdered by a traitor in S.H.I.E.L.D and implicated in possible crimes, throwing everything into chaos.

With the help of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Captain America sets out to clear Fury’s name and find his assassins before they infiltrate the U.S. government and hatch a plan to send the entire world into a state of panic.

Part of the success of “The Winter Soldier” is the casting, with a strong group of players throughout the film.

Evans has come into his own as Captain America. Johansson has great chemistry with Evans but has made her character so interesting that she deserves her own movie.

Mackie is a good addition, as is Robert Redford as a Washington advocate and friend of Fury.

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay is smart and funny, with some really clever pop culture nods.

The action sequences, staged by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, are pretty impressive as well – especially a battle in the skies of Washington in the final act.

I’ve always thought that, with maybe the exception of the Incredible Hulk, that Captain America was perhaps the least interesting of the Avengers, but this film proves that theory wrong.

This is one of the best entries in the series and one of the more entertaining films in 2014 to date.

Opening this week

The film that gets the prize as the year’s most entertaining to date, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (A-), finally opens in Bowling Green this week after a limited run in larger markets.

The latest from filmmaker Wes Anderson is a charming ensemble piece, full of Anderson’s trademark visual flair and offbeat humor.

“Budapest Hotel” follows the adventures of a concierge named Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) and Zero (Tony Revolori), the lobby boy who becomes Gustave’s protege. 

Gustave has an affair with an elderly woman named Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), who leaves him a priceless painting after she is murdered.

However, when Gustave is framed for death and sent to prison, Zero sets out to rescue his mentor and secure the painting from the grips of the Madame’s money-obsessed son Dmitri (Adrien Brody).

It all seems kind of silly and trivial, but under Anderson’s screenplay – inspired by the works of Stefan Zweig – it’s tied together with a bit of a melancholy sweetness that gives it some unexpected heart.

If you are a fan of Anderson, like me, then “Budapest” will be a pleasant stroll into familiar territory.

There is so much memorable work here, from Fiennes’ comedic turn as Gustave to small roles from Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray and Saoirse Ronan.

“Budapest” didn’t have quite the same emotional impact as Anderson’s last film “Moonrise Kingdom,” which was such a wonderful homage to first love, but I found myself to be quite captivated – especially when viewed a second time.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is rated R for language, some sexual content and violence and opens Friday at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10.

— To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton’s thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog atmcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.


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