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Chris Evans in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

The Marvel Universe is something isn’t it? Interconnected movies, the TV show, the toys and video games, and of course the spine of it all: the comic books that all of this arose from.

In the second go around for Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans), the man is now firmly ensconced in the 21st century and while he still has a list of pop culture landmarks he needs to visit/experience, he is–generally speaking–fine with modern life. He is not as thrilled with the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sends him on missions, the true objective of which is not revealed to him. That information is limited to Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

So that’s Steve’s life until Fury is attacked by a mysterious figure with a metal arm, who seems totally capable of repelling Captain America’s attacks. This is The Winter Soldier. Add to that a plot to launch a system called Project Insight which features newer versions of those annoying heli-carriers from the Avengers movie, another one about Black Widow constantly encouraging Captain America to go on dates, a third one about S.H.I.E.L.D. being compromised and… are your eyes beginning to cross already? They should because between the backdoor pilots and the extended character count–Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Rumlow (Frank Grillo), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp)–from within the coloured panels of Marvel’s vast universe, there is little wonder that this movie is as long as it is.

And the bloat is felt by all who don’t worship at the altar of all things Marvel.

There is a scene in which a character offers another shadowy character milk in the middle of the night. And then proceeds to pour himself some milk, drink it, and then shoot a maid for popping back into the room without knocking first. Come on people, this is a multimillion dollar movie. Pay the writers enough to come up with better lines, yeah?

I don’t think I’m asking for too much when I say I want my comic book movies to be exciting. Like the first Iron Man, or The Matrix, or The Dark Knight. Even Captain America: The First Avenger was a fun adventure in that Indiana Jones vein. But here, I was just not feeling it.

Ms. Johansson has added to her repertoire of head tosses from earlier appearances by Black Widow by doing the mouth twitch. It. Doesn’t. Work.

And Mr. Evans is saddled with a character, quite like Superman, who is just too boringly vanilla to be very entertaining to watch. I mean how many different ways can a dude toss a shield? And there are just way too many shots in this movie of him sticking the shield on his back, or tossing it aside, or picking it up. To the point where another character goads him on by using words to the effect of, “Thought you were more than just a shield.”

The only genuinely badass performances come from Frank Grillo as Rumlow, and from The Winter Soldier. And you know what? The way the narrative is structured it feels like Rumlow gets more screen time than the villain whose name is in the title of the movie.

Final Analysis: I guess it doesn’t matter what anyone says, this movie is going to make a ton of money.

My Advice: So if you’re going to see it this weekend, try to save some money and avoid springing for the 3D. Yet again, the extra dimension hinders rather than aiding the experience.