Friday, July 22, 2011

Captain America -The First Avenger– review

Captain America: The First Avenger" is presented as so patriotic that he probably bleeds in three colors. He deals with preposterous situations and villains, and he's the most straight-arrow leading man in the Marvel Universe today.

There's no quipping hipster like Marvel's "Iron Man" in the form of Robert Downey Jr., and no brash one-liners and swaggering sexuality of "Thor" that we received earlier this summer. But Captain America's no stiff either; he's merely focused on his mission of protecting a way of life.

He thinks the way that people thought during the uncertainty and flag-waving era of World War II in the U.S.

As a throwback to the character's 1940s origins, "Captain America: The First Avenger" plays like a mash-up of an old war movie in its sentiments and a modern special-effects machine of wartime destruction. That makes it the best representation of the original comic book's intentions as any film that Marvel has made to date.

When I first heard Chris Evans was cast as the Captain, I questioned the choice. All I could see was the overbearing comic doofus (the Human Torch) he played in the "Fantastic Four" films. And in the sci-fi bomb "Push." And in the aptly titled comic-book blunder "The Losers."

But Evans is the very picture of stoic American idealism in his portrayal as a skinny, sickly boy from Brooklyn who fails five times to enlist in the Army because recruiters can only measure his scrawniness, and not his fortitude.

That simple theme - it's not the size of the man, but the size of the man's heart - unabashedly carries the day in "Captain America."

Once Steve has taken the experimental "super-soldier" serum that turns him into the ripped freedom-fighter we know, we're aligned behind the Nazi-fighter with the Boy Scout values.

The movie is winningly old-fashioned - heroes are pure, women are dames, and villains are creeps to be booed. Hugo Weaving plays the Red Skull as a scientist-playing-God whose possession of a mysterious power source has a vision of world domination that makes Hitler look soft by comparison. It's a surprisingly one-note performance.

While the first hour is too much talk and not enough action, the second hour supplies both in excellent balance. Evans' portrayal is earnest (some will say nerdy), but I found it impossible not to cheer Captain America's derring-do exploits. I also applaud the actor for reining in his goofiness to deliver subtle laughs on a frequent basis.

The Howling Commandos are great but no Nick Fury…Bucky doesn’t wear a costume, but is a believable character. Red Skull is the main villain and not Baron Zemo, altering the death of Bucky…Howard Stark having a hand in creating the machines that help create Captain America. The Cosmic Cube plays a major role in the film…but is referred through out the film as a gift from the Norse Gods. I get why they’re doing these things. To give all the movies a cohesive feel and connection.
All in all the acting is spot on. Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Billy Tucci and Chris Evans are solid in there respective roles as Colonel Chester Phillips, Red Skull, Dr. Erskine and Captain America. From 1 – 10, I’ll give Captain America a 7, visually a great looking film and well acted. Also, stick around after the credits for a first look at the Avengers movie. If it’s anything like what it looks like…look out 2012, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will be “Assembling”…assembling millions of people on line to their neighborhood theaters.

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