Captain America: The First Avenger

Red White and Blue Shield

         
 

23 July 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Genuinely well-written, and directed with a tinge of old-fashioned cliffhanger serial quality. The pro-enlistment military fantasy Captain America: The First Avenger is an origin story based on the Marvel Comic with Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four”) as Steve Rogers, the puny Brooklyn kid who wants to join the fight against the Nazis in World War II. He chooses patriotism over girls, but routinely is turned down by Army recruitment because of his below standard physical condition. After much campaigning, Steve is selected for an Army experiment to turn him into a muscular Mr. Universe type. Evans was altered to become a scrawny 90-pound kid with the help of CGI special effects. When he becomes the strappingly built Captain America, it’s Evan’s body. The love story with Hayley Atwell as SSR officer Peggy Carter is, uh, bashful. Tommy Lee Jones is dependably gruff as the Colonel who wants to sideline Captain America’s gifts. Hugo Weaving is a very suited and formidable Nazi who turns into Red Skull. Sometimes awesome, but this superhero flick is plain cautious and generally just good. Pacing sometimes could have used a faster clip.

Evans sets the tone for squareness which plays into the movie’s deliberate old-fashioned aura (let’s defend the U.S.A.!). The production values are luxuriantly art deco in the city scenes, especially when Captain America goes on a publicity tour as Uncle Sam’s poster boy. Little do U.S. forces know they need him to fight against HYDRA, the Nazis deep science division which is fostering laser gun incinerators. Only when American GI’s are taken as Red Skulls POW’s do we finally see Captain America pop out of a plane, ride a motorbike, and ram his enemies with an invincible shield that slings like a boomerang. When Captain America and Red Skull meet the first time face-to-face it looks like an even match. But movies don’t end on first meetings. Red Skull takes a cowardly exit.

Captain America swats and flings his enemies with gusto, tumbling around without a scratch. All the soldiers think Captain America is the best. SSR Carter thinks Captain America is the best. Even Colonel Chester Phillips (Jones) comes around to advocating the young hero. But when Captain America beats himself up over mistakes his face tenses up into a case of self-revulsion. So hard on himself, this boy.

If this flick isn’t a comic book movie classic it’s perhaps because it could have gone further into its squareness and also nipped a few of its establishing scenes. But the final twist is a doozy, with Samuel L. Jackson doing a badass walk-on. We’re glad that Captain America gets to kiss the girl once before departure, but next time the producers should hire someone like Gemma Atkinson or Emily Blunt to play the girl. Fit a first-rate girl into the budget.

125 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

ACTION-ADVENTURE / COMIC BOOK LORE / WEEKEND AFTERNOON MOVIE

Film Cousins: “Fantastic Four” (2005); “Iron Man” (2008); “The Incredible Hulk” (2008); “Thor” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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