In a summer full of comic book movies with varying degrees of success, I’m putting Captain America: The First Avenger in the “win” column.
This summer season has been full of superhero movies. There certainly has been a lot of expectations followed by either cheers of joy or gnashing of teeth in anger and disappointment. And with the results being so varied, there’s no way to really predict. So, in a summer full of comic book movies with varying degrees of success, I’m putting Captain America: The First Avenger in the “win” column.
This is primarily an origin film. Scrawny but strong-willed Steve Rogers is too puny and has too many health issues to get enlisted in the Army, despite his desire to defeat the Nazi’s in WWII. But he keeps trying until he finally makes it to boot camp. There, his spirit gets him selected to be a guinea pig for a secret military project that turns him into a buff super-soldier. He soon gets the nick-name Captain America and is off fighting the Nazis and a scary guy named Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull, who is bent on taking over the world.
Chris Evans does a fine job of playing Steve Rogers/Captain America. I had no problem with him despite some comic book nerds early complaints that he was already Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. Frankly, I didn’t care for the Fantastic Four movies all that much so I’m happy to see him in this role. And besides, Fox is gonna reboot it with all new cast anyway, so now it’s moot. And I’m sure Evans will be giddy as a schoolgirl to be Cap for as long as possible, which could be a while with The Avengers movie coming out next summer.
As for the rest of the cast, they’re all pretty spot on, too. Tommy Lee Jones plays Colonel Chester Philips, and he gets most of the good one liners. Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, the slow burn love interest of Rogers, and part of the team that prepares him to be Cap. And yes, she’s all kinds of gorgeous. Dominic Cooper plays a great Howard Stark, and Sebastian Stan plays Rogers buddy, “Bucky” Barnes. I was personally happy to Neal McDonough appear as “Dum Dum Dugan”. I remember him from some other comics I read. And this brings us to Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull. He was good, but strangely not stellar. :He didn’t seem quite maniacal enough. Sure, he was evil, but with the great but really comic-booky make-up, it seems like he should have played it a little more over-the-top. However, not a huge thing, unless you’re nit-picking, and the comic book nerds will. Hell, I heard them complaining afterwards about the littlest of things. Ok, I get it, we’re nerds here, too, but at some point you just have to let go and suspend your disbelief a little. How else are you going to enjoy some films?
The effects are really good here, and in particular they ADD to the story and action by moving it along rather than being ALL of the action. They don’t overwhelm, they assist, and that’s how to use them best. I didn’t see this in 3D for obvious reasons; I’m over 3D. They do the historical World War II stuff nicely here, with the obvious touches of comic book fantasy thrown in. I didn’t see anything that didn’t look like it was supposed to be there. It’s nice that they didn’t take me out of the movie once. Speaking of the period feel of the film, I really liked that. Of course it was integral to this origin story, but it gave this superhero film a little more depth somehow. It made just a little more interesting.
Ultimately, Captain America: The First Avenger is a good jumping off point to get into The Avengers which opens next summer. This movie wasn’t perfect, but it was still fun and I’d say it’s a good popcorn movie for the summer and I think one of the more solid comic book movies. Of course when you compare it to the Green Lantern, it may as well be Bridge On the River Kwai. Surprising enough for being directed by Joe Johnston, who has brought us films on both ends of the quality spectrum. Let’s say he used his experience of shooting The Rocketeer instead of Jurassic Park 3 or the muddled mess of The Wolfman. I’m actually giving Cap three, to three and half kittenhands. Can I give quarter kittenhands? Sure, why not. We INVENTED kittenhands over here! 🙂
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, saying yes, Nick Fury does indeed make an appearance; again.