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Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2D) (2011) July 31, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the exception of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (starting next week, can’t wait!), Marvel’s mega blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger was, up to this point, my most anticipated movie of the year.  To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about the superhero other than the fact that he’s going to be in next year’s most anticipated movie, The Avengers, along with Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and a bunch of other superheroes led by an eye-patched Samuel L Jackson.  Maybe it’s the name and/or the costume, but Captain America never aroused much interest in me — until now.

In short, I loved Captain America: The First Avenger.  It’s the second best pre-Avengers tie-in film after the first Iron Man (in other words, better than Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk, even though Ed Norton is out and Mark Ruffalo is in as Bruce Banner).  Marvellous action, incredible special effects, solid performances and a cracker of an origin story which includes Nazis, big guns, advanced technology and the occult — what’s there not to like?

This is an origins film that tells of how a scrawny, weak little man with a big heart by the name of Steve Rogers became Captain America as part of a secret military experiment during World War II.  I won’t spoil much more than that except to say that the film has ties to Stark Industries from Iron Man and a powerful energy source that appears to originate from the world of Thor.

I was surprised how well the story was executed by director Joe Johnston (Rocketeer, Jumanji, The Wolfman).  It would have been easy to make this film too patriotically and cringeworthyly American, but somehow Johnston kept the focus on the story and characters and even had a little fun with the unavoidable Americanism of the character.

Speaking of character, a lot of ‘hardcore’ Marvel fans blew their sacks when they heard Chris Evans had been cast as the titular superhero.  ‘He can’t be Captain America,’ they cried, ‘because he’s already Johnny Storm from the Fantastic Four!’  Be that as it may, nobody wants to see another Fantastic Four movie, and Chris Evans makes a wonderful Captain America — big and buffed, blonde hair, blue eyes, and oozing All-American charm.  He might not be an actor with the greatest range or depth of emotions (like say a Robert Downey Jr), but he’s good enough here because he is physically perfect and Steve Rogers is a highly likeable character.  The special effects used to create the pre-suped up Steve Rogers were practically flawless.

Hugo Weaving plays the villain Red Skull, Hitler’s crazy head of weaponry, and I’m afraid to say he was a little bit of a weak link.  It’s not entirely Weaving’s fault because anyone that can play Agent Smith (from The Matrix), Elrond (from The Lord of the Rings) and V (from V for Vendetta) must be one of the greatest supporting actors of our time, but here he’s not given enough juice to make Red Skull a worthy adversary for Captain America.

The rest of the supporting cast was strong.  Haley Atwell was solid as Peggy Carter, pretty much the only female character in the film, as was Sebastian Stan (I know him from Gossip Girl), who was adequate as the sidekick.  Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones had relatively minor but important roles, though the real stand out had to be Tommy Lee Jones, who was fantastic as Colonel Chester Phillips, which would have been a bit of a nothing role had Jones not worked his magic.

For me, strangely, the film was at its best when Rogers was not the fully-costumed Captain America.  Following him in his journey from sickly little dude to superpowered superhero was so enjoyable that when he finally became Captain America I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  Not to say that it wasn’t still exciting — it’s just that there have been so many quality superhero movies in recent years that it becomes really difficult for one to rise above the others when it comes to action sequences.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger from start to finish — and that includes the little sneak peak we got at the upcoming Avengers movie following the credits (a long long wait, but certainly worth it).

4 out of 5!



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3. moviegeek - August 1, 2011

As popcorn movies go, this is a lot better than you might expect.

The film-makers are obviously very aware of the cynical eyes of today’s audience towards jingoism and that slight anti-American feeling that is slowly creeping in beyond their own country. A misstep too far in bringing this latest superhero to the screen might not only jeopardize their international box office, but also their long-awaited spin-off “The Avengers” of which “Captain America” was the last crucial missing link.

So instead falling into the traps of the obvious patriotic gush and just updating the story for the modern audience, into a modern setting, director Joe Johnston decided to stay true to the origins of his hero and kept the story rooted in 194os, during WW2 deciding to concentrate more on the old-fashion moral decency of the characters than their “let’s kick some ass” type of mentality… Still propaganda, but less insulting then it could have been.
On the whole it’s mindless fun!


4. Captain America: The First Avenger « Three Sixty - August 1, 2011

[…] Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2D) (2011) (pacejmiller.wordpress.com) […]

5. Carmen - August 13, 2011

Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is so poised that she even wears red lipstick to battle.
Schmidt is assisted by soldiers with the look and the energy of Darth Vader. The plane in which Schmidt makes his escape looks like a B2 bomber (pretty advanced stuff for 1943!)

Rogers is hotter than hell. This movie is a lot of fun, with subtle jokes and plenty of war action to please the audience.
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6. jammbulator - August 14, 2011

Going with the premise that this is a cartoon character of Marvel comics, even with tongue in cheek, the storyline is dissapointing. There is a huge saturation of exlosions and fire coupled with excessive and pointless shootings and distruction renders this movie a big yawn. It only satisfies the pre pubescent young boys dream who wants to grow up so he can have big muscles and put himself in danger because he is invincible while the rest of the boys blow up the world.

pacejmiller - August 15, 2011

That’s a little harsh, considering you acknowledge that this is a comic character brought to the screen in a semi-tongue in cheek style…that’s what superheros did in WWII, shoot people and blow things up! Imagine if Captain America was a pacifist who solved problems through his supreme negotiation skills. Now that would render it a big yawn!

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