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Film Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.


Man oh man, is it hot in NYC today. The temp got up to 106 degrees in the city today (114 degrees if you factor in the humidity). The Black Saint is no fan of such sweltering heat. I am not a fan of heat at all actually. I hate the Sun with a passion & am quite fine just sitting in my mausoleum with my acolytes tending to my every whim. But I have to venture forth every so often to check out the latest offerings at my local bijou. The offering today? “Captain America: The First Avenger” which was (To my surprise) one hell of a movie!

For the few of you who aren’t familiar with the character, Captain America is actually Steve Rogers. A patriotic young man who is deemed unfit to serve his country in joining the war against Hitler & Nazi Germany. He is chosen to be the recipient of a “Super Soldier” serum that remakes him to be just that…A super soldier. Bigger, stronger, faster than any normal human male. The movie pretty much sticks to that concept & executes it very well in fact. Rogers is played by Chris Evans (The Human Torch in the “Fantastic Four” series of films) & although I never thought of Evans as much more than a pretty boy actor, here he proves himself to be a much better actor than I made him out to be. His performance is very true in both of it’s incarnations, those of Rogers before the transformation (Small & sickly but brave & honorable) & afterwards (Still brave & honorable but no longer weak & sick).

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that the more of these “Superhero” films that are released, the more prestigious actors we see participating in them. “Captain America” is no different. Here we find Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci & Toby Jones with major roles. All of them give superlative performances with Jones stealing practically every scene he’s in with aplomb. All of the principle actors seem to be enjoying themselves immensely & as well they should for the script by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely is crisp & to the point. It sets up the character of Rogers perfectly & gives all actors time to flesh out their characters a bit more than we see in “Superhero” films in general.

Hugo Weaving plays Johann Schmidt AKA “The Red Skull” & he positively drips with evil in the role. The Skull is initially in cahoots with Hitler in his pursuit of a weapon to conquer the worlds but has ulterior motives & his own organization (Hydra) under his command to help him accomplish this. It seems that the skull was the first person to have the serum tested on him by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). But it didn’t turn out so well for him. As Dr. Erskine explains to Rogers early in the film, the serum “Brings out what you are. If you are good, you get better. If you are bad, you get worse”. Schmidt was pretty bad obviously…

The love interest in the film is Peggy Carter & she is played by Hayley Atwell. I’ve never seen Ms. Atwell before but I must admit she is a stunning woman & excellent in her role as well. She is quite the bombshell & balances a very fine line between Bombshell & military officer. She’s beautiful but tough as nails & isn’t shy about letting anyone know about it either. Another good performance in a film full of them. But again I have to get back to Chris Evans & his performance as Steve Rogers. If he didn’t come through as believable then the movie would be lost but he really shines brightly. Especially in the early scenes when he is (Literally) a ninety pound weakling. As a matter of fact one of the few issues I had with the film was in the early scenes because Evans’ face is digitally placed on a much smaller person and sometimes the effect is weak & very obvious. At other times it’s pretty effective though. But his performance makes up for it.

I have a problem when watching these movies because I’m always looking for little clues/hints connecting them to other films in the Marvel Comics canon. What can I say? I’m a fanboy at heart. Amazingly, I didn’t catch too many of them in this film. There are some important characters from the “Capt. America” comics (I won’t name them here, you’ll see for yourselves) & there is the perfunctory appearance by Stan Lee but little else that caught my eye. Perhaps this is because it’s set in the 40’s. The object of everyone’s desire, The Cosmic Cube, makes an appearance but that’s no spoiler if you saw “THOR” & know Capt. America’s history. I should also mention that Howard Stark (Father of Tony Stark otherwise known as Iron Man) has a major role in the film as well. He’s played by Dominic Cooper & he does a great job showing what a genius & a womanizer Stark is at the same time. I would LOVE to see more of his character but I don’t see how that’s going to happen.

There is a bit of bloodshed in the movie. It’s quick but it’s there & it’s appreciated because this is essentially a war film & in war people die violently. Director Joe Johnson does an excellent job with the material. The film isn’t full of bright colors & special effects like the bulk of these films are. It looks almost desaturated colorwise. It’s full of grey skies & dull khaki uniforms but it supposed to look that way. Johnson also directed “The Rocketeer” some years ago & that film also took place in this time period so he knows the look he wanted to achieve here & he gets it. For all of the darkness the film displays, it’s still beautiful to watch on a big screen. I saw it in 3D (Converted, as usual) but it sorta works in this movie. Some of the scenes of Cap’s shield coming at you are excellent in their delivery. But it’s definitely not a dealbreaker if you see it in 2D. The movie is entertaining enough as is.

The ending of the movie is actually very touching as well. It’s sad actually & once again Evans scores with the film’s last line. A depressing ending actually as Rogers realizes what’s happened to him. But it bodes well for us because it all leads into…..well you know already don’t you? If you don’t just sit tight through the end credits for a look at what is probably the most anticipated movie of next Summer. The audience stood up & cheered afterwards & for good reason. They had just sat through a great action film & got a glimpse at what is shaping up to be THE movie event of next Summer. Just go see the movie & you’ll know what I’m talking about.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” gets four out of five shrouds from The Black Saint. It’s just a well produced, acted & directed film that is never boring & never failed to engross me. The characters have depth & you grow to care for all of them in the end. See it this weekend for a great time at the movies and beat the heat!

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

One comment

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot of good buzz surrounding this film. I was totally disinterested until I watched a trailer for it. A really excellent review. I like the desaturated look in films and I’m glad to hear that it’s more substance than flashy CGI. I think I’ll skip the 3D.


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