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“Captain America: The First Avenger” – Review (POSITIVE)

July 28, 2011

[Mild Spoilers]

This summer couldn’t get any better, thank you Cap! Marvel Studios fifth outting, under it’s own control, they brings us finally the last Avengers story to tell (even though he is the first) in “Captain America: The First Avenger”. With a well put together cast, fantastic action, and a real keen sense for directing an adventure film by Joe Johnston, “Captain America” seems to be another superhero movie well worth the anticipated wait.

For those who don’t know the iconic tale, Steve Rogers, weak, little, Steve, has one goal, he wants to fight for the country he loves, the USA! Yet, every time he applies at an army recruiting center, he’s rejected, and placed as a 4F applicant (physically unfit for duty), but with the heart of a good man in him, his passion is noticed by a German scientist, Abraham Eskrine who’s developed a serum for the US army, the Super Soldier Sereum, to transform Rogers from a puny weakling to the massively strong Super Soldier he’s mean’t to be. Meanwhile, an old enemy of Eskrine has returned, the Red Skull, who’s after a powerful cube created by Odin himself, the Cosmic Cube, the very same one seen at during the post-credits scene from “Thor”. Red Skull plans to use the cubes power bent on world domination. His own organization, HYDRA, will follow in his foot steps, as the German youth for Hitler did, to rid the world of everyone that’s not like them. In comes Captain America to save us all, to stand up for the United States of America as well as the little guy.

Now, when I first read that Chris Evans was casted as Rogers/Cap, my first thought was, “Really? The Human Torch is our Cap?” But, after seeing pictures from the set, and the first teaser trailer, he began to grow on me. Now, after this movie, as Harrison Ford made Indiana Jones iconic, I strongly believe Evans has done the same for Captain America. He’s embodied the character to the up most respect for the fans and viewers alike. He shows the humor, the courage, the honor, and the true good in his character better than I could have imagined. The supporting players are very good too; Stanley Tucci is one of my favorite actors and even though his accent is hokey and cliche, he still made it work with a smile on his face. Tommy Lee Jones is the FREAKING MAN! Every scene he’s in, he steals, plain and simple, his witty sarcasm is just on the nail in this movie, love it! Dominic Cooper made a great Howard Stark, he embodies the Stark-ness that’s been made famous by Robert Downy Jr., good for him, I mean, afterall…he is Iron Man’s daddy. But, you can’t have a film like this without it’s villain, Hugo Weaving plays Red Skull just like how I pictured he would, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Little bit of both, on the one hand he really gave it his all in this role, his performance was over the top and cheesy to the up most extent, but perhaps too much? Nevertheless, I like Weaving, he’s a great character actor and if there was anyone I thought that should play Red Skull, it was Mr. Smith. The love interest of this film, played by Hayley Atwell, isn’t your typical generic girl crush, even though she’s endearing and hot as hell, she’s a woman who’s got guts and isn’t afraid to pull punches and shoot Nazi/HYDRA baddies. Like Marion Ravenwood from “Raiders”, Agent Carter is tough woman you don’t wanna mess with.

The direction of this film is lead by high-concept director Joe Johnston. He’s returned to familiar territories here, what with directing “The Rocketeer” and winning the Oscar for Art Direction for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, Johnston seems to make these popcorn films memorable while maintaining good story and likeable characters. He’s done it with “The Rocketeer”, “Jumanji”, and “Hidalgo”. Johnston brings a very old school approach to this movie, in a sense that it’s unconventional in structure, the film doesn’t take place within 2 days like “Thor” or a weeks time like “Green Lantern”, Johnston stretches the movie through a few years of the War time, leaving room for untold adventures of Captain America and his Howling Commandos. There’s a real believeable aspect to the story, that there could’ve been a hidden part of our history involving these characters and the adventures they experienced. I loved the style of the movie, I’m a sucker for period pieces, especially ones that are adventure films. Johnston gives some nice nods to “Raiders of the Lost Ark”and a bit of “The Rocketeer”. The set design is fantastic, the stunts are in your face, it’s nice to rely on stunts with real people rather than CGI. Alan Silverstri’s score is as always fantastic. He’s a legend, creating such memorable scores; “Back to the Future”“Forrest Gump”“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, but with“Captain America”, he’s brough a nuance to the theme that took me back to John Williams “Superman” theme, once I heard the Captain America March I got this sudden chill, people will remember this music.

With all the love I’m giving the movie, there were a few things that bothered me. As a Marvel fan, I’m hurt that there wasn’t a better character development on the Howling Commandos. Sure it’s great to see Dum Dum Dugan, Union Jack, and others, but they’re just there to be there. I felt cheated in that respect, to non-Marvel fans, they’re just soldiers who’re buddies with Cap, but to guys like me, they’re Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos from the comics (minus Nick Fury). **SPOILER** Bucky Barnes also seemed a bit underdeveloped, his character isn’t in the movie for long, and when it happens you feel all, “Well, that sucks”. But, as a Marvel fan, I know he’s signed on for four Marvel movies, and it’s only a matter of time before he returns as the Winter Soldier. The climax seemed a little rushed, not too bad, I get what it was going for and how it wanted to be summed up, but it felt just a tad rushed. However, with the ending, I liked how it ended there’s this tender saddness between Steve Rogers and Agent Carter, you know that Cap will never see her again, but you really wanna see him make it and you wanna see the two of them together, they’re the perfect match. The ending between those two was an example of good writing from the screenwriters.

But, of course, Steve is cheated out of 70 years, after being frozen in time he wakes up in modern day NY and finally meets his destiny…Nick Fury. As the end credits state: Captain America will return in “The Avengers”.

Now, there wasn’t an “Avengers” teaser after the credits from the screening I attended, but I have a feeling they left it out for these advanced screenings and will place it back in for the nationwide release, at least I hope so, we’ll see. Overall, “Captain America” was exactly how I anticipated it would be, a rip roaring adventure film, with memorable characters, iconic music, and just a plain good old fashion fun time at the movies, it may not be the Marvel film this year (that goes to “X-Men: First Class”), but it’s certainly a hell of a lot better than the suckasge that is “Green Lantern”.

GRADE: B+

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