Captain America: The First Avenger

14 Aug

Title: Captain America: The First Avenger
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, based on the comic books by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Starring: 
Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Haley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Runtime: 
124 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 
79%

 

I feel kind of ashamed that I haven’t gotten around to seeing X-Men: First Class yet because I hear it’s pretty excellent, and had I seen it I could now be making my full assessment of this year’s superhero blockbusters. But in any case, Captain America: The First Avenger is the fourth and last superhero/comic-book movie of the 2011 summer season and, X-Men: First Class sight unseen, my favorite one of them all, and this comes from someone who really enjoyed Thor (I gave it a solid A-), though of course the less said about Green Lantern the better, as even if I did seem to like it a bit more than most did I still gave it a pretty mediocre C+. But yes, Captain America: The First Avenger is a damn fine summer movie, it’s just unashamedly retro and pulpy and it’s just pure blockbuster fun at the theater, not to mention that it actually counts with some pretty solid performances from its cast as well.

And if Thor came with huge implications for the Marvel movies because it was the one that would test if the company could make films about their superheroes which lived in another universe successfully (they could), this one actually came with bigger expectations tied to it, because this is the last film we’ll get until next year’s insanely buzzed-about Avengers movie, and if this one failed to introduce Captain America in a great manner and set up things nicely for next year’s huge tentpole, then the outcome of the 2012 outing that will see Iron Man, Thor, Cap, Hulk and Hawkeye together could have been compromised. But whatever expectations this one had coming into it, it didn’t even pay mind to them as it shattered them, because Captain America: The First Avenger did everything it had to do, and it did it right, and it also managed to establish Chris Evans as a pretty awesome Captain America.

Seriously, I didn’t know what to make of Mr. Evans’ casting as Captain America (when the casting process was unraveling I was part of those who wanted to see what John Krasinski would do with the role), but I found that he looked the part to the bone, and also had the whole patriotic attitude down to perfection, embodying with the precise amount of conviction that made Cap seem super genuine and plain awesome and not one bit too corny. And he really gets a lot of the credit for the film being as great as it ultimately was, the humor and heart that he brings to the role is essentially what keeps us watching this film intently.

Yes, it ultimately really isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but I don’t care if it’s not groundbreaking or masterful, it’s still undeniably well-made, undeniably well-acted and insanely entertaining, and for a comic book geek like myself, that’s really all you can ask for. I mean, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, the scrawny Brooklyn guy who wants to fight in World War II was just terrific, and you had Stanley Tucci as a scientist who something special in him, and then you have Hugo Weaving as the villain, Red Skull, a former Nazi leader who now has a splinter group that’s developing some menacing weapons. There’s also Haley Atwell as the romantic interest in here, Peggy Carter, and Tommy Lee Jones as a military leader who’s skeptical of Steve’s potential as Cap. These are all great actors here, and what’s great is that director Joe Johnston actually uses their talents and allows them to shine, Tommy Lee Jones especially, who of course can do this sort of character in his sleep at this point of his illustrious career, but still, you don’t really get to see that much actual good acting in superhero films nowadays, and I loved that about this film.

And I also have to point out another good thing about this film, and that’s the 3D. If you’re a regular reader of mine you know that I, like most, am totally against the technology and I think it’s just a fad for studios to make money (though, to be fair, why shouldn’t they?) and it really brings nothing new or good to 95% of the movies that use it, but instead just makes things darker and uncomfortable. Now, I’ve seen this film twice, with and without the added dimension, and even though I obviously prefer it and advice you to see it in regular 2D, I didn’t really mind the 3D at all in this one, it somehow manages to maintain its amazing and substantial look, which is all about sepia tones that make the whole film look and feel extraordinarily retro, and which I adored.

Like I said, I haven’t yet seen X-Men: First Class for one reason or another, and even though I have great hopes for it, if Captain America: The First Avenger finishes off as my favorite superhero film of the summer, that’d be all very well with me, because it really is a spectacular movie. It has an underdog story at first, and then it has a story about the dangers of what fame can do when achieved quickly and in great quantities, and it’s just pure entertainment, with some great effects and a bunch of stellar supporting performances and in Chris Evans’ starring one it finds an actor that plays a terrific Captain America, adding a depth to a character that very easily could’ve come out as just way too corny. Go watch Captain America: The First Avenger, that’s all I’m saying, for one thing, you need to in order to fully appreciate Joss Whedon’s take on The Avengers when it finally arrives next summer (and be sure to stick until the very end of this one for a sneak peek at that), and go see it just because it’s one of the best summer movies of this year, even in 3D.

Grade: A-

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One Response to “Captain America: The First Avenger”

  1. CMrok93 August 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    In the era of the tortured superhero in movies, it’s refreshing to come across one with enthusiasm and a pure spirit. Good Review! Check out my site whenever you can!

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