Captain America: The First Avenger – Movie Review

Captain America is my favorite Marvel comic book hero. A man of integrity, pride, strength, and loyalty, Captain America is a hero that evil fears and justice applauds. I have read his comics, seen the animated series based on his stories, and even saw the horrific 1990 live-action movie that I cannot recommend to anyone.

So when I heard that Marvel was working on a new Captain America movie, I got excited. The trailers gave me chills and I couldn’t wait to see Captain America come to life of the big screen in all his red, white, and blue glory.

Captain America is a lot of fun. It’s exciting, it’s action-packed, and it looks like a period picture without being a period picture. The overall look of the film really helped to enhance the story and its characters; I really did feel as if we were in the 1940s. True, this is an alternate 1940s where technology is seemingly more advanced, but that did not detract from the film in any way.

Chris Evans IS Captain America, and does such a great job as Steve Rogers at the beginning of the film that you truly believe that this guy has what it takes to take down any and every villain who comes up against him. Our intro to Rogers is as a scrawny young man (you’ve seen the trailer, so you know), and the CG work used for this is so effective and brilliantly executed that you forget that Chris Evans looks nothing like that skinny guy in real life. It’s that well done.

The film definitely has a historic and nostalgic feel to it, and at times it does feel as if you’re watching a movie from the time period in which the film is based. There are plenty of moments after Rogers becomes Captain America where you do feel like this could have been a talkie about this guy back in the 1940s. With the exception of the 3D, color, and amazing special effects, of course.

The supporting cast delivers their A-game as well. Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, and many others fit right in a bring strong and at times lighthearted moments to the screen. Hugo Weaving, who plays our dastardly villain Red Skull, brings plenty of evil to the screen. I do wish, however, that he had been even more of a threat and more of a menace to Captain America than he is in the film.

I really liked the story and the overall message of the film about not giving up and always striving to be the best one can be. Captain America/Steve Rogers certainly embodies this can-do spirit, and his drive and determination throughout make him a hero that all can empathize with and root for. He’s more than just an American hero; he’s a world hero.

The tone is unmistakably patriotic and does its best to be pro-America while attempting to stay neutral at the same time. I have a feeling that if Transformers 3 hadn’t opened 4th of July weekend that this movie would have easily fit into that spot. Plenty of flags, plenty of red, white, and blue imagery, and plenty of American’s kicking Nazi ass. It’s one hell of a fun ride.

Captain America is definitely a movie I plan to see again, and I’m excited to see how it does at the box office. And while I really enjoyed the movie, there were a few things that didn’t quite work for me; the first being the 3D.

The biggest disappointment for me was the 3D. I generally dislike 3D because it’s gimmicky and when done poorly is a distraction instead of an enhancement. Transformers 3 got it right, as did Avatar and the final Harry Potter. Pirates 4 and several others have gone the gimmicky route. Sadly, this movie does the latter and for no real reason other than the fact that they could.

I would have preferred to have seen the film in 2D for that very reason. Usually films that overplay play the 3D aspects are trying to hide an inferior plot or some other issue with the film. Captain America does not suffer from a bad story, so the 3D distracts rather than enhances, much like Hugo Weaving’s accent.

Hugo Weaving does a decent job as Red Skull; the main issue comes with his accent. At times he sounds somewhat German, but other times he sounds as if he’s doing an impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. This made even his attempts to come across as evil and menacing almost laughable, which is unfortunate given that he’s a psychotic Nazi.

Speaking of Nazis…where the heck is Hitler? Swastikas are barely visible, and there’s not actual mention of the Third Reich. While I understand that HYDRA and Red Skull are his ultimate foes, I wish Captain America had had a run-in with Hitler at least once; even Indiana Jones got an autograph from him!

Is this mainly due to some level of political correctness, or is it a sign that these films are changing toward are less menacing and more cartoonish tone. Since Marvel is now owned by Disney, and these comic book properties are all headed into Walt Disney Pictures productions in the future, is this a “Disney brand” decision to make these films more fantastical and less realistic? This also goes for the overall approach to the telling of Captain America’s origin story.

While I understand why the filmmakers are doing it – they have a huge goal in mind with The Avengers – I can’t help but get a little annoyed that these films are being retrofitted and the storylines of classic characters are being altered in order to serve another film. I get why they need to tie Captain America in with Stark Industries and Thor, but I would have much rather experienced Captain America as a clear-cut, stand-alone adaptation of the original story.

There are apparently two more Captain America movies planned, but with the ending of this one it does not appear that they will take place back in the 1940s but rather present day. I would much rather see Captain America play hero against the Nazis again than a “fish out of his own time” story. Still, I am very curious to see what they have in store for Captain America in the next two films.

With so many comic book movies exploding out of Hollywood these days, I do wonder if by the time The Avengers hits theaters, will audiences be suffering from superhero movie fatigue? Will audiences abandon the genre as they have teen horror, the Western, and teen sex comedies?

The box office for these films has been dropping recently, which may be that audiences are either not interested in the characters being showcased in these latest films, or they refuse to pay egregious prices for 3D and are opting for the 2D versions of the films.

If Marvel’s ambitious gamble with The Avengers in 2012 pays off and the film does huge numbers at the box office then the so-so box office of these other movies will have been worth it. Let’s just hope that Joss Whedon’s Avengers delivers a strong story, effective character development, and plenty of fast-paced action and dialogue.

I had a great time while watching Captain America. I enjoyed it far more than I did Thor mainly because it felt more grounded, the characters more believable and real, and it was far less campy in tone. The character of Steve Rogers is an Everyman who gets the opportunity of a lifetime.

Like many of us, we hope our dreams become reality as well. It’s hard to identify with a Norse God, but it’s easy to identify with the underdog who won’t give up no matter the odds placed against him.

I recommend Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s definitely a fun ride with a great story, great action, and plenty of memorable moments. See it!

Captain America: The First Avenger opens July 22, 2011 in theaters everywhere!

What did you think of the movie? Leave a comment and let us know!

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