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Thrill as Chris Evans’ engorged chest battles freedom’s foes! – Captain America: The First Avenger

July 22, 2011

It’s been an interesting summer for comic book-related movies, one that’s offered a roster depth that we’ve never before witnessed. It’s also been a mixed bag. To sum up:

Thor — The first out of the gate and my favorite, it was a fun ride, and though I can understand the concerns of others (Earth story, pacing, et cetera), there were moments that made me very happy to be a comic book fan.

X-Men: First Class — Worth seeing simply for the Xavier/Magneto interaction, and a well-rounded film.

Green Lantern — A vapid, dull disappointment that may ice any potential Justice League movie for a very long time. Get your goddamn act together, Warner Bros.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon — Fucking awful.

In general terms, it’s two up and two down in terms of summer movie scorecards, and that makes Captain America the rubber match. Verdict?

It’s pretty great. I have a few quibbles that keep from gushing and slobbering all over it, but they’re minor. This is the nigh-perfect vehicle to launch us into next year’s Avengers.

Observations:

  1. It’s somewhat odd, but we had to go back in time to World War II for the Marvel film universe to really start to feel organic. The nods to Asgardian elements, the strong presence of Tony Stark’s papa, the same blue serum vials that we saw in The Incredible Hulk and countless other smaller bits all combine to bring out the coalescing energy that made the 1960s comics so much fun.
  2. Chris Evans is a great ass-kicking, shield-chucking Steve Rogers/Cap (mercifully scrubbing such abominations as the Reb Brown turn from our collective memory), though I wish they could have toned down his deep baritone when he was a 90-pound weakling (a condition that, having once been a skinny kid myself, I have great sympathy for). Stanley Tucci is so perfect as Professor Erskine I forgot that he was in this until his name showed up in the credits. That, kids, is acting. And going in I thought Tommy Lee Jones was going to give the typical “small cameo during the origin” treatment, collect his paycheck and exit the stage, but no… He has one of the larger roles in the film and his presence is most welcome. His Two-Face performance is now forgiven.
  3. Hugo Weaving is his usual menacing self, and I think it’s time we really began appreciating the presence that he brings to all of his roles. His voice and the way he carries himself go a long way in developing a vivid characterization of the Red Skull, so much so I was a little sad when he started displaying only his crimson visage. The buildup to that moment, however, is delectable. My biggest regret with him is that I wish he’d been more a Nazi and less the Hydra chief. A single swastika armband would have gone a loooong way.
  4. The competent directorial hands of Joe Johnston are all over this one. He’s a pro with a long, accomplished resume, and Marvel hasn’t had anyone of his calibre behind the camera before. He brings his best to the plate. Many thanks to him for that.
  5. There’s a delicious little reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark early on, as the Red Skull mocks Hitler for chasing “relics in the desert” or something like that. And later there’s a flying wing that looks like the Raiders version on a Barry Bonds steroid dosage. Come to think of it, this movie had a lot of the energy that the last Indy movie was sorely lacking. But this one needed more Nazis, like good pasta sauces sometimes need more salt.
  6. There can be a fine line between poofy pectorals and breasts. Evans tip-toes very close to that line.
  7. The various (Howling) Commandos get only brief moments of characterization, but they’re so cool you wind up hoping we get another flashback movie with them and Cap. Rest easy, for Dum Dum’s bowler is on the job. That’s all you need to know. Oh, and there’s a prison-break scene that I found wonderfully similar to this one.
  8. There’s one bit that’s lifted wholesale from a classic cover. Someone holds something in his hand. I shall say no more. You’ll know it when you see it.
  9. Alan Silvestri’s score reminded me of the great summer films of yesteryear. Yes, that’s a good thing. And there’s a very catchy U.S.O. song and dance number that’ll get in your head.
  10. My greatest quibble is that the need to get Captain America into the present day created an ending that felt more than a little forced. He makes a valiant sacrifice, but I’m not certain that it’s a necessary one. Other than to sate the need to put that sumbitch on ice.

This film is terrific fun, and ranks at the front of the Marvel efforts thus far. And do make sure to stay through the credits (they really need to stop making us wait all the way through — I don’t need to know everyone who gaffed and gripped on the second unit). I give Captain America: The First Avenger four out of five glistening Steve Rogers chestular areas:

It’s been a good summer for comics on film.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Larry E permalink
    July 30, 2011 3:20 pm

    Just got back from a viewing marred by the theater running the first 10 minutes 3 times due to technical problems.. Oh, well, worth a free pass for seeing Conan or something down the line.

    Although Thor was slightly better IMHO, this movie is a close second in the summer derby. I found it near perfect with my only gripe being the Bond Drive footage which was only about 10-15 minutes but seemed much longer. Why they decided to give him powers and then not use them for a chunk of film was beyond me.
    Evans does great as the weakling Rogers and segues effortlessly into the role of Cap when the transformation begins.
    Peggy Carter was well done. I’ve never seen the actress before that I’m aware of, but immediately fell in love.
    Tucci is Tucci- a pleasure to watch in anything.

    One of my favorite moments was a glimpse of the original Torch in his red tights. By the time a couple of underwater scenes came up, I expected to see Namor watching from behind some seaweed or something.
    the other was the grenade in training camp scene which cemented Rogers’ character. Nicely done.
    And as always-sit through the credits, this time with an extra treat. It’s amazing how many viewers haven’t caught on to that yet. I cautioned a man with kids to stay and they were very thankful for that sneak peek.
    And now, off to X-Men First Class at the $1.50 theater.

    • August 1, 2011 11:28 pm

      Good to hear that you liked it. I forgot the Human Torch bit.

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