This Masked Wonder is viewed, by some, to be a real life superhero. Whether he's saving orphans from rogue tigers set loose by slum lords or cooking enchiladas for the homeless El Jefe de Santo tries his best to leave the world a better place. The stories of the Avengers have always appealed to the luchador and, though he hails from Parts Unknown the First among them has always had a special place in his heart. Captain America is true-blue hero and his movie was going to be seen come Hell or high water! This is the patented Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreakin' Review!
Have you ever left a movie feeling invigorated? They are the sorts of movies that showcase such adventure and action that you can't help but feel energized.
That is what Captain America: The First Avenger left me feeling once the credits started to roll. Fellow ZeitGeeks contributor and editor-in-chief, Sam, made the comment to me that "This sure was a movie directed by the guy who made The Rocketeer." I think that statement encapsulates, quite well I must say, the overall feel of this film.
There is adventure piled up by the truckloads and enough 40's style to really keep the senses tingling. I've always had a soft spot for that sort of aesthetic and Joe Johnston nailed it. We've got the propaganda jingles, the posters and the overall sense that this is a movie that's actually rather old-school for all its GREAT CGI work.
The story is simple enough. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a kid from Brooklyn who certainly has the guts for the soldier's life but not really the build. Five attempts to enlist end in failure but soon persistence pays off and our hero gets his shot thanks to Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci). There is a top-secret division of the Armed Forces looking for a guy just like Steve to test their new project on.
We get to see Evans not only as a 98 pound weakling but, thanks to some Super Soldier Serum, Vita-Rays and Howard Stark's help a reborn Rogers. To say Evans was in ridiculously good shape for this role is a bit of a understatement.
Captain America is born! He does, however, have his anti-thesis in a fellow named Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). Johann is the head of Hydra, the deep science division of the Third Reich that is charged with building super-weapons for Der Fuhrer and what not. We soon learn that he, too, got a taste of the good doctor's experiment though it was not quite as successful. The crimson visage of Schmidt when he rips his face off to reveal his true self, Red Skull, was phenomenal. The battle lines are drawn. Rogers, newly dubbed Captain America, will square off against the crazed leader of Hydra, Red Skull.
I was on the edge of my damn seat.
The action setpieces are large in scale and in their feel. The choreography of the sequences and the clear camera work made it a joy to behold. I got the feeling that Johnston used Iron Man as a guide here to make a super hero movie that not only gets the origins right, the villains and so forth but makes it easy to follow and fun to watch.
Evans gives a strong performance as The Cap alongside Weaving who proves that these films are nothing without a truly strong antagonist. I absolutely loved Red Skull and was left wanting so much more. The hallmarks of pleasing the fanboys are all here with some nice references to Golden Age heroes here and there. What would a good Marvel film be without Nick Fury too? Tommy Lee Jones is, thank goodness, back to being the son of a bitch we all love as Roger's boss. Some of the better lines of dialogue were actually tossed his way. Good on the writers here. I even found the commando team that Cap assembles to be engaging as all get out. They need their own movie PRONTO.
This, of course, all leads to the massive tie-in to the upcoming movie that all of the films before it have been leading to: The Avengers. STAY after the credits. Well worth it. See this in 2D. I just didn't really get the sense that it would be worth the extra cost plus it would be a damn shame to miss out on some of the brilliant colors and photography that Johnston and crew brought to the table here.
This film mixes intense patriotism, WWII propaganda, a near swashbuckling sensibility that would be more at home with films from the 50's and 60's and smashes it head on into superhero weirdness and magic. It was a fun flick that defines summer moviegoing but also stands as a fantastic entry into the Marvel pantheon. The tenants that Jack Kirby (He alone deserves many, many articles worth of devoted coverage) built-in to the character of courage, perserverance and sticking up for the little guy are all present here. Johnston managed to craft a film that Republic Films would be proud of but also dish out more adventure than I daresay the last Indiana Jones flick had in it.
Go see this movie. Well worth the time and I'll be DAMNED if you aren't humming that the "Star Spangled Man" tune by the end of it.