Friday, August 12, 2011

New Release: Captain America

I'm a serious "completionist".  I will be seeing the final Twilight movies because I've seen the others.  I don't give up on a series until it breaks my heart (i.e. kills a character I thought should live).  That was my main motivation for going to see Captain America, as he'll be a character in Joss Whedon's The Avengers next summer and I fully intend to see that.  Thankfully I was very pleased with the film.  Armed with thoughts on what a hero is or should be, I really liked seeing his origin story.

In case you aren't a comic book fan, here's Steve Rogers' story.  He desperately wants to serve in WWII, but has too many health issues, as well as being a shrimp, keeping him out.  One day Stanley Tucci takes an interest in him for a special project, injecting him with drugs that hopefully turn him into a super soldier.  After the serum, he's grown about 8 inches, and has huge muscles without working out.  Sadly, Tucci is unable to replicate the whole process and Steve Rogers is the only one.  The government decides he's best suited to help raise money for the war, so they put him in a costume and he becomes "Captain America".  Thankfully, Steve Rogers has a little more spunk than just being a circus pony, and manages to stage a rescue of his buddy behind enemy lines.

This was where the film really becomes a superhero type movie - he's got his techy side-kick in Howard Stark (yes, Iron Man's relative played by Dominic Cooper) and a sassy lady-friend in Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).  They fight the bad guys together, along with some real life soldiers (lots of character actors you'll recognize and spend time itching to figure out how they are).   Oh, and the bad guys  are awesome.  I am willing to propose that Hugo Weaving play the bad guy in all movies - he's really really great as the over the top Nazi who becomes known as Red Skull when he is cut off from Hitler and has to kill lots and lots of people.  (And while I'm at it, Tommy Lee Jones is a really great military guy too - smart ass goes a long way for him).  I anticipated Red Skull's makeup being really creepy, but it was really well done and didn't bring a red Voldemort to mind until very near the end when he whispered something.   He was bad-ass fighting.  We know he can act without being able to see his face particularly well (see V for Vendetta) and he used his teeth quite well to act crazy (but not in a Jim Carrey The Mask kind of way, much more subtle).  There were a few moments before Rogers became Capt. that the CGI was distracting with Chris Evans' face on a smaller guy's body, but overall, that worked well too.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, and think he'll make a pretty good addition to The Avengers next summer, but I will say this felt a little more like a place holder than a well-developed movie.  We didn't know much about Steve Rogers either before or after becoming Captain America.  He got beat up a lot and had a good understanding of how to fight, but he wasn't particularly deep.  Yes, heroic, and definitely not dull, but we know so much more about the backstory for all the other Avengers (except Hawkeye?  Why doesn't he get a movie?) and even a fair amount about SHEILD, but Steve felt pretty flat.  Not bad, just not quite up to snuff and since he's supposed to be the leader, I guess, that might come back to bite them in the ass.  Either way, I'll definitely be there to see what they do.  4 of 5 stars/lambs


Dan O. said...

Many have dubbed Captain America: The First Avenger the best superhero movie of 2011, I’m a little reluctant to give it that title considering how much I enjoyed X-Men: First Class. Still, it is a very good installment, certainly one of the best amongst The Avengers pre-films (it’s between Captain America and Iron Man for that crown). Marvel did a great job closing out the “prequels” for The Avengers, and I’m really excited to see them all come together next year. Good Review!

Jess said...

Dan O. I would even put forth Thor as the best superhero movie of the year (despite Natalie portman's efforts). It's been a good year. Now I'm even more excited for The Avengers though also really nervous about Ruffalo (whom I love) as the new Bruce Banner.