Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

When reviewing Thor for this blog, I mentioned how enthralled I've been with Marvel Studio's efforts in bringing their super-heroes to the big screen, and thankfully Captain America: The First Avenger is another prime example of that excellence that I've become accustomed to.

The story follows a young man named Steve Rogers, deemed too unfit for military service, but wanting desperately to serve his country in the midst of WWII. Steve is given the chance of a lifetime, when a brilliant scientist recommends him to test a serum that can turn even a 90 pound weakling like him into a "super soldier". However, there is more to this war than just the Allies against the Nazis. Led by the villainous Johann Schmidt, or as comic book fans might know him, the Red Skull, a group calling itself "Hydra" plans a worldwide attack to establish his superiority and rule the planet.

Point blank, this movie is pretty great. It has a few somewhat corny moments, but it's so exhilarating the rest of the time that I hardly noticed. A lot of that has to do with the tremendous production design, as the WWII backdrop reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones at times. Given that director Joe Johnston worked on those films as well, it's not that surprising that the period details pop as much as they do.

When I first heard that Chris Evans was going to be playing the Captain, I must admit I was a little nervous. I was sure that his turn as the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four movies would completely taint my view of him. I am happy to report, however, that he completely overcame my initial bias within seconds. He did a great job of personifying not only the heroic Captain America, but also the loyal and noble Steve Rogers, which is not an easy task. The supporting cast nearly stole this film, with Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci putting in terrific performances. Hugo Weaving really does great work playing Red Skull, being careful not to overplay it, but not dialing back his menace either. He's a formidable foe for Cap, and may be the most effective villain of all the Marvel films to date.

This being the last movie before the grand Avengers team-up, there were clearly some bridges to be crossed in order to bring Cap into the Marvel universe, but again I thought this was done with great care; just a cherry on top of what I thought was a wholly entertaining summer blockbuster.

As with all the other Marvel films, STAY AFTER THE CREDITS! You will be rewarded immensely if you do! That's all I'm saying... What Marvel gives us is a wonderful treat, and you will leave the movie theater actually giddy with excitement (at least, that's how Lara and I were). I really liked Captain America: The First Avenger, and I give it a very solid three stars. Next stop for Marvel, The Avengers!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER is rated PG-13 for violence, intense action sequences, and some scary images.