The fourth and final of the origins stories leading up to next summer’s The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger introduces audiences to Steve Rogers, a (very) “small guy” from Brooklyn looking for a way to serve his country during WWII. Turned away from recruitment office after recruitment office, he finally catches the eye of a Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who believes Rogers might be the perfect candidate for a government sponsored “super soldier” experiment. And voila! Our next (first) super hero is created.
It’s hard to watch this movie without an eye toward The Avengers. By now, most folks are catching on that many of the more recent super hero movies seem to be connected. The name Stark sure sounds familiar (and there is a Stark in Captain America). That little blue cube the villain seems so captivated by in bears some resemblance to (spoiler alert) what those with the patience to stick through to the end of the credits in Thor saw when Nick Fury gave Dr. Selvig (and, unknowingly, Loki) a sneak peak at something “powerful”. The movie opens with a modern day crew finding the Captain’s shield frozen in ice. It’s safe to say we all know where this is going. So, it is hard for me to talk about CA without having my experiences with past Avengers stories and my expectations of The Avengers itself (in a word: high) get in the way.
But let me try, briefly.
What works: The first part of the movie was particularly engaging and Chris Evans particularly good in it. He’s believable as a patriot who wants more than anything to be accepted into the army. Not because he wants to kill, but because “I just don’t like bullies.” While in the wrong hands a line like that would make me roll my eyes, the Avengers movies thus far have made this kind of cheese somehow believable. Evans has the right balance of sadness and earnest in his portrayal. Somehow, against the odds, you buy it. He’s a good man. He’s a fighter. He’s an underdog to believe in.
Hey, did you catch how I already failed to keep other Avengers movies out of this? Oh well, I gave it the old college try.
Roger’s journey through bootcamp and eventual transformation into Captain America have some nice and unexpected surprises, moments of humor and bravery that keep the audience cheering. A few elements kept out of the previews add depth to the character.
There’s also decent chemistry between Evans and the female lead, Hayley Atwell and a nice sense of camaraderie between all of the soldiers. The relationships are believable and that is a must for any film in which everything else is entirely unbelievable. For this reason, the action scenes in which folks are in need of rescue at least carry weight, if not suspense.
Hugo Weaving of The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings fame also works particularly well in the first portion of the movie as the villain, Johann Schmidt. There’s just something about that guy’s face and voice in combo – if he wants to freak you out, he will totally freak you out. He makes an excellent bad guy.
About the same time in the film that we see what’s hiding under that face, some elements loose a little umph, however.
What doesn’t work: I can’t put my finger on it, but somehow the movie doesn’t quite hit all the marks for me. I enjoyed it. I certainly wasn’t bored. Sometimes, I think it all comes down to expectations. Going into Thor, I expected so very little. I thought it just looked dumb. So, when it turned out to be witty and full of Hemsworth charm and hotness and charm and muscles and hotness, and Branagh style Shakespearean drama, I was so pleasantly surprised that I ended up liking more than I would have if I had expected more.
In the case of Captain America, I had heard such high reviews, I was expecting to have a rock and rollin’ good time through the whole thing and instead I felt like it lost steam halfway through and turned into something *too* predictable, even for a comic book movie.
So, I couldn’t stop thinking it was lacking the charm of Thor, the humor of Iron Man and the suspense of The Incredible Hulk (honestly, that movie is underrated if you ask me).
Spoiler alert, re: the villain. Even the transformation from Schmidt into Red Skull seemed anti-climatic. He’s way scarier as Hugo Weaving in his normal face.
And yet still, let me be clear: I did like it. I think there is another important element that works, which is how well I can see Captain America fit in to the rest of the Avengers crew. It’s true that some of the powers these guys bring to the table seem to overlap – super strength and/or speed chief among them – but it is also true that their personalities are distinct. Thor and Captain America are both driven by a sense of honor, yet come from entirely different experiences. Stark still refuses to be humbled. Banner is the only one at the mercy of his powers and almost entirely out of control when using them. It’s a good mix. Captain America will bring something to that table.
After the credits – Oh, it works.
Spoiler alert! There are some directly CA related events after the credits, and something less directly related. I’m about to spoil the less directly related one.
Holy moly, Avengers trailer. While it’s not the most amazing trailer ever, the 10 seconds I got to see of Chris Hemsworth as Thor were honestly the most exciting of the entire experience for me. Also, we see some of the other Avengers who didn’t get their own origins movies like Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. It was fun and exciting and I loved it.
And speaking of Chris Hemsworth (again), it’s undeniable that both he and Chris Evans are exceptionally good looking and that certainly doesn’t hurt these films.
To wrap this all up: If you like these kinds of movies as much as I do, you will almost surely like this one. It doesn’t have the mass appeal of Iron Man, but it’s a solid super hero flick.
Stuff we geek out about…
- A Little Something for the Fellas (2)
- A Little Something for the Ladies (9)
- Avengers Boot Camp (9)
- Before the Movie – Trailers (13)
- Editorials and Reviews (136)
- Interviews (19)
- Miscellaneous Geekery (48)
- Nostalgia (17)
- Sandman Re-Read (11)
- Three Favorite Things (4)
What we JUST said…
- They Can’t All Be Buffys-Zombieland the Pilot
- All the Posts I Meant to Write this Month, Abridged
- Hemlock Grove-A New Guilty Pleasure
- Deborah Harkness and A Discovery of Witches
- Syfy’s Defiance- Hope They Didn’t Blow the Budget on a Song
- Cover Reveal for the New Liz Long Novel Witch Hearts
- From Gen-X, To Chris Hardwick With Love