Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Captain America

Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Tommy Lee Jones (Col. Chester Philips), Hugo Weaving (Johann Schmidt/Red Skull), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes), Toby Jones (Armin Zola), and Stanley Tucci (Abraham Erskine)

After two unsuccessful attempts at making a live action Captain America, it seemed uncertain whether our own patriotic superhero could be a believable movie star. Thankfully Marvel Studios have branched out into the film industry and have made a killing at making entertaining, but also plausible heroes. First came Iron Man, then Hulk, and then we recently got a Thor movie; so it seemed obvious that the leader of the Avengers had to be brought out sooner or later. At long last we finally have a Captain America movie with Chris Evans, a journeyman of comic book films of late, taking the title role. As a country, can we finally root for our own superhero on the big screen? Or is this yet another lame duck origin retelling?

Right off the bat you have to hand it to the designers of this film to take us literally into the 1940s. The streets of Brooklyn were recreated in fine detail with even the font of local stores reflecting the times. The costumes that the characters wear, who aren't superheroes anyways, are also accurate for the time. It's an art deco style that keeps you interested in what's going on screen. If you've seen Joe Johnston's previous film, The Rocketeer, then you know this is the perfect time period for him to work with. The writing also reflects the time period with a lot of sayings and jokes peppered throughout the picture.

Even though Chris Evans is the lead here, it must be said there is someone I loved even more in this. Col. Chester Philips, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is downright the best character in the film. Yes this is the type of role Jones could play with his eyes closed, but he literally gets some of the best lines in the film. He really resonated to me as a real Col. in war time but also kept me laughing as well. Evans though should not be ignored as he did a fantastic job as Steve Rogers. He does a great job bringing all of Rogers to life; from his undying patriotism to always helping his fellow men. Here's a guy who doesn't care if he is a pathetic weakling, he will always fight back which shows how much will he has. Hugo Weaving also does a great job as Red Skull before and after the reveal. Some might say his performance is over the top, but it fits well with the overall tone of the time. It would have been nice to see a bit more back story with him though and not just random flashbacks in an obvious green screen montage. (That and Weaving did seem to struggle to keep a German accent throughout)

While there are a lot of good action sequences in the movie, they are met with some minor nitpicks. The CGI throughout the film is great at times, but laughable in others. When Rogers updates his costume for the last time, it looks fine when he's just standing still. But when he's in the middle of a firefight, or jumping around in the air it looks pretty fake. It's not as bad as Green Lantern (I'm sure Evans is actually wearing something on camera) but it's still noticeable. The effects do redeem themselves though with how they handle the Roger's transformation. We've seen this before in X-Men: Last Stand or Curious Case of Benjamin Button where they literally change the age or body of the character. But this is the first time where it's safe to say they have perfected that technology as Evans being so tiny and scrawny is totally believable.

A couple of other minor things did bug me a bit while watching the film. Characters like Armin Zola and the Howling Commandos seem to have no purpose other then fan service. It's not like Toby Jones, Sebastian Stan, or the rest are bad at their roles; it's just that the script doesn't give them anything to do. For Zola his motivations seem to flip flop in every scene. Either he's a weak #2 to Red Skull or he's an unforgiving torturer but they never commit to either. Plus the way Bucky is handled toward the end seems very lazy and even though as a comic fan I know what's going to happen to him, it doesn't make much sense to put him out of the picture with very little care. There are also some bizarre montages in the film including the hilarious USO segment that goes on for far too long. Although I will give the writers credit for making his USO tour a seemingly plausible explanation on how a Captain America COULD exist in reality. Finally, my biggest problem with the film is that the love story between Rogers and Carter feels forced and uninspired. It goes for the old film cliches where one side is jealous when a simple explanation could make it all better. If we took all of those dopey, romantic moments out of the film then it would not hurt it at all.

So other then those little minor problems, I quite enjoyed Captain America. It's a pure summer blockbuster with a mix of action and humor to keep you entertained for over two hours. This film also does a great job mixing in the entire universe of previous Marvel films and we are so close to the Avengers film that I can smell it. I guess you could say it isn't a perfect film, what films have been lately? (Okay other then Super 8) Three words pretty much sum up my experience:


  1. Glad to hear it turned out well, it doesn't come out here in Australia till 28th, so I'm still waiting to see it. Kinda disappointed To hear that the love story was phoned in and that the howling commandos were under-utilised, but I'm still looking forward to it!

    On a side note, what does The Avengers film smell like?

  2. @Stepho I tell you what it smells smells like badass....that and sweat. Cause a lot of sweaty, buff men appear to be in it.

  3. great review hopeing to see the movie this weekend

  4. The best superhero movie of the summer - good acting, good special effects, good storyline, and a heaping dollop of patriotism. Whoever thought Evans could have made such a great Captain America too! Good Review! Check out mine when you can!