Backgrounder on the reviewer: what I know about the Captain and the Avengers stems primarily from friends *coughNickcough* who are big Marvel fans. I’ve also seen some of the animated movies. Thus, what I know of Captain America can be summarized as “Steve Rogers is a good guy but is physically weak. He becomes the only product of a Super Soldier program developed to defeat the Nazis in World War II. However, in his last mission, he falls into the Arctic and remains frozen until he is discovered and defrosted in the present day. He also eventually gets it on with the Black Widow.” As such, there will be no comparisons to the comics whatsoever.
Yes, there was a typhoon yesterday but that didn’t stop my family and I from going to ATC to watch “Captain America: The First Avenger” on its first day of release. I had zero expectations coming in, as I hadn’t seen any promo material aside from the official trailer and the famous (or infamous?) “Captain America Fuck Yeah” parody. Well, maybe I had one expectation. I was expecting Chris Evans to fail as the Cap because he’s of the same type as Ryan Reynolds – I could not recall him ever portraying a character that was not a wise ass and/or douche. The verdict? It was really good! 😀 My ranking of the summer comic book movies: X-Men First Class > Captain America > Green Lantern=Thor.
“The First Avenger” is an origin movie, detailing Captain America’s journey from skinny-but-goodhearted-guy Steve Rogers to OMG-AWESOME-SUPERHERO-but-goodhearted-guy Captain America. His path to hero-dom is not smooth: his mentor (creator?) is assassinated by HYDRA (the Nazi deep science division headed by the Red Skull) and he’s relegated to the role of mascot. It’s not until he disobeys orders and successfully rescues 400 POWs (including best friend James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes) that he shows everyone what he can do. He then leads his own elite team (the Howling Commandos) and destroys HYDRA base after HYDRA base. His ultimate test is stopping the Red Skull from dropping bombs on the world’s major cities.
I found the movie very exciting to watch – certainly more exciting than Thor or Green Lantern. It’s a fictionalized 1940s and the Cosmic Cube is involved, so we get superpowered energy weapons, high-tech submarines, Vita-Rays, the works! The cinematography was excellent – it set the wartime-yet-hopeful mood that Cap Am should have. The script was also pretty good – for the most part, it gave the non-comic book fans the needed information without resorting to talking heads. Tommy Lee Jones’ deadpan one-liners made me laugh.
(nope, no spoilers below :D)
I have to say this: the casting was perfect. Chris Evans finally proved that he can play a character that’s NOT a smug douche. Sebastian Stan made Bucky an equal partner, not just a sidekick. Hayley Atwell gave Peggy Carter strength, beauty, and vulnerability. Tommy Lee Jones has perfected being the honorable and gruff commanding officer. And hey, Hugo Weaving always makes a stellar villain. Mad props to the costume designer for somehow making Cap’s red, blue, and white costume look hero-ish and cool *thumbs up* The only part that dragged was the montage of scenes with the Cap as a mascot. Sure you have to show him slowly being resigned to his role but it could have been done faster than that.
Another reason that Captain America works for me is that the tragedy happens at the end of the story. This is the same feeling I got watching First Class when Charles Xavier was shot in the spine. With Iron Man and Green Lantern, the tragedy happens at the beginning and the movie is their road to redemption. With Captain America and First Class, the movie is their rise to glory only to lose in the end.
Overall, I rate Captain America: The First Avenger a 9/10. And it goes without saying that you should stick around for the bonus scene at the end of the credits. I screamed at the end. LOL. But if you’ve been tracking every single bit of Avengers news that’s come out, the after-credits scene won’t come as a surprise. I’d already seen it on Gizmodo about a week ago 😛