Friday, July 29, 2011

Movie Review Captain America: The First Avenger

I've been a Marvel girl most of my life. It all started with reading Spiderman at the soda fountain of a local drug store when I was no older than four. My Saturday mornings were soon filled with the Fox Kids line-up of X-Men, Batman (Yes, I do know it's DC) and Spiderman cartoons. While I've never been a comic book connoisseur, I have always appreciated good cartoons and movies and I'm not alone. Most everyone you talk to say that they include a comic book movie among their favorite flicks, most notably Batman, either Christopher Nolan's version or the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton films. If I was asked to pick a favorite, it would have been the original X-Men movie from 2000. I still haven't seen X-Men: First Class so I cannot compare though I will try and see it soon so I can share my thoughts. That being said, Captain America: The First Avenger may just have taken over as my favorite comic book movie.

Image Courtesy of Comic Book Resources
The first thing you have to realize about Captain America is that it is set in the Marvel Universe. While many aspects of this universe parallel our own there are many differences, superheroes being one of them, of course. In the beginning, most Marvel comics were set in New York City. In Captain America, for example. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is from Brooklyn and the beginning of the film features New York quite a bit. We meet Rogers after he has applied for entrance in the United States Army several times. He has seen the footage of the war in Europe and he desperately wants in on the action. It doesn't matter the capacity, he just wants the opportunity to do what's right. Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees something in him and selects him as a candidate for the Super Soldier program. Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) is hesitant about Rogers, but Agent Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) also sees something in him. He soon proves his merits and becomes Captain America.

Image courtesy of Comic Book Resources
Captain America: The First Avenger flows really well. I think it has a good sense of continuity and fluidity from scene to scene. This was achieved largely in part by having such a great director. Joe Johnston in conjunction with the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely did an amazing job of capturing both the innocence and eagerness of Steve Rogers and the era itself. Your emotions are stirred for the folks in the theater as they're watching the newsreel about the soldiers overseas in World War II and it's as if you're transported back to that time. The coloration was muted and felt very antiquated. I loved those little touches the most. There were nods to the original Captain America comic book which helped to capture the spirit. Cap's costumes are awesome and I think that comic book fans will be very pleased with the way they are depicted. The shield rocks, too!

Image courtesy of Comic Book Resources
Chris Evans did an amazing job as Steve Rogers. I feel like he really embodied his goodness, though I feel as if he held back to a certain extent. Though he was Captain America, he did very little proper leading. There were only a couple of moments where he was incredibly take charge. I think that the side of Steve Rogers that was captured most with this movie was the fact that he is an incredibly loyal friend, a diehard soldier, and someone who will not give up and who never backs down. Steve becomes Cap and this American symbol, but he stays true to himself and his ideals. He doesn't let this power go to his head and he stays the selfless person that he always was.

Image courtesy of Comic Book Resources
Captain America had an amazing supporting cast. I really enjoyed Haley Atwell's portrayal of Peggy Carter. She was definitely no nonsense and it showed. To be the only woman in the primary cast, she definitely held her own against the men. As I said before, Sebastian Stan's Bucky was great. It's funny how Steve was his sidekick before the transformation into Captain America. I'm sure that will help fuel the fire if we get to see Stan portray Winter Soldier. Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci were both excellent. They're two of the finest actors I've seen and were a perfect fit for their respective roles. Dominic Cooper is Howard Stark. The look, the swagger. I think he was just awesome in the role. It'll be great to see Captain America interact with Tony Stark. "Oh, btw, I knew your dad..." and such.

Image courtesy of SciFi Mafia
And what of the super-villain of Captain America? I can't see anyone else playing Red Skull. Hugo Weaving has such a wide range and can play characters like Elrond, V, Agent Smith as well as voice Megatron. He brings depth and dimension to the characters that he portrays and I was very impressed by the way he embodied Red Skull. He made me hate him which is the point, right? My only real qualm is the final battle between Cap and Red Skull. I feel like it left something to be desired. There's so much back and forth and build up you think it's going to be epic and then it falls a bit short. There are some great action sequences, but this is not as action packed as most super hero movies.

Overall, I'm very happy with Captain America: The First Avenger. It had a lot of weight on its shoulders and I really think that it delivered. Don't forget to stay past the credits for a teaser for The Avengers, though, let's face it, most of you have probably watched it on the internet anyway. Everyone in my theater cheered, of course. Oh, and please remember that this is not a movie specifically about World War II. I mean, yes, he is a solder in World War II but this is much more than fighting Nazis and punching Hitler in the face. I'm an American history major and I still was okay with the way the war was portrayed. Cool your jets, people!

Captain America: The First Avenger stars Chris Evans, Haley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci and is in theaters now.

Have you seen Captain America: The First Avenger? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment!

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