Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Bust out your shields and strap on your nazi stompin' boots, we're reviewing Captain America: The First Avenger!

The X-Men Poster design went over pretty well, so I tried making some patriotic propaganda! AND I'll be having a Red Skull one for another Captain America article!
Captain America isn't just a great comic book movie(and oh, what a fantastic comic book movie it is), but a great war movie summer blockbuster. 

The U.S. has just entered WWII. Steve Rogers(Chris Evans), a skinny little 90 lb. nothing, really wants join the good fight, not to kill Nazi's, but to stop their reign of bullying. He's denied five times, until a certain doctor takes interest in him for his super soldier program. Skinny little Steve is pumped up to the perfect human specimen, but the lab is destroyed before any more can be made, leaving him the sole super soldier.  They eventually use him to fight the evil nazi R&D devision(curse you evil researchers!), known as Hydra, headed by the evilier than Hitler Red Skull(Hugo Weaving). Nazi punching antics ensue.

I was one of the first to say I couldn't see Evans play Steve Rogers, especially after he played the dickish Johnny Storm perfectly in both Fantastic Four's, and especially especially after he played extreme douche Lucas Lee in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But I am no forced to eat my words, as I totally believe him as both Steve Rogers and Captain America. At no point did I ever see Johnny Storm or even Chris Evans. He's just a spectacular actor. 

Not only is Chris Evans a spectacular Actor, Steve Rogers is a spectacular character. He is EXACTLY how a person who turns into Captain America should be: a good hearted soul who believes in standing up for the little guy with zero percent sarcasm or douchebaggery. This is the guy we all wanted Ryan Reynolds to be in Green Lantern. He's not a brooding batman, he's not a snarky Ironman, he's just patriotic upstanding Captain Freakin' America. 

And he's such a good person, you really feel for the guy. I was interested in his story and enjoyed how the idea of Captain America progressed as through the film. He has a bit of a love interest with Peggy Carter(Hayley Atwell), but it's not over the top schmaltzy like in other superhero movies.  I even teared up a little bit near the dramatic ending, even knowing full well he'll be ok. It's just played so great.

Speaking of phenomenal acting, oh hai ENTIRE CAST. I don't think there's one part I didn't like or that gave a poor performance.  Tommy Lee Jones' Colonial Chester Philips was a funny character with a surprising emotional range.  Stanley Tucci played a warm Dr. Erskine, Toby Jones played a sniveling yet creepy Dr. Zola, and you can see where Tony Stark gets it from in Dominic Cooper's Howard Stark.
And last but not least is the always amazing Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull.

All the costumes, sets and various contraptions look amazing. Some may complain that once Hydra gets involved the period piece aspect flies out the window, but you have to remember this isn't a World War II movie, this is a Marvel World War II movie, where magic and giant robots are the norm! It's a bit odd to have a WWII movie with no nazis(insert Hydra soldiers here), but the Hydra soldiers and weaponry look so cool I don't even care. Screw Swastikas, Their symbol is a freakin' skull with tentacles!

I enjoyed all of Cap's costume progression from gaudy vaudeville costume, to a practical and inspirational war suit. And Red Skull looked amazing. Oh yeah, that reveal in the trailers you see with him pulling off his face? You think that's 10 minutes from the end? WRONG! That's half-way through the movie! He walks around half a movie full on Red Skull! How awesome is that?!  What superhero movie does that?  This is the superhero New World Order.

This is the pin that holds the Avengers franchise together. They seamlessly weave the Ironman, Thor, Incredible Hulk, and Shield universes together, even going so far as to include a few from the expanded Marvel Universe.  They don't even bother explaining everything, they just assume you've seen all the other movies. And hey, nifty Avengers trailer at the end!

The pacing is good, and the action is great. Explosions, shooting, flame throwers, people getting disintegrated, and of course Cap throwing his shield like a boss.  I saw this in 3D, and I'm not sure I can recommend it. It really only comes into play half-way through the movie, and mostly involves said explosions and Cap throwing his shield like a boss.  So if you really want to feel like Cap is throwing his shield like a boss at your face, totally go for the extra buck.  The technology they used to put Evans' head on a skinny body works fairly well and there are only a couple of times I thought it was shoddy.

The story is phenomenal and the script is great. There are even some nice parallels, which I love in a good script. The romance isn't too over the top, Cap's progression from little guy, to hero, to legend is interesting to see, and Evans plays Rogers with a sincere honesty.

Overall: Highly recommended, for action fans and especially for comicbook fans. Go see it.
Why you should see it: Evans plays a heroic and honest Cap, and throws his shield at the Red Skull like a boss
Movies like it: Ironman, Saving Private Ryan, Superman
One Scene  Metaphor: Captain America has been captured, and is being beaten by the Red Skull
Red Skull: You don't quit, do you?
Cap: I could do this all day...
Cap standing up to the Red Skull, something that basically looks like a walking American flag standing up to the devil, and it's really mirroring a scene in the very beginning, in which a skinny Rogers stands up to some jerk twice his size for talking in a movie. No sarcasm, or snark, or douchebaggery, just an honest hero standing up to a bully.

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