Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Turned down by the United States Army as a result of his numerous health troubles and miniature stature, Steve Rogers is left behind when his best friend Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) goes to war. Scouted by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) at the World War II Modern Marvels of Tomorrow exhibition in New York City, Rogers signs up to a super-soldier programme that might be his only chance to serve his country. Under Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and SSR officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), he is subjected to Erskine’s serum and transformed into Captain America.

When an act of sabotage ends the programme prematurely, killing Erskine and destroying Howard Stark’s (Dominic Cooper) equipment, Rogers is left behind once more as his superiors return to war. Left to serve his country as part of a star-spangled USO show, Rogers ultimately revokes his celebrity status when he learns of Bucky’s capture and sets off in pursuit of his friend. Aided by Carter and Stark, and tooled up with superior kit, Captain America will have to face off against a powerful new enemy if he is to save Bucky – and the rest of the world – from destruction. Hitler’s Hydra organisation, lead by one Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), has a powerful new weapon, one which might just be a bygone relic of the Gods.

Darkest day, blackest night; just when you thought Green Lantern had served the death blow to a superhero genre buckling under pressure, Marvel returns to cinemas with its propensity for saving the day. Following the excesses of X-Men: First Class, the madness of Thor and the, well, the offensiveness of The Green Hornet, director Joe Johnson successfully brings the genre back to Earth (or as close as it’s ever likely to get) for a pulse-pounding dose of period adventure.

Captain America‘s biggest strength is how much damn fun it is, the setting encouraging comparisons to the very best of Indiana Jones. Though some of the effects smack a little unfortunately of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the film’s zeal more than compensates for a few unfinished pixels. Indeed, like with most of Marvel’s output most of the highlights lie outside the realm of green sceen, with a series of likeable characters giving the film a moral centre of winning dynamic. Tommy Lee Jones in particular steals the show with his quick-witted Colonel, always on hand to temper the inevitable corn with a scathing retort.

When taking a break from the steampunk air-battles, however, the CGI is perfectly apt. Evans convinces as a regular human being as much as he does a shield-wielding super-soldier, the digital muscle-ectamy proving nowhere near as distracting as it might have. Weaving too does a lot with his comic-book Nazi, even if he only truly makes an impression when the gloves – and mask – are off. His Red Skull is a thing of beauty, short-lived but extremely effective. It is just a pity that their relationship, or rather their antagonism, is not further explored. I doubt, however, that this is the last we will ever see of it.

Where Captain America stumbles, however, is in its structuring. Bookended by scenes set in the modern world, and intermittently flitting between states, characters and body masses, Captain America struggles to maintain momentum as it attempts to consolidate several decades worth of comic book narrative into a single movie. While many have praised the final line as surprisingly moving, particularly given the genre, the conclusions (of which there are at least two) lack the dramatic weight of Marvel’s other outings. Though broaching greatness on a number of occasions, Captain America simply isn’t as streamlined – and therefore isn’t as quite as engaging – as Marvel’s other features.

While Captain America might not be able to hold a torch/hammer/repulsor to his superhero peers – Thor is quite simply the better film – it is still a movie of undeniable quality. More fun than Green Lantern and The Dark Knight combined, Captain America: The First Avenger is yet more proof that Marvel still has the monopoly on not only compelling superheroes but quality superhero movies too. With the post-credits Avengers teaser oozing spectacle, potential and – most importantly of all – character, 2012 truly cannot come quickly enough.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

9 Responses to Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Hugely enjoyable and superbly written, this is a thrilling action-adventure that gets just about everything right, especially the casting of Evans as Captain America. Good Review!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed, I just wish they’d cast actual Germans and gone to further lengths to avoid looking – at times – like an effects scene from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

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  3. Magda Mooks says:

    I’m one of the very few comics/movie lovers that (a) enjoyed Green Lantern as a brave taste of the psychedelia and scope of comics and (b) didn’t much enjoy X-Men: First Class (wanted to. But it didn’t tap into what the X-Men are about for me, and missed a few tricks with its main characters, notably Emma Frost). I guess I’m out of kilter with popular thinking.

    However, this was a great review and made me look forward to Captain America hugely!

    • I know, I adore the Fantastic Four franchise and would agree that there is a lot wrong with First Class (characters switch from good to evil like they might change the channel/ half the characters have nothing to do, notably Emma Frost during the last act/the first 30 minutes are an actual embarrassment) so I can relate to the apparent loneliness of being a superhero fan who wishes Bruce Wayne would just tumbler off.

      Thanks for the praise, I hope you enjoy the film at least as much as I did 🙂

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  5. I’ve been resisting reading this until I got my review done – glad I waited, I’d have been unconsciously plagiarising you like a mad thing. Super work as always.

  6. Pingback: Iron Man (2008) « popcornaddict

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