Thursday, November 3, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

Captain America is a very difficult movie for me to review for several reasons. I am a huge fan of the comics and I have a certain idea in my mind of what a Captain America movie should be. This movie contained many of the elements that I thought were great but there were also things that seemed very out of place in my opinion. One of the things they did get right was the casting of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. The supporting cast is for the most part very well cast with Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, and Dominic Cooper being the main supporting characters. Joe Johnston was also a very good choice to be the director because he has an extensive history of creating solid action blockbusters.

The plot of Captain America is largely unchanged from the original tale that was written in the comics roughly 65 years ago. There were many updates to the origin because of the time that the movie was made and the injection of new elements to make the character more appealing to new viewers. I really appreciated that they hammered home the fact that Steve Rogers is a normal guy from Brooklyn only wanting to serve his country in any way he possibly can. He is small and weak but that fact never deters him from wanting and trying to be the strongest person that he can possibly be. This is one of the essential facts that shaped his character int he early comics and the movie. The expanded role of the scientist that recruits Rogers, played by Stanley Tucci, was also a welcome addition to the origin that is sometimes glossed over in the comics. He is one of the first people to actually believe in Steve Rogers as a man and can see the potential that he has. When he is killed, you can see that Rogers is genuinely affected by this and the viewer also feels something because there was a connection created even in the short time the character was onscreen. This is something that is lost in reading comics sometimes because you don't see the character interact in real time with other characters. The inclusion of Howard Stark was also a bold choice and was a good way to connect this movie to the Iron Man franchise, even when some people might not make the connection right away.

There are some things in this movie that really do not fit in with the image I had in my mind of what this movie would be. There are also some serious deviations from the original origin story that seem oddly out of place within the Marvel movie universe. The inclusion of Rogers' friend at the beginning of the movie seemed unnecessary and seemed oddly forced because he really just kept putting down Rogers in almost every scene he is in. The Red Skull as a character and threat is completely altered from his comic iteration. He is in the movie for a very short time for the threat that he is supposed to represent. He is Captain America's nemesis and will not stop for any reason to kill him at least in the comics. In the movie he is annoyed by Captain America destroying his factories but in the comics it is his ultimate goal to take over the world and destroy Captain America. The lack of a true villain in the movie is a real sore spot in the narrative for me at least. Red Skull never felt like a threat to Captain America and it seemed like the throngs of nameless Nazi thugs were a bigger threat than Red Skull. This was my only major concern with the movie, and I was pretty happy with the rest of the movie.

Captain America is also the most well acted of the Marvel movies with Thor coming in a close second. Chris Evans really embraces the role of Steve Rogers and you completely forget that he had the unfortunate honor of playing Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movies.Even in the beginning of the movie when he digitally altered to be skinny and weak, you can still see that he has an almost unbreakable will and inner strength. Then when he goes through the physical transformation you believe that he is this hulking super soldier. The entire time you see him onscreen you as the viewer believe that all he wants to do is fight for and help his country. Several of the supporting characters give exceptional performances such as Stanley Tucci and Dominic Cooper, they portray iconic characters and do them justice.

Overall this is a very solid summer action movie that showcases one of the biggest characters in the comic industry. Chris Evans was the only actor who could have properly played this character and has started two film franchises in the process, Captain America and the other is The Avengers. Take the time and sit down and watch this movie if you like big blockbusters because you will not be disappointed. I strongly recommend seeing this movie.