Friday, July 29, 2011

‘Captain America’ True blue fun!

Captain America first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1941, a true propaganda piece in the efforts to rid the world of Adolph Hitler. At that time, Marvel Comics had only been around since 1939, so it is a true testament to the character of Captain America that 70 years later he is still just as vibrant and full of life as he has ever been. Portrayed in various forms, from quick movie serials to Saturday morning kids cartoons, to cheesy Roger Corman ‘B’ flicks and finally to really bad ‘Made for TV’ films that nearly destroyed the beloved character, Captain America has stood the test of time (and our patience) to finally rise above the failed attempts to bring him to life.

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is by far the best superhero movie since the first ‘Iron Man’ focusing not only on some great action, but the character of Cap and the passion that drives him. Chris Evans, no stranger to superhero movies as he played The Human Torch in the ‘Fantastic Four’ films, does a stand up job as Steve Rogers/Captain America. While a bit corny and annoying as the Human Torch, Evans comes into his own and really breathes life into Captain America; I would say that the role of Cap was tailored made for Evans, with his all American looks and childlike wonder as well as a very regal stature. Evans brings a touching feel to the character, who starts out as a 98 pound weakling and through the miracle of science is transformed into the super soldier Captain America; but even with his new found power, he keeps the sensibility and compassion he knew as the underdog. Evans superbly translates this even while working with some terrific CGI that places his head atop a very skinny body (for the first half of the film).

What makes Captain America so relatable to everyone is his humanity. He has no real super powers, he is just very strong and athletic as well as having a very high metabolism which helps him to heal incredibly fast (and not get drunk as we are told in one particularly touching scene).

As the story goes, the Nazis are invading the world, it of course is World War II; in order to help turn the tide of the war, the American government has sanctioned a special ‘science’ division, intent of developing an army of super soldiers to defeat the Nazis. A defected German scientist, Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, always wonderful) has developed such a serum; however not only does it augments the physical traits, it augments the mental and emotional traits of its subjects. Case in point his first subject: Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving, who can play bad guys like no other) becomes the evil leader of Hydra, a Nazi science division, hell bent of destroying the world. Many of the more touching moments are between Dr Erskine and Rogers, Erskine sees the potential of Rogers to be something great, something inspiring; we find that he is completely right.

Director Joe Johnston (October Sky) does a wonderful job with the film, centering the story around the characters rather than the action (although the action scenes are well filmed and paced). The film itself is shot with a grainy almost film reel quality to it, adding to the realism. I saw this in 2D; so because of the darker, richer tones, I would not recommend the 3D version. The supporting cast including Tommy Lee Jones as the tough as nails colonel is perfectly cast. I was a little disappointed with Hayley Atwell as Cap’s love interest and ‘hander’; while she was glamorous she was completely dull and lacked emotion. As mention earlier, Hugo Weaving plays one of the best super villains in some time; other actors should take note!

This is a 4 star film worthy of a showing or two; in these troubling times, it is good to get a little patriotic!

No comments: