Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger review; it's a great superhero film

Captain America is one of the most beloved Marvel Superheros ever. It's kind of sad that it took this long to get his own movie considering what he represents.  The character of Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, is an interesting one.  He is small, puny and wants nothing more than to be a soldier in the U.S. Military.  When a doctor creates a serum to help him become physically superior soldier, that's when all the fun happens.  Let's go!

What I liked about the movie:
The Cast
The cast, both starring and supporting, were very impressive in this movie.  I didn't know how to feel about Chris Evans as Captain America.  I always thought he was a good actor for genre films, but didn't know if he could command attention as a superhero.  Rest assured, he's great!  In the first act, pre-serum injections, his acting ability really comes through.  The audience will feel sympathy for the kid from Brooklyn who wants nothing more than to serve his country.  Evans shows us that Steve Rogers was a good MAN, way before he was a good superhero.  Nicely Done!

The supporting cast was very awesome!  Hugo Weaving as the main villain, Red Skull, was great.  Even the cheesy accent was ok with me.  Weaving has the voice, arrogance and presence needed to play the villain.  I enjoyed his work very much.  Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter was a delight on screen, not the usual damsel in distress.  Tommy Lee Jones plays a perfect Colonel in the Military, he is compassionate enough for us to care about him, but stern enough to lead in a war.  Stanley Tucci... is there anything Tucci can't do?!  He's awesome as the Doctor who invents the serum for Steve Rogers.  Sebastian Stan plays Bucky, Steve Rogers best friend, nicely done by the young actor. 

The Setting
The movie mostly takes place during World War II.  The production design team does such an amazing job with the set pieces, the costumes, etc.  What's also impressive is the lighting, and camera work.  Shelly Johnson used just the right lighting that gave the movie an older feel without overdoing it.  It was nice to see a superhero film that wasn't in modern day times.

The Story / Writing
Simple, easy to follow and exciting.  Hugo Weaving's character believes in "magic" which was stolen from Odin's vault.  It is the Cosmic Cube which has been referenced in the Marvel Universe of films.  It has a great deal of power and, if harnessed correctly, could destroy every major city in the world.  Captain America and company must stop Red Skull from doing so.  The writing is clever and I never rolled my eyes at any horrible dialogue.  The writers were clever and even made fun of the Captain America suit before we could as an audience.  I love when writers acknowledge things like that without making it obvious! 

What I liked and didn't like about the film:
The Director
Joe Johnston has done a lot of work in Hollywood.  He made a great name for himself with popular films like Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji, October Sky and Jurassic Park III.  I think he's a good storyteller, but there are aspects of his films that just don't click.  His movies always look great, he can always get a terrific cast to work with him, and the stories are usually pretty enticing.  I will tell you this, this movie is MUCH better than the atrocious The Wolfman from a few years ago.  Most of the things I enjoyed in the film are because of him.  As are the things I didn't enjoy.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Action
It's too bad, this is an action film and the action is silly.  There are multiple action scenes with hundreds of henchmen at war with our Military.  Henchmen and soldiers alike are being killed so often, we don't feel any real loss.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, action should only compliment the story, not take it over.  The final action sequence was impressive though with many intricate camera shots.  Didn't totally leave a sour taste in my mouth.

The Score
I feel I pay very close attention to film scores.  I can tell you which ones work and which ones don't in my opinion.  The average movie going public probably doesn't even care, but I do!  It didn't evoke emotion, it didn't make me care and I never felt like I was pulled into 100%.  The score should have been big, uplifting even.  This is Captain America damn it!  He's viewed as the leader of The Avengers and the score should have matched.

The Verdict:
Liked it very much
I enjoyed the movie very much.  I know I listed a few things I didn't like, but they weren't deal breakers.  It was great to see a modern day superhero in the past.  We grow with the character, figuratively and literally.  Steve Rogers is a good man who just lacked the physical stature to do great things.  He stood up for those who are bullied and did what was right.  I can't wait for The Avengers next year, it will be another chance to see Captain America in action!

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