Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

THE SETUP: A manly-deficient man named Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) would give anything to fight for his country, unfortunately his body doesn’t match the size of his courage. That is until an experiment transforms him into a super duper soldier…good timing too because the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and a secret Nazi group are trying to take over the world. You know, the usual.

When I heard they were going to make this movie set in World War 2, I was thrilled. When I heard Chris Evans was going to play Captain America, I was intrigued. When I saw this movie, I wasn’t let down. The story has heart, humour and is far less “in your face” patriotic than you’d think, especially about a guy who is covered in the American Flag. The hardest part of the movie to sell in a believable-ish way is the costume and they do it masterfully…even fun (cue music number, no spoilers). Chris Evans did a great job as the Sentinel of Liberty, grounding it in a way few actors could. Hugo Weaving on the other hand does what he always does…steals every scene he’s in. Unfortunately, he’s not in as many scenes as we’d like but that’s probably best as displaying his ghoulish make up (outstanding by the way) too much would take away from it. The rest – Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell play their roles well, adding humanity and heart to what could have been a straightforward comic book movie.

The story is fun without being campy. Everyone plays it straight and that’s really the only way they could have gone with it. There’s a cool nod to the campiness that it could have been and the World War II propaganda Captain America was originally a part of that really stands out. A great movie and a great addition to summer 2011.

3 stars – good movie, take a friend. Though it’s one of the many lead-ins to next year’s Avengers movie, this movie stands alone and etches out its own place both as a summer blockbuster and as a movie that elevates the comic book genre. I would have given it 3 tickets but that’s more of a “classic” classification. Note – re-evaluate in a few years.

Random Recommendations
The Great Escape (1963) – A great World War II movie that stands above great World War II movies. Take a true story, add a concentration camp full of evil Nazis, stuff it full of the manlinest actors of the day and you’ve got a pretty kickass movie. Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Sir Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn… ‘nuff said.

Spartan (2004) – Anything by David Mamet is worth a look. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not so much. This is a pay off and one of the few recent Val Kilmer movies I can say is any good. Lots of twists and turns and smart dialogue as we discover what happened to the daughter of a high-level politician. Intense with some great performances.

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