Captain America: The First Avenger Review
John's Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.3/10
(7 reviews total)
Captain America: The First Avenger, the final Marvel origin story before The Avengers
next May, is a blast from start to finish. Chris Evans equips himself well as the "star-spangled man with a plan," and Joe Johnston proves himself more than capable of delivering when it comes to solid superhero action. Not to mention Hugo Weaving's Red Skull, the best Marvel villain to date and a romantic subplot that actually works.
The film is a breath of fresh air and a perfect lead-in to The Avengers
. It's also one of the few times I've had no — okay — very few complaints about a summer movie in 2011.
It's the 1940s, and poor Steve Rogers (Evans) wants nothing more than to serve his country. The scrawny little guy from Brooklyn lived his whole life getting picked on by bully after bully, and when the opportunity comes to fight the baddest bully of them all — Hitler — he's rejected, and rejected, and rejected ... and rejected. Four times he tries to enlist, and four times he's told he's too small and too weak for combat. It's not until he meets Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), an ex-German scientist, that he's given chance. Erskine is heading up a top-secret government project, designed to build "super-soldiers," men with bigger muscles, faster legs, and keener senses than anyone else on the battlefield. The transformation goes off without a hitch, and just like that, Rogers is jacked. After a turn of events, however, the project is scrapped.
No one wants to let Rogers' new abilities go to waste, however. He's turned into Captain America and asked to tour the country, urging men and women to buy bonds and support the troops. But when he finds himself in Europe, and learns his best friend has been captured by a German mad man (Red Skull), Rogers finally gets to see some action. And a national hero is born.
The origin part of the story takes up a lot of time. The pacing of the whole film feels a little off as a result. It's the only real objection I had with the film, because we spend so much time setting things up, we have to transition very suddenly to the meat of the story. One thing I did appreciate, however, is that the studio pretty much left this product alone. In other words, the S.H.I.E.L.D. material is kept to a minimum and "Captain America" is allowed to exist on his own. That's not to say there aren't some fun easter eggs for Marvel fans, but they don't play such a vital role in the story like they did in Thor
or Iron Man 2
I bemoaned the casting of Chris Evans, as well as the choice of Joe Johnston as director, when this project was announced, but both proved to be major assets to the film. Evans (with the help of some tremendous special effects) totally sells himself as a scrawny underdog, which makes his persona later in the film relatable and easy to root for. He's not as funny or naturally charming as Chris Hemsworth in Thor
, but I felt a lot more emotionally connected to Captain America.
Johnston, meanwhile, delivers some of the better combat fight scenes I've seen in a while. There's something old-fashioned and pure about a shield being Captain America's weapon of choice, and though some of that purity is wiped away by Red Skull's weapon of choice being a gun that vaporizes people, I didn't enjoy their battles any less.
Almost every superhero movie must contain a romantic element. Sometimes, it works (see the iconic Superman and Lois Lane pairing). Other times (see Thor
or Green Lantern
), it's totally forgettable. I don't think the romance in "Captain America" was even close to the level of Superman and Lois Lane, but it's better than average. Agent Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, is a no-nonsense operative who sets her sights on Steve Rogers and doesn't let go. His awkwardness around people in general, but specifically women, makes their pairing a surprise, but it fits in well with the film overall. It doesn't really feel forced, and the two actors have great chemistry.
I should note that I saw the film in 3D. It was not filmed that way, however, and it shows. The picture is dark, and a lot of the action—particularly any explosions—showed some blurriness. Thankfully, none of that really detracted from the overall experience. I loved this movie and the Captain America character, and can't wait to see him team up with Thor, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner next year.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Directed by Joe Johnston
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Jack Kirby, Joe Simon (comic)
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Captain America served a very specific purpose when he debuted in 1940, but 70
years later, Marvel Studio has found a way to make him relevant again. With a
script that dives into the soul of its character as every good origin story
should and packs in adventure of old-school proportions, "Captain America" strikes a strong balance of nostalgic charm and
modern action. Veteran Joe Johnston knows how to please an audience. You can
feel the influence of Johnston’s early career work doing visual effects for
George Lucas in the original “Star Wars” films as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark
. Like those beloved films but to a less
instant-classic degree, the film quickly establishes a protagonist you can root
for and a large scale for action and adventure. Chris Evans finally shakes
loose his comic relief type-casting and shows off his leading man potential as
Steve Rogers. He’s not as magnetic of a figure as a Robert Downey Jr., but he’s
easy to love. Speaking of love, Hayley Atwell makes a terrific leading lady and
their relationship is among the best in the Marvel film universe. Although
nothing totally new, “Cap” simply nails the origin story." Rating: 8/10
Julian thought: "I’m willing to forget Joe Johnston ever made The Wolfman
now that I’ve seen what he’s done with "Captain America." It fails to genuinely leap past the confines of superhero cinema, but it fits perfectly well into such a mantra thanks to great acting leads and what we can hope to be a great follow-up next summer with The Avengers
. Chris Evans brings his A-game to the table with a surprisingly terrific performance as the weakling-turned-warrior Steve Rogers, but it’s Hayley Atwell as the token love interest who turns heads in a (hopefully) star-making performance. However, some aspects of this “Avengers” tie-in really hinder the film from pure cinematic greatness. For instance, there aren’t quite as many action sequences as are desired, although they’re generally well-choreographed and thrilling when they do come into the picture. While it’s appreciable that there weren’t any lame “hey look, there’s Captain America’s shield in Iron Man 2
” moments, Captain America: The First Avenger
does have an identity crisis. The screenplay works all too much to fit into that “Avengers” framework, and while that’s appropriate considering what’s in store next year, it could have been handled efficiently enough to where it didn’t have the same huge hindrance as Kenneth Branagh’s Thor
did earlier this summer." Rating: 7/10
Dinah thought: "Captain America: The Boring Avenger? I didn’t enjoy this blast from the past at all. I understand it was another time and another way of life, but the dialogue was sappy, the side characters were cheesy and even our good captain’s unquenchable desire to serve his country was bloody annoying. The only bright spots were the romance, friendship, and the end. The action, humor, and 3D were limp to nonexistent. Sure the story made the most sense compared to the other origin tales out this summer, however this is hardly the event movie a Captain commands." Rating: 5/10
Max thought: "It’s not the best Marvel has in its growing film catalog, but Cap’s first outing is a solid entry into the Marvel film world. Johnston isn’t my first choice for anything, but he does a deft job of balancing a strong cast with a good sense of scale given the limitations of the time frame the story is set in. The cinematography deserves a special mention as it’s just enough to give you that “comic feel” without feeling overly done or airbrushed (see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
). Thankfully, Evans and Atwell have a remarkable chemistry that is more subtle than most found in this growing and crowded genre. If I had any complaint, it would be that Weaving’s Red Skull doesn’t get enough to do and his payoff (without giving much away) feels a bit like a missed opportunity. Still, few gripes aside, “Captain America” is solid summer fun, without making you feel dumber for having watched or enjoyed it and should tie well into the forthcoming “Avengers” film." Rating: 8/10
Simon thought: "As a hero in general, Captain America is more than a tad dopey, but he is portrayed here as both an earnest, brave man trapped in the frame of a wimp and a shy, awkward young man graced with the build of a god. Evans pulls off the hero to a T, shedding any memory as him as another superhero, The Human Torch, and proves again he is leading man material. The supporting cast is equally fantastic, highlighted by a delightful Tucci as Dr. Erskine, Stan as Bucky Barnes and Jones as the wry Colonel Phillips. Most flaws to be found are minor, which include a rushed final act and an underwritten villain with Weaving’s Red Skull (I have no fault with his performance my any means). Sometimes the little things mean everything
; a deeply textured WWII setting, care taken in casting and utilizing an oft-forgotten piece of the filmmaking formula called character development. All combine to make an appropriately old-fashioned summer blockbuster with charm to spare." Rating: 7.5/10
"Unlike my colleagues, I personally thought Thor
was the better movie by Marvel Studios this year, but Captain America: The First Avenger
is still a very entertaining action film and it links in well to the other “Avengers” movies. Joe Johnston certainly made a fun, fast-paced movie that's light hearted, but respects the source material. The action was well-handled and the origin story reminded me a lot of 2002’s Spider-Man
. There was a fine mix of sci fi and historical adventure and Johnston has been the most confident action director that a Marvel movie has had so far. Hugo Weaving made a great Red Skull, a truly psychotic villain." Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.3/10