Reviewed: Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

12A – 125mins – Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi – 29th July 2011

With the summer season now in full blast we get our latest and final all action comic book hero for the year in the guise of Captain America- yet another character that I am unfamiliar with. Have I missed out on a childhood filled with comic books? It would seem so.

Set during World War II, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) a poorly yet determined man has only one goal- to join the army so that he can serve and protect his country. Due to his illnesses and diminished stature though he is rejected and turned away by every recruitment station he visits. A chance encounter with Dr. Erksine (Stanley Tucci) changes his fortunes and leads him to be accepted onto a secret project codename Project Rebirth where his honour and integrity gain him the chance to become a super soldier. He undergoes the transformation and becomes capable of near superhuman acts.

Meanwhile in Germany, Johann Schmidt aka the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), head of the Nazi exploratory research department HYDRA is building and army and technology that threatens to not only usurp Hitler but destroy the world. Captain America is tasked with stopping Schmitt and bringing the war to a premature end.

I was looking forward to seeing Evans in his role as Captain America as I’d wanted to see if he had what it takes to be the leading star in a film rather than the supporting roles he’s more used to. He passed with flying colours making the character his own from a skinny nobody to the patriotic propaganda spinning Captain America. The rest of the cast also performed well with Weaving a convincing bad guy (despite me wanting him to say Mr. Anderson) and Tommy Lee Jones adding his unique charisma to the hard as nails Colonel. I was less convinced with Hayley Atwell playing the love interest Peggy Carter as the chemistry wasn’t there and she never really extracted any emotions from me good or bad.

The action taken as a whole was good but I’m not sure that there was enough from Captain America. Sure he swung his shield and sent the opposition flying but I never felt that he was getting down and dirty for his cause. Some of the fighting scenes felt rushed and tended to be over before they had even begun. Also I understand Captain America’s improved metabolism/regeneration properties cover up the fact he always looks like he’s just walked out from make-up room #1 but I would still have liked to see him a bit beaten up and then recover for the next scene rather than looking as if he’s just going for a stroll through the park. He never felt in peril which instantly removes any suspense that I should have been feeling for him.

The story of his origins seemed to take president over the action and to a certain degree that’s understandable- there is no movie without a plot, but I would have liked a smidge more action and a tad less talking. Luckily the film didn’t give off that all American vibe that I thought it might with the patriotism healthily present rather than all engulfing. Likewise, the comedy flowed at a decent level with many short (as in height) jokes and other such one liners hitting their mark. Although for me, I found Red Skull to be the funniest merely for his appearance- he was not scary and just looked like he’d forgotten to lather himself in suntan lotion before a trip to the beach one day.

The ending certainly adds its clout to The Avengers film due out next year. (You may want to hang around at the end for another post credit scene and a teaser trailer for said film). So where does this go in my list of Summer comic book heroes? I think it slots in nicely behind X-Men, just pipping Thor into second and is comfortably ahead of the Green Lantern.

Rating: B

 

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