By BEN STODDARD
What? They made another Captain America movie? Shouldn’t Marvel have learned its lesson by now?
Captain America: The First Avenger actually isn’t the first Captain America movie. If you include the 1944 series as one, than it is the fifth live-action movie about Marvel’s top tactical genius.
There were two TV movies in 1979 starring Reb Brown in the title role. The first movie had exactly one fight scene in the entire movie and featured plenty of driving scenes and general pointlessness.
The second TV movie was still boring, but Christopher Lee as the main villain helped.
The third movie was released in theatres in 1990 and starred Matt Slinger, but was critically panned for its lack of a plot and its disturbing opening scene. It also portrayed the captain as a klutz who often stole the cars of people who were trying to help him.
Does this new entry fare any better? Yes, significantly so.
Captain America: The First Avenger mostly takes place during the Second World War. It stars Chris Evans as Captain America (Steve Rogers,) Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. Evans isn’t perfect for the title role and is slightly monotone at times, but he does a fine job of carrying the movie. Jones is great as the Colonel; he’s funny yet serious at the same time. Weaving is perfect as Red Skull, acting over-the-top yet he’s still believable as a charismatic villain.
The rest of the supporting cast is strong and helps show the different sides of the captain’s leadership. Bucky in particular starts the movie looking out for Rogers and ends up as more of a sidekick after Rogers becomes the captain. This role reversal is one of the more interesting aspects of the movie.
Rogers himself starts the movie as a scrawny little asthmatic who is determined to join the army and fight the war. He tries to sign up multiple times, often lying about his address, and eventually joins a special team that will be enhanced by a superhero serum. The serum ends up giving him superhuman strength, speed and endurance, and increases his metabolism significantly. The serum itself is destroyed and the lead scientist is assassinated. Rogers eventually starts a special team to take on a fictional terrorist group called Hydra, lead by Red Skull.
For the most part, this movie is very entertaining. The first act is flooded with comedy and drama, introducing us to who Captain America is and why he deserves to be a superhero. The second act shows him become a superhero, and the third act is full of action. The climactic battle is intense and satisfying; usually Marvel movies feel anti-climactic. The final scene where the captain wakes up in modern New York, having being frozen for 70 years, is short, sweet and doesn’t feel out of place. The movie’s strongest point is that it actually feels like a classic comic book, while most superhero movies are either too dark or melodramatic. It’s not mean to be deep, it’s meant to be fun. However, the movie isn’t without its flaws.
While the movie does a good job at setting up its characters, it takes too long for Captain America to start doing superhero work. He doesn’t take on Hydra until about halfway through the movie. The action montage between the prison break and the final battle feels a bit rushed and out of place. The way that Red Skull is defeated is, for lack of better words, weird. These flaws are noticeable, but are forgivable in the grand scheme.
While not the greatest comic book movie of the year, Captain America is one of the better Marvel movies so far, and it’s much better than its predecessors.
The special features included in the blu-ray (unfortunately not in the DVD version) offer great insights on the movie’s costume design, how they made Chris Evans look small in the first act of the movie, and other aspects of the movie’s creation. Also included are deleted scenes, a hilarious short about Agent Coulson from Iron Man 2 and Thor, and a digital copy of the movie.
It’s a strong superhero movie with minor flaws that just hold it back from being the best Marvel movie to date. If the idea of a superhero movie taking place during the Second World War 2 interests you, check it out.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars