Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Length: 124 minutes
Release Date: July 22, 2011
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Genre: Action, Adventure
OVERVIEW – Captain America: The First Avenger
An action movie is only as strong as its director, and Joe Johnston brings that strength to “Captain America.” Johnston previously combined strong storytelling with action and adventure in “Hildago,” “Jurassic Park III,” and “Jumangi.” He uses some of that sure touch to add intensity to the already interesting story of the superhero Captain America.
The problem with many comic book stories is that the director and writer try to combine the back-story of the character with a new storyline. Johnston uses this movie as an introduction to the major characters who had an impact on the superhero’s life over the years. The movie manages to combine historical facts with the modern era in a way that will leave fans eager to see “The Avengers,” which also features Captain America and his more modern-day adventures.
“Captain America” begins with a shot of an isolated area of the Arctic. A group of researchers discover the Captain’s iconic red, white, and blue shield before the movie jumps back to 1942. Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving, “The Matrix,” “V for Vendetta”) and a group of Nazis find a mystical object that will later turn Schmidt into one of Captain America’s main enemies: the Red Skull.
The movie then jumps to America and introduces the audience to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, “The Losers,” “Fantastic Four”). Rogers is a patriotic young man, eager to serve his country. His asthma, weak body, and a host of medical conditions conspire to prevent him from enlisting. When he visits a fair with close friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan, “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Gone”), he sneaks away to meet with another enlistment agency.
After facing another rejection, he discusses the situation with Bucky. Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones,” “Julie & Julia”) tells him that he is perfect for a secret experiment that the government is funding. Erskine introduces him to Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell, “The Duchess,” “Cassandra’s Dream”), a British intelligence agent working for the United States government. He also meets Colonel Chester Phillips (“Men in Black,” “No Country for Old Men”), one of the project heads.
Rogers competes with other recruits for the top spot in the secret experiment, including one man who Chester thinks is perfect. After passing a variety of tests and showing his intelligence, Rogers wins the spot. He steps inside a metal chamber, and he later emerges as the superhero Captain America. Though he thinks he can now protect his country, the government relegates him to a figurehead role. He does traveling shows, poses for pictures, and does interviews.
On one of his journeys, he meets Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper, “Mamma Mia!,” “My Week With Marilyn.” The audience may well be aware at this point that Stark is later have a son, Tony Stark, who will eventually become Ironman. When Rogers hears that his friend Bucky and his unit went missing during a mission, he convinces Stark to fly him to the area where they disappeared. After finding the unit and bringing them back, the world learns that Rogers is truly an American hero. The movie seems to finally gain its footing once Captain American can start living his life as a superhero.
“Captain America” proves that Hollywood can make a superhero origins movie without the film feeling too heavy or boring. With its World War II setting, the movie could feel slightly gimmicky, but it actually manages to feel more realistic than some of the other releases featuring Marvel characters.
The only flaw with the film is the long run time. The director spends a great deal of time leading up to the reveal of Evans as Captain America, a scene shown endless times in the trailers. Over half of the movie occurs before Evans ever climbs into the iconic costume. Fans who enjoy comic book movies want the action to start quickly, and “Captain America” keeps those fans waiting for well over an hour.
Despite that flaw, “Captain America” is an entertaining movie suitable for the whole family. Evans is the perfect man for the role, playing equally well as the wimpy boy at the beginning of the movie and the superhero who protects the world at the end. The movie manages to pack lots of action into the final scenes while also setting up Captain America’s role in “The Avengers.” This is the type of comic book movie that appeals to long-time fans of the hero, as well as those who want to escape reality for a few hours.
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