Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson
Studio: Marvel, Paramount
Review by: Bill Jones
Captain America: The First Avenger marks the final superhero movie to hit theaters before next year’s Marvel mega-film-event The Avengers. And like most superhero flicks as of late, it starts with the beginning, telling the origin of a scrawny man named Steve Rogers who through the wonders of science becomes Captain America, a beacon for patriotism during the war with the Nazis. But for all of its stylistic successes, its plot could use some work, and it is hard to shake the feeling that it’s in part an incredibly long trailer for another movie.
Captain America plays off a popular what-if scenario of what would happen is some sort of non-tradition, mystical power were to have existed during World War II. On the one hand, the evil hand, Third Reich supersoldier becomes The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). The same serum used to bestow the superpowers upon him is perfected and put into a good guy who becomes Captain America (Chris Evans). And when he’s not being toted around for propaganda, his spirit makes him America’s most powerful tool in the war.
Of course, at the core, it’s about the people. It’s not the powers that make Steve Rogers special; it’s the kind of person he is that forms what he does with them, while Red Skull rests on the flipside. But the Red Skull character build is a bit weak, and all of the plot points feel rather formulaic, the love interest (Hayley Atwell) seems needless and the secondary characters are never fleshed out quite enough.
But where the film succeeds incredibly is in its style. Captain America is one of few superhero films in recent memory to take place in a retro setting, and director Joe Johnston and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely use this to their advantage. The First Avenger brings in plenty of references to Captain America’s origins, and the entire tone of the film has a retro vibe, similar to that of The Rocketeer. At the same time, the visual style finds a way to be modern and gritty, without being overly graphic.
Captain America’s greatest successes are in its style, but it otherwise still works as a fun summer blockbuster. It’s not as great as recent comic adaptations like Thor and X-Men: First Class, but fans and general audiences alike will find enjoyment in it. With The Avengers on the way though, the last few minutes of the film cheapen the film in some ways. It’s pure hype for the next installment, but as such, it works pretty well.
For more info, captainamerica.marvel.com