Captain America: The First Avenger
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DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by Joe Johnston
Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Hugo Weaving, Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, Jenna Louise-Coleman
Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures
Originally Released: July 19, 2011
What better way for geeks to celebrate this national holiday than to kick back with a few cold ones and watch the personification of the USA in the Marvel Universe: Captain America: The First Avenger.
And honestly, good ol’ Cap is more important in Marvel than you think. Sure, he leads The Avengers; but Marvel’s most popular heroes, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, and now Iron Man thanks to Robert Downey Jr., tend to eclipse the important responsibility Captain America has played to the evolution of the Marvel Universe.
Captain America is the personification, not of the United States, but instead for which it stands. I’m not talking about liberty or justice or freedom or patriotism. I’m speaking about people – it’s the people that make this nation so special. And Cap personifies that element, that deep down, we all have the potential to be good people; and that it is not our abilities that make us who we are, but the choices we make.
Since the 1940s, Captain America has been the symbolic center of what the Marvel Universe is, and this underpins the entire premise of the Marvel film series.
Set during World War II, The First Avenger retells the origin story of Captain America, in which the scrawny (though determined) Steve Rogers is selected for the cut of his morals to be the pilot subject for the Super Soldier program. Along with Bucky Barnes, and the crew of the Howling Commandos, Cap takes the fight to the Red Skull, leader of an offshoot of the Nazis known as Hydra.
The movie, overall, is simply put: a lot of fun. Captain America is a part of the Marvel Universe that could have been a spectacular failure on screen if not treated properly. Similar to many of the superhero characters, Cap is rather fantastic, and the film representation may have come across cheesy. The end result is further from that indeed, and while some scenes may be sensed as far-fetched, Joe Johnston’s Captain America is firmly within the realism of the Marvel Universe while still being a love-letter to the history of the character.
Chris Evans makes a brilliant Captain America/Steve Rogers, and his conviction to the role cements him as an important element of the Marvel series that completely erases his Human Torch times with those horrible Fantastic Four movies (though I still stand by my claim that those are cool mindless popcorn flicks). His portrayal is genuine, and his on-screen chemistry with Sebastian Stan is great. There is some unnecessary silliness with the romantics with Hayley Atwell, but this sets up a range of elements for future stories.
Hugo Weaving is phenomenal as the Red Skull. He is one of the greatest actors of all time, in my book, and his portrayal of the iconic enemy of Captain America is memorable for his extraordinary facial and voice expressions, even with the amazing make-up. Tommy Lee Jones steals the show however, representing the audience’s doubts as to whether a realistic Captain America could pan out. His chops are solid throughout the movie and his conviction and faith towards Rogers solidifies as the narrative progresses, mirroring the reactions of the audience.
The visual effects are of a very good quality, particularly with the visuals of Scrawny Soldier Steve transitioning to Super Soldier Steve. This imagery is perhaps the most important of the film, for had it failed to put across the transition realistically, the movie would have lost all credibility. And while that is impressive work, there are some scenes where the green screen and CGI really stand out, holding potential to pull the audience out of the moment of the film.
So if you’re looking for a patriotic film this holiday, why not go into comic book geekdom and revisit Captain America.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5