Steve Rogers, a rejected military soldier transforms into Captain America after taking a dose of a "Super-Soldier serum". But being Captain America comes at a price if he attempts to take down a war monger and a terrorist organization.
When bitten by a genetically modified spider, a nerdy, shy, and awkward high school student gains spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil as a superhero after tragedy befalls his family.
It is 1942, America has entered World War II, and sickly but determined Steve Rogers is frustrated at being rejected yet again for military service. Everything changes when Dr. Erskine recruits him for the secret Project Rebirth. Proving his extraordinary courage, wits and conscience, Rogers undergoes the experiment and his weak body is suddenly enhanced into the maximum human potential. When Dr. Erskine is then immediately assassinated by an agent of Nazi Germany's secret HYDRA research department (headed by Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. the Red Skull), Rogers is left as a unique man who is initially misused as a propaganda mascot; however, when his comrades need him, Rogers goes on a successful adventure that truly makes him Captain America, and his war against Schmidt begins. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
When Steve discovers the gunmetal circular shield in the development office of Howard Stark, he asks what it's made from. Vibranium is a fictional element in the Marvel universe that comes from the country of Wakanda, the land where The Black Panther, another Marvel superhero, lives. See more »
When Steve Rogers and Carter are sat in a bombed out pub in London during an air raid, a rather modern sounding two tone emergency services vehicle siren can be heard outside. Emergency vehicles during the 1940s used bells and this type of siren was not used until the 1970s. See more »
Despite going in with incredibly low expectations, I was horrendously disappointed by Thor. It was everything I hoped it would not be, and made me worry about Captain America: The First Avenger. Even with my excitement over that film, Thor's romp through the desert made me incredibly apprehensive to think Cap's adventure would be worthwhile.
After a short modern day intro, we are thrust into wartime in 1940s New York. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to fight for his country -- but has been turned away five times for health ailments and his size. Shortly after another attempt, Rogers is intercepted and quickly chosen for a Super Soldier project the US is quietly developing. He is turned into Captain America, the soldier that will help turn the tides and end the war. But while he is selling war bonds, the German science division HYDRA run by Johann Schmidt, better known as the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), is gaining more power behind enemy lines. And obviously, Rogers cannot just let that slide.
I will immediately say that Thor does not deserve to breathe the same air as Captain America: The First Avenger. Minutes into the film, you know immediately where Marvel was focusing its attention all along and why Thor felt so undercooked. This film is without a doubt, the best superhero film since the one-two punch of Iron Man and The Dark Knight in 2008. Anyone weary of it being a period piece should rest at ease, as this is one of the most unique entries into the genre to date. The time period only helps bring the characters to life even more vividly than they already are depicted on-screen.
But the reason the origin story works so well is because it is so wildly different than everything that has come before it. Captain America is a movie that feels right at home in the 1940s and transcends itself into the time period. From Rogers' introduction on, Joe Johnston frames the film with a sense of wonder, imagination and authenticity. Much like Inglourious Basterds before it, this is a reconstructed history. But it is done so convincingly that you may second guess yourself, trying to picture whether this very real world is actually what really happened. Johnston also layers the film with an aura of fascination and bewilderment, frequently leaving the audience in the same disbelief as the characters. When Rogers is discovering his new abilities for the first time, we feel the exact same way.
But instead of embracing this astonishing feeling and letting the film breathe life into a genre that is on its last legs, it fumbles and takes us away from it all too quickly. While the first half plays out beautifully, developing the world and its characters, the second half amps up the gas and zips by without a thought for explanation or near sighted investigation. It felt like the filmmakers realized they took too long developing everything, and decided to just rush through the rest without stopping to think whether the audience would notice or not. But once you notice all of the montages, and how there is zero explanation on who the 'Howling Commandoes' are, you know Marvel may have missed out on a few crucial steps along the way of story development.
For the most part, Captain America: The First Avenger is a deeply focused and ridiculously invested story of the origins of an extraordinary soldier who just wants to do his part for his country. Yes, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is an important character in the film, but he is the only real tie to the rest of the Marvel film canon. But as the film draws to a close, the tacked on ending starts, and suddenly, Marvel's investment in Cap suddenly turns into just another agenda pushing entry for The Avengers. It is sad and disappointing, but after four films, I should have assumed they would not have suddenly changed tactics.
After playing such a great Johnny Storm, I was worried that Evans would not have the chops, charisma or gravitas needed to play Captain America. Was I ever wrong. He is absolutely flawless in the role, quickly shifting from scrawny weakling to beefy hero with ease. He remains throughout as a boy from Queens, and the look of wonder and awe in his eyes never dissipates. No matter what he is doing, Evans maintains the character, and never even considers becoming anything other than a loyal boy scout. He is a true hero through and through, and watching him in action makes me wonder why it took this long for a good Captain America film to be released.
While his accent is imperfect, Weaving is exquisitely evil as the Red Skull. He is downright disturbing in some instances, and deliciously over-the-top in others. I cannot imagine anyone being as brooding and insanely evil as he is here. Cooper, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones and Tommy Lee Jones all give excellent performances in their roles. Relative newcomer Hayley Atwell also shines in her role as the hardnosed Peggy Carter. Her subtle romance and chemistry with Evans is magnificent, as are her ability to effortlessly create a strong female lead. Special mention also must go to Stanley Tucci, whose Dr. Abraham Erskine is a welcome departure from his atypical roles as of late.
While it botches any attempts at perfection (and really did not need to be post converted to 3D), Captain America: The First Avenger still manages to be a wildly entertaining adventure that is even more impressive than you may imagine. Evans is amazing in the role, and the whole film is ridiculously pulpy fun. And I dare you to not feel a warm feeling of nostalgia while humming along to the deliriously catchy "Star Spangled Man" propaganda jingle. It makes the film worthwhile all on its own.
(An extended review also appeared on http://www.geekspeakmagazine.com).
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