Sunday, July 24, 2011

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

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Was I surprised when I arrived at the theater. I was there twenty minutes before the show began and it was pretty packed! I need an aisle seat and the upper section was filled so I ended up in the second row staring up at the screen. By the time that the main feature started, a quick glance around the theater showed there were only a handful of empty seats scattered here and there and they were all singles. That should bode well for the producers as they get ready for the 2012 release of The Avengers. On its own, Captain America: The First Avenger stood its ground.

Captain America Movie Poster
It's 1942 and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to serve his country. Unfortunately, as demonstrated at a recruiting center at the World Expo being given by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) (yes, that Howard Stark, engineering genius and the future father of Tony Stark, the future Iron Man) Steve can't even fill the shoes for a recruitment poster in either height or stature. A similar process that was used to reverse age Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button brought Evans down to a five foot four 98 pound weakling. But what he lacked in the physical department, his heart made up for. It was that trait which brought Rogers to the attention of Dr Erskine (Stanley Tucci).

Dr Erskine with the help of Stark produced a serum and a Vita-Ray that would amplify what a man already had. This time it worked to make Rogers taller and buff. In a previous attempt at the serum, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) had far less impressive results but it did work. Schmidt heads up HYDRA as Nazi Germany's deep science division who set about to find the Cosmic Cube. An object that while others may say is legend, he believes to be real. And real is was. HYDRA was able to extract energy from the cube making super weapons. This is where the movie turned into a steam punkish movie.

The movie was a period piece with a twist. The look and feel of the forties but with the super energy fueling these incredibly powerful weapons. Guns and bullets and grenades going up against these futuristic cannons and blasters. I bought into it. The 125 minute running time passed quickly and was aptly rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action. The pacing with the action and expository mixed well. Intermingled at the right times to break the tension were some good chuckles.

The movie struck the right tone across the board. The love interest between Rogers and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) struck the right balance within adding to the story and not distracting from the mission which was defeating the bad guy. Weaving provided the necessary badness as Schmidt/The Red Skull for the bad guy with the master plan. Stanley Tucci, well....maybe a little over done with the German accent. And in case you needed a break from the action there is a song and dance segment of The Star Spangled Man written by Alan Menken of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast fame. What patriotic American hero wouldn't want to help sell war bonds to help hang the noose on the goose stepping goons from Berlin? A nice little addition usually not provide in a super hero movie.

Make sure you stay all the way through the credits. Like many of the other Marvel movies this one throws an extra nugget at you but it throws you a full blown wing and thigh piece that you can chew on as you wait for the Summer 2012 movie season to begin.

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