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Captain America: The First Avenger

 Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Haley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan

Review of Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America (Chris Evans) rescuing the Allied soldiers from Hydra

First and foremost, I’d like to point out the obvious: Captain America: The First Avenger works because of Steve Rogers. Long before his transformation, he’s a likeable character that the entire audience is rooting for. He’s also multi-dimensional.

  • He longs to join the Army, dreaming of serving with his dead father’s unit. But he’s physically incapable.
  • He wants to join the fight against Nazi Germany. But he can’t pass the physical.
  • He’s attempted to join in multiple cities — telling us that he’s determined.
  • He’s motivated to stop the Nazis. Not by hatred. It’s as simple as, “I don’t like bullies.”
  • He’s intelligent. Once he’s in boot camp, his fellow soldiers are trying to use physical strength to fetch a flag. He uses his brain. And wins.
  • His reward for that is a ride in a jeep back to camp with the lovely Peggy Carter. And this is the longest conversation that the shy young man’s had with a woman.
  • He has heart. He’s the only person in his boot camp squad to jump on a “live” grenade.

Editorial review of DVD — €“ Captain America — €“ the First Avenger (2011), courtesy of Amazon.com

Captain America (Chris Evans) facing off against the goons of Hydra in Captain America: The First Avenger

The Marvel Comics superhero Captain America was born of World War II, so if you’re going to do the origin story in a movie you’d better set it in the 1940s. But how, then, to reconcile that hero with the 21st-century mega-blockbuster The Avengers, a 2012 summit meeting of the Marvel giants, where Captain America joins Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk and other super pals? Stick around, and we’ll get to that. In 1943, a sawed-off (but gung-ho) military reject named Steve Rogers is enlisted in a super-secret experiment masterminded by adorable scientist Stanley Tucci and skeptical military bigwig Tommy Lee Jones. Rogers emerges, taller and sporting greatly expanded pectoral muscles, along with a keen ability to bounce back from injury.

Chris Evans

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) transformed by the Super Soldier Serum in Captain America: The First Avenger

In both sections Rogers is played by Chris Evans, whose sly humor makes him a good choice for the otherwise stalwart Cap. (Benjamin Button-esque effects create the shrinky Rogers, with Evans’s head attached.) The film comes up with a viable explanation for the red-white-and-blue suit — €˜n’ shield — €“Rogers is initially trotted out as a war bonds fundraiser, in costume — €“and a rousing first combat mission for our hero, who finally gets fed up with being a poster boy. Director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman) makes a lot of pretty pictures along the way, although the war action goes generic for a while and the climax feels a little rushed.

Hugo Weaving

Kudos to Hugo Weaving, who makes his Nazi villain a grand adversary (with, if the ear doesn’t lie, an imitation of Werner Herzog’s accent). If most of the movie is enjoyable, the final 15 minutes or so reveals a curious weakness in the overall design: because Captain America needs to pop up in The Avengers, the resolution of the 1943 story line must include a bridge to the 21st century, which makes for some tortured (and unsatisfying) plot developments. Nevertheless: that shield is really cool. — €”Robert Horton


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