Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger - Movie Review

Captain America: The First Avenger
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Moral Rating:

Captain America should have been an amazing movie. It deserves to be everything that it seemed like it would be. Yet even with this being said, Capt. America is NOT a bad movie by a long shot - in the sense that it does everything it set out to do. Entertain, set up The Avengers, introduce Chris Evans as the Captain, finish the summer movie rush with a patriotic BANG.... Even then, something seems lost in translation. 

As a movie, Captain America is not well made by a long shot, the directing is clumsy and the script incredibly campy and cliche. The funny thing about Marvel Studio's latest though is that this campiness and cliched take is what makes the film work. While other films such as Iron Man, X-Men: First Class and the Spider-man movies attempted to ground their films in reality (which is altogether an incredulous and impossible thing to do, considering the source material) both THOR and Captain America have fun by seemingly almost directly recreating a comic book on the big screen. We are never expected to take things seriously in Captain America, and as the stupid wise-cracks fly, implausible action sequences take place and some of the most over the top character interactions make us blush, it struck me that THIS was the intended purpose of the script. 

Joe Johnston is no stranger to adventure movies, having directed Jumanji, Jurassic Park 3 and Hidalgo. His style is very family friendly and goes for sheer entertainment value rather than cohesive plots and logical structure. Johnston could be said to be the directorial equivalent of a 6 year old with a bucket of Legos. He uses the pieces he has to make something. Not all the colors match, pieces may be missing and parts of it may just barely be holding on, but there is no mistaking what the final product is despite its shoddy quality. And just as we don't hold a 6 year old's lego skyscraper up in comparison to the Empire State Building, I feel that we shouldn't hold up Johnston's films to obviously superior movies of Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky and Terrence Malick. All that Johnston's films have ever meant to do was to have fun and tell a story. 

Chris Evans is spectacular as Steve Rogers. His acting has matured greatly from his days as The Human Torch in Marvel's disaster Fantastic Four films. He truly owns this role and carries the movie. Hugo Weaving plays an incredibly cheesy Red Skull, yet his performance is lackluster and cliche - complete with phony German accent, evil laughs and black trench coat. Hayley Atwell does a decent job as Rogers' love interest Peggy Carter, but the remaining cast - including Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips - is easily forgettable. 

From a story standpoint, Captain America is a very standard movie. Hero goes up against villain who wants to take over the world using advanced weapons technology. Hero thwarts villain, gets the girl, discovers his identity. Cliche but fun. When all is said and done, there is not much to say about Captain America. The story is baffling and implausible and if I tried to explain it in this review I think I would ruin the movie for you. What is there should not be explained, nor should it be attempted to be analyzed logically. Marvel's latest should simply be taken for what it is- a summer popcorn movie. When I first watched Captain America I must admit I was very disappointed, but the more I think on it, the more I like the movie. This is one movie that attempts to stay true to everything about the time period it came from. Watch any movie from the 1940's and you'll see what I mean! Campiness, overacting, complete lack of logic, over the top villains, etc etc etc... and yet THIS is what we want in a period film. And indeed, that is what I want in Captain America. As good a director as Christopher Nolan is, I just don't think he could capture the astute patriotism, the go-get'm attitude and the harmless cheese.

Conclusion: Captain America: The First Avenger is not a must see, but it is certainly entertaining if approached correctly. The setting and characters are fun, even if they aren't comparable to those in other Marvel masterpieces.

Signing out, The REAL Bowman.

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