MOVIE REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger
Posted by brogen on July 28, 2011
Steve Rogers is despite to join the US Army and fight the bullies of World War 2 – so much so that he tries four times to enlist, but is rejected every time. Rogers’ big break comes when he tries to enlist for the fifth time and is spotted by Dr Erskine, who believes he will be perfect for an experiment he has been working on. Steven knows the risks of what he is going to undertake – a procedure to make him a super soldier – and agrees anyway. When he emerges from the operation – having been injected with serums that will make him grow bigger and stronger – as our hero; Captain America. After a brief stint as a song and dance man, Rogers embarks on the mission he was built for; taking down Schmidt and the evil Nazi project Hydra.
We have all seen the trailer for Captain America at this stage; we have seen the CGI effects that turn Chris Evans into a wimpy guy of five foot nothing, but it is worth mentioning that the title of this film does not sit right; hasn’t Tony Stark/Iron Man already been recruited into The Avengers? Or is the anachronism supposed to be there? Anyway, Evans is fine in his role as the superhero with heart of gold. He was never going to set the screen alight with his acting talent, but that is not what he was there to do. We are given a lot of time to learn about Rogers’s character to make us identify with him, but this extended spotlight on Evans actually highlights how one dimensional the character is. We don’t learn anything about Rogers and his motivations other than the fact that he has been bullied for his stature all his life. Stanley Tucci as Dr Erskine plays the role of the father figure well, with enough understated emotion and hints at hidden trauma to use as motivation. As well as this, he plays the motivator for Rogers and reminds him – in the style of every great father figure in superhero movies – to stay true to himself and be a good man.
Tommy Lee Jones camps it up with his portrayal of Colonel Phillips, but also brings most of the humour through his deadpan one liners. Hugo Weaving shows his versatility as the evil Nazi officer Schmidt/Red Skull. We have most recently seen Weaving on screen as a man who – after being abandoned as a child, is desperately searching for his family in Oranges and Sunshine. In this role as Schmidt, any emotion in the character has been stripped away in his search and greed for power. That said, however, Weaving does camp it up from time to time, the motivation he is given is completely one dimensional and doesn’t seem to be rooted in anything real. Also, Weaving is definitely channelling Werner Herzog in terms of his accent.
The first 40 minutes of the film focus on Steve Rogers and the story goes to great pains to establish the character. He is brave,but has had to learn to be in order to survive as a small guy in a world full of bullies. He has a good heart, always looks for the best in people and he is fiercely loyal to his friends. This said, he has no idea how to talk to women, as is demonstrated several times throughout the film. While the story has to accomplish many things in order for it to tie into the Avengers universe, it is still overly complex and meandering. There is a whole subplot that works in terms of establishing the character of Rogers, but in terms of pacing and the plot as a whole, drags the film down. There is also a section where the plot seems to lose its way, and the film forgets what it has to achieve. The action sequences and the 3D go some way to disguising this, but this is the problem with 3D – it is often used to hide bad, or overly complex storytelling. The action sequences are impressive, such as they are, and unlike Transformers 3, the audience does not have to wait hours to see a couple of fights, chases and explosions. Oh, and theme music is either used too little or not enough. Hard to tell really.
Captain America is an enjoyable experience. The steam punk/pulp novel look is very ‘in’ right now and works for the film, the CGI and special effects are incredibly well done, especially in wimping down Chris Evans. The action sequences are exciting and fun – even though some of the acting from the nameless henchmen is shlocky and incredibly over the top. All in all, Captain America is fun, kids will love it, but it does feel like extended prequel for The Avengers, which is exactly what it is.
GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes