Captain America: The First Avenger

I haven’t found a post on this film, directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer), though I don’t trust our site’s sucky search engine, so maybe I missed this one. I sort of liked this, but it should have been a lot better. That’s a lame caveat I know, but in this case I think I know exactly what would have put this film over the top (right now it’s stalled at “well, okay”).

The dialogue is crap at times, I mean really brainless. An example? In a scene late in the film when our hero, after many blows, rises once more to face the evil (more eviler than Hitler!) Red Skull, we get this chestnut of an exchange:

Red Skull: “You just don’t give up do you?”
Captain America: “No.”

Or something as flat as that, I can’t quite recall. But there’s so much in this film that’s downright fun, in spite of some (I thought anyway) unimpressive and sloppy CGI. And there’s the lovely Hayley Atwell, a scruffy Stanley Tucci (who bests Alan Arkin for silliest German accent) and Tommy Lee Jones playing Tommy Lee Jones playing Tommy Lee Jones. I have to admit that Chris Evans is very good, but as I note above the poor guy had to say some pretty stupid shit.

So the story is interesting, and I wish the writers could have exploited the weirdness of the premise (I am unfamiliar with the original comic book series) which is that while the Allies are busy fighting the Germans and the Japanese, there’s a secret military initiative which is to create a super-duper soldier using the same chemical/technical process that the Nazis are using to create their super-duper soldier. The Nazi in charge of this secret program, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), presses into service the genius of the egg shell-headed Dr. Zola (Toby Jones). Schmidt is impatient and frustrated with Zola’d timidity and cranks the machine up to 11, which results in a bizarre transformation: Schmidt becomes Red Skull. This new, villainous incarnation of the Nazi is not content with wiping out the Jews. He has his eye on destroying the entire human race already!

In a race to best the Nazis with their own super duper soldier, the Americans hand pick a thin and reedy (and 4F’d but oh so patriotic) Steve Rogers. Actually, Dr. Erskine–the Americans’ version of Dr. Zola, played by Tucci)–sort of smuggles him in, past a skeptical Colonel Chester Phillips (Jones). Rogers unwittingly proves he’s up to the challenge by throwing himself on a (dummy) grenade when all the other soldiers run from it like hell. Cut to our hero’s transformation and BOOM! We have Captain America, shirtless (I declayah, it did give me the vapahs!).

Then the fun begins. Well, sort of fun. But the idea of this sleek, modern (but still sort of mid-century aesthetic) military creation lurking underneath and alongside a gritty, realistically staged 1940s America is quite interesting, visually, and it’s what made the film for me.


2 thoughts on “Captain America: The First Avenger

  1. I adored the first hour and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed the rest, but I can hardly remember anything after Cap manages to leave the war-bond vaudeville tour behind…

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