Honestly, Captain America: The First Avenger felt a bit tough to review. The film, directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji, October Sky), is certainly enjoyable, a good enough way to pass a couple hours in the heat of July; but, upon leaving, there’s not too much to say about it—it makes no grand impact on your life or even your day… Then again, it’s really meant to do the former rather than the latter, so that’s no great disappointment.
The First Avenger, though it deals with some more adult themes (i.e. Nazis, war), has a distinct cartoonish quality to it which the director seems to be pushing throughout the entire 125 minutes, enhanced in large part by the sepia coloring in half the scenes. This is certainly no burden on the audience though, so long as you go in expecting it—the script is well written, and the plot is just intricate enough for a summer blockbusting crowd-pleaser. The director does rely a bit too much on montage sequences to speed things along, without allowing for any real character development within those chunks of time— resident “bad guy” Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) stays par for the course with his evil intentions, his minions chug right along without question or complaint, the Captain maintains a fixed level of patriotism and near-innocence despite his countless meetings with both Germans and Senators, and the U.S. soldiers follow his lead. Clearly, the character was taken straight out of the 1940s propagandist comics from whence he was born and thrown into a 2011 script without much interest in fresh interpretation or modification.
This is not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing though. The propagandist origins are clear (the director walks a thin line between making fun of this and simply playing along with, particularly in one early montage) and the characters and plot are very comic-book-ish, for lack of a better word; but what makes this acceptable is the fact that the director and actors are each very straightforward about it from the get-go. They rarely take themselves too seriously, and don’t try to make the material into anything more than what it is. Actually, because this is true, the actors turn themselves in to the best part of Captain America—you’ll be far more likely to remember Major Peggy Carter’s (Hayley Atwell) spunk and strength, Colonel Phillips’ (Tommy Lee Jones) typical militaristic humor (yes, that is the appropriate adjective), and Steve Roger/Captain America’s aforementioned virtuousness an boy-next-door charm (in large part due the super-hero film alumnus Chris Evans’ spot on portrayal of the ultimate patriot and war hero) than what happened when or why.
In all: the chase sequences are entertaining, the characters are fun to watch and follow throughout the film, the story is interesting (if a bit formulaic), and the audience both chuckles and feels dismayed at all the right moments. The movie is good; not great, but enjoyable—exactly what it strives to be. If you’re going in expecting The Dark Knight or Watchmen, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but if you want a clear-cut, Hollywood blockbuster to pop popcorn to in the AC on a hot summer day (or evening), this is your film.
Captain America: The First Avenger is currently playing in most theaters, including those in:
Camp Hill: http://www.fandango.com/camp+hill_pa_movietimes?tspstate=0
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