Grade: B (3/5 stars)
After a summer of superhero films coming out roughly every two weeks, Marvel closes the season with the origins of Captain America. By now, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, thank God.” Yes, it has become rather tedious to see one superhero film after another be released. However, you should still give this a chance. While it isn’t a bang like “X-Men: First Class,” it certainly isn’t a whimper like “Green Lantern.”
Say what you will about the thought of Chris Evans playing two separate Marvel Comics characters. If you’re in the crowd of people who didn’t think he could do it, don’t worry. I was in the same boat. Guess what? The Human Torch shows that he can distance himself from the character he is already known for in the Marvel Universe. In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” he fits the scrawny puke turned muscular, all-American action hero quite well. It’s amazing to see him shrunk so low and reduced to nothing but bones before getting the super soldier steroids.
Mixing a little bit of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow,” Joe Johnston takes us back to a time when World War II was being fought and the military needed strong men to fight the evil forces of Hitler and his Nazis. Steve Rogers (Evans) wants to be one of those men. Unfortunately, he’s too skinny and he has multiple diseases that set him back from enlisting. That’s when Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) steps in and tells the kid that he has a chance to be a part of something. After experimentation, Rogers becomes ultra buff, taller than he originally was and looking ready to battle some evil. That evil comes in the form of Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
“Captain America: The First Avenger” pays great homage to the patriotic films of the ‘40s and ‘50s with its red, white and blue color scheme, loud marching band music and upbeat, energetic heroism that accompanied the films of those days. It’s a cheerful, exciting action film that probably has a little too much energy. There are moments where you’re rooting for the hero, but when it comes to the love story, it becomes bogged down in unnecessary filth.
One of the saving graces of “Captain America: The First Avenger” is the cast. Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Col. Chester Phillips, is great as the rough and tough military commander. It’s a role that fits him with his harsh, sarcastic attitude. Weaving is sinister as Red Skull. He is usually good at portraying a villain, so this role seems like a walk in the park for him. Tucci, despite barely being in the film, is great as the scientist. The only person who doesn’t really stand out is Hayley Atwell. She looks the part with the makeup and costume getup, but she can’t act the part.
The post-production 3D has only one scene worthy of the effect. Other than that, there’s no need to see it in 3D. It actually washes away a lot of the film’s color. That’s not a surprise since that happens to all post-production 3D films.
I was actually surprised to see Johnston mildly redeem himself after his last movie, “The Wolfman,” left me in fear of him destroying this film. He didn’t. He actually did what he tried and failed to do with “The Wolfman.” Take a period piece film and pay homage to the films of its era and the time in which it is set. Make it fun and silly, but don’t make take it too serious. “The Wolfman” was too serious and the end result was a complete cheese-fest. “Captain America” is not. It is over the top, yes, but it’s also just the right amount of nostalgic fun. It also supersedes the atrocious ’90s version, but that wasn’t hard to do.
Now playing at Cinemark 14 in Chico, Paradise Cinema 7 in Paradise and Feather River Cinemas in Oroville.
David also writes as the National Boardwalk Empire Examiner and for We Got This Covered.
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