Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Captain America- The First Avenger

Since the Blade trilogy debuted Marvel has been hitting all the right notes when it comes to their live-action films. They seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of DC. Yes, DC does have Christopher Nolan in their corner, but for some reason Warner Bros. can’t lift their other properties out of mediocrity (Green Lantern, Superman Returns). Their other problem is that they can’t quite get promising projects off the ground (Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman, Justice League). Marvel, on the other hand, continues to make entertaining films (yes, there have been missteps) on a fairly consistent basis.

Marvel’s latest, Captain America, continues their streak of well-made, satisfying comic book adaptations. Much of it has to do with the casting of Chris Evans as Captain America. Evans spends a good part of the film (thanks to the magic of filmmaking) as Steve Rogers, a 98-pound “kid from Brooklyn.” All he wants to do is join the Army but because of his physical limitations he is denied every time. Evans plays him with such heart that even after he gets pumped full of Super Soldier Serum and starts slinging the shield you can’t help but feel that the film works better in the first half.
That’s not to say that the film falls flat in the second half. In fact, the action comes fast and furious and doesn’t let up. Hugo Weaving (The Red Skull) takes a role that could have, in lesser hands, easily slipped into camp and plays it pitch perfect. The handful of scenes between him and Evans were everything I’d hoped they’d be. The breakout here is Hayley Atwell as Rogers’ crush Peggy Carter. Unlike Blake Lively in the Green Lantern, Atwell is given a lot more to do than be the damsel in distress. The chemistry between Atwell and Evans really works and the writers create a believable romance between the two. Rogers and Carter both had to prove themselves in the field which makes it easy to believe that these two characters can connect.

The film works on every level. The film has to do a lot of work; introducing Cap, giving him a believable arc, setting him up for his appearance in the Avengers and the director and writers achieved all of it. It had everything that Green Lantern lacked. It even had a song and dance number by Alan Menken!
It’s interesting to see how the filmmakers of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor are tying all of their pieces together to connect it all to next year’s Avengers film. I for one cannot wait to see how Evans plays against the likes of Downey, Jr. and Hemsworth. Captain America has to be the one to take charge and lead a team that includes a cocky billionaire, the God of Thunder and The Hulk. 2012 can’t get here soon enough.

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