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Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

July 22, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger – A Paramount Pictures’ Release

http://captainamerica.marvel.com/

Release Date: July 22nd, 2011

Rated PG for frightening scenes and violence

Running time: 125 minutes

Joe Johnston (dir.)

Christopher Markus (screenplay)

Stephen McFeely (screenplay)

Based on the comic books by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Alan Silvestri (music)

Chris Evans as Captain America / Steve Rogers

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter

Sebastian Stan as James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes

Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips

Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt / Red Skull

Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark

Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger

Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola

©Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Chris Evans as Captain America, in the Marvel Comics adaptation, Captain America: The First Avenger.

Our reviews below:

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Captain America: The First Avenger Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

The first hero in Marvel’s supergroup The Avengers and the last film before next year’s mega superhero blockbuster, Captain America was originally created for propaganda and the patriotic leading man has now been given the big screen treatment in director Joe Johnston’s WWII-set film.  Lovingly made in the style of an old 1940’s matinee, this is a true origin story that charts the creation of the title character and even manages to show kids reading the comic books that made him popular during the war.

At the beginning of the film, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a “90 pound asthmatic” desperately trying to enlist for the army so that he can fight for his country during the second World War.  After finding a way to join his fellow men, he immediately catches the eye of English soldier Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), but must start seriously working out if he wants a fair chance at winning the war and getting the girl.

Steve Rogers is then chosen by Dr. Abraham Erkstine (Stanley Tucci) as the test subject for a revolutionary new experiment.  He is injected with blue serum and bulked up with the help of a machine created by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), to make him into a superhuman soldier.  But the evil Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) has also undergone a transformation to become the aptly named Red Skull, and Captain America must stop him from taking over the world.

From start to finish, Captain America has the feel of the original Marvel comic books.  For better or for worse in terms of box office, this is also a lot less flashy than some other recent superhero films.  The dialogue and characters seem as if they have leapt right off the page, and this lends itself well to the mostly lighthearted war-time setting of the film.   Although some of the more old school special effects do border on cheesy, the digital effects are quite good and the nostalgic look of the film is a nice change of pace.  Another plus is that the numerous action sequences are handled in a way that is easy to follow.

In the end, Captain America is a thoroughly entertaining summer diversion for older kids and adults, as well as a nicely done throwback to the 1940’s.  Whether you watch the film on its own merits or merely as a good set-up to next summer’s The Avengers, (an awesome preview is after the end credits), Captain America is a solid addition to this year’s line-up of big screen superheroes.

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Captain America: The First Avenger Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

In Captain America, after a brief scene in present day, we are taken to 1941, where we first meet Steve Rogers, who despite his small size and disqualifying medical conditions (such as asthma), is trying desperately to get accepted into the US army.  After getting caught trying in several different recruitment offices (under different aliases), he garners the attention of scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who is heading up a new program to create a super soldier through an enhancement serum.

When lined up with the other new recruits he doesn’t seem like the likely candidate for the experimental process, but despite Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) objections to the choice, Dr. Erskine chooses him because he is looking for a certain personality and moral code – not just a combative physique.  After the procedure, the newly created Captain America is quickly called into action to help stop Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who has harnessed the ultimate energy weaponry.

Captain America has a very old-school feel with its muted colour tones fitting its time period, and when compared to the other recent superhero films, it still stands up well.  The whole film is fun and is a well-put together origin story that also makes a clear lead-up to the Avengers film.  All of the acting is good, and along with a classic good vs. evil message and appealing main character, this is what really helps carry the film.  It is also fun to see Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) father, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) as the weapons and technology man of the 40’s.  Feeling like a very complete package, this is a good piece of summer entertainment.

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Captain America: The First Avenger Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Based on the well-loved Marvel hero, Captain America is a fun and exciting movie with a nice old-fashioned feel.  Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is just like many young men during the 1940’s, in that he wishes to enlist as a soldier for his country.  Trouble is, he’s a “90 pound asthmatic,” and only healthy people can join.  However, Steve gets his wish when an experimental treatment turns him into a healthy and muscular individual.  But it is his good morals that make him the hero who can defeat Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a supervillain who has created a weapon that could destroy the world.

Captain America not only has great (and bloodless) action, but also well-developed characters.  Chris Evans not only looks good, he plays Steve Rogers as a real person, as opposed to just another action hero.  Hayley Atwell is also cool as Peggy Carter, an English soldier who also kicks some behind.

One of the things I really liked about Captain America was how it handles the WWII setting.  We see not just the turmoil of war, but the beauty of the 1940’s as well.  Even the violence and romance here is consistent of what would have been seen in a movie from that era.  Alan Silvestri’s exciting score adds to the classic feel of the film.  And while I won’t spoil the ending, it also captures how much faster paced the 21st century is from the mid-20th.

Captain America is sure to please superhero fans, as well as anyone who likes a good action film.  Be sure to stay through the entire end credits for the propaganda posters and an awesome preview for next year’s The Avengers.

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Captain America: The First Avenger Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Every era has its own heroes.  In 1940’s wartime USA that hero was Marvel Comics’ Captain America.  Created to entertain and inspire boys and young men, Captain America served as a visual reminder to buy war bonds, enlist, and be the little guy who turns hero.

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, a “90 pound asthmatic” who with the help of scientist Abraham Arskine (Stanley Tucci) is transformed ino a muscular super-soldier known as Captain America.  The movie transformation of Chris Evans from his real life muscle-bound self to a 90 pound version is done believably with CGI shrinking techniques.

This movie has a wonderful 1940’s comic book feel to it.  Everything, from the retro-looking laboraties and costumes, to the completely cheesy Captain America ‘buy war bonds’ songs and dance numbers, feel authentic.  The interesting cast of characters are all fun to watch.  Present day Iron Man’s father, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) plays a major role in creating vehicles and weapons.  The army has Tommy Lee Jones as the tough Col. Chester Phillips and Hayley Atwell as field agent Peggy Carter/Captain America’s love interest.  Stanely Tucci is also great as scientist, Abraham Erskine.

Of course every hero has to have a bad guy to fight.  Along with fighting Hitler’s army, Captain America takes on Captain Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).  Schmidt is the leader of Hydra, an organization pushing for world domination with the help of an energy source stolen from the Norse gods.  The fighting and action sequences are fun to watch and also feel like something from the 1940’s.  The violence never gets too graphic.  While this isn’t ‘keep you on the edge of your seat’ action, it is entertaining from start to finish.

Marvel fans and those looking for old-fashioned action hero fun will enjoy Captain America in theatres.  Stay through the end credits for a sneak-peek at the upcoming Marvel comics film, The Avengers.

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Captain America: The First Avenger Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Captain America: The First Avenger is based on the Marvel Comics series going back to World War 2. The brave but frail Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is transformed by German born scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) into the super strong war hero title character. Against the better judgement of his former commander (Tommy Lee Jones) but with the encouragement of British intelligence officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and weaponry from Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Rogers and his special metal shield are pitted against the Nazi Hydra force of Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). A former Eskine prototype, Schmidt has ray guns and weapons of mass destruction built by his assistant Dr. Zola (Toby Jones), using an unlimited energy source stolen from the Norse gods. As expected, there is an epilogue with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recruiting Rogers along with Tony Stark, Thor et al for next year’s Avengers film.

Directed by former George Lucas protégé Joe Johnston, Captain America: The First Avenger appears to be faithful to the source material (though I am not familiar with it) and, though just over two hours, is never boring. The look of the 1940s is beautifully rendered with a drab colour palette in most scenes contrasting with the bright colours in chorus lines and propaganda posters used in the closing credits. The score by Alan Silvestri is most effective, incorporating patriotic songs, marches and for Schmidt’s lair bits from Wagner’s Ring*. Free from gross scenes of sex or violence, Captain America is simply good solid entertainment for all ages.

*Ring fans may appreciate the appropriateness of the excerpts chosen. Just prior to the demonstration of Schmidt’s ray gun, we hear the invocation of the chief god Wotan (in his incarnation as Wälse) by the hero Siegmund in his quest for the magic sword from Die Walküre. The weapon’s lethal power is unleashed to the strains from Götterdämmerung of Siegfrieds Tod, the death of the hero Siegfried.

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Consensus: Led by Chris Evans and effectively set in the midst of WWII, director Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger is a thoroughly entertaining superhero film that nicely shows the origins of its patriotic title hero.  Stay through the end credits for a cool preview of next summer’s blockbuster, The Avengers.  *** (Out of 4)

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