Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

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Reviewer: Dexter Kong (@dexterk)
Rated: PG(UK)
Release Date: 29th July, 2011(UK)
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper

Captain America is Marvel’s golden child. Whilst his character has gone through many iterations, his representation as the square jawed, all round leader and good guy has remained.

I must admit that I did have my reservations for the movie, no doubt Chris Evans looks the part, but the trailer came off as another uninteresting, run of the mill action flick. But, surprisingly Captain America manages to a thoroughly entertaining film, with actual heart to the main character, humor and action by way of the Rocketeer.

Set in 1942, during the midst of WW2, the sickly, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) tries several times to enlist in the US army but is rejected due to his frail form. He has the heart of a lion but hasn’t got the physical attributes to match. He is chosen for an experimental secret project and is transformed in to a “super soldier”. Someone at the maximum of their human potential, his mind and body enhanced. But, is put to used as a propaganda tool, “Captain America”. Not actually fighting any wars, earning money for the war efforts raising bonds with a stage show (musical number included). While out visiting troops on tour, he finds an old friend from home, Bucky, (Sebastain Stan) has been lost behind enemy lines. Rogers puts his life at risk and sets out alone to retrieve his friend and find true purpose.

The strength of Captain America lies in the sheer charisma Chris Evans brings as the title character. He embodies the very being of this hero, physically and mentally, representing someone who fights for those who can’t, with fortitude and a moral compass that never pointed a truer north. As the weakling Steve Rogers in the beginning of the film, his acts of selflessness and stoic thought have you rooting for him, so that when the transformation occurs although gifted a new exterior the defining, humanising traits of the character still remain.

Hayley Atwell brings a refreshing change as the tough jawed, British officer, Peggy Carter. She is able to handle herself well and is far from being a damsel in distress also providing a love interest for Captain America.

While the bad guys in the film are one-dimensionally evil, most of their screen time is spent in a blur of Captain America running past and punching them in the face or smashing them with his shield, which is oddly satisfying. (It is difficult not to hum in the back of one’s mind, Team America – World Police’s – America Fuck-Yeah!) The action is well choreographed, with some edge of seat fighting a top a flying aircraft that will leave you grimacing at the nature of the dispatch.

The director Joe Johnston and Captain America are a perfect match, with everything suitably placed within this 1940s construct. The best of the film lies within the first half in the digitally malnourished Chris Evans and his journey on becoming a hero, but Johnston manages to round it off with ease easily setting up the upcoming Avengers. Overall Captain America is a great example of how to handle a comic pulp character and actually provide good motive and context, which makes one empathise with the hero’s story.

Rating 4/5