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Captain America: The First Avenger

A 2011 film Based on the Marvel Comics Character

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Not Quite The Definitive Film About The Sentinel of Liberty....

  • Jul 23, 2011

“Captain America” has been one Marvel character that has been so overlooked, underused and definitely misused. I think this is already the 5th comic book adaptation this year and the 3rd one released that featured a major Marvel comic character. “Captain America The First Avenger” has been released with little to no major promos and it feels like a movie that follows a formula that has been used by many other comic book movies so many times before. To appreciate Joe Johnston’s (director of “The Rocketeer“) version of Cap, one needs to accept that this is a mere part of the upcoming “Avengers” film in 2012, and not to be seen as the definitive “Captain America” movie. It is a film with a lot of retro sensibilities that feels like a comedic ensemble that takes great joy in setting up the character against a World War II setting; which is quite fun to watch, and the filmmakers did make a decent popcorn summer film. But honestly, the film plays more like a cartoon and serves up a lot of fan service, with little effort spent in applying a realistic drama around the character. Note to Hollywood: do not try to be a page-per-page comic book when adapting a comic book into a movie screen.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a frail young man with a great desire to do what is morally right and enlist in the U.S. army to do his part in stopping the Nazi menace. He wants to follow the footsteps of both of his parents, but he has repeatedly been rejected by the army because of his health that even his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) feels that he should just stay at home. One day, Rogers finally gets noticed by a Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) and selects him as a candidate for a serum that he had developed which may transform many into super-soldiers. Much to Colonel Philips‘ (Tommy Lee Jones) disagreement, and the concern of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Steve Rogers may have become the first super-soldier to face the forces of Hydra led by the nefarious Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), also known as the Red Skull.

                     Chris Evans in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

                     A scene from "The First Avenger: Captain America."

                     Chris Evans in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

Johnston’s film appears to carry strong references to Marvel’s Ultimate version of the character in terms of appearance and portrayal, as it deviates from most of the original 1940’s story. However, the script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely uses a certain sense of nostalgic appeal that seemed to reflect the feel of a 50’s or 60’s World War II movie. The film starts off quite well, as it tries to establish the Steve Rogers persona as a man wanting to do what it is right. The film also feels and plays like a classic war movie but in between, Johnston serves up a lot of the pleasant fan service that makes the film part of the group of films to launch the upcoming “Avengers” movie.

It takes references of Hitler’s obsession of the occult into the search for an item believed to have its origins from Norse mythology (also nods to the cosmic cube), the power source had nods to “Iron Man 2” (references to Howard Stark), and classic characters such as “Dum Dum Dugan”, Peggy Carter and Gabriel Jones, Arnim Zola, and nods to the “Howling Commandos” are seen throughout the film. The classic triangular shield even makes an appearance before the more popular shield used in current continuity. The film does a lot of tributes and homage ( there is also a small hint to the “Winter Soldier“), I also thought that the way it played on the angle that the actual comic was created to motivate the fighting man in world war II was clever, albeit it was a little unnecessary.

                    Hugo Weaving in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

                    Hugo Weaving as Red Skull in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

                    Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

I am not sure, I guess along the way, the film forgets to incorporate the drama, suspense and sense of urgency that would’ve made the film much more compelling. It rather treats everything at a brisk pace in an attempt to cover as many bases to the character as possible and keeps to a light-hearted tone. I know this was its intentioned but it loses a needed sense of narrative impact to establish the drama as to how the Red Skull and Captain America are exact opposites, and treats everything in a cartoonish manner; it makes everything rather predictable. The film felt like there was hardly any struggle at all and felt very underwhelming. In some scenes which were obvious missteps, Cap was shown in action, intended to resemble news footages, but in turn they all felt like scenes from a video game. The action scenes are very watered down and goes around a style that lacks emotional content in the scenes. There was just no real sense of urgency around the scenes; they were all pretty standard fare, as we’ve seen many times before and they felt incoherent. The visual effects were alright, but it just didn’t have the right energy and momentum to truly interest me.

                         Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

                        Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

Surprisingly, Chris Evans makes for a decent Steve Rogers; I knew he had the physique, and the role didn’t require much acting talent but I was pleasantly surprised to see him ‘look the part’ of Steve Rogers. I also liked the CGI work done to make him look frail in the film’s first act. Hugo Weaving was so underused as the Red Skull; the film further proves that to have a great hero, he has to have a great nemesis; and this time Cap’s greatest enemy is reduced to the staples of what Hollywood sees in a comic book villain which made him boring. Atwell makes for a very charming Peggy Carter and Tommy Lee Jones made for a great with his straight-faced humor. I was a little disappointed with the film’s missed opportunity to play on the “Howling Commandos” angle and I rather thought that Stan’s Bucky Barnes were a small device to satisfy fans and was very underdeveloped.

“Captain America the First Avenger” may be the most credible film about Marvel’s super-soldier (after 1990’s film with Matt Salinger) but it is still a far cry from becoming the definitive Captain America movie. It spends too much time trying to serve up fan service and promos for the upcoming Avengers movie than trying to actually build on the Marvel comics character for the big screen. The plot and the execution was very lacking and hollow; while there was decent action, it didn't have anything behind each punch and shield throw.  I guess I cannot really complain about that, as it is another crossover flick to promote 2012's “The Avengers” and if you look at it from this viewpoint then it would be a decent film. I really liked the final scene where the film showed a man displaced in time as it showed a lot of care. “Captain America the First Avenger” had enough good parts to make up a decent whole as it feels very traditional and is all about the heroism of the ‘little guy‘. Much like “Thor”, it is easy to like but plays it hard to really impress.

Timid Recommendation, RENTAL is more advisable. [3+ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Captain America: The First Avenger."  Poster art for "Captain America: The First Avenger."

End Credits: Plug for Avengers....

Not Quite The Definitve Film About The Sentinel of Liberty.... Not Quite The Definitve Film About The Sentinel of Liberty....

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August 18, 2011
I agree with a lot of your review--A LOT! You hit a number of points on the head, particularly the bits about this film being more of a promo for the Avengers film and not so much about Cap himself. Still, it was pretty cool to see the Cap stroll across the screen and fling that shield all over the place. Excellent review, woopak!
August 18, 2011
Thanks, Kendal!! If they managed to sneak in Zooey in this movie then I would've given it another half point LOL! Coming from a fellow comic fan, your comments mean a lot!
August 11, 2011
The pictures are great and so is the detailed character development.
August 11, 2011
Thanks for the read!
August 12, 2011
You are welcome.
July 30, 2011
The trailer I saw on TV seems impressive but I haven't had the time to go see it yet. Sounds like its entertaining but not exciting enough for you. Anyhow, if I can find time, I won't mind seeing it ;-)
July 30, 2011
The movie was good for what it was, a prequel to Avengers but there lies the mistake. They need to allow viewers to really get to know each character and to do so would require a bigger budget than they have and they wouldn't take the risks. I think you may enjoy it, it is better than the abysmal Green Lantern but I think you'll like Cowboys and Aliens more...since it has Daniel Craig LOL!
July 30, 2011
I bet you think Chris Evans is cute huh? LOL
July 26, 2011
Slamming review. I really like your in-depth look into the character and nuances of the period too. I can't believe how many comic book related films are being released these days! It's pretty amazing!
July 26, 2011
Thanks, Adri. I wanted to do an essay on the characters H-wood has been making movies on, and possibly an article why comics barely get a great treatment/translation to the big screen and why there are so many of them, but time is not allowing me to do so. I need to do the stuff first (you know what I mean) before I get into in-depth reviews. Thanks for the read, Adri!
July 26, 2011
I would love to read an essay like that, William, if you have time to do it in the near future. It would be an amazing review, and I'm sure that a lot of us would be interested in your thoughts on the topic. 

No worries. I know you've been busy, friend. I've been too! LOL! I need to get my own July newsletter out. I keep wanting to write reviews first, but not a lot of time in between all of Jason's interviews. Maybe when we are back in Eureka I will have more time. I might be sending out the July newsletter late. Not sure.
July 25, 2011
I still think it was a bit risky and poor planning on Marvel's part to plan an Avengers film without having first established the characters in it. The fact that they are already rebooting Hulk says a lot and I wonder how that'll work out...
It's too bad they didn't utilize Hugo more, although at this point he seems to play too many villains anyway. I always wanted to see Red Skull on screen, but I've got to say that here he looks like he's made out of plastic and rather cartoony.
July 25, 2011
Yeah, they should've made legitimate movies first and worried about the Avengers later. But I bet they are trying to beat that idea before Warner gets the inspiration. The Red Skull has to be really scary....no going around it. He has to be more intimidating than even the Joker; after all, this is the man who sees himself as the very personification of evil.
July 25, 2011
Here Red Skull just looks like a lame PG cartoon villain. As for DC, they've been trying to get a Superman/Batman or JLA film going for like two decades now. LOL! Wasn't hard to beat them to the punch.
August 01, 2011
You should read Frank's review of this film; man, that guy opened and finished his review perfectly....
July 24, 2011
Great review man, and as for the Avenger badge, i already have The Hulk flick reviewed, guess I need to work on the others.
July 24, 2011
July 24, 2011
Great review again Woo! I can not for the life of me get into a movie based on a comic character but that's just me LOL but it never ceases to amaze me how you can be so in-depth with your reviews, especially if you are not thrilled with the movie! Wow--you are good.....
July 24, 2011
I know what you mean. I usually like comic adaptations to see just so I can know how H-wood interprets the material into movies. They've gotten a lot better, but I have to say that they still have a long way to go. Thanks for the compliments, I actually worte this with a lot of alcohol in me, and required a lot of editing after LOL!. Oh, scroll down, there may be a horror movie I reviewed that is your cup of tea. :)
July 24, 2011
I personally would need lots of alcohol in me to even watch this one LOL - you're good even when inebriated...LMAO
July 23, 2011
Great review as usual...And not because you basically agreed with me. LOL.
July 23, 2011
This had the right atmosphere and arguably the right mood, but the tone and how it makes fun of itself bothered me. It paid too much attention to gving fan service than actually coming out with real intricate storyline. It ignored many of its potentials which I thought were due to re-writes. Well, it was better than Green Lantern LOL!
July 23, 2011
that's for sure...Have a great weekend. Seeing COWBOYS on tuesday and Crazy Love on Monday.
July 23, 2011
Yes! I am pumped to see "Cowboys"!!
July 23, 2011
Me too. I'll send you our review on Wednesday.
July 23, 2011
I haven't written the review yet but I did like this a lot. Much more action then a lot of the other Marvel fare, I think Cap's team with Dum Dum, Bucky and the others got a bit of a shaft ( I don't even know all of they're names ) but this was a lot of fun. A movie that has so much gray and brown coloring was fun.
July 23, 2011
I liked those things you've mentioned about it too. I just felt that the movie failed to really flesh out the struggle between good and evil, and how Cap and the Skull are exact opposites. The action was there, but I dunno, there was something missing for me. I really wanted to like it, but I just wasn't that impressed with it. It is hard to explain, it was fun, but it just didn't reach the level of maturity I had hoped for. Maybe it was just the Cap fan in me... :)
July 23, 2011
Oh, give a holler when you post your review.
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review by . December 11, 2011
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In a "alternate" universe (a la Inglorious Basterds) where Nazis had ray guns, planes that look like stealth bombers and lab equipment that looks modern day, we have another tale of World War II. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans with amazing special effects that have him looking shorter and pencil thin) keeps getting rejected by the Army for health reasons. He is not dissuaded and just keeps enlisting in other stations.    He appears ultra-patriotic and doesn't care if bullies beat …
review by . August 29, 2011
Shields Up!
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*** out of ****     Well, what a pleasant surprise. It's been a long, mediocre summer of good-to-sadly-decent superhero flicks. There have been many of them; although not all of them have been worthwhile. Meanwhile, "Captain America: The First Avenger" is some sort of minor miracle. It's one of the most cliché-laden films I've seen all year, but the beauty of that fact is that it embraces these qualities; and never lets them become part of the movie's flaws.    I …
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      'Captain America, The First Avenger', directed by Joe Johnston (Wolfman) is the latest superhero to come out of the 'Marvel' stable.      The year is 1941...Hitler and his merry band of Nazis are storming through Europe. One particular Nazi, Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) is in Norway searching for an ancient artifact known as Odin's Tesseract.      This artifact is very, very powerful. We know this, …
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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER   Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely   Directed by Joe Johnston   Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving       Peggy Carter: You can’t give me orders!   Captain America: The hell I can’t! I’m a captain.       I was weary of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER before watching it but still optimistic. After all, …
review by . July 23, 2011
With the release of Captain America: The First Avenger now out, the comicbook summer of 2011 now comes to a close.  We had our ups with X Men First Class and our downs or at the very least dissapointments with Green Lantern but when the Golden Age hero Captain America now hit the big screen, the summer was going out on a high note.      The movie takes place with Captain America's origin, during WWII with Steve Rogers, a stringbean of a man who cannot get enlisted into …
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review by . July 23, 2011
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Quick Tip by . July 20, 2011
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Captain America: The First Avenger is a 2011 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Captain America. It is the fifth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, and Stanley Tucci. The film tells the story of Steve Rogers, a sickly man from Brooklyn who is transformed into super soldier Captain America to help the war effort. However, Captain America must stop Red Skull, Adolf Hitler's ruthless head of weaponry and leader of a terrorist organization, who intends to use a mysterious tesseract energy-source for world domination.
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Director: Joe Johnston
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Drama, Thriller, War
Release Date: July 22, 2011
Runtime: 124 minutes
Studio: Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures
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