“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Joe Johnston / Actors: Richard Armitage, Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci ... / DVD released 2011-12-05 at Paramount Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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With Avenger Assemble now out on DVD/BluRay, I am continuing in my series of reviews looking at the movies that lead us to this excellent piece of all-star superhero action. In this review, we're going back to where it all began with Captain America: The First Avenger.
Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, Captain America: The First Avenger is an uplifting story of one man's quest to do his part for his country. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), after being turned down by the US Army, is approached by a mysterious scientist with an offer to make he can't refuse. Becoming the first in a new line of physically enhanced super-soldiers, Rogers becomes the hero he was born to be, Captain America, battling the evil machinations of HYDRA and their terrifying leader, the infamous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
Captain America combines all the best aspects of both a comic-based superhero movie and a classic World War 2 epic, creating a truly unique atmosphere and feeling for the film. Everything about the setting, and the characters inhabiting it, feels genuine. Chris Evans is well chosen for the role of Steve Rogers, able to play both the man and the legend he will later become without ever losing sight of the character's beginnings, while Hugo Weaving embraces the bombastic, egocentric nature of the insane Red Skull, giving us a delightfully over-the-top villain. A special mention must also be made for Tommy Lee Jones, who's aging warhorse Colonel Phillips is an unabashed joy to watch. Special effects are as good as ever from Marvel Studios and, like its predecessors, Captain America delivers on quickfire action and adrenaline, but also takes a moment here and there to remind you that Rogers is part of a war. People do die and it takes it's toll on everyone, especially the Captain.
All in all, Captain America: The First Avenger is a solid action hero movie that mixes comic book fantasy with WW2 heroics, creating a fun film that'll provide plenty of entertainment. Also, watch out for the chorus line. Trust me, you'll know it when you see it. Catchy song too.
Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the newest and biggest in Marvel's new breed of action films whose stories build towards The Avengers Assemble movie just released in the cinema. Comic fans, of which there are many, will know Captain America from old as he has been around for many, many years and is one of Marvel's founding fathers from the Golden Age of SuperHeroes. But even to those not accustomed to his story, this film is a must see as it reveals the troubled back-story behind this All American Hero and leads us right through to the present day when the Cap is found encased in an icy glacier of a prison and thawed out to fight again!
The story begins in '40's America where a young, weedy teen struggles to get enlisted so that he can fight for his country. Unfortunately his medical history continually goes against him despite his numerous attempts at Recruiting Stations all across the State but he does come to the attention of a Jewish Scientist who is beginning a new initiative known as the Super-Soldier programme.....
Meanwhile a nefarious Nazi villain, known as The Red Skull, stumbles across an item of immense power and decides to use it to create his own Super-powered Army, kitted out with superior weaponry powered by the artifact he has obtained. He learns of the Super-Soldier project and has it sabotaged but not before the creation of Captain America; a newer, tougher, hardier version of his former teen, weedy self.
With no hope of replicating the programme in other recruits, Captain America is soon relegated to being no more than a tool of propaganda; sent out to boost morale around the country and to entertain the Troops. Regarded as a joke by many of the regular Army, the Cap becomes frustrated and bitter that even though he has been given the opportunity he longed for, he is not being given a chance to fight! And so, Captain America sets out to cross enemy lines and recapture a group of American soldiers who have been taken hostage, at which point he draws the attention of The Red Skull and his private Army known as Hydra which has sprung up alongside the Nazis as the latest, biggest threat to freedom.
What follows is the cultimation of one of the biggest battles of the War as Captain America finally gets the chance to show the American people what he's capable of.....
This film has it all. Great special effects, a brilliant story well transferred from comic to screen and a really well thought out plot that effectively moves events through the closing days of the Second World War right through to the present day and puts the final touches to the ongoing story arc (begun way back in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk) that concludes in Avengers. It is at heart a War film like no other, a real boys own adventure and yet there are elements of a love story and lots of humour there giving a little something for everyone to enjoy!
This is easily my favourite of all the Marvel adaptations yet and I now cannot wait to see Avengers Assemble or how this paticular ongoing story-line continues in the yet-unwatched Thor as well.
With Captain America, Marvel prove that there is a long future ahead for this franchise and that there is no question of the SuperHero genre yet running out of steam.....I only hope now that Avengers Assemble lives up to my high expectations!
Star - Chris Evans
Certificate - 12a
Run Time - 124 minutes
Country - USA
Genre - Super hero
Rental - £2.99 per night@Blockbuster
Ever since the tantalizing and extremely brief appearance of the iconic Captain America shield in Tony Stark's lab in the brilliant Iron Man I have been looking forward to this movie. He was my favorite superhero as a kid and what the comic books were supposed to be all about, delivering a rather raw and stripped down movie around a more human character, this film version of the Marvel character thankfully sticking to that ethos and creating a more realistic hero (in context to the actual comic book) to the big budget, stunt fuelled, bombastic macho nonsense like the Dark Knight. The Stan Lee's and Alan Moore's created these guys and girls to experience human escapism though fantasy in a way that felt exhilarating at the time to try and keep up with the speed the world was changing. Batman Begins did capture the transformation well but before Christian Bale superhero's had become to camp/
Joe Evans created Captain America but was revived by Stan Lee at Marvel Comics to the character we know well. Like Spiderman his powers come from a molecular tweak and he retains most human traits. The previous attempts at Captain America on screen and TV have been a disaster; the last movie in 1992 deemed one of the dumbest movies ever made. They say it's as bad as Ben Affleck's Daredevil. If I was the makers of that movie in 1992 I would
be suing. No comic book film has ever been as bad as Daredevil.
Chris Evans plays the Steve Rodgers/Captain America lead, his pretty boy blue-eyed blonde chiseled looks perfect for this type of role, incredibly this his sixth comic book movie, a lot of typecast for such a young actor.
Chris Evans ... Captain America / Steve Rogers
Hayley Atwell ... Peggy Carter
Sebastian Stan ... James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes
Tommy Lee Jones ... Colonel Chester Phillips
Hugo Weaving ... Johann Schmidt / Red Skull
Dominic Cooper ... Howard Stark
Richard Armitage ... Heinz Kruger
Stanley Tucci ... Dr. Abraham Erskine
Samuel L. Jackson ... Nick Fury
Toby Jones ... Dr. Arnim Zola
Neal McDonough ... Timothy 'Dum Dum' Dugan
Derek Luke ... Gabe Jones
Kenneth Choi ... Jim Morita
Steve Rogers: "I know this neighborhood. I got beat up in that alley. And that parking lot. And behind that diner"
An evil Nazi, Colonel Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) and his regiment, blasts their way into a church in a small mountain village in Norway, where a mysterious glowing artifact has lay hidden and protected for many millennium. On orders of Hitler himself, Schmidt's unit's mission is to trawl the world to round up anything unusual that will help the Fuhrer build super weapons to win the war, known as Project Hydra.
High up in the Austrian Alps, with the help of Dr.Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), Schmidt is soon experimenting with the artifacts unknown powers, its astounding potential slowly being unleashed, the Reich impressed so far.
Meanwhile, over in Manhattan, young Americans are joining up in their thousands to aid their allies across the Atlantic, scrawny Brooklyn boy Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) desperate to serve. But after failing five army medicals in five different New York boroughs for various ailments the 5ft 4" (that's smaller than Tom Cruise!) has all but given up and confined to his fete he won't be able to enlist to fight for his country. His best friend and the considerably taller and better looking James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes (Sebastian Stan), on the other hand, is all signed up and cuts a fine figure in his uniform, the girls all over him and ready for nights dancing in Manhattan, the man Rodgers longs to be.
Well he is about to get that chance when, at that medical centre, a Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) with a distinct German accent overhears Rodgers despair and is impressed with his patriotism and bravery to serve. He offers the kid the chance to tryout for the SCR (Strategic Scientific Research), a special unit headed by Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), looking for 'different qualities' in their fighting men.
Somehow Rodgers wins through as best in class and agrees to take part in an experiment, a genetic one, tasked to take a powerful serum based on Dr Schmidt's find over in Norway, Dr.Erskine, as it turns out, a renegade scientist from Hydra and now working for the Americans. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) has developed a machine that can genetically change the human body after the serum is injected, and a success here, the 8 stone weakling transformed into a blonde six foot hunk in a mist of steam and flashing light in the pressure capsule, pretty British military agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who is assigned to Rodgers, impressed with the new version.
Abraham Erskine: The serum amplifies the inner qualities of its taker, as well as their physical attributes. Good becomes great... bad becomes worse.
With the transformation comes special powers, and when the newspapers snap his heroism in action in downtown Manhattan the military decide the best use for Rodgers is as a PR stunt to raise money for bonds to fund the war, travelling America with a stars and stripe uniform and shield, renamed 'Captain America'. But Steve wants to fight and when Bucky goes missing on a secret mission to close down Hydra in Germany he takes it upon himself to be involved, his powers more than a match for Schmidt, who has also taken the serum.
Abraham Erskine: "One of the things people always forget is that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own"
I have really enjoyed the Avengers series, apart from the Incredible Hulk, of course and the still absent Hawkeye movie, but very excited about the coming Avengers movie, out this year. Although Captain America is not as good as Rob Downey Juniors brilliant Ironman it's not half bad and already one of my all-time favorites. It looks authentic and feels true to life to the comic books and I'm sure that side of things appreciated by fans. All too often these big budget superhero films become just over-the-top special effects sequences machine-gunned with dreadful dialogue to riddle the lowest common denominator with bullets. This one just sits right and with a solid narrative and a fun and chest out script it drags you in and doesn't let go. The Superman movie let go quickly, and from 40,000ft, how not to make superhero film. Less said about Green Lantern the better.
The films imagination is at full tilt and the sci-fi side looks great, the HYDRA super plane we see near the end not as out of place as it looks for the period, the real life NAZI weapons program producing some impressive and ahead of its time kit that almost won them the war. The Germans invented the jet engine first and were briefly ahead with nuclear bomb technology. The extremely futuristic Horten H.XVIII flying wing bomber and Triebflügeljäger fighter plane are very real and in museums, represented well here with a fantasy hybrid plane. If Germany had invented the nuclear bomb first then who knows where we would be - if we would 'be' at all?
These superhero movies always do spectacular money, a lot of geeks out there looking for their hero's in some form. From its relatively cheap $140 million it did an excellent $400 million back and so the sequel already green lighted. With the Avengers movie likely to wet our appetite even more for the famous five then the money will continue to roll in.
Rodgers is perfect and deliciously cheesy in the lead and all the other essential superhero performances in place, from the evil German to the shouty US generals. The only bit that doesn't quote work is the special effect to make Chris Evans looks small and feeble at the start of the movie so to impact the contrast when he goes all hunky.
It's suitably over-the-top when it needs to be but no more than that, Captain America as vulnerable as the rest of us if he gets hit too hard by a car or falls off a cliff. The film also has a warm human feel to it and you don't ever get irritated by shortcuts or exaggerations. You can't help but like Captain America.
The Daily Telegraph - "Evans is unprecedentedly touching and engaging for a superhero - and the rest of the cast help this adventure seem something close to character-driven instead of just being a bundle of stunts.
The Guardian - "The Captain isn't perfect, but he's the equal of Thor and loads better than the Green Lantern: he's the summer's pre-eminent superhero".
SXF Magazine - "Full of knowing nods for fans and stunningly designed, Captain America might not be perfect but it is an awful lot of fun".
The Seattle Post - "...good humored and uncomplicated, it concentrates on a single character, a single villain, a clear path to the present"
The Sun - "It serves its chief end to introduce the character, and Evans fills the role nicely. But as a stand-alone adventure, it's not captivating enough. I expect more from this genre".
Imdb.com: Ratings: 6.9/10 from 110,924 users
Metacritic.com: 66% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com:79% critic's approval rating
Director Joe Johnson and his writer wife Sally Johnson and producer Jeffrey Ford talk about the movie. Comic book geeks may enjoy this is Joe Johnson has done lots of work on superhero movies.
-Outfitting our hero-
The look of Captain America and the feel of the movies are explored here.
In the present day circular object with a blue and red motif is uncovered in the arctic. The story behind this object starts in 1942. The Nazis have a deadly terrorist leader in their midst, the infamous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and his H.Y.D.R.A. has stolen a powerful new energy source he intends power some devastating new technology. Meanwhile, the frail and undersized Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) continues to fail to make the medical and he attempts to enlist in the US military. Impressed by his determination and spirit, scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) decides he is the perfect candidate for a revolutionary new experiment that will enhance his inner core as the perfect American soldier...
Well it was going to be third time lucky for Marvel's most famous piece of World War II propaganda. Captain America has appeared in two previous live action English-speaking incarnations, both of which were damp squibs. In fact, they survive as examples of two problems many producers have when they adapt comic-book characters to live action. The first one appeared as two back-to-back filmed television movies in 1979. I recall watching the first of these as a video rental and being seriously bored. Rather than taking the mythology of a character that had been crafted over several decades, the writers decided on going their own way with the character and it was a mess. It also suffered from a classic no-no in action or fantasy media, the overlong build-up. The second incarnation of our favourite steroid endorsing superhero was in 1990. This film did stick fairly close to the source material, but it made the opposite mistake to the TV film. Unless you are going all Frank Miller, it is wise not to literally translate the primary coloured comic-book to live-action. The film looked like a disastrous unintentionally camp throwback to 1960s "Batman".
So, with two rather unfortunate test-runs, one for TV and the other as a straight-to-video picture, why on Earth would anyone think it was a good idea to take the good captain to the silver screen? After all, the corny all-American boy created by the military using drugs doesn't seem to marry up with our post-Bush era cynicism. However, Captain America's character is far more than this and its eventual emergence from "production hell" is testament to how much filmmakers have believed in the character. He may have begun as Marvel's poster-boy for the war effort, knocking out Adolph Hitler, but since his 1960s revival a whole new dimension was added to the mythology. The concept of a WW2 superhero resurrected in modern times to go on to be a leader of other superheroes has provided the comics with an amazing amount of potential for global and galaxy-spanning sagas. On his own, the character has greater layers provided by the fact that he is a man out of time. He is still seen as the symbol for American patriotism and hope, but he also has a deep pathos connected to the amount he has lost. Furthermore, the writers of modern Marvel have been able to turn the fighter for the American government to be more the fighter for real American values. He is often put in the underdog position, fighting hypocrisy and checking corruption in high places. For example, the decision to put him as leader on the side against the government enforced Superhero Registration act, immediately established his principles over his supposed national duty.
The 2011 film, "Captain America: The First Avenger" was produced with a wry observation of what works with this character. First up, it makes the excellent decision of setting the story in World War II. There have been modern stories that re-tell Cap's roots, but for the most part this part of his life is considered so much prologue material. By creating a period piece, Marvel Studios takes our attention from the fact that this picture's primary function was to serve as a prequel to the mega-superhero crossover picture "The Avengers".
The film acknowledges the corny propaganda of the past and casts Cap's role as the real-life embodiment of a war poster boy. He is part of an inspirational campaign to fund the war effort and to encourage American sympathy. However, despite being a success with the general public, Cap meets cynicism and disdain from the embittered troops who are on the frontline. Only a rogue mission behind enemy lines to rescue POWs is going to get Cap the sort of job satisfaction he is after. We then get a comfortable fusion of Captain America the patriot and Captain America the maverick superhero. Chris Evans is an unusual choice for the role. He certainly looks like a Steve Rogers (aka Captain America), but he also fitted the Jonny "The Human Torch" Storm persona too. The decision to cast him seems like Marvel confirming that "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" buried that franchise and no crossovers with at least that incarnation of the super-team are intended.
Villain-wise, again, you would have forgiven Marvel Studios for not going with Red Skull given the silly execution Cap's arch-nemesis got back in 1990. But, then again, they would have a hard time winning core fans around without having him as Cap's first choice for main bad guy. The Red Skull is an established super-villain in the world of comic-books, but he is not one of the best developed characters. There have been three incarnations of the character, for example, although the persona chosen for this one has been established in Marvel mythology as the "True Red Skull". The lack of complexity comes from the fact that he is a Nazi; rarely more than two dimensional character in the action genre. Having said this, Marvel Studios clearly decided to show that this character was more cynical than the fanatical ideologist he has often been depicted as in many of their comic-book stories. His story is combined with the HYDRA terrorist organization, which is an interesting and effective concept. Hugo Weaving knows his way around bad guy roles in fantasy films and he does a reasonable job bringing this character to life. There is an attempt to explain his evil, but essentially he is just a nasty piece of work.
The supporting cast is a mixture of old favourites and a few fresh faces. Tommy Lee Jones is the most notable big name in the picture, playing the role of Marvel character Sgt. Chester Phillips. Phillips is an original character in the comics, but is quite distinct from Jones interpretation. In the comic, Phillips is a keen supporter of the experiment that creates Captain America. In this film he is more the jaded war-dog who takes a lot of convincing. Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, is the sort of character that comic-book fans like me will nod their approval. She is actually fleshed out from her role in the comics as the French Resistance leader who fell in love with Captain America. I recall watching the original Marvel cartoon adaptation of the story where Steve Rogers first finds her niece and recalls his WW2 romance. However, on film I am not sure that casual movie-goers don't see her as a love interest that can kick butt.
Sebastian Stan's Bucky - a character I always thought looked like Marvel's answer to Robin - is also executed in an interesting way. He was depicted as a young sidekick in the comics, but as with Iron Man's War Machine, Marvel Studios decided to give him a more balanced approach. Here he is Steve Rogers' best friend and protector, the textbook soldier that Rogers admires. The film deals quite well with how the roles then take on a reversal as Captain America emerges. I quite like their decisions with this character - especially the idea of not turning him into a costumed hero as depicted in the comics - and I am glad his role and fate are in line with the longstanding mythology of Captain America.
"Captain America: The First Avenger" strikes the comfortable balance between good filmmaking and staying loyal to the source material. This includes keeping the general tone of the modern comics. Unlike "Thor", "The Incredible Hulk" and "Iron Man", all of which will merge in "The Avengers" this year, the special effects and action sequences are the James Bond side of fantasy, feeling more realistic. The character is probably my least favourite out of the ensemble. Like DC's Superman, the very essence of the character is this flawless paragon of virtue. I like Spider-Man's vulnerability and Batman's psychosis. But, as with Superman, it doesn't mean I don't think the story surrounding him isn't interesting or entertaining. The idea of the physically disadvantaged runt with a courageous heart being given the opportunity to be the ultimate soldier and then being surprised by the reality of the situation explores several interesting narratives. We get both the American superficial ideal narrative - skinny wimp becomes powerhouse - and the loss of innocence.
I cannot imagine why any comic-book fans will be disappointed. The cast is populated by minor and supporting characters found in the comics. It is quite satisfying seeing the rich resources of the character's back-story being used. A common mistake with adaptations that has small tolerance in today's fan-driven industry, is to create pointless new characters when there is a dense tapestry already established. Think "Superman III" and "IV" and the many TV adaptations.
Like the original "Iron Man", this film was a pleasant surprise and we can only hope that the long awaiting team-up picture is now going to pay off.
There seems to be a continuous stream of super-hero movies at the moment and if I'm perfectly honest I'm getting a little bored. Yes, they're all different superheroes and they all have different powers but essentially the plot lines are all the same. Bad guy emerges. Ordinary man suddenly turned into superhero. Superhero saves world. Life goes on. This is why I was so surprised that I was actually really looking forward to the release of Captain America. I had no idea who Captain America was or what he could do but from the minute I watched the trailer I knew this was a movie I had to see. Admittedly I just wanted to see that one scene where Chris Evans steps out of the machine transformed from a puny, little guy into a tall, muscular, lean, mean, fighting machine. It truly was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen. I actually googled the movie to see if there was another actor portraying the skinnier Steve Rogers and I was stunned that there wasn't another actor or even a stunt double, it's all CGI! I was incredibly impressed by the smooth transition, but also the fact that the muscles are real. There are no effects used after the transformation so I think Chris Evans deserves a round and applause ladies and gentlemen, god knows how many hours he put into toning that physique!
The story revolves around Steve Rogers, a man desperately wants to do his bit for the country by fighting in the war, the only problem is, he was born into a body that simply wasn't made for fighting. Although his body is frail and weak, his mind and his heart are determined and thankfully for Steve the right people see this in him. Thus begins his transformation from Steve Rogers to Captain America. Some say that when this movie starts to go downhill when the action begins, but I don't think this is true. There are enough high powered leaps and shots fired without going over the top and they make your heart beat just that little bit faster.
The accents in this movie are superb. I've often found that a really good movie can be spoiled when just one character speaks with a terrible accent, thankfully, that is not a problem here. Hugo Weaving and Toby Jones do a particularly good German-English accent and I thought it was very convincing. There are some British actors used in this movie which was good to see, not only because it meant diversity in the cast but also because it showed that the US and the UK were united in the war.
On the whole I found this movie quite believable, many a time I have found myself chuckling throughout a superhero movie because it's just so ridiculous, perhaps it is because Captain America is set in the 1940s during the war which was an actual historical event as opposed to a completely made up story. Also there was nothing silly like a spider bite involved, instead he was injected with what were essentially super steroids, which I'm sure will be invented at some point in the future. One thing that annoyed me a little was that when Schmidt's (arrogant bad guy trying to destroy the world) troops saluted him they said 'Hail Schmidt!' and proceeded to raise both arms in the air, presumably to mimic Hitler's Nazis; however, the effect was rather melodramatic and silly (why on earth would you raise both arms?!).
I was quite impressed by the bunch of actors used in this movie, most of them are not only quite high profile actors but are very talented too. In fact, I think all of the actors are fairly famous. Here are a couple names: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones and Neal McDonough. If you haven't heard of any of those people then you need to watch more movies! ... Or maybe I need to get out more...
Towards the end of the movie as the action dies down the romance is dialled up. Well, every superhero needs a lady! The thing that bothers me about the romance between Captain America and Peggy Carter is that they don't spend a lot of time in each others company, they never go out on a date, but they're completely smitten. I did; however, still think that the ending was incredibly heartbreaking. Speaking of the ending, it was terrible. The ending made me extremely angry and it was very unexpected, but not in a good way. I guess you could praise the script writer for creating such an unanticipated end to the movie; however, I feel that it left many loose ends, there wasn't enough detail, and things simply did not turn out how I wanted them to!
Overall, I thought that this was a very good movie with plenty of action and there's a good plot. It's quite fast paced, but not so fast that you get left behind; the romantic aspects generated a few 'aww's so I guess that was a job well done and there are even a couple of funny moments which make the movie lighter and more enjoyable. Apart from the ending, which I was very disappointed with, this was an excellent movie and I highly recommend it - to boys and girls.
As Marvel builds to the climax next year when the Avengers movie is released, this film introduces another of the big set pieces main characters, Captain America, perhaps better known here as a kids tv show, this character doesn't have the ability to fly of Iron Man, the indestructible hammer of Thor or the ability to turn green but he is the All American hero who grows stronger the nicer he is.
I had grave doubts when my other half bought this film, the trailer looked dull, I had no interest in the concept and it just seemed like one of the weaker links in the character chain but I actually quite enjoyed this film, it is fluff and won't win any awards, but my take on it was that it is nicely presented, is tongue in cheek for the most part and doesn't take itself as seriously as perhaps some reviewers seem to think.
The film is really two parts, the first part being infinitely better than the second but thankfully the first part builds the momentum and goodwill to keep you watching to the very last shot.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a tiny man, weak, sickly, but he has a big heart, he won't back out of a fight and will always stand up for what he believes in, when the Second World War begins, he tries everything he can to enlist, but his size and various illnesses put off recruiters, eventually after being overheard telling his best friend why serving the people of his country means the world to him, he is tapped up by a scientist, Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who is running secret experiments, Rogers takes part in army training camps with other willing recruits, run by the tetchy and not overly nice Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and the much nicer Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
Following months of gruelling tests, Erskine is keen to give the most complete soldier a serum to turn him into a one man fighting unit, super strong, super fast, but powered by spirit, the serum turns good people into better people and bad people into worse ones. Rogers proves to have a huge heart and desire to protect his colleagues and is placed in the experiment.
Erskine assisted by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), father of Iron Man Tony Stark, gives Rogers the serum and the legend that is Captain America comes alive. Can Captain America stop the evil Nazi research department HYDRA and its leader Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) before this equally superhuman being takes over the world?
He's Captain America and without quoting the Team America motto from their film, you have a pretty good idea that our all-american hero will give it a damned good try:
I really enjoyed the cast, Steve Evans suits the heroic mould, as the weakling Rogers he is feisty and keen to improve, this role as the weak guy is probably the best role i've seen him play, I appreciate his body is CGI effecting but his manners are much better than his usual cocky persona which generally annoys me, he puts a lot of himself into the part and still maintains some of the personality when he becomes the hard as nails, Captain America, following the transformation his character is less vocal and more action orientated, he deals with the action well but the character becomes much less interesting because of this.
Hugo Weaving is fine as the villain, all bulging eyes and quietly unnerving german accent, he can play villains in his sleep and does so comfortably here, his transformation into the Red Skull isn't overly interesting and he is one of the less interesting characters in the film.
Hayley Atwell is smart, feisty and funny as Agent Carter, she epitomises the era and isn't afraid to get stuck in or give her opinion, she is a good foil to Rogers and the triangle between Rogers, Carter and Stark is interesting and raises a lot of questions for me for the Avengers film.
Tommy Lee Jones gets some good lines as the grouchy colonel, he plays to type and doesn't have too much to do but does it well while Dominic Cooper has fun creating Tony Stark's dad, a mad yet charming inventor who clearly has his son's eye for the ladies and for gadgets, I liked his character and enjoyed the whole concept of developing ideas that can be brought to life as conflict between Rogers and Stark in the Avengers film.
The film cost us £5.99 and i'm happy with that, the first half was excellent and I like when the back story is given real serious thought, you do root for Rogers and the era is well recreated with nice touches such as the Stark Expo which is a forerunner to the expo in Iron Man 2.
I thought the first half of the film was 5 times better than the second half, once Rogers has his powers of superhuman strength and speed it becomes a serious of ok, but not hugely exciting fights and set pieces leading to the obvious climax. I appreciate we need to see what this hero could do but would have just liked a bit more time on the former rather than the gung-ho fighting.
I felt the era was handled well, the film almost develops the style of the early Second World War concepts of media manipulation in the way it is shot, it is very nationalistic but then the title would suggest it should be, it never deals with this in anything other than subtle, amusing ways though and if it does feel as though you have the American dream shoved in your face at any point there is generally an amusing line to show the creators understand this.
For Marvel fans there are numerous links to the future Avengers film and the final scene pre-credits and post credits only support this further, check out the nurse in the final scene who may have some connections to the past and the future of Rogers, although this isn't immediately obvious during the scene.
Overall this was fun, the first half was really well developed, the second half less so, i'm giving it 4 out of 5 because I liked the presentation and the idea and the fact it was created with tongue firmly in cheek and doesn't take itself half as seriously as it appears, there are some great lines in the film, some really good characters and the visual style worked really well. It tails off to a disappointing but necessary climax, but then all of the Avengers prequels have really, these are origin stories designed to build towards a (hopefully) awesome big screen climax in the summer of 2012. A good effort.
Abraham Erskine: Do you want to kill Nazis?
Steve Rogers: I don't want to kill anybody. I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from.
Abraham Erskine: [about his choice] Why someone weak? Because a weak man knows the value of strength, the value of power...
Johann Schmidt: Arrogance is not a uniquely American trait, but you do it better than most.
Marvel continue to bring out more of their key characters and transfer them from paper top the big screen, in fact with Captain America this is the fifth film to be released. The original was a movie serial, two TV films in the late 1970's and a rather sun-standard yet strangely cult film in the 90's, needless to say that most failed in what they were trying to achieve. So when it was announced that a new version of Captain America was going to be made it was with interpretation and serious appetite whetting that I awaited the film at the cinema.
To tell a story like Captain America, the production has to be to a high quality and good production. Here is no exception with a film that has a good strong cast as well as utilising a high calibre of special effects in quite a subtle manner the film is better than I initially expected. It tells the story of Stephen Rogers, a man who can only be described as a short and quite weedy man. He wants to join the Army and due to a long list of conditions such as Asthma and high blood pressure is refused point blank, all he wants to do is serve his country, and this is in the midst of World War II. So the film has its setting and to be honest as a period piece it works really well and the attention to detail is immaculate. When Rogers gets his opportunity to enlist, he takes it and discovers that he has been "volunteered" for a top secret project, one that will make him a super-soldier to fight against the Nazi's.
Having seen Chris Evans in the Fantastic Four, I was always dubious that the actor couldn't pull off the more serious and far darker role of a action hero who isn't all mouth such as Johnnie Storm, in that film he was more irritating then anything else. Here he plays a kind of dual role, the Stephen Rogers before the change when the Super-Soldier serum is injected into his body and the new Steve Rogers after the procedure where the man is made into a lean, muscular fighting machine. Evans plays the character with a lot of gusto and energy, yet he is never over the top and to be honest its nice to see him get away from some of his previous roles in a part that is played in a more serious manner and less comedic. It's also safe to say that his appearance alters and okay it is by means of CGI that we see the weakling, but when we see the character transformed, is when the film really comes alive.
As with any hero, there is always a nemesis and in this case the writers have stayed loyal to source and chosen the Red Skull. Hugo Weaving from The Matrix plays the Red Skull and we do get to see a lot of background to the character and who he is and how he came to get the position of head of the Hydra organisation. Weaving speaking in a German accent portrays the character with what I call 1930's serial villainy. It works and it works well as the character comes across as very dangerous.
Backing up the rest of the cast is Tommy Lee-Jones as the gruff all-American Colonel, he is Rogers Commanding Officer and initially detests him, but by the end has respect for what Captain America has achieved. It's surprising how old Jones looks; I guess this is because Channel 5 seems to keep repeating the Men In Black far too regularly! Also Hayley Attwel plays Peggy Carter the love interest who is a strong woman on her own and this is shown quite early on when she knocks out a Soldier over a sexist quip. To link this in with the rest of the Marvel universe a character called Howard Stark, played by Dominic Cooper has been added. This is Tony Stark's father from the Iron Man series.
I have to say one of the most impressive factors in this film is the small and weedy Stephen Rogers being shown on screen, effectively this was Chris Evans being shrunk down by computer special effects, it is convincing and shows what can be achieved if done correctly. It's also a film that bottom line is good against evil; it does have certain factors in the film that make it an action adventure film, but with serial qualities. The action scenes are always top notch and although the story is set on different continents across different times, the story is easy to follow at all times and never really confuses itself with a different franchise. It's also interesting to see that the actions sequences utilise air, land and sea rather than being fixed in one position and so the use of different types of transport including foot is used and used really well. This is evident in the early part of the film where Rogers has to chase an assassin and we see the full scope of his strength and what exactly he is capable off when placed in a situation. The battle scenes throughout the film are gritty and look dirty, by this I mean that it's muddy, grimy and looks like a warzone. The noises are loud and here the action is full on throughout, I felt some of these were a little rushed but as the film grows and the characters evolve, so does the size of the locations and the amount of action. In fact the climax of the film is claustrophobic in comparison to the previous sequences, yet I felt this was the correct approach to take rather than getting bigger and bigger to the extent it simply fails.
The costume is always a talking point for any fan base and here you see Captain America in a number of costumes, from where he is on-stage, don't ask, to where he feels he has more to offer the world. All are loyal to what has been in the comic books and emphasise America, which is the focal point of the film, although London is seen a lot throughout.
Overall this is a very good film that attention has been paid to the story and to the production, most of it was filmed in Britain anyway and Manchester doubles for New York, however you only find this out from the extras that cover all aspects of production from script to screen and covers the origin of Captain America quite well to ensure the viewer is aware of the provenience of the character itself. The commentaries are worth listening to as well as the director Joe Johnston tells you about the production and allows you to understand what he was trying to achieve. Add in Deleted Scenes and the obligatory advertisement for upcoming features such as games and other DVD releases then the package is something that can be watched again and again, and yes the picture quality is amazing. After previous failures with Captain America, this release sets things straight and gives the character what he deserves, part of the story is told in flashback and you just have to sit there and watch the film to understand it. It is good entertainment and for 2 hours and 4 minutes, will escort you away from the world for a good piece of escapism. There is an end scene like other Marvel releases and this leads into something special, in fact you'll know what it is if you have seen Thor, Hulk and Iron Man 2 as the last part is being used to set something else up.
Somehow, you always knew that Captain America was going to end up like just another one of those chest pumping hoo-RAH films that appeal more to an American audience than us across the Pond. However, never one to be dissuaded by rumour and stereotype, I went into this with the same excitement and vigour that I have done with the other films in Marvel's Avengers series of films.
And treated as a link in the chain, Captain America actually does exactly what you wouldn't be able to do in the upcoming Avengers film - give a solid back story and introduce us to the franchise's modern presentation of the character, which does differ slightly to the character in the comic books. However, only the die hard Marvel fans will balk at the differences - everyone else will be wondering why the film is so long.
Steve Rogers is a tiny young man, with a big heart. All he wants to do is serve his country, at war during World War II. After failing the medical exam, he is finally recruited on the 5th attempt by Dr Erskine, who recognises Rogers' heart and determination and chooses him for a new super soldier program. Injected with a special serum, Rogers becomes faster, stronger and better than anyone else in an instant. This takes a good 20 minutes or half an hour or so, and we then get a decent amount of time in the middle period which shows the US Army's reluctance to accept him as the new propaganda face, wearing a silly blue costume with the stars and the stripes a feature.
The action does step up tempo when Rogers finds out that his best friend is MIA behind enemy lines. Setting off to rescue him alone, we get a bit of a show of his new powers as he beats up a bunch of evilly clad Nazi soldiers inside arch villain Red Skull's stronghold. Luckily, the pace of the film continues along this vein as the film progresses, nay hurtles towards the end.
Were they to have considered this film as a one off, no doubt the approach would have been different. As it is, we get the back story and a bit of action, but there's a definite trend towards developing the series of films that will culminate in The Avengers next year, a group of Marvel superheroes united by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a common cause - to save the world (chest pumping and hoo-RAH comes to the fore once more!). For now, though, we get a decent amount of action but never really enough to warrant the wow factor that you'd hope something like this would get.
I'm sure this has had a bit more of an impact across the Pond in the States, where its comic book flag bearer will have more meaning to its viewers, uniting against impacts of violence, tyranny and evil that are floating about at the moment, much like Cap would have done during WWII. For me, over here in the UK, it's a decent action film with some impressive special effects and decent acting but not much more. I'm immensely excited about The Avengers next year, and there was no way I was ever going to not like Captain America, but I really was hoping for something a bit more.
Chris Evans is having a run of big roles of late, and this is huge. His performance is okay, despite the same tone throughout and the lack of reaction to any events other than one single tragedy that happens to him mid-film. Hugo Weaving steals the lead limelight with his predictably impressive villain Red Skull, a Nazi officer also injected with the super serum Steve has had. Tommy Lee Jones is the cynical Army Colonel while Hayley Atwell a suitable Betty Carter, vague love interest not really explored.
In fact, a few of these characters aren't really explored very much, and I wonder whether this is because next year's Avengers film is set in the modern day with a frozen Cap rethawed as per the comics, and maybe these WWII characters just aren't featured. Who knows? Either way, I felt this was very cautious, as opposed to the previous Avengers link film Thor, released earlier this year, which pushed things a bit too far on the comedy element and missed a trick somewhat.
Captain America is worth a watch, although you shouldn't expect as great things as you might have thought. This is very much a back story film leading towards something bigger and hopefully better next year - if you treat it as a bit of comic book cheesy American fun that's all part of a bigger picture, you'll likely enjoy it. Recommended.
As Marvel's third film adaptation this year alone, Captain America was never going to be in any trouble in terms of box office turnout - The First Avenger's fate was already decided thanks to 'The Avengers' film due for release next year. So, the problem of Captain America lay not with pulling in audiences, but in making a character as patriotic as he sounds accessible and likeable to a wide audience, while also building on the Avengers myth.
Director Joe Johnston, who may not be all that reliable in terms of film quality (he directed both Jumanji and Jurassic Park III) has proven in the past that he can make enjoyable, action packed family films, and he again pulls out all the stops with his latest. Captain America is a full-blown popcorn action flick which suspends disbelief at almost every turn, yet it retains a certain sense of charm and nostalgia, mostly thanks to its Second World War setting.
The story begins with a cadaverous Steve Rogers (Chris Evans); a young man who has just been rejected from joining the army for the fifth time. He might be just skin and bones, but he's got heart - he wants more than anything to serve his country and fight with his friends; not out of bloodlust but out of a hate for bullies. He stands up for himself and others, though he gets beaten up for it later. He is eventually noticed by a scientist named Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who takes him under his wing and gives him a chance at his dream, signing him up. While Rogers fails miserably at physical tests, his bravery and intelligence gets him noticed, and he is eventually chosen to be the guinea pig for a new government funded operation to create a new breed of 'super soldier'.
And so, Captain America is born. Chris Evans as the titular character embodies Rogers' gentlemanliness and wholesome good looks, representing America not as a whole but as one individual with a strong sense of humanity and understanding. It is this centre on Rogers as a freethinker that saves the film from becoming bogged down in a mess of single-minded patriotism that would almost certainly turn it against non-American audiences. Though Rogers is far from the most complex character ever written, he is likeable and charming.
Hugo Weaving also deserves a special mention for playing the film's antagonist, Red Skull, entirely seriously. However, though Red Skull enters the film with promise and malevolence (a particularly tense scene in which he is having his portrait painted comes to mind) he quickly descends into the same monotonous villain presented in a thousand other films.
Hayley Atwell as Peggy is a lively, fun heroine - probably my favourite love interest of all the Marvel film heroines that have seen screen time this year. She's a tough, stoic and elegant young woman who doesn't seem to just be a simple attachment to keep the boys happy - I would have liked to have seen a little more of her. Peggy and Steve's relationship is a little more tense and slow-building than expected, which helps to keep the film (which suspends disbelief in almost every other capacity) grounded.
The Second World War setting gives Captain America a much needed boost of realism. The violence of the period is well realised for a 12a certificate - though there generally isn't much blood, there are plenty of action sequences wherein soldiers run into gunfire; and in one particularly memorable sequence an old woman is gunned down. There are plenty of references to World War II films as well - most prominently A Matter of Life and Death. The propaganda element of the film is also emphasized, which makes for some amusing scenes, even if it does drag the film out a little.
However in most other aspects, as you would expect, Captain America suspends disbelief. Thanks to his new body, Rogers can leap great distances, keep pace with a speeding car and swim along side a submarine - in the Captain America universe, these abilities are justified. What takes a little more stretch is how apparently easy it is to walk about on the roof of a speeding train...take a deep breath and remember you're watching a comic-book movie and you'll be ok.
Of course, since Captain America is the First Avenger, there are plenty of references to other Marvel characters and universes in order to whet our appetite for The Avengers film. Howard Stark, AKA Iron Man's dad (Dominic Cooper), has a prominent role in the film which is fun and interesting; yet the film's modern day prologue and epilogue seem to undermine Captain America, making it appear to be a very long, somewhat off subject prequel.
All in all, Captain America is a perfectly acceptable action film that will do much to appease Marvel fans until The Avengers is released next year. Ultimately, however, it is sitting in the shadows of Marvel's previous releases this years - Thor and X-Men: First Class. After a wonderfully pacy first act, it does begin to crumble a little, and the cracks show.
***See this at the cinema and after the end credits you'll be treated to The Avengers' first trailer - as far as I can tell this trailer isn't available online yet.
Until recently I've really struggled with Comic Book Movies. They always appeared to be the same old film pumped out again and again and I was finding it all a bit stale. The X Men series stood out from the pack but then a new lease of live was brought to the genre first by the new Batman franchise and then by Iron Man. This gave me a renewed sense of hope when I saw that Captain America had been given the Hollywood treatment. I had a decent level of expectation and over the weekend we took an unexpected trip to the Cinema and I'm glad to say that it lived up to my expectations.
A New Hero
Following a lifelong ambition to serve the American Military in the war effort against Hitler's Germany, New Yorker Steve Roger's finally gets his chance. He won't be heading to the frontline however as his physic and intelligence ensure he is destined to become the first in a line of American Super Soldiers. When the scientist in charge of the operation is killed by a Nazi spy, Rogers is left to promote the American Armies cause rather than fight in it as Captain America. On the frontline a new threat is looming and when his best friend is captured by the Nazi's Rogers can no longer stand by and heads behind enemy lines and creates a new task force aimed at destroying the rogue Nazi Hydra movement.
A New Damn
It would appear that Hollywood executives have finally got the message from the movie watching public. They've started to make the Superhero movies more enjoyable and dare I say fun to watch due to a slightly different, don't take this too seriously approach. With help from the team behind the likes of Iron Man, Batman and even the latest Incredible Hulk movie there was plenty of help on hand for director Joe Johnston who prior to this hadn't made a single movie I'd actually enjoyed. His previous work on Jurassic Park 3 and Hidalgo hadn't left me with much hope, but this really works.
He really captures the feel and look of the 1940's well and creates what can only be described as a believable incarnation of war torn Germany and war time New York. The special effects are stunning and throughout the film he really has ensured that everything works well. This affects every aspect from the make-up and lighting through to the stunts and explosions. It also helps that the script works well and contains lots of little jokes and hooks to keep the viewer interested. Even the tie in with the forthcoming Avenger movie and the others in the series works well, but I don't want to spoil that but if you've seen it you will know what I mean.
It seems that Chris Evans, no not the Ginger one off BBC, is really making a name for himself at present in Hollywood. Having really come to prominence in the Fantastic Four movies he also put in an excellent performance recently in Losers and has followed that up here with Captain America. I had my doubts about him in the role but it really worked rather well. He gave the character an approachable side and managed to maintain some of the comedy he had previously displayed in the Fantastic Four movies. His casting as Steve Rogers actually works a lot better than I expected and I can honestly say I'm looking forward to seeing him as Captain America again in the future.
Opposite Evans is the truly inspired choice of Hugo Weaving. He always brings a dark and foreboding presence to roles and this is no exception. His performance as Johann Schmidt the head of Hydra is dark, disturbing and absolutely perfect. He brings out the best elements of the character and makes him seem more evil than I thought was possible. The addition of Tommy Lee Jones as the American Army General and Hayley Atwell as Roger's love interest work in their own way but the clash between Evans and weaving is really what made this movie. The two characters clash brilliantly and this really works from the audience perspective.
A Decent Movie
As I've already mentioned the comic book genre is improving dramatically and this is further proof of the progress these style of movies have made since the likes of Daredevil and Electra were being churned out to make a quick buck. As an introduction to Captain America this is a great starting point and reveals enough characterisation to give you and real insight into the character, whilst still retaining enough action to keep it entertaining. I wouldn't say it was a perfect film as it still could have been better, however it delivered exactly what I was expecting and kept me entertained throughout its 2 hour runtime and for me that is enough to secure a four star rating.
Captain America was always going to be a hard sell for UK cinema goers. Based on a lesser-known Marvel hero who is basically a walking American flag, Cap has never found the same widespread popularity on our shores as other heroes.
On the other hand, Marvel have a pretty good track record of converting their comics into films over the last 10-15 years or so and another lesser known property - Thor - has already made the successful transition to the big screen in a romp that was enjoyable enough. Can Marvel repeat that feat with Captain America?
Prior to taking on the title role, weedy Steve Rogers is repeatedly rejected as unfit for military service during World War II. Desperate to serve, he volunteers to take part in an experiment to create a new breed of Super Soldier. Once injected with the experimental serum, Rogers is stronger, faster and fitter than any opponent he faces... apart from the similarly serum-enhanced Nazi, Red Skull.
Let me start of by saying that, despite the criticisms that will follow, Captain America is not a complete washout. Whilst I have no intention of ever sitting down to watch it again, it's not a complete disaster in the same way that DC's Green Lantern was... it's just that after so many superb comic book adaptations, Captain America feels a little bit tepid.
There are some very good action sequences and whilst the plot might be a by-the-numbers origin story, it just about does enough to get by without ever really thrilling. Similarly towards the end, it becomes little more than a series of set pieces and special effects, although unlike Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Captain America never becomes too dull.
Overall, the cast do a good job of bringing to life characters that won't be terribly familiar to most British viewers, although that can't be said for Chris Evans in the lead role who is simply too bland for words. It's hard to see why anyone would follow Evans' Cap down to the shops, let alone into battle. He delivers all his lines in a deeply ponderous tone as though he thinks everything he says is of great import (it's not) and I found his portrayal boring beyond words.
Thankfully, a couple of other actors take advantage of this power vacuum at the centre of the stage to steal the limelight. Tommy Lee Jones is doing his best Grumpy Old Man impression and having a whale of a time as the cynical Colonel Chester Phillips. His sarcasm and world-weary cynicism bring some much needed humour to the otherwise overly earnest feel of the film. Sure, this might be little more than Jones merging his Men in Black/Fugitive/Small Soldiers personae into a single character, but that doesn't make it any less fun.
Similarly strong is Hugo Weaving who exudes menace as bad guy Johann Schmidt/Red Skull. Again, he might only be playing it as an evil Elrond (with all the over-reliance on frowning which that implies), but it's good to see a bad guy who does actually seem evil, rather than just incompetent. His Red Skull make up is also very effective and adds an extra air of threat to his character.
Sadly, like all too many comic book adaptations, Captain America is far, far too long (anyone remember the days when films came in at around 90-100 minutes? No-one in Hollywood does, it seems). It takes an inordinate amount of time to set up Cap's origin story which seriously slows down the pacing. To ram the point home, we get repeated examples of just how weedy pre-operation Steve Rogers is, then repeated ones of just how super he is post-experimentation. This endless repetition makes you feel like you're being treated like an idiot and leaves you wishing they'd just get on with the action.
There's also a flabby middle section which turns the budding Super Soldier into a laughing stock, having him perform song and dance routines to raise money for War Bonds. Essentially there to explain the origins of his costume, the almost spoof-like nature of this section jars badly with the more serious tone elsewhere.
Indeed, this was a problem Captain America demonstrated throughout. It never seemed able to decide whether it wanted to be a straight action film or a slightly tongue in cheek look at one of Marvel's more specialist properties. This veers wildly between escapist action nonsense and ill-fitting humour. It also suffers in that it is clearly meant as a stop-gap ahead of 2012's Avengers movie. Indeed, there are times when the whole film feels like nothing more than an extended trailer for Marvel's next big release.
One of Captain America's biggest problems, though, is that the character feels very dated. Even though Marvel have (sensibly) taken the decision to set the bulk of the film in the Second World War (Cap's original setting), he still feels hugely anachronistic. I'm sure that in America, still haunted by the ghosts of September 11th, it's gone down a storm as Cap and the good old U S of A once again shows the world how to beat up bad guys; I can imagine them cheering and whooping in the aisles over there with patriotic fervour. On this side of the Pond, though, he just seems like a character that belongs in the past and has only been given an outing because Marvel have run out of "big name" characters.
There's no getting away from the fact that Captain America is easily Marvel's weakest adaptation to date. Based on one of their lesser known properties (particularly in this country), it's just about passable stuff. Which gives me a problem when it comes to scoring: on the one hand, 2 stars seems a little mean; 3 a touch generous. To be consistent with previous reviews I'm giving it 2 - it's not as much fun as Marvel's other 2011 outing Thor, which I awarded three stars. Sorry Cap; you just don't cut it no more.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Director: Joe Johnston
Running time: approx. 124 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2011