Movie Review: Captain America – The First Avenger

Captain America

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by Stefan Abrutat

I couldn’t help but feel, after walking out of the movie theater post-Captain America: The First Avenger, that I’d just been exposed to a self-profiting marketing campaign for the upcoming Avengers movie. The story, though set in 1942, opens and closes in the present day, which broadly hints at where a healthy percentage of these recent superhero movies are going to end up.

The Avengers (currently set for release on 5/4/2012) proposes to tie together this movie, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor into one giant megabuster movie event that, I think, is going to have a very difficult time fulfilling the preemptive hype, even under the skillful storytelling guidance of that flick’s director, Joss Whedon.

The problem with Captain America: The First Avenger is that it seems just too familiar. We’ve all seen this stuff before. Sure, it’s nicely shot and framed, but with a mediocre, cookie-cutter story it’s difficult to build one’s anticipation and thereby excitement for the set pieces. A wholesome and lantern-jawed Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers competently enough, with his muscular torso replacing the scrawny 90 lb one his head is CGIed onto for the pre-powers part of the movie (shades of Benjamin Button immediately sprang to mind).

There are some shining lights, however: the interplay between craggy Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Colonel Chester Philips (Rogers’ commanding officer) and Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), the scientist who creates the super-soldier program, is entertaining enough to stop the movie from falling completely flat.

Chief antagonist The Red Skull is played with Hugo Weaving’s usual scenery-chewing enthusiasm, and romantic interest is supplied by a fairly innocuous Hayley Atwell.

I think the only reason this movie got made is because they needed at least some story behind Captain America for Avengers. I was reasonably entertained throughout, though I did find the ending a trifle disappointing. Solid, but not spectacular.

Rating: PG-13. Running Time: 2 hours 1 minute. Released 22 July 2011.

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