Captain America: The First Avenger
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper
In My Own Words
I wanted to like Captain America: The First Avenger. I really did. It was one of the films this blockbuster season that I had been really looking forward to. No one can accuse me of going into the film convinced that I was going to see something I dislike. I’m not going to say what I thought about the movie in detail here as that is what my review is for, but you can already guess what I thought of it without me saying any extra. It does not detract from my excitement about The Avengers though! I can’t help but think that it really has to be a really bad-ass villain to have any sort of battle with the five superhero’s they will be going up against. The whole concept of the Marvel superheroes joining forces in this cinematic spectacle is definitely intriguing. Who else is excited?
There was another let down for me. I was excited about seeing British actor Natalie Dormer in a rare film appearance. I am a big fan of The Tudors in which Dormer played the ill-fated Queen of England and second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn. Dormer played the sassy Private Lorraine in Captain America: The First Avenger who takes a strong liking to Steve. Unfortunate for me, she was in all of two scenes and on screen for no more than three minutes. Oh well, I look forward to seeing her next in W.E. where she will play Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother.
These are my own words and here is my review.
Captain America: The First Avenger, just to make you all confused, is the last Marvel superhero film before the superhero reunion film, The Avengers. Captain America is the First Avenger as, unlike other superhero films released in the past few years, his story belongs in the war torn 1940’s. So the big difference between this film and other action films is that it would be out of place to have amazing and spectacular special effects which we are now so used to. The action not completely absent or dull, but in order to take a step back in something in a film, something else is to be enhanced in order for it to be successful. This is where Captain America: The First Avenger completely lacks. The action and special effects are toned down for an action film, but nothing else stands up in its place.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has always been discriminated against because of his height and size, but this has never stopped him standing up for something which he has believed in. He watches everyone around him go off to war while he has to wait at home. He is then approached by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who offers him a chance to join in the army and take part in a project he is involved in. This project is the end of Steve’s woes and the beginning of Captain America. Steve soon finds out that he is the one who can save America from the evil Johann Schmitt (Hugo Weaving). He is the hero America has been waiting for.
Captain America: The First Avenger had HUGE potential. As said previously, it wasn’t appropriate for a film like this to have amazing action sequences with special effects that will blow your mind and amazing high tech machinery as it is set in the 1940’s. So this should have been huge opportunity to bring a great war story into the film and make the film into something we haven’t seen in years. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. There is a story there, just not a strong script to support it and make it engrossing. It is actually even quite boring at times when there is no action happening. It is fair enough normally that a superhero movie doesn’t have a strong story as that isn’t normally the focal point of an action film, but tone down the action and you need to turn something else up.
One of the more entertaining moments in the film is when Steve becomes Captain America and instead of joining the men in the war fields (which you barely see anything of anyway), he becomes a comic book hero who goes on tour and features in motion pictures. It is a fun part of the film and is reminiscent of how Captain America really was perceived in the 1940’s.
The special effects which the film does employ are also subject to some criticism. The computer generated and enhanced images look computer generated. Before Steve becomes Captain America, more often than not the visions of the character look like Chris Evans head pasted on a body, not like a smaller version of Evans as a whole. Visions of Evans running through the streets of Brooklyn just after his transformation also look computer generated. Even if the movie is set in the 1940’s, it doesn’t mean that you should take any less pride in making the special effects as realistic as possible.
The acting is really little more than just reading their lines for the majority of the cast. Chris Evans does do a good job at leading the ensemble. Although it does feel as though he tries more when he is the smaller Steve Rogers, which would make sense because it is more just an action role once he becomes Captain America. He was the perfect choice for the role as he is just likable in both of his personas and comes across as just a good guy.
Hugo Weaving is a perfect villain as Johann Schmitt. He is quite terrifying at times, even before he shows his true self as Red Skull. Stanley Tucci is a treat to watch and is actually quite a fun character. Hayley Atwell does well in her role as Steve’s trusted ally and love interest, Peggy Carter. She has one in particular great, emotionally charged scene. However, we have no idea who her character is or where she has come from. Before he is transformed, Steve says “I guess I just don't why you'd wanna join the army if you're a beautiful dame. ...” Peggy doesn’t give an answer and leaves him guessing as well as us.
As a whole, Captain America: The First Avenger isn’t the worst film of the year by all means, although it had so much potential and it could have been so much more than what it was. It is still entertaining enough and gives you your superhero fix for this half of the year.