Skip to main content

Review: Captain America - The First Avenger

Captain America is a rarity of sorts in the modern blockbuster. There is no sense of postmodern reflection for frail Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) only a sense of duty that shines brighter than his translucently pale chest. Steve Rogers longs to do his part for the United States in war time, he has volunteered to join the armed services multiple times and each time receives notice that he does not meet the physical qualifications.

Steve feels lost in a generation of men whose bravery is defined by service. He can't even take enjoyment in an matinee showing without rising to defend those in arms. Character is not lacking for Rogers, only body mass.

Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) takes pity on the charmingly persistent Rogers and clears him for boot camp. Steve has more than his fair share of critics in Col. Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent Carter (Haley Atwell). More than proving his mettle during boot camp, Steve is offered to join a trial experiment for the Super Soldier serum created by Dr. Erskine and Howard Stark. The serum thought to be the over-the-top measure to beat the Nazis and Red Skull’s Hydra works and Captain America is born.

The film is filled with the sort of old school World War II action that is missing from the cinema anymore. Chris Evans is the ultimate boy scout, a man from a time where duty was king, and the film relies upon its ability to wax nostalgic about the yesteryear of its greatest heroes. Alan Menken's "Star Spangled Man" is one such rousing example.

There are no false notes about Captain America either, none of that trademark cynicism always present in modern war films. This very easily could have been made in the 1940s with Gary Cooper, it is that authentic.

Steve is just a man that hates bullies whether they take the form of an ignorant moviegoer, or a maniac hell-bent on the destruction of the modern world. Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), is that maniac, managing to avoid the pitfalls of a rote Nazi villain and instead provides a worthwhile foil to the super soldier in red, white and blue.

There were worries that a film about Captain America would either be entirely too unrealistic, or campy, fortunately the film is neither. What makes the film an oddity, though, is the action scenes are not the big draw. A man resolving himself to fight an enemy under any cost is much more satisfying.

***/****

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…