Last week I got a Super-Soldier Swirl Ice cream cone. The week before that I got a Captain Coollatta from Baskin-Robbins. The week before that, I got a parachuting Captain America action figure.
So yeah. You can probably say I was a little hyped up about Captain America: The First Avenger.
The film bookends Marvel Studios' summer blockbusters, following Thor and X-Men: First Class. I got a chance to see the film with my friend over the weekend, so here are some of my thoughts.
Of all the avengers, Captain America is unique in that he's rooted in WWII-era America. The film follows Steve Rogers from a puny Brooklyn kid with moxy, to the Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America. The first half is a charming period piece, showing off sturdy Model T's and anti-Axis propaganda. The second half shifts to the theme of war, and doesn't quite succeed.
Tommy Lee Jones plays the recruiting officer great, and his acting is the best among the cast. It's amazing that the pre-Super-Solder-Serum Chris Evans is actually CG, because it looked so real. The film doesn't rely on special effects and it doesn't need to. The stunts stand out as the best for me - it's a huge rush to see Cap zipline down to hijack Dr. Zola's freight train - although some explosions and other theatrics were unnecessary and weigh the film down. Another flaw is the need to make Steve a performer for the troops. The U.S. Army has this big buff dude with enhanced athleticism, and they're gonna make him sing and dance? Besides that, the biggest complaint I have is the villain.
Hugo Weaving, the 21st century's bad guy (Agent Smith from The Matrix trilogy and Megatron from the Michael Bay Transformers flicks) chimes in as Red Skull. He discovers what I assume is the Cosmic Cube (it's never named), and uses it to make crazy lasers that vaporize people and their nutty faces. He leads HYDRA, a subdivision of the Nazis and makes the decision to "no longer stand in the shadow of Hitler," in order to capture Berlin and - the world! - but I failed to get a sense of that. All we see is him shooting down his comrades! Zero conquering -- not even a cartoon map of Herr Skull conquering Europe, country by country.
Anybody who keeps up with the Marvel universe will enjoy the tidbits in there. Bucky Barnes, Happy Hogan and Sharon Carter get their fifteen seconds, for example. Stan the Man also makes a cameo, despite not having created the character (that would go to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby), and Howard Stark plays a pivotal role in war technology. If you didn't get your Marvel fix from First Class, you can certainly get it here.
In sum, The First Avenger isn't a bad movie, but it's not a great one either. It'll tickle the comic book geek as well as the WWII geek in you, but it won't get more than a holler.