CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Starring Chris Evans,
Tommy Lee Jones,
Directed by Joe Johnston
Written by Christopher Marks and Stephen McFeely
Based on characters created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Running time 125 mins.
Even if you don’t go in for the patriotism, you can’t help but see it’s well done.
Corniness is one of the film’s flaws, as is the cheap way it treats women. But looking past those sorts of things, the retro look (“Captain America” is set during WWII) works great, and the villain, Red Skull (Weaving), is one of the film’s best features.
Upshot: Puny weakling Steve Rogers (Evans) gets picked on, then picked as the test subject for a Super Soldier serum in order to beat the freedom-hating fascists.
Tellingly, what really makes Steve Rogers upset is other people’s freedom of speech. When a guy in a movie theater wants for the cartoons to start, scrawny little Steve sitting behind starts running off at the mouth and shows his true freedom-hating colors.
The film’s big bragging point is being able to digitally alter the actor to look properly puny. And boy, it works. His voice sounds too big for his build, but the visuals with the effect seem flawless.
He says he’s “just a kid from Brooklyn.” He doesn’t sound like he’s from Brooklyn. And he’s supposed to stop Hitler–by being a tall blonde Super Warrior in service of a misogynistic, militaristic Father State, where a German scientist (Tucci) has developed a weapon used by both sides (that would be the Super Soldier serum). Geez, does the “A” on his head stand for America or Adolf?
Then there’s his shield. One thing the filmmakers never say is how, no matter where he throws it, his shield always comes back to his hand. Just like Thor’s hammer. Which is fitting, because what Red Skull’s looking to do is harness the power of the Norse gods. The filmmakers try to squeeze some thirty year-old “Raiders of the Lost Ark” mojo their way by having Red Skull say that Hitler’s wasting his time in the desert (looking for the Lost Ark of the Covenant). And it’s not a great idea to invite comparison because “Captain America” is nowhere near as good a movie as “Raiders.” But I just want to know how it is his shield always returns to his waiting hand.
Come to think, they don’t really explain a whole lot with this movie. For instance, where’s the bomb in all this? What does one guy not being dinky anymore have to do with dropping the bomb on Japan twice? And how is it that after the government scientists make Steve finally be a big boy, they just sort of shrug their shoulders and let him go do U.S.O. performances for the troops?
Oh well. It does have a neat-o retro look. Kind of like “The Rocketeer.”
True, one does get the urge to sit down with young Cappy and explain to him who it is his ardor most aids. Maybe watch “Zeitgeist” with him, too. So he could learn. But we have to figure, Steve Rogers has suffered a lot of trauma. And until he goes clean off his Super Soldier cheat serum, and is no longer using, there just won’t be any reasoning with him at all.