Sunday, August 21, 2011

Movie Review: Captain America

Summer movies are supposed to give you fun and entertaining escapes from normal life. Big action pictures are the normal fare, and you need some Raisinettes and popcorn to get the full experience. Captain America is a fun and well paced action flick that delivers. Shooting Nazis? Check. Period piece set in the '40s with great costumes? Check. Explosions? Check. A couple of great actors to give the picture some depth? Surprisingly, a check. Great pacing and story that makes the 2 hours fly by? Check. Captain America is a good family action flick that can entertain the parents as well as the kids.

I didn't read Captain America the comic book. It was pretty terrible when I was a kid. I never understood why CA wasn't fighting commies all over the world. That was a built in genius setting. Instead he did stupid stuff with cartoonish villains and plots. Maybe I was expecting too much, as it was a comic book. The movie is fantastic. Here's some warnings though:

- Suspend your disbelief that a man would have a handlebar mustache and bowler hat while fighting in a war.
- Suspend your disbelief that there would be a unit with Americas, one Brit and one Frenchman
- Forget that the US military wasn't integrated until 1948 (Hollywood needs to sprinkle in blacks regardless of history).
- Suspend your disbelief that the black soldier in 1943 would be college educated and speak 3 languages, yet was just a private.

OK, back to the review. The villain as well as ancillary characters are well acted by Huge Weaving (he's racking up bad guy credits), Tommy Lee Jones as a grizzly, old officer and the always enjoyable Stanley Tucci as the scientist who creates the super serum. Having some good actors involved, and letting them flesh out characters, was a nice touch. I enjoyed Tucci's German scientist character. Chris Evans, who definitely gives the ladies some eye candy, does a good boy scout job acting as Steve Rogers/CA. If he plays his cards right, he could get a bunch of action roles as Hollywood is lacking in handsome, macho leads right now. He did a nice job of playing the little guy who finally gets big. He plays it not overly nerdy a la Michael Cera, just a little, shy guy who wants to do the right thing.

The story is well laid out, and the pacing is well done. The director builds things up and doesn't force the action. I kind of liked the 'war bonds sales' and rejection of CA by the troops sequence. It was a great way to slow things down after the dramatic NYC spy chase scene. It was a nice character building bit before we got into the "shit gets blown up" action shots. Shit does get blown up. CA jumps into the belly of the beast and shows why he is the super soldier. It's a fun action sequence of tanks, bad guys and anything metal getting blown up. The shield gets tossed around a lot. There are humorous moments and the requisite love story arc forced on us, but the love story is minimal. The ending is about sacrifice, and really that's the great theme through this book. Steve Rogers is ready to sacrifice his own needs or his personal safety for others, while the Red Skull is givent he same powers as CA but uses them for his own gain. This is popcorn fun, but with a nice message. I stood up after the credits and couldn't believe it was 2 hours already. I recommend it, and hope that Marvel can produce more fun and quality adaptations of their comics like Iron Man and Captain America in the future.

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