I’ll bet it’s tough to write a comic book movie (that’s why they should call me and I’ll help them). Characters like Captain America have been around for so long that a host of writers and artists have worked on them, and each with a different “take” on the character. Which elements or version to you choose to immortalize on the big screen?
The writers of Captain America: The First Avenger did a good job bringing the basic Steve Rogers story to the fore, and even updating him quite a bit in the humor and costume department. Everything about the Captain was always pretty hokey; from his name and costume, even to his sidekick Bucky. But set in the `40s with an air of nostalgia, it all seems to work, especially when parading Chris Evans around in the true-to-the comic outfit (purposefully made even more lame than some earlier Captain America video treatments). Comedic elements were well-placed, too, with a great supporting cast. In the end, everything that seemed like a weakness with the character becomes an inside joke that even Captain America is in on.
Evans is so stolid as “Steve Rogers” he’s almost a bit flat; surprising, considering he was the best thing about the Fantastic Four movies. Luckily, he’s surrounded by a well-chosen supporting cast (although I never bought that a “dame” — “Peggy Carter,” played by Hayley Atwell — would be so far up the military chain in the `40s even with a few throwaway lines about having strings pulled to get her there). Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as “Colonel Chester Phillips,” as is Stanley Tucci as “Dr. Abraham Erskine,” and Hugo Weaving as the menacing “Red Skull.” Kudos to the folks in other, smaller parts as well; such as Dominic Cooper as “Howard Stark” (Tony’s pops), and Sebastian Stand as the unfortunately named “Bucky Barnes.” Everyone seems to relish their roles and time onscreen. It seemed like the folks had fun just making this film.
The CGI is seamless. When Evans’ Rogers is scrawny, it’s difficult to see how it was done at all. The same goes for Weaving’s Red Skull. The action sequences are well done and exciting, and left me wanting more shots of Captain just being the Captain! The 3D was a mixed bag, though; it wasn’t horrible, but it did seem a bit unnecessary as the 3D effect seemed a bit out of place in the `40s. There is however a single shield shot that was done so well I jumped out of my seat!
At just over 2 hours, Captain America drags a bit here and there, but only a bit. The very ending also seems a bit abrupt. Although nothing about it is knocked out of the park, it is good solid fun, and a great set up for he upcoming Avengers movie.
Overall Critic Score: B+