Captain America: The First Avenger
I've gone to four movies in the past week and a half and reviews of "Crazy, Stupid, Love," "30 Minutes or Less," and "The Help" will be coming soon.
"Captain America: The First Avenger" - The year is 1942. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is patriotic, brave, and willing to stand up for what he believes in. However no matter how tall me may stand up the rest of the world still towers over him. He's been labeled 4F every time he's attempted to enlist in the military, much to his chagrin. Still, he's determined to do his part in Europe. "Don't win the war before I get there," he tells his best friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan, "Gossip Girl").
After yet another rejection by the army, Steve is approached by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who sees potential in him that no one else can see. Erskine has been working on an experiment to create a "super-soldier," with the cooperation of U.S. Army Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and British officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell, "The Duchess"). Phillips and Peggy take some convincing but when Steve is finally chosen to undergo Dr. Erskine's procedure it seems the young patriot will finally get his chance to stand up for his country. Instantly though he becomes the target of nazi officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving, "The Matrix"), who is all too familiar with Dr. Erskine's experiments.
Directed by Joe Johnston, "Captain America" gets off to a fantastic start. The characters and universe are well established and the 1940s setting is perfect not only for this film, but really for comic book films in general, for obvious reasons. It's not surprising that Johnston very ably brings vibrance and fun to the period detail, given he'd also helmed "The Rocketeer."
After the first act the film goes from being terrific to pretty good. Johnston keeps things moving along at a good clip and Evans is very likeable and relateable as a man who is trying to put his newfound power to use while not letting it change him in negative ways as well. So much of it is typical of the "origin story" but it's entertaining and the work of Johnston, Evans, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely keeps us involved.
"Captain America" suffers from problems that most likely stem from studio meddling. I saw the film in 2D but it was obvious which moments were created specifically for the 3D conversion in post-production. All of the worst offenders are here. People falling in slow motion while something explodes behind them, objects being thrown at the screen, etc. There's no reason in the world this movie needs to be seen in 3D. The other problem is actually even more infuriating. The need to "set up" next summer's "The Avengers" at the expense of this film is quite clear and maddening. I'd be surprised if "Thor" (which I have not yet seen) didn't have the same issue.
Overall, "Captain America" is worthwhile and quite a bit of fun. Still, I wish that Markus, McFeely, and Johnston had been able to give us the movie they'd really wanted to present us with, without the tacked on 3D nonsense or "Avengers" table setting. This could have been better than "Spider-Man." 7.5/10.