July 22, 2011

Captain America: the First Avenger - 2011

Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci

"I don't want to kill anybody. I just don't like bullies." Steve Rogers (Evans), a 4F 90-pound weakling from Brooklyn, is transformed via the Super-Soldier Serum into Captain America in an effort to combat the war machine led by the Red Skull (Weaving), the head of HYDRA, the deep science division of the Nazi party.

Full disclosure: when Marvel announced the casting for this film last year, I was filled to the brim with fanboy rage. The former Human Torch playing Captain America? OUTRAGE, I cried! Not only that, but the roles Evans was primarily known for playing before now weren't exactly the most kind or considerate characters, in opposition to the Boy Scout nature of the Star-Spangled Man. I will glady say that I was 100% incorrect in my fears, however, as Evans turned out to be a stellar version of Rogers, both as skinny Steve and the more intensely-constructed shield-chucker we all know and love. There's not a weak soul in the supporting cast, either, from Atwell's precursor-to-SHIELD-agent/love interest Peggy Carter to Tucci's all-too-few moments onscreen as Abraham Erskine, the German scientist responsible for the Serum. Two in their number steal the show, however: Weaving as the Red Skull (having honed his villain skills by playing Agent Smith in the Matrix franchise and watching a bunch of Warner Herzog movies) and Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Philips, the military man who repeatedly butts heads with Rogers. The script is dead-on in almost every way, and highly reminiscent tonally of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Johnston has taken his experience on The Rocketeer and combined it with the big budget afforded to him by Marvel Studios, and the result is the most entertaining and all-out enjoyable film of the summer. It's unfortunate they couldn't release this on Independence Day weekend, but of course the film itself doesn't suffer qualitywise because of Marvel's fear of Michael Bay. Remember: buy war bonds, and stay after the credits for a wonderful glimpse at the master plan. A+

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