Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger - **1/2

Directed by: Joe Johnston

Starring:  Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci

Review:  Seeing this movie reminded me exactly why I am not a fan of Captain American in the comic book world.  I’m going to say right away that that speaks nothing to the quality of the film, just an inherent weakness it has (according to me) based on its super hero protagonist.   What has never been clear to me is whether ‘Captain America’ was meant to embrace the ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’ propaganda side of America, or if it is itself trying to be satyr of that very same attitude.  On some level I think that it’s probably both, but I will say that it’s never explicitly clear.

Anybody who is a fan or who follows comic books and heroes will know that ‘The Avengers’ movie comes out next summer and Marvel is gearing up for a big run with that film.  For those unaware ‘The Avengers’ (as presently constructed) consists of Captain American, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and a couple other characters created specifically for the crew (name Hawkeye who will be played by Jeremy Renner).  At this point, the only character who hadn’t had his own film and was the last to the party was Captain America.  While it could be just good timing for Marvel, what this reeks of is them pumping out a less than thought out Captain America in order to be a prelude to the Avengers movie.

The story of the first avenger takes place in 1943 where Steve Rogers has tried and tried and tried to enlist in the Army so he can do his duty and the Army finds him inadequate.  He has tried fake information and the rest and still won’t be cleared.  However, what the Army can’t measure is the size of your heart.  Cheesy as that is, that’s Rogers’ ticket into the Army.  What he doesn’t know is that he is planned on being selected for a special program to turn people into super soldiers.  This will apparently win the war for America and make him the soldier he has always wanted to be. 

However, the Germans find out about this and murder the scientist who created this method so instead of the Army of super soldiers; they are left with just one, the man who eventually becomes Captain America.  After going across the country to raise money for the war, Rogers finally gets his chance to prove his worth as a soldier. 

This is all done very matter-of-factly and accomplished in far too coincidental of a nature for my liking.  Things don’t seem to happen organically for the storyline, rather, they happen so that by the end of the film Captain America will be ready to be in ‘The Avengers’ movie (the trailer is neatly attached after the credits for those who have the patience to stick around). 

The movie does its best to make its protagonists interesting and the story compelling, and perhaps they succeed, but I find it all to be just…lame.  Captain America is too much of a goody two-shoes fighting for “truth, justice, and the American blah, blah, blah.”  There is very little empathy imparted upon this character to make us want him to pull through.  The ending scene is anti-climactic for we already know the result based on the beginning. 

The more interesting portion of the Captain American story to me is the tragedy.  At some point, he is alone in a new world and nothing he used to know exists anymore.  How would that affect a man?  How would that affect his sense of duty for his country?  These are much more intriguing scenarios that are never played out as Captain America is too busy being a swashbuckling American soldier to be worried about things like putting his life back together after his world is turned upside down.  Comic book heroes are fortunate that way in that they don’t really seem to care about the real world, they are after all, comic book heroes.

Worth your time only if you’re a big fan.

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