Captain America: The First Avenger

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the present day, scientists in the Arctic uncover a mysterious object with a red, white and blue motif. In March 1942, Nazi officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) and his men invade a castle in Tønsberg, Norway, to steal a mysterious tesseract which Schmidt calls “the jewel of Odin’s treasure room.” In New York City, Brooklyn native Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is rejected for World War II military duty as 4-F for the fifth time. Rogers’ friend, Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan), takes Rogers to the Modern Marvels of Tomorrow exhibition, where Rogers slips into a recruitment center for another attempt at enlisting. When Barnes attempts to dissuade him, Rogers’ fervent conviction about serving his country catches the ear of expatriate Bavarian scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who is with the U.S. government’s Strategic Scientific Reserve. He recruits Rogers to a squad of soldiers at Camp Lehigh in New York state, where – under Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and SSR officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) – one will be chosen as the first in a “super-soldier” experiment. Phillips suggests Gilmore Hodge (Lex Shrapnel), but Rogers’ conscience, ingenuity and courage convince Erskine to use the sickly man. In Europe, Schmidt and scientist Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) attempt to harness the power of the cube-like tesseract. Schmidt then kills a few Nazi officials when they learn Schmidt and his private research group HYDRA are planning to take over every country in the world, including Germany.

Erskine tells Rogers about the super soldier serum he will be using, explaining that he was first forced to test the formula on Schmidt. However, as the serum had not been perfected, Schmidt experienced physical side effects and enhanced his sinister nature and intentions, causing Erskine to flee to the United States. Erskine, having now perfected the serum, tells Rogers he was chosen because his weak physical nature has given him humility. In a secret lab behind a Brooklyn antique store, Erskine and others gather with military inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Senator Brandt (Michael Brandon) and U.S. State Department employee Fred Clemson. Rogers is given micro-injections of serum and then doused with what Erskine calls “vita-rays”, causing him to have a tall and muscular physique. Clemson is exposed as Schmidt’s assassin Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage), and guns down Erskine before fleeing to his submarine. Rogers pursues and captures Kruger, but the spy commits suicide with a cyanide capsule.

Brandt has Rogers don a colorful costume for a War Bonds promotional stage show that has an unimpressed soldier audience in Italy, November 1943, jeering Rogers. When he hears Barnes is among a number of soldiers captured by Schmidt, Rogers convinces Carter and Stark to fly him behind enemy lines for a solo rescue mission. Breaking into what turns out to be a HYDRA base, Rogers frees Barnes and the others, memorizes a map of HYDRA bases, and briefly confronts Schmidt, who reveals himself as the Red Skull. The Skull and Zola retreat, and Rogers returns the men to his base, along with high-tech guns that use the tesseract’s energy.

To destroy HYDRA’s bases, Rogers recruits a team consisting of Barnes, Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan (Neal McDonough), Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi), James Montgomery Falsworth (J. J. Feild), and Jacques Dernier (Bruno Ricci). Using a circular shield made of a substance Stark calls vibranium, which absorbs vibrations, Rogers and his squad take out all but one base. Finally, Rogers and Barnes zipline onto a train transporting Zola; during the ensuing battle, Barnes falls to his death.

Rogers, using information Phillips has gleaned from Zola, leads the commandos to the Skull’s final redoubt. Rogers scrambles onto the Skull’s jet as it takes off on a mission to obliterate the U.S. using the tesseract energy, and eventually confronts the Skull. The Skull attempts to use the tesseract but instead disintegrates into light that shoots into space. The tesseract melts through the plane and falls to Earth. Rogers, as Carter listens on radio, crashes the plane into the ocean to prevent it from reaching the United States. Shortly after, the Allies celebrate V-E Day. Carter, Stark, and Phillips recover the tesseract, but are unable to locate Rogers.

In the present day, Rogers awakens in a room designed to appear as if he were still in the early 1940s. He hears a radio broadcast of a baseball game he attended in 1941. Deducing the truth and escaping to Times Square, Rogers learns from S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) that he has been asleep for nearly 70 years, and they had wanted to acclimate his reentry into modern times. Rogers’ only response is that he is late for a dance he had promised to Carter nearly 70 years ago.

In a post-credits scene, Rogers fights a punching bag before being approached by Fury, who assigns him to save the world. The scene then changes to a trailer for The Avengers.

REVIEW:

I’m sure we’ve all been made more than aware of how each if these Marvel Studio superhero flicks (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulkand Thor) have been leading up to The Avengers film set to be released next year. Well, this is the last one before that film, and trust me, you’ll want to stick around after the credits.

I’ve heard/read more than a few people rumbling how this summer has been a bit of overkill with all the superhero films this year (I believe this is #7). Truth be told, I’m a bit burned out as well, but I can’t say it hasn’t been fun, and this film is the icing on the cake.

The plot is, you guessed it, the origin of Captain America. We spend the first hour with him as a skinny kid in Brooklyn more or less whining about how he wants to serve his country, but they won’t let him.

While on a double date with his friend Bucky, he goes into an exhibit that honors the soldiers. Here, a scientist is impressed by his speech to Bucky and goes out of his way to make sure he is accepted into the military and sent to Strategic Scientific Reserve boot camp, where he is obviously a fish out of water.

After convincing the colonel he is worthy by jumping on a dead grenade (even though he all but failed every other test), he is selected for the experimental super soldier program.

Once he takes the serum, he is no longer the “90 lb weakling”, as he proves by chasing down a Nazi spy who was after Dr. Erskine’s formula.

Even though he has more than proven himself by doing this, the colonel wants him sent away for testing, but the senator says that he would do better as a propaganda tool. So, we get some USO-type shows, until some random soldier in Italy criticizes him, which turned out to be the turning point for him, as it was the catalyst that turned him into a true superhero, thanks to his rescue of the soldiers capture by the Red Skull and HYDRA.

The film goes on into some montage with Cap kicking some true butt with his new team, there’s a hint at romance with Peggy, jealousy with Howard Stark, blah, blah, blah, and then we get to the climactic showdown with the Red Skull that results in the Skull being warped away to some alternate dimension and Cap being frozen for 60 yrs.

Let me say that the thing that I love about this film, above all else, is that it is set in th 40s. I love that era. They did an excellent job capturing the mentality of the people back then, as well as re-creating 40s New York. I do with they would have included a bit more of the music from back then, but that’s a personal preference.

Action here is great. The second half of the film is fast and furious. Conversely, the first half seems to drag on a bit. I know they were building up Steve Rogers so that the audience would care and all, but that just went on too long. I found myself wishing they would hurry up and get on with it.

In my Thor review, I said that many superhero films suffer from origin-itis. Well, Captain America: The First Avenger actually doesn’t. Other than being sluggish at the beginning, the origin doesn’t slow down the film. Of course, the fact that Cap’s origin is in a different era than his modern-day self (remember he gets frozen), allows for this, so that may have been the reason.

One of the problems I had with this film is that they spent more than enough time on Captain America, but the supporting characters (especially his commandos) got the short end of the stick, and don’t even get me started on how little screen time the film’s villain, The Red Skull got. Sure, he got a nice chunk of it, but I just felt he should have received more.

There is a scene before Captain America becomes the superhero version of himself, and is just a propaganda item that, while is totally out of place, is really quite interesting. During WWII, the troops were entertained by USO shows, complete with scantily (or what passed for it at the time) clad showgirls. The song that was written for this scene is really quite good. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t mention it!

I had my reservations about Chris Evans playing Captain America. First of all, he was the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films, a character that fit his personality. Cap is more serious and down to earth. I approved of Evans now, but I still don’t think this was the role for him.

The beautiful Hayley Atwell had me starstruck when I first saw her in The Duchess, but after seeing her here (just wait until you see her in the red dress), I think I have a new crush! Oh, and she’s not a bad actress, either.

Tommy Lee jones does his usual thing. It really works as a 40s colonel, though. Is it me, or does it look like he’s aged big time in the last few years?

Hugo Weaving is one of the most perfect villains ever to grace the screen. Some have said that he was put on this Earth to play the Red Skull. I won’t go that far. Something about his accent and the way the makeup was put on him didn’t sit well with me, but he still did an awesome job.

In the Iron Man movies, we know Tony Stark as a billionaire genius playboy. Well, here we see his dad, played by Dominic Cooper was the same way.

Now, about the 3D. No, I didn’t waste my money on it. I’ve said numerous times that I don’t support that gimmick, especially if it was converted post-production. Having said that, I really didn’t see any 3D moments, so why would you waste your money?

I also have to mention that when I heard they were doing Captain America, I immediately thought they were going to make it some sort of extreme propaganda piece with America this and America that.

I am so glad that they didn’t go that route, with the exception of the parts where Steve is trying to join the army. This was the 40s, after all!

Finally, I’m so tired of reading reviews that compare every superhero film to The Dark Knight. Look, Captain America, Wolverine, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Thor, Spider-Man, Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc….they are not Batman. As such, they are all going to have films that are different in tone, scope, and pretty much every level you can think. The Dark Knight was not God’s gift to cinema, contrary to what many may think.

For those that think this is going to be another one of those, you will be sadly mistaken. Sure, this film isn’t as light as Green Lantern or Spider-Man, but it is far from that dark depression that is The Dark Knight. Seriously, can you imagine a dark Captain America? It just would not work. So, those that keep brining up the comparison need to get over it and move on!!!!

Captain America: The First Avenger is one of those films that you shouldn’t even think about not seeing. It has something for everyone…action, drama, comedy, intrigue, song and dance, etc. If you’re one of us unfortunate souls who watched the Captain America film from 1990, this will more than erase your memory of that one (if you haven’t already wiped it from your mind). I have but one question for you now. Why are you still sitting here reading? You should run…don’t walk…to see it RIGHT NOW!!!!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

10 Responses to “Captain America: The First Avenger”

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  3. […] America’s costume. Remember Captain America: The First Avenger? Cap’s costume was authentic and believable. That was set in the 40s. Fast forward 70 yrs and […]

  4. […] For a film like Captain America: The First Avenger to end with a scene that obviously is leading to something more makes sense, but for this, not so […]

  5. […] of 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has arrived…and with great fanfare! I loved Captain America: The First Avenger, partially because of the era in which it was set in and partly because it was just an entertaining […]

  6. […] Last week, Captain America: Civil War was released. In the spirit of that greatness coming to theaters, let’s go back and visit the first film with this version of good ol’ Cap, Captain America: The First Avenger. […]

  7. […] a little insight into his relationship with Bucky, which we already know a little about from Captain America: The First Avenger. Seeing Cap, joke around with the guy shows a human side that we don’t see very often. Also, […]

  8. […] The comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger cannot be avoided. Major superhero who hasn’t been brought to the big screen because everyone […]

  9. […] have had the chance to get to know on a human level. I guess Captain America, given his origin in Captain America: The First Avenger, but other than the opening scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we haven’t had the […]

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