Captain America: The First Avenger Review: He’s just a kid from Brooklyn….

Posted: 11/05/2013 in Movie Reviews
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By Becky Solomon

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Captain America: The First Avenger had the heavy responsibility of setting up the building blocks for Marvel’s most anticipated film, The Avengers.  The film could have been a serious mess of story lines and a cheesy origin story.  Luckily, the film never strays into the realm of completely unbelievable or messy. It does justice to the tale of Captain America, American hero and builds a solid foundation for The Avengers.

Chris Evans stars as Steve Rodgers, a scrawny young man from New York with a big heart and the desire to fight in the U.S. Army during World War II.  Being physically unfit to meet the army’s requirements for a soldier does not deter Rodgers, yet despite his best efforts, every recruitment center turns him down.  Rodgers’ relentlessness and determination pays off when he meets Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tuccio), a German defector and lead scientist of the military’s Super Soldier program. Dr. Erskine believes that Rodgers, with his good heart and strong will, is just that man he needs for his program. Rodgers’ dreams of becoming a soldier soon become a reality when he is injected with the highly experimental super soldier serum that is able to transform him from a scrawny kid from Brooklyn into a highly capable soldier.

Enter Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) and his army of HYDRA agents to fill in the role of the villain. Schmidt, also known as Red Skull, controls a division of the Nazi army known as HYDRA and is fully determined to destroy the rest of the world. With all powerful Tesseract at his disposal, only Captain America will be able to stop him.

HYDRA quickly disposes of Dr. Erskine and brings an end to the Super Soldier Program. The United States Army decides to take its most valuable assets and use it as propaganda to sell war bonds to the public.  Captain America is sent on a whirlwind tour across the country that has him singing, dancing, and of course, punching out Hitler for the American public. The song and dance charade only ends when Cap defies orders and heads deep into HYDRA territory to rescue his best friend, Bucky Barnes, and his military unit. It is only after this direct violation of orders that the military decides to put their super soldier to good use and start to destroy HYDRA.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America can, at times, feel like it two films combined into one long piece. The first film follows the life of Steve Rodgers and his change into Captain America.  The second film follows Captain America as he attempts to destroy Red Skull and save the world. The two parts feel very different and never seem to really go together. The much more action packed second half is slightly rushed and Red Skull is never fully fleshed out as a character. While the film is exciting, it lacks depth because the audience never really understands Red Skull and he cannot be seen as a serious threat.

Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, Steve Rodger’s main love interest.  She helps ground Captain America into reality and keeps the audience connected with the superhero. Atwell and Evans work well together on screen and it comes across as genuine to the audience. Peggy helps remind viewers that although Steve Rodgers is Captain America he is still the kid from Brooklyn that has never danced with a girl and that helps endear the audience to him.

Overall, the film is one of the better Marvel movies and does justice to the origins of Captain America. Chris Evans embodies the characterization of Steve Rodgers and it is a joy to watch the comic book hero come to life. The film stays true to the look and feel of the 1940s and even occasionally throws in the cheesy one-liners associated with the time frame. The weak villain and occasional pacing problems do not seriously detract from the film.  Captain America: The First Avenger succeeds at what it set out to do: set up the outline and tone for The Avengers, and it still manages to be a great, fun standalone film.

+ Great characters

+ Good origin story

–  Weak villain

Score: 8.5/10

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