Captain America: Bringing the comic book to the big screen

The sum­mer su­per­hero flood of movies con­tin­ues with the re­lease of yet an­oth­er Avengers-pre­quel, Cap­tain Amer­ica: The First Avenger.

In com­par­is­on to the oth­er Avengers-pre­quel movies this sum­mer, I’d rank Cap­tain Amer­ica squarely in the middle. It’s bet­ter than Green Lan­tern, but not quite as good as Thor. This time it’s clear that the movie ex­ists solely as a setup for an­oth­er movie, evid­enced by the name of the next movie be­ing in the title. I do think Cap­tain Amer­ica can stand on its own, however.

What makes Cap­tain Amer­ica a fairly good movie ex­per­i­ence is a cool retro vibe, a fun song-and-dance se­quence and some nifty CGI work. It’s very much an ori­gin story, which is help­ful for someone like me, who has nev­er read a Cap­tain Amer­ica com­ic book be­fore.

The retro vibe is due to the 1940s, World War II set­ting in which the film takes place. The early setup is en­ga­ging, as the audi­ence will really feel for Steve Ro­gers (Chris Evans), a di­min­ut­ive young man who des­per­ately wants to sign up for the mil­it­ary but is al­ways turned away be­cause of his vari­ous ail­ments.

Cap­tain Amer­ica isn’t Evans’ first crack at a com­ic book movie. He played Johnny Storm in two Fant­ast­ic Four movies, Jensen in The Losers and Lu­cas Lee in Scott Pil­grim vs. World. However, he really gets a chance to stand out in Cap­tain Amer­ica as Steve, an or­din­ary guy who gets some ex­traordin­ary powers that al­low him to save the world.

Steve’s powers come from his sign­ing up to be a lab rat (a sci­ence ex­per­i­ment) and in­jec­ted with a ser­um that gives him some su­per strong abil­it­ies. The visu­al tech­niques used to trans­form Evans from his tall, mus­cu­lar physique to just his head on a di­min­ut­ive per­son looked very real­ist­ic.

Steve is even­tu­ally able to put his powers to good use as Cap­tain Amer­ica fight­ing for the United States in World War II.

The draw­backs to Cap­tain Amer­ica are that it’s bit slow at times and really felt like it took a while to get go­ing. The main vil­lain Red Skull (Hugo Weav­ing) is also for­get­table. Haley At­well plays Peggy Carter, a Brit­ish mil­it­ary of­ficer and Cap­tain Amer­ica’s love in­terest. The char­ac­ter was of­ten a bit dull for me, and I didn’t think there was enough chem­istry between At­well and Evans.

I liked the tie-in to Tony Stark/Iron Man, as his fath­er, Howard Stark (Domin­ic Cooper), has a pretty big role in Cap­tain Amer­ica.

The movie is very pro-Amer­ica (sur­prise, sur­prise, though thank­fully it doesn’t beat you over the head with it). It would have made a good 4th of Ju­ly week­end re­lease, though I sup­pose Trans­formers already had that week­end locked up.

There is a “su­per­hero for­mula” and Cap­tain Amer­ica doesn’t de­vi­ate from what audi­ences have come to ex­pect. There­fore, it is def­in­itely start­ing to feel like, if you’ve seen one com­ic book movie, you’ve seen them all. Gone are the an­ti­cip­a­tion and ex­cite­ment over the lone sum­mer com­ic book ad­apt­a­tion on the big screen.

Still, Cap­tain Amer­ica provides above-av­er­age en­ter­tain­ment for movie­go­ers look­ing for some sum­mer fun. ••

Movie Grade: B

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