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Movie Review: "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011)
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.
"Captain America: The First Avenger" is the latest comic book superhero brought to life on the big screen (again) in this seemingly never-ending comic book movie phase that Hollywood has been stuck in ever since the start of the 21st century. Set in World War II, this is the story of Steve Rogers, a short and very thin man whose heart and mind are larger than life. He yearns to join the ranks of war and help defeat the vicious nazis but his physical state is holding him back from passing the medical portion.
That all changes when he meets the right doctor who eavesdrops on his plight -- A scientist who is working on a serum that would create 'super soldiers'. It can increase one's physical strength, speed, and endurance. Steve Rogers becomes the guinea pig for this experiment and what a successful experiment it turns out to be for him (but not exactly for the audience). At the same time, one of Adolf Hitler's top agents, the Red Skull, is developing his advanced weaponry technology to help the nazis take over the world.
Let's start with the positive. "Captain America: The First Avenger" is beautifully shot and, more than often enough, you can pretty much make out what is going on during the action scenes (i.e. no shaky cam B.S.). It's got high production value and it's edited very well. The first half of the movie focuses on Steve Rogers' predicament and his transformation into Captain America. This portion of the film is perhaps the best part about it.
As for the second half, everything just seems tacked on. So Captain America dons his new outfit and weapons, then he and his team go and bust every Hydra weapons factory across Europe. That's basically the rest of the movie in a nutshell.
Captain America or Captain Power?
"Captain America: The First Avenger" is a superhero movie that is set during World War II. However, because it is a superhero movie, that indicates that there is some science fiction and fantasy element lurking somewhere in the mix. In fact, there's way too much of it in this movie. Now, there's nothing wrong with "Captain America: The First Avenger" having a little bit of a sci-fi/fantasy idea to it, but they clearly went overboard with it here.
It would have been one thing if they just introduced the whole super soldier serum that turns Steve Rogers into Captain America and that's it, but following that, we have the Red Skull and his advanced weapons factories which come complete with big guns that shoot blue lasers and lots of futuristic-looking tanks and planes. All that nonsense just takes you out of the whole World War II setting and ruins it. Instead of Captain America, it feels more akin to an episode of "Captain Power" with "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" thrown into the whole mix.
Somebody should have told the filmmakers to chill out with the whole futuristic technology angle here.
Red Skull or Empty Skull?
What can really make or break your superhero movie is a cardboard cut-out villain. Unfortunately, that is what we're dealing with here in "Captain America: The First Avenger". The Red Skull is one of Adolf Hitler's top leading men due to his 'special weapons technology'. He wants to use this technology to help Adolf Hitler take over the world.
That's fine and all, but what's the problem? Well, the problem is... that's it. That's all there is to it. Yep, he just wants to take over the world. You could rename him as Dr. Evil and you'll still end up with the same predictable character. I was expecting him to do the "laugh" at one point. But Is there anything to him beyond that? Sadly, we never get to find out. In this case, we know way more about our hero than we do our villain.
Hugo Weaving does play the part very well with what he is given. His performance is somewhat reminiscent of Colonel Vogel, the villain from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", the look and voice is almost similar. It would have been cool if they had worked a realistic Adolf Hitler into all this, maybe not show his face, but we get to hear his voice or something. Make the connection between these two characters a bit more believable.
"Captain America: The First Avenger" on Amazon
World War II: Rated PG-13
This has got to be the stupidest depiction of World War II in all of cinematic history. Even "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was a better depiction and that was a light-hearted flick just like "Captain America: The First Avenger". It's too bad this movie couldn't take a few hints from 'Raiders'. "Captain America: The First Avenger" gives us what I'd like to label as a 'PC' version of World War II.
First and foremost, the iconic Nazi symbol known as the Swastika is nowhere to be found in this movie. Mind you, just because the Red Skull's army is under his 'Hydra' umbrella, he's still working for Adolf Hitler, therefore he and his troops should be sporting the swastika symbol on their uniforms. It's as if the filmmakers were trying to avoid upsetting a certain demographic of people, if you know what I mean.
Then, to make things seem even more retarded, Captain America's team of soldiers consists of an entirely multi-racial cast. There's a Russian guy, a black guy, an Asian guy, and even a stereotypical American white guy. And just for the record, I'm not a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but shouldn't a movie set in World War II be expected to stay true to the actual history?
In "Saving Private Ryan", we didn't see any black or Asians helping us fight the nazis now did we? Black people were involved in World War II, yes, but they weren't a major demographic in that war. But I guess since the idiot filmmakers of this movie have already introduced super soldier serums, big laser guns, and futuristic armor, they probably felt that it was okay to change a few more things too.
Cap's Blank Romance
Could "Captain America: The First Avenger" be any more predictable than it is? Apparently so. They even tacked on a love interest for Captain America as an after-thought. Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell) is a Science Officer working with the US military on the whole 'Super Soldier' project. Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter don't have any time together in this movie where they actually get to know each other enough to develop the so-called relationship that the story indicates.
It seems she never really paid the guy too much attention until after he was injected with the super soldier serum and became Captain America. After that, it was all a bunch of flirtatious dialogue and business talk -- Whoopie-doo! Captain America's blank romance in this movie is as flat as the villain's empty 'skull'.
What Should Have Been Done
It would have been nice to see World War II superhero movie that was a bit more realistic and not too heavy on sci-fi/fantasy elements. Could you imagine if Christopher Nolan did his own take on Captain America? We would probably get a Red Skull that looks like the flayed human from "Hellraiser", now that would be a mind-blowing Captain America adaptation.
Links for "Captain America: The First Avenger"
- Captain America: The First Avenger is Here
Captain America: The First Avenger was released on July 22, 2011 and quickly knocked Harry Potter out of the top stop in American theaters. Captain America is the latest Marvel comic book superhero to be...
- Captain America: The First Avenger
After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals.
- Captain America--A review by Robwrite
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER: (Three & a Half stars out of Five) The man in the red, white and blue comes through. After a weaker than expected performance by Thor and the disaster that was Green...