Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
World War II saw a nation whose men were very eager to display their patriotism. Steve Rogers (Evans) was one of those men, but due to physical limitations (including stunted height and a frail weight) he has been rejected from enrollment in the U.S. Army numerous times. However, a scientist (Stanley Tucci) recognizes Rogers’s overwhelming desire to do anything for his country and enlists Rogers in a special experiment that will inject him with serum to increase his muscle weight, agility, regenerative abilities, and speed. In other words, Rogers is given the special sauce needed to make him a Super Soldier capable of winning the war. Meanwhile, a super Nazi (Weaving) pursues supernatural relics in search for a new source of immense energy.
I am not familiar with the multitude of story lines that the long running comic book has created. However, speaking merely as a film goer, I can attest that this delivers everything that one would expect from a Captain America movie. In fact, it dedicates a surprising amount of time to developing engaging characters and story. A lot of effort is put into evolving Steve Rogers’s backstory, while simultaneously establishing a compelling villain (played winningly by Hugo Weaving). It seems a rare move for a superhero film to rely more on intrigue than on action, but then there is a lot of that too.
Director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III) has experience with special effects and large film sets, which poises him perfectly to helm Captain America. His impressive work on The Wolf Man (2010) demonstrates that he doesn’t allow the visual effects dictate the story, but rather uses it as a tool to enhance it; something that he reinforces with this film. He refrains from a super slick style, opting for a much more conventional methodology, so viewers expecting a super kinetic comic book editing might be surprised at the traditional approach. But it is a solid structure from which Chris Evans could build his character from; and he proves that he has what leading men are made of. Despite some distracting visual effects at the outset, Evans rises to his duties and fills out the role very nicely, helped along by a very talented supporting cast.
Though plagued with the commonplace tongue-in-cheek tone that seems to be chic, Captain America: The First Avenger proves to have enough twists on the genre to set it apart from the onslaught of other superhero movies. While it might appear to be only brawn, it’s a lot smarter than you might expect.
USA. 124 minutes. Rated PG-13.