Friday, August 5, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - Teaser or More?

Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger is the last of the individual avenger movies before Joss Whedon's The Avengers next year. We've already seen Iron Man and Thor get their place under the spotlight. This time we have the all-American hero there. So is this a legitimate movie or just milking the Marvel universe?

Joe Johnston was chosen to direct due to his experience with period movies, having previously made The Rocketeer and October Sky. He brought on board his long time collaborator, cinematographer Shelly Johnson. The movie sports a somewhat distinctive look, based on stylized sets and simple and direct color schemes: heroes' scenes in warm tones, villains' scenes in blue and green. This stylization provides a certain comic book element to the period feeling.

Captain America: The First Avenger plays it safe and doesn't take any risks. This results in some decent entertainment, if not exactly thrilling. The story is generic and somewhat choppy, especially in the motivation department, but nevertheless provides an OK background for the introduction of the captain. Chris Evans is actually nice in the lead role. He already has half a dozen roles in comic book adaptations, which apparently did not stop him from accepting this one. The supporting cast is heavyweight, with Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving and Stanley Tucci. Hugo Weaving, in the role of the main antagonist Red Skull (only called by his real name, Johann Schmidt, in the movie), takes a particularly comics' inspired approach with his character, utilizing overdone accents and over the top attitude. In fact, all fake German accents are on the heavy side, which you may find entertaining, hilarious or silly, depending on your inclination. As the movie keeps it tight and doesn't take free dives into exposition, some of the supporting roles do feel rushed. This is especially true for the captain's crew: it almost looks like they are building them up for something that is never shown on screen.

Highlights include the digitally shrunk body of captain Rogers before his scientific "treatment" (no body doubles there); a certain demonstration by Stark Industries in the Modern Marvels Pavilion; the "creation of the American hero" montage that shows how the image of Captain America was conceived; and a chase scene through the streets of New York (which, incidentally, was shot in the UK). Last, but not least, there is a treat for the fans after the credits in the form of The Avengers teaser scene.

Similarly to Thor, the movie was post-converted to 3D. The result is smooth and pleasing. Apparently post-conversion to 3D has gone a long way since epic failures in this respect like Clash of the Titans.

In summary, Captain America: The First Avenger is a decent entry into the summer blockbuster ranks. Marvel fans obviously don't need any recommendations but everyone else can also see it in preparation for next year's The Avengers.

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