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Tuesday, August 30, 2011  

M. Ovie Reviews: Captain America: The First Avenger

I wasn't all that excited about seeing Captain America: The First Avenger, to be honest. I've never been a Captain America fan in any sense. But then I've seen it came out and got really good reviews and I'd already seen both Iron Men and Thor, and I had a free evening, so I figured, why not complete the set? I'm glad I did. After all, it's not like this would be the first time I'd had doubts on my way to a movie about a comic-book superhero, and Superman had turned out pretty well for me in 1978.

As spoiler-free as I try to keep these reviews, the movie itself doesn't help much. It opens with a scene set in the present day that pretty much gives away the ending and goes from there. Seriously, from the beginning of the third act you know exactly how this thing is going to end. Not that that's unusual in a superhero film, but one expects a little effort at keeping us guessing.

Then it's the height of World War II, and a skinny little runt named Steve Rogers is trying to get into the army. It's a pretty off-putting image, because he looks like I could take him, and yet the voice coming out of that birdlike chest is the deep rumble of a much larger man. That seems like something they could have fixed. After all, I'm assuming this first act of the movie was filmed last, after the producers had skinned beefy star Chris Evans and wrapped the bleached pelt around the stripped skeleton of DJ Qualls, which explains why we haven't seen DJ Qualls in anything for a while now. But scientist Stanley Tucci sees through Steve's pipe-cleaner-man exterior and recognizes him as the perfect candidate to become his first "super-soldier." Try to ignore the creepy implications of that, because events transpire in such a way that Steve also becomes the last.

The good news is that now he's a towering hunk of man, running barefoot through the streets of 1940s New York in uniform pants that have fortuitously become a fashionable pair of man-pris. But his challenges aren't over, because there's a war on. Not that he gets to go join it right away, oh no. In fact, he has to jump through quite a few unlikely hoops before he gets to fight, and even then it's not against the Germans as a geopolitical entity, but some crazed splinter group right out of…well, a comic book.

But it's all a lot more fun than it sounds, believe it or not. For some reason, comic book movies are expected to go for natural realism, whether it makes sense or not (and I suspect that reason is Dick Tracy), and there's enough stuff you can almost buy in this one to wash down the stuff you can't.

And of course, like the other moves I mentioned, Captain America isn't designed to stand on it's own, not really. It's more like it and the other movies I mentioned are part of a multi-movie buildup for The Avengers, coming out next year. It's won't be the first time we've seen an ensemble superhero movie, but it's probably the first time we've seen one with an ensemble of prequels. And of course, with all of these Marvel films, everyone knows to stay to the end of the credits for a "teaser" of the next one, which lasts about thirty seconds, or about five percent of the lengths of the credits themselves. At this point, these movies could get away with just being examples of the most effective closing credits delivery system of all time, but Captain America does it in a way that doesn't make you feel suckered about it. Mainly by making the stuff before the credits entertaining.

posted by M. Giant 9:55 PM 0 comments


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