Captain America: The First Avenger (M)

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Review byTenani French25/07/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 124 mins

Captain America: The First Avenger is definitely the best Marvel superhero flick of 2011. Well acted, finely directed, with top-notch special effects and a heart of gold this is one Hollywood movie you won’t want to miss.

What's it all about?

Set in 1942 Brooklyn native Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is rejected for World War II military duty for the fifth time due to his small size and health problems. At a recruitment centre for his sixth attempt at enlisting Rogers’ patriotic conviction leads to him being selected for a secret military experiment to use a special serum developed by German scientist Dr. Abraham Ershkine (Stanley Tucci) to create the perfect super-soldier. After receiving the serum in front of an audience of military officials, including Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and SSR officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) Rogers instantly develops a tall, muscular physique. When a German spy destroys the serum and murders Dr. Ershkine, Rogers is left as the only result of the experiment and is used by the US Government as a spokesperson for the military to sell War Bonds to the public.

While in Italy to support US troops on the front lines Rogers learns that his best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) has been captured by the head of Adolf Hitler’s science division HYDRA, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) and leaves to rescue him. With help from Agent Carter and military inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) Rogers successfully infiltrates the HYDRA base and rescues the Allied prisoners. Learning of Schmidt’s plan to use a mysterious weapon to destroy Allied cities, Rogers must race against time to destroy the HYDRA weapon manufacturing plants and defeat Schmidt before World War II is lost.

The Good
The World War II setting is refreshing for a superhero movie, we aren’t stuck with the typical big city setting and it really gives a sense of purpose to Captain America’s mission. There’s a simple message here: good vs. evil. It’s the reason why this movie feels so much different to other superhero movies of late (ahem, Thor). There’s no internal struggle, Steve Rogers as the Captain is as good as any hero, and this simple battle between him and the evil super-powered Nazis gives this film a classic yet vibrant feel.

Director Joe Johnston keeps the pace brisk without rushing it, and manages to pepper the story with an unintrusive romantic subplot (Evans and Atwell have convincing chemistry). There are also some excellently delivered one-liners by Tommy Lee Jones, who seems to be having a lot of fun as the secretly-soft Colonel in charge of Captain America. Smaller characters are played out well on screen also, especially Sebastian Stan as side-kick Bucky Barnes and Dominic Cooper as inventor Howard Stark.

The special effects are well done for the most part, with only the skinny version of Chris Evans a little unconvincing at times. Explosions and big set pieces are numerous and satisfying, and reminiscent of classic James Bond films. Marvel fans will revel in the numerous cameos and easter eggs relating to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in particular the forthcoming Avengers film. As if the inclusion of Howard Stark (Iron Man’s dad) wasn’t enough, the final scene features Nick Fury continuing his cameos. Marvel fans will know it is absolutely essential to stay right to the end of the credits for a tease of the next film, and this time it’s bigger and better than ever.

The Great
Chris Evans is perfect as Steve Rogers, playing the Captain to perfection. The character is slightly out-dated as he’s from a more patriotic time and could have been cheesy in a modern movie but Evans plays him straight with all the heart and honesty of the character but with enough realism to keep the cheese at a minimum. It is safe to say no other Marvel superhero has been better cast.

Worth seeing?
Definitely the one of the best superhero movies of recent times, Captain America: The First Avenger follows a tried and true plot format to perfection and, complete with impressive special-effects and a fantastic cast, is more than enjoyable.

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Captain America: The First Avenger (M)
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Content updated: 13/12/2019 12:42

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