Monday, July 25, 2011

Captain America Review!

Best Marvel movie ever? 

Though I saw Captain America on it's midnight release, I needed a full weekend to reflect on the last Marvel movie pre-Avengers.  It's strange, but ever since Marvel Studios had attempted to build toward that gigantic superhero team movie that will probably shatter records next summer, the individual character movies have never really reached the quality of the first Iron Man .

How could this be, when seemingly that first film was of such a high quality?

In terms of creating  a "Marvel Cinema Canon," the first Iron Man was completely unfettered by having to shoehorn in S.H.I.E.L.D. plot developments - developments that have completely sidetracked or at least detracted from the the plots of  Thor and  Iron Man 2  by forcing those films to to get to a narrative point where the "team-up" flick was even possible. The first Iron Man  had no such ambitions as it was Marvel's one and only shot as a studio at the time, and the film allowed to grow and develop on its own rather than as a piece of a whole.

It was because of this trending in the Marvel Studios' universe that I was a little reticent about Captain America ,  especially after it was revealed that the film would take place almost entirely in the WWII-era (and not a modernization of the story like Iron Man) . How the hell were they going to get Steve Rogers to the future without S.H.I.E.L.D. meddling in another character story?

Thankfully, S.H.I.E.L.D. is relegated to the final scenes of the film (and yes, they still are the worst scenes), and as a result Captain America  is the best self-contained character story since Iron Man . In a sense, the two films are the perfect book ends to the first wave of character movies, and might actually increase the quality of the other films when finally taken as a whole.

Steve Rogers (played note-perfect by Chris Evans) is not wise-cracking or as effortlessly "cool" as Tony Stark or Thor, but is the earnest and endearingly honor-bound hero that should be the leader of a ragtag group of superheroes. Before his transformation, all Rogers wants to do is to serve his country and "do his part," and when he finally gets the chance you can't help for cheer for him because he is such a likable guy. It's going to be pretty amazing to see the anachronistic Rogers swap Joss Whedon (the director of the Avengers - best known for Buffy and Firefly) written lines with Tony Stark, especially since Howard Stark plays such an important role in Captain America (and we all know how much Tony deals with his daddy issues).

Sure there are Nazi's with pewpew laser guns (and for that explanation, Thor is almost required viewing), but it feels like it fits naturally within the context of the Avengers  universe. Hugo Weaving's "Red Skull" is probably the most perfect adaptation of a baddy in a Marvel movie so far, and the way Skull's relationship with Cpt. America develops from at first amusement, to a threat, to full on hatred is fun to watch. I hope he gets to pop up somewhere in Avengers (my guess is is bet on it).

My biggest caveat with the film is after Captain America's first real impromptu rescue mission and train takeover, almost the entire rest of the war is relegated to a montage in order to get to the final battle between Red Skull and Captain America. The film moves fast already, but this seemed like a warp speed jump. I know its for the sake of explaining how Steve Rogers gets to the future, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. That being said, if there were to be sequels that deal with Captain America in WWII, there are plenty of stories within that 2-3 year montage that can be told.

Captain America is fun movie - period. It's the type of film-making that toneally hearkens back to Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Rocketeer , not just because of the time period, but because of the sense of wonder and adventure. I highly recommend it, and next summer really can't come fast enough.


*For the rest of the character posters, click HERE

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