Monday, August 1, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Sebastian Stan
Genre: Superhero/Action
Rating: General
Comment: "It's a lot harder to enjoy if you're not a fan to begin with..."

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) want nothing more than to enlist in the army and serve his country, a desire made impossible by his unimpressive and frail physique. However, a chance meeting with scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) turns things around when Erskine chooses him as the subject of a top secret project that turns Rogers into Captain America - a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryan poster child enlisted to fight alongside America against Adolf Hitler.

What to Expect
1. Great visuals
2. Plenty of humour
3. Some rather intriguing moral values
4. The whole thing to feel a little dragged out

What NOT to Expect
1. American jingoism

Now before you read any further, let me refresh your memory about my stance when it comes to superhero movies; I don't hate superhero movies, but I'm really not into the whole thing with an overpowered superhero beating the shit out of anyone and everyone who stands in front of him (or her) for the entirety of its running time. Superhero movies that fall into this category include some of the Superman movies, Ghost Rider [2007] or the Fantastic Four movies.

Of course, sometimes they surprise us with movies like the oft-cited The Dark Knight [2008], the X-Men movies or Watchmen [2009] that give such depth and fascinating human drama in a superhero movie. That's the way it should be! Super-people should have super-problems instead of just trying to decide between rescuing his love interest or saving the world (Apparently not such an obvious choice for superheroes).

So what about this Captain America movie?

Well, I'd say it's a little bit of both.

Captain America here is one of those superhero movies that feature gratuitous punching and action sequences that I find to be meh at best. And to be honest, I even felt like time moved rather slowly in the theatre. I don't know, maybe I've gotten so used to seeing action sequences, it's painfully hard to be excited about seeing a bunch of henchmen sent flying across the room by a punch to the face.

But to focus on the action sequences would be a gross injustice indeed because this can actually be a very inspirational movie. But before I get into that, allow me to admit that I was wrong about one thing; I predicted that we are going to see American jingoism in all its CGI glory, but there really wasn't much of that going on.

You see, you can't help but think that all subtlety is lost when a superhero makes a costume out of the American flag. You can't help but think that they're trying to sell the idea that the U.S.A won World War II single-handedly. Just bear in mind that it wasn't the old-school, better-dead-than-red cast and crew who worked on the movie.

No, these people are from our era which means they retain some of the modern day cynicism and contempt for war. I don't know if it's just me, but I thought I spotted some snide commentary amidst the whole thing with fighting the Axis of Evil. I won't specify exactly what, because I don't do spoilers.

Another strength comes from how humourous it was. As eye catching as Captain America's costume was, it's really the minor characters that gave this movie most of its colour, particularly veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones. It really calls to mind his best known persona of a sarcastic, cynical old man who's really good at what he does, the kind you see in The Fugitive [1994] and Men in Black [1997]. Seriously, no one does it better than him.

Should you go see it?
I know it sounded like I'm not too fond of it, and it's true. I do find it to be forgettable, but it's not bad for what it was. Watch it, or not... You're not missing out on much.


Zulfahmi said...

Thor is better...

But if u wanna catch The Avengers next year, u definitely have to watch Captain America

Mamü Miguel Ellezda Vies said...

Thor was a helluva lot better!

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