A (biased) Marvel Movie Zombie review of Captain America: The First Avenger

Are there any Marvel comics fans out there that have not yet seen the new Captain America movie? At this point I would almost doubt it burt just in case I will avoid mentioning too much in the way of spoilers. This is not intended to be an indepth review of Captain America (reviews of the movie are a dime a dozen on the web by now), instead this is just my way of offering some critical feedback on what I saw.

Captain America: The First Avenger was intended to be a tent pole movie for the burgeoning Marvel movie franchise and on that level I think it delivers; we all know that this Cap movie is supposed to be a big part of the buildup to next summer’s Marvel Avengers movie – arguably as big a piece of the puzzle as last year’s Iron Man 2 which helped to crystalize the concept of the movie universe’s version of the future team – but it was also important for the sake of helping to maintain and maybe even increase the momentum that Marvel has built up so far for its franchise. So on a hype level Captain America delivers, but how about as a super hero movie in its own right?

Visually, the movie worked for me. We got to see pretty much everything that most of us would want to see in a movie about Cap’s WWII origins. We get his backstory as a 98lb weakling nicely fleshed out (with the help of some quite impressive CGI that almost makes you beleieve that Chris Evans was a tiny little man) although the movie takes some liberties such as having Steve rogers and Bucky Barnes friends beforehand instead of meeting on the frontlines. Not abig deal though really. The inclusion of the Red Skull as the primary villain was fun to watch but it was a bit weird seeing him portrayed as the leader of Hydra more than a Nazi: the movie suggests he is a Nazi because he is an opportunist and his and Hitler’s beliefs in the occult share some commonalities, whereas the traditional story of the Red Skull is that he was adevout believer and follower of Hitler and his beliefs. Hugo Weaving’s portrayal of the Skull however is really great and succeeds at making you see the character and not just someone in a skull-faced prosthetic. We even get a brief glimpse of the Howling Commandoes and Dum-Dum Dugan, though of course we don’t get a WWII Nick Fury since he is already established as a modern day character as portrayed in that last few Marvel films by Samuel Jackson. Really the only thing I didn’t get to see that would have been cool was even a brief glimpse of the Invaders super team from WWII of which Cap was a member. I guess that didn’t make the continuity cut.

Acting-wise, like I previously stated, the principle performers all seemed to hand in servicable performances which in itself can be quite an accomplishment with some superhero movies. Evans, Weaving, and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter and the other principles all did the job, helping me to lose myself in the story. The directing was okay, I guess. Nothing too spectacular but servicable. I heard somewhere that the Director, Joe Johnston, tried filming with 3D cameras but gave up after just a few weeks of filming, deciding that it was too cumbersome and unworkable for what he was doing. There are some parts of the film that seem to be there almost solely as fodder for the obligatory videogame spinoff (the scene with Cap battling Hydra agents on motorbikes comes to mind) but it is not hard to look past it when necessary.

In summary, I have to say that Captain America: The First Avenger, is a decent Summer popcorn movie and a must see for anyone who has been a fan of the last few years spate of Marvel’s self-produced super hero movies. Marvel has a clear, definite end goal or mission of developing its Avengers property into a flagship franchise, and Captain America is another successful piece of that puzzle.