REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger
That pretty much sums up the character Steve Rogers, who eventually transforms into Captain America. Chris Evans plays the role in "Captain America: The First Avenger," in theaters now.
If you're unfamiliar with Cap's origin, here it is: Rogers is a 100-pound weakling with an assortment of physical ailments who desperately wants to serve his country during World War II, but the army doesn't want him. A transplanted wiz doctor from Germany, who has ties to the film's villain, the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), has created a secret military program called Project: Rebirth, with hopes of using a secret serum to create super soldiers and take out the Nazis.
The project needs a volunteer. Enter Rogers, who's as American as apple pie, and the film makes no bones about it. The character works. Sure, he isn't as edgy as Batman or Spider-Man, but anyone who's ever heard of Captain America knows what you see is what you get. Project: Rebirth works, Rogers goes from zero to muscle-bound hero and has an entire country rooting for him at every turn the rest of the way.
Some say these types of films are campy, not to be taken seriously. I say they're fun, and that's exactly what we have here, plus a bit more. Like Spider-Man's Peter Parker, Rogers doesn't have much in life until he becomes Captain America, and that makes you root for him that much more.
As for the film, it's a two-hour thrill ride packed with plenty of cool action scenes, a fun villain to root against (you wonder who was more evil, the Red Skull or Hitler), a few surprisingly heartbreaking scenes and a clever cliffhanger ending that sets up Marvel's "The Avengers," set for release next summer.
Most of all, you get what pay for: Captain America and his iconic shield taking on and beating the Nazis. That's good enough for me.
As for Evans, he's OK. It's a physical role and he fits the part. It's the secondary characters that work the best. Tommy Lee Jones plays the grizzled army veteran Colonel Chester Phillips and the role of comic relief. The same goes for Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, the father of the character Tony Stark, who later becomes Iron Man. Remember, the film is set in the 1940s.
Period-piece films can be tricky, but director Joe Johnson pulls it off well, making it nostalgic without losing the fun of what should be one of the top summer action blockbusters of 2011, and why not? You've got a selfless hero wearing red, white and blue going up against the Nazis.
Sure it's a bit corny, but wasn't "Be all you can be" as well?
- Mark Podolski