WARNING: I try really hard to not spoil things, but I walk kind of close at a couple points. As a man adverse to spoilers myself I feel this review is safe, but read at your own risk.
Captain America is awesome. If it is not the best live-action super-hero film, it is at the very least my favorite.
Director Joe Johnston already proved that he could make an awesome WW2 era hero film with The Rocketeer. It’s no different here; the film looks and feels perfect. Chris Evans is amazing as Captain America. I had my doubts but he really brought his acting chops and made the role his. His dialogue, delivery, and physicality were well done. I haven’t seen a superhero move and fight this well in a long time.
Story-wise there is a good solid arc here. We get to explore Cap before he is a hero, just long enough that it doesn’t feel bogged down. We see his transition, and the moments that build his reputation and make him a true hero. I’m not going to mince words; at one point in this film I had tears in my eyes because I was so happy. They took one of my favorite characters and adapted him perfectly to film. There were so many great practical choices and a few awesome shout-outs (The bit on the motorcycle was fantastic).
It doesn’t hurt either that Evans was surrounded by several wonderful actors and characters. Tommy Lee Jones is fantastic as the military man running the super soldier program; his character is not as prominent but very important, and he makes his moments on the screen count. Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine provides a wonderful humanity to the film and, as Mr. Jones, leaves a likable and lasting impression. Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark both distances his portrayal from Tony while showing hints of scientific familiarity. In fact all of the supporting characters are likable, witty, and friendly. It really helps bring you into the movie and causes you to care about Cap since these are the people he is fighting for. It should also help viewers understand his later emotional state as they are able to enjoy and admire these characters as well.
I only have two negative things to say about this film, even then they feel like nitpicks. The first is the nature of the villains. Here Cap is concerned with Hydra (a terrorist army using advanced energy weapons), who are essentially ‘Super Nazis.’ Given that we know what a Nazi is and how bad they are we only really get told that Hydra are so evil they transcend Nazis, but with all the effort given to showing how awesome the heroes are we aren’t shown a lot of Hydra. It’s not a bad plan, but to me the threat felt a bit hollow. I know Nazis are bad, and anything worse than them must obviously be stopped, but I guess my cynical self needs to be shown the evil.
The other problem concerns the movie’s bookends. I realize their importance and they work ok but these scenes take place in modern day and somewhat took me out of the film. It’s a credit to Johnston that both eras had a very different feeling to them, but still starting the movie in the present seemed useless and the movie would have felt more true to spirit had it ended in the 40’s right before the final scene.
But that is it. Two complaints in the entire film; this movie was awesome. It moved me to tears, it surprised me. In my humble, but very educated and informed, view this is the best super-hero film.
God. Bless. Captain America.