A Discussion of Captain America

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.

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4 thoughts on “A Discussion of Captain America

  1. This is definitely one of the most well constructed super hero films out there, certainly Marvel’s best since the first Iron Man.

    Concerning the bookends, I somewhat agree and disagree. Obviously they were necessary in order to set this film up for what it was intended for, the final step in the road before Avengers can come out next year. Ending the film with Captain America abruptly freezing and waking up in the modern day would have felt rather thrown out of left field to the uneducated, and even for those in the know it likely would have come off as a bit abrupt and contrived. To that extent, the opening bookend helps make the ending work, though I don’t feel the movie really starts until that first bookend politely steps out of the way.

    I didn’t give much thought to the villainous presence of Hydra, but I think most of it was epitomized in Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull (who I’m surprised you didn’t so much as mention). He was really the face of the group (no pun intended) and I think the implausibility of his, well, red skull, was made to work because the director eased the audience into the idea of what he really was and then stuck with it, rather than dropping us in early for shock value, or having him hide his true face for half the film in order to cut the make-up budget. And can I just add that the effect for his head was rather awesome and surprisingly natural?

    That aside, I had one gripe with the film, and it seems it differs from yours. And that is… the montage. I did not like the montage where Captain America and his squad kick Nazi ass. It felt like a rushed sequence where a lot happened and we didn’t see it and- and-

    Well, I wish there had been a whole movie about that part. Hell, if I didn’t know Avengers was coming, I’d have wanted them to take their time and not rush through the whole damned war. Even so, if by some miracle an interquel was made expanding on that sequence, I think I would happily watch it.

    That aside, I could go on. I loved much of the execution, I loved the way his outfit was first presented in the film and honestly I like the marriage of his costume with the combat gear, something I saw a share of people bitching about when it was first shown off.

    Yeah, great movie.

  2. I saw this over the weekend, finally. Out of negativity, I’ll say that the “taking down Hydra” montage, as well as the poster-boy montage, both felt out of place and murdered the pacing, and with them the movie actually felt too long.

    That’s about for bad spots. My top comic book movie is right here. Even the bookends I liked, moreso the end one because it managed the bittersweet ending of Thor in a way that made me feel really bad for the guy, and yet, hopeful at the same time.

  3. I loved the poster boy montage, it was my favorite part.
    But I’m glad ya both liked it.

    Poe: Weaving did do a good job here, possibly the best role I’ve seen him do. His V was good, but V is so dramatic that some of his scenes felt false due to the nature of what he was attempting, the ‘actor acting like an actor’ stigma. Here he felt very human, even though he had little left. I loved where he counted the nazi commanders before showing them his new gun. The problem is there were simply so many good and likable heroes that that Weaving’s little light didn’t quite shine. Plus I don’t like him.

    Trod: Most of the negativity I’ve seen towards this film has contained the war montage. After watching the movie a second time I’ve come to a conclusion. Most movies would have the hero put on a costume, pull of a big mission, then do a montage of his careers, before dropping into the plot. The first spider-man is a good example of this. But here by the time the montage hits we are well into the film. And his missions are of the same variety as his rescue operation so it would very literally be a rehash of what we had just seen. Had they included a ‘full’ mission I think people would be claiming it felt derivative of his rescue attempt. So really it feels like a catch 22 to me. I’m fine with it though, I like just watching Cap kick random ass.

    A couple more points. From a female side of things…my girlfriend wants very badly to be Agent Carter. I find that awesome.

    Also, about the bookends. In my review I was attempting to remain spoiler-free. Were I to make the movie I would drop the opening and start the film in the 40’s. Then I would stop the film after the kids playing Captain America ran across the street. And I’d push the second modern time bit to an after credit scene. Thus having a full on 40’s movie with an after credit bit that, like all the other movies, ties the films together but doesn’t intrude upon this singular story. It’s not that I was saying I don’t like those scenes it’s that I want them elsewhere.

    Instead we got a glorified teaser.

  4. I have to second Jack here- the whole “poster boy” sequence as we’re calling it was one of my favorite parts of the movie. I’d felt like they were just going to drop Cap right into the warzone, which I felt was almost going to be rushed and forced. I like the idea that just making him stronger didn’t make him a hero in everyone’s eyes, and I think the whole sequence created a very plausible air as to why he had the costume, as well as nodding to the outfit we don’t see him wearing in the posters.

    Simply put, he was a World War II character created to sell war bonds, so I found it somewhat inspired that the film had him doing exactly that. Were it removed, I think it’d be less of a film as far as character goes.

    But, yeah, the hydra montage could’ve been done better. I do concur that it would’ve likely been a rehash of Cap’s defining moment, and it would’ve been somewhat odd if it was absent… but, as said, it’s as much a curse of this setting up for the Avengers film. A more complex plot for those bits could’ve been worked in, but then Red Skull probably would’ve been left drifting in the wind for some next film that’s not likely to happen.

    And, for the bookends, I see what you’re saying and, well, you’re probably not wrong. I do feel the opening bookend is somewhat negligible, beyond making the closing one function. However, the last line of the closing one kind of sums up the character and the movie for me, and I’d hate to miss it. But, functionally, I agree that it otherwise would’ve placed quite well after the credits while still leading into the trailer. I felt of all the after-credits sequences in the Marvel films, this one was the least effective unto itself.

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