Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)


I Punched Out Adolf Hitler 200 Times.

I just watched a trailer that made me really excited for May of next year. So excited that I decided I should try to do one movie a month that will set us up for that movie. The movie I’m excited about is the Avengers, and today’s movie is the most recent Avenger movie about the oldest Avenger, Captain America. I’ve already knocked out Thor, so I have two Iron Man movies and two Hulk movies left. So, again, the one I’m knocking out for this month is Captain America: The First Avenger, directed by Joe Johnston and starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, J.J. Feild, Bruno Ricci, and a brief appearance – as in most Avenger movies – Samuel L. Jackson.

A bunch of scientists are messing around in the Arctic when they find something in the snow. It’s a giant spacecraft looking thing. Inside, they find a circular object with red, white, and blue on it. We then dive into the backstory of that circular object. Back in 1942, a Nazi scientist named Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) busts into a church looking for a shiny, blue cube with untold powers. In the US, a scrawny kid by the name of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) keeps getting rejected from the army because of his health and wussiness. But the kid’s got moxie! A scientist named Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recognizes Steve’s moxie and allows him to join the army to see if he’s got what it takes to be the guinea pig of Erskine’s super-soldier program. At first, his commanding officers, Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and British agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), don’t have a lot of confidence in him. But, after being the only soldier to jump on top of a dummy grenade that was thrown as a test, they agree to allow him into the program. Moxie! A couple injections and some vita-rays later, Steve Rogers turns from a scrawny fuck into a big hunk of man meat. At first, Steve is made to go around on propaganda tours to raise money for the war, but when he tries that mess for the troops, they mock him for being lame. He finds out that his old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and a number of other troops were taken prisoner so Steve Rogers resolves to rescue them. He successfully rescues them and meets Schmidt, who then takes off his Agent Smith mask and reveals that he’s the Red Skull – failed first experiment of the super-soldier program – and that he’s got a plan to basically destroy the world. Steve Rogers, with the help of Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), gets a snazzy new outfit, a sweet, very familar, Vibranium shield, and starts ass whooping some Nazi’s under the name Captain America, even though he’s only First Sergeant America.

It always warms my heart when Marvel makes a good movie out of one of their franchises. As with most comic book companies that have taken their characters to the big screen, Marvel has had a spotty history, but they were able to pull off Captain America very well. And thank Odin for that too, because Captain America is not only one of the biggest names in comic books, but he’s also kind of an American icon. The story of this movie could probably not help but be good. Just put the Captain America origin story up on the big screen. That can’t be that hard. That origin story was good when it started, and it has been refined over the years in different incarnations of the Captain that I can’t imagine much difficulty for the writers here. At first, I was thinking that the message of the movie about a scrawny kid becoming a hero was a good message, then I got to thinking that this message is lost because of the fact that he was only able to become a hero by getting changed completely by a serum that real scrawny people won’t have access to. But who cares, the movie is good times. I also like the whole part about Captain America disappearing in martyrdom, then being found in present day and recruited for the Avengers, but that was a fairly small part in the movie that just bookended the rest of the movie. It was also pretty cool that Cap starts off using a gun but quickly learns that he can whoop ass with just his shield and stopped using guns. A couple of story things that caught me was that, at one point, a spy from Hydra tries to sabotage and steal the super-soldier program and he sets off a cigarette case explosion with a button in a lighter. The thing I thought was weird was that this same lighter made a car explode and made his submarine come up. That is a versatile lighter button! Also, Captain America gets onto Red Skull’s big ass plane by the landing gear which made me think: shouldn’t someone do something about landing gear? How many times have you seen someone sneak their way onto a plane through the landing gear, either in movies or video games? Heck, I just did it in Uncharted 3 a couple days ago. Someone should figure that out.

I really like the visual style of the movie too. It’s definitely a period piece, taking place in the 1940’s and all, but it’s also got a little futuristic part to it because of all the cool technology that Stark and Schmidt had invented. The contrast really worked for the movie. The effect of shrinking down beefcake Chris Evans into a scrawny kid actually worked better than I expected. I half expected it to be an awful, young Jeff Bridges from Tron thing, but they did it much better. There were times when the face didn’t fit that well, but for the most part it looked good. I also watched the special features and found out that sometimes it was just Chris Evans in the scene and they shrunk him digitally and sometimes they plastered his face onto a scrawny dude’s body. They also changed Cap’s outfit a bit, as they tend to do in movies, but it still had the classic look to it. It wasn’t nearly as drastic as the changes in the X-Men movies, where each of their distinctive outfits became black leather gear. In this movie, Cap’s normally weird outfit of a blue scaly top, red pirate boots, and wings on his helmet became something more practical with the same color schemes. And they threw in the old outfit as his propaganda costume just to show people how gay it would look.

I came to a realization in watching this movie. I really want to hate Chris Evans because he’s all in shape and handsome and whatnot, but I can’t. He’s an entertaining guy to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do an emotionally charged performance before, but I thought he was cool in Fantastic Four, Captain America, and Scott Pilgrim. He’s like Brad Pitt, but not as great an actor. I really want to hate them both, but I like their movies so I can’t. Hugo Weaving is also a badass. I had just been thinking the other day about people that have played so many awesome characters in movies and my best example was Hugo Weaving. He has Red Skull, Elrond in Lord of the Rings, V from V for Vendetta, Agent Smith in the Matrix, and he’s the voice of Megatron in Transformers. Tommy Lee Jones is also awesome in this movie. He doesn’t play it like the classic army guy that R. Lee Ermey made a staple. What he does do is play a pretty serious role that is always making snarky comments. My favorite was when Hayley Atwell kissed Chris Evans goodbye before he got on Red Skull’s plane and then he looked at Tommy Lee Jones and TLJ said “I’m not kissin’ you”. Good times. Hayley Atwell herself did a fine job but she was mainly there to have a love interest for Cap. I liked Sebastian Stan as Bucky, Stanley Tucci as the doctor, and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, but I don’t really have anything much to say about them.

Captain America is not a movie that will bring out tons of emotions in it’s audience, and I’m not sure they’re really going for that. What they seemed to want to make is a good times movie, and they did. The look was fantastic, the story was from the comics and was always great, but translated well, and the performances were all great too. I bought this movie on BluRay the day it was released and I believe this is a good enough movie to join any respectable movie collection, but in the very least, you should rent it. I’ll give this movie “I think it works” out of “I’m a captain!”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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