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‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ will make his country and the box office proud


One of Marvel Comics’ most successful and oldest characters finally makes his debut on the silver screen this weekend with Captain America: The First Avenger.

You’re probably wondering why this took so long, but it’s not like Marvel hasn’t ever tried to make ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ will make his country and the box office proud. Photo: www.blog.zap2it.com Cap a live action hero, it’s just never worked out quite like they always hoped. Previous attempts (although I must admit I don’t really mind the two Reb Brown made for TV movies  if you take them for what they’re worth) just flat out missed the mark. Anyone see the 1990 version starring Matt Salinger that was supposed to be released theatrically? Urban legend has it that the phrase ‘direct to video’ was meant specifically for this movie.

So once again Marvel revisits Captain America, and it looks like the third time is the charm for the star spangled avenger.

It’s 1942, and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a scrawny kid from Brooklyn who is on the wrong end of too many punches at the hands of the local rifraff. Rogers attempts to enlist in the army in multiple cities, but is constantly rejected due to his small stature and health issues.

All of this changes when Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recruits Rogers into the army with the intention of making him the guinea pig for Project Rebirth, an top secret experiment that will attempt to create an almost superhuman soldier. Despite the strong objections of Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), Erskine is still adamant about using Rogers for ‘Rebirth.’

Just prior to the experiment, Dr. Erskine informs Rogers that the serum he will take was originally tested by Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) , an ally of Adolf Hitler who tested the yet-to-be completed formula on himself. The results backfired, causing harmful side effects to Schmidt’s personality. Erskine tells Rogers that the serum highlights certain attributes of a person’s mental makeup as well as their physical makeup, and that only good will come of it unless the person taking it has good intentions.

Without giving away spoliers, something goes horribly wrong at the experiment. Rogers is now built like a war machine, but several incidents end any possible future hope for future experiments, leaving Rogers the only beneficiary of Dr. Erskine’s formula.

Not convinced he is ready for combat, the army exploits Rogers as ‘Captain America’ as they send him around the world with dancing girls to promote the U.S. Army during the war. Shortly after Rogers is mocked by soldiers in Italy, he gets word that several other soldiers (including his friend Bucky Barnes) have been captured by Schmidt. With help from inventor Howard Stark (father of ‘Iron Man’ Tony Stark) and officerWeaving puts himself in the pantheon of other Marvel villains and is brilliant and haunting as Red Skull. Photo: www.daemonsmovies.com Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Rogers invades Schmidt’s HYDRA headquarters and rescues the soldiers.

During the rescue, Rogers encounters Schmidt, who has now transformed into a menacing-like looking figure known as Red Skull. Rogers also learns that Skull has acquired the Tesseract, a cube-like object he plans on using to take over the world.  

Upon his return to the base, Rogers is now branded a hero by the soldiers as well as Colonel Phillips, and the attention now shifts to capturing Red Skull. Rogers, now equipped with a new costume and an indestructible shield designed by Stark, helps organize a plan to stop Red Skull from his goal of world domination.

Coming from a self-professed comic book geek, I have to admit that I did not see any real flaws with ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’.  The movie has virtually no slow points and is fast paced, the action scenes were exciting and not too over the top, the story line was strong, and the special effects were very impressive to say the least (the pre-Captain America scrawny Steve Rogers looked completely real). It’s probably best viewed in 3D, where you and Cap’s shield will have a few close calls!

Director Joe Johnston and screenwriter Christopher Markus blended the cast of the movie together very well as nobody steals screen time from one another. Though ‘Captian America: First Avenger’ carries an overall serious tone, it’s balanced with some hilarious one-liners. This is in large part to Jones, who adds his dry sense of  humor to a movie that has its share of dark moments.

Any doubts concerning Evans’ casting as Captain America should be put to rest. Evans, who was one of the few bright spots as Johnny Storm/Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies, is likeable as well as serious, and not at all the wise-cracking type of character he often plays. Weaving puts himself in the pantheon of other Marvel villains such as Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) and Ian McKellen (X-Men) with his brilliant and haunting performance as Red Skull, and the classy Atwell adds beauty and the occasional brawn as Rogers’ budding love interest Peggy.

‘Captian America: First Avenger’  has a little something for everybody: action, special effects, and a little bit of romance. It’s not a classic in the form of The Dark Knight, but it’s leaps and bounds better than Green Lantern and it’s just as good as Thor. It does have its share of violent scenes, but the fact that the film takes place in another era and a much simpler time makes it quite a departure from some of Marvel’s most recent films. The film’s simplicity is reminiscent of 1991’s The Rocketeer (also directed by Johnston), where the good guys are the good guys, the bad guys are the bad guys, and there’s no hidden agenda on either side.  

So in a nutshell, ‘Captian America: First Avenger’ gives you plenty of what you’re looking for.

And there’s even a Phillies reference for all you baseball fans out there!

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Red Skull photo: www.daemonsmovies.com