In order to prep us for The Avengers, Marvel figured it would probably be worth giving the first real Avenger his own movie. Captain America, a popular comic book character finally has his shot to capture audiences on the big screen. Chris Evans plays the courageous, but scrawny little man without fear and with lots of courage. Taking a giant step in the opposite direction of recent comic book adaptations Captain America: The First Avenger sets its sights on becoming a light, action packed film that catches unfamiliar viewers up to speed with who the shield throwing, blue helmet wearing, American lover really is.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is an incredibly small individual. He’s the best type of person, one who wants to serve his country and do what’s right, not for self-benefit, but because it’s simply the right thing to do. He never backs down from a fight regardless of how big his opponent is. He stands for what he believes in and he’s essentially the greatest kind of person there is. After getting denied for Army enlistment numerous times Rogers runs into Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a man that’s willing to look deep into a person. Erskine isn’t looking for the biggest, strongest or toughest soldier; he needs the brightest and best. He picks Steve for an experimental super solider program that he and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) are working on.
After the transformation is complete and all the sparks and smoke settles Captain America emerges. Everything good in Rogers has been amplified and he is now ready to rid the world of evil. Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) doesn’t see Captain America for who and what he really is and kicks him to the curb where he becomes a bonds salesmen for a short period of time. Aching for battle Captain America jumps into the action during a routine sales campaign. He storms Johann Schmidt’s (Hugo Weaving) Hydra (eviler Nazi’s) facility and saves a ton of soldiers and cements himself as America’s pride and glory.
Johann Schmidt embraces his superhero side and becomes Red Skull, Captain America’s new enemy. With the help of the lovely Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and his trusty howling commandos, Captain America hunts down Red Skull in hopes of destroying his dangerous facilities and ending the war once and for all.
Captain America: The First Avenger is such a light movie. Unlike most comic book movies before it Captain America is more focused on establishing what a flawless person Steve Rogers is instead of finding some sort of dark past problems. He’s a weak little guy at the beginning of the film, but his only real problem is not getting a chance to prove himself. That chance is given very early and he becomes Captain America within 20 minutes. The rest of the film is focused on defeating evil and achieving peace and glory for America. Not one minute is spent on Steve Rogers, the man or on Steve Rogers, a superhero struggling with his new found power. He’s worry free and constantly radiating good.
That’s kind of the point of Captain America though. He stands for everything good about the country and he doesn’t have time for self-pity or emotional baggage. He understands the powers he’s been given and he runs with it the whole way, never stopping to complain. He’s surrounded by good people and the only bad person in his way is Red Skull.
Captain America: The First Avenger as a film can be often times considered generic, but that’s almost a compliment. It can sometimes feel like a boring thing to watch only because Steve Rogers is such a pure character who never really experiences any sort of change or ark. He’s a good guy at the beginning and he’s an even better guy at the end. It makes for a light film no doubt, but not necessarily a bad one.
The film isn’t Marvel’s strongest by any means and it’s not even their best of the year, but it’s still a good establishing story that gives you more than enough information about Captain America and his various associates/enemies. That being said, it doesn’t exactly leave you with the feeling of wanting to return for a full-fledged sequel. I’m more than excited for The Avengers, but that’s because Captain America will be able to work with Iron Man, Thor and Hulk. Alone Captain America becomes an uninteresting character, but in the presence of others he becomes full of life.
Chris Evans has no problem becoming good in such a pure manner. You feel for tiny Rogers at the beginning and you continue to adore his caring ways throughout the whole film. He’s just an all-around good guy that wants to help his friends and his country. He makes the best of damn near every situation and Evans’ upbeat and positive attitude makes it all the more believable.
Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and Hayley Atwell provide great supporting roles, but never manage to go past that supportive line. Weaving soaks up the hate as Red Skull, but never feels like much of a threat. Tucci is good in his short scenes, doing just about all that he could do for such a small role. Tommy Lee Jones seems to be having the most fun, kicking back as the tough ass, wise crackin’ colonel. Atwell completes the bunch playing the love interest with enough flare, but again not enough strong attraction. The click when they’re with each other, but the ending note doesn’t hit home like it should have.
The main problem with Captain America: The First Avenger is its action. There are more than enough sequences, but they go by way too quickly and they never feel connected. There mostly just short stints that play while some sort of upbeat track from the musical score kicks in. Only a few key action scenes are extended upon and even those feel lifeless. It’s simply Captain America breaking in, killing the bad guys and leaving. There is never any real struggle or sense of danger. Action films thrive off of danger and Captain America never really faces real danger, even when he goes toe to toe with Red Skull.
As I mentioned before the film is also really light. The story and most of its characters are expendable. The only person you truly care for is Captain America and he rarely has an off day. It’s a predictable film that feels a little rushed. If The Avengers wasn’t coming out next year and director Joe Johnston had more time to play with the character I think Captain America: The First Avenger could have been something a little more deep and meaningful, but time was a factor and the end result isn’t that bad.
Captain America: The First Avenger comes crashing onto Blu-Ray with a clear and crisp 1080p transfer. The image is mostly dark and dull, but that’s a perfect representation of Johnston’s intentions. Clarity is never an issue here and when the colors do brighten up they flare over the screen with incredible detail. It’s another knockout by Paramount.
The 7.1 DTS-HD audio track is also a keeper. It’s loud, clear and balanced. Dialogue comes across without problems and the added 2 channels really make the difference when the action and explosions kick into gear. The shield throwing, gun firing and general fighting sounds never have sounded so clear and detailed.
Captain America: The First Avenger comes packaged with a decent amount of special features. There’s a good audio track on the disc as well as a few other interesting features worth noting. Check them out below:
- Audio Commentary
- Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (HD)
- Outfitting a Hero (HD)
- Heightened Technology (HD)
- The Transformation (HD)
- Behind the Skull (HD)
- Captain America’s Origin (HD)
- The Assembly Begins (HD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Trailers (HD)
- Digital Copy
- DVD Copy
In the end Captain America: The First Avenger is still a good Marvel film. It’s not as great as other Marvel productions that lead into The Avengers, but it’s still a good enough entry. The main problem it faces as its own film is the general light tone of the story and the central character. Those are things that can be changed, but would take away from Captain America as a character and the message he sends. Director Joe Johnston could have done a better job piecing the action together to make it a little more enjoyable, but the whole look and feel of the film is spot on.
Evans does a great job with such a simple character and the rest of the cast chimes in when needed. Captain America: The First Avenger is a must-see for anyone excited for The Avengers, but those looking for better comic book movies with more to enjoy might want to head towards the other direction. Sometimes light movies just aren’t as impactful as dark and gritty ones. It’s all a preference game.
On the Blu-Ray side of things Captain America impresses with ease. The picture and audio are stellar; like most of Paramount’s recent stuff and the special features are engaging enough for fans. People that don’t care for origin features and making-of stuff will be bored though. There are a few Avengers things that are worth a peak and the digital copy and DVD copy make the purchase all the easier.