Captain America: The First Avenger (Re)View
In a summer crowded with superhero movies, Captain America: The First Avenger comes in last place. The blockbuster movie treads the line between okay and bad, ultimately settling on the former side thanks to its backbone of admirable merits. Even though it’s basically another nipple on the Marvel cash cow’s udder, Captain America probably still seemed like a neat film on storyboards or while being pitched. However, the poor execution overshadows the origin story’s strong concepts and wholehearted intentions. It’s not a total disgrace though; Captain America is more like a pesky embarrassment in the Marvel universe comparable to the Fantastic Four and Punisher sequels and not nearly as shameful as Ghost Rider and Elektra.
There’s nothing exceptional about the cast, which features its share of bad German accents (but at least they tried, Valkyrie) and the charismatic Chris Evans as the titular superhero. You can’t really blame them because they’re not given much to work with, aside for Evans’ earlier scenes. What are you supposed to do when your lines are cornier than a morning-after-Thanksgiving dump? Even Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones couldn’t liven up their stale characters.
So what about the summer blockbusterness of this summer blockbuster? When all else fails, take a page from Michael Bay’s book and bludgeon the audience to death with non-stop special effects and noisy explosions, right? A split second of Captain America‘s finale was particularly awesome (literally, a split second), but for the most part, the action was a little on the light side, the hand-to-hand combat was standard, and the visual effects were not… effective. Let me elaborate.
I was most interested in the transformation of Steve Rodgers, the scrawny military reject with a small frame, a huge heart, and… a big head! Boomshakalaka! If you thought Thor‘s plastic hammer looked fake, wait until you see the NBA Jam-style Captain America before the government roids him up and sends him off to be its pawn of propaganda. He looks like an unnatural bobblehead, and it tarnishes an otherwise decent background plot up to this point in the story. Old-lookin’ young Benjamin Button looked more believable.
Converted 3D only underlined how weird the big head effect was. There might have been one very short part where Captain America’s shield flew at the screen and actually made me jump, but that might have been purely coincidental because I was falling asleep (during one of the unengaging action sequences) and sometimes loud, sudden noises startle me back awake. Nevertheless, it was a true Captain EO moment that popped out and made me realize that I may have overused that line to describe great 3D bits previously.
X-Men: First Class, Thor, and even Green Lantern can rest easy. Captain America: The First Avenger was barely two hours, but Marvel’s latest superhero film still felt long. Like Chris Evans’ character, the origin story has undeniably great heart and good intentions to inspire viewers as a (thankfully not overly) patriotic tie-in to Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor. Those alone are sometimes enough to fuel a movie to success, but when surrounded with little else that’s impressive, especially for a big-budgeted summer flick, you’re left with an unsatisfying letdown. The best part of Captain America, the first act’s introduction and development of the underdog protagonist nobody could root against, had so much potential to reach the magnetic levels of X-Men: First Class, but it’s followed by such predictable and boring cinema that doesn’t really get interesting until the epilogue. Speaking of which, make sure you stay all the way to the end for a post-credits stinger, and you’ll also be treated to a trailer for next summer’s The Avengers, which was more exciting than most of The First Avenger movie itself.