Posted by: greercn | August 1, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Smudged – that’s the look of the 3D in “Captain America: The First Avenger”. When I slipped the glasses off, everything was clearer and lighter, except for bits of the background. Why have 3D that simply adds gloom to the faces?

This irritant vanishes with truly ground-breaking plane, train and boat sequences. The 3D really matters in the action scenes and it ratchets up the tension of the story and adds to the depth of the visuals.

Chris Evans manages – with quite a lot of CGI assistance – to be quite affecting in his transition from 90-pound weakling Steve Rogers to muscle-man hero Captain America. Nothing in his “Fantastic Four” roles prepares you for his set of subtle and emotional nuances here. There were bits of his Lucas Lee in “Scott Pilgrim” that showed this range was possible for him.  

It’s a remarkable performance, until it goes a bit nuts with the American patriotism. Yet again, World War Two is the Yanks versus the Nazis. Then, the Nazis vanish in favour of the even more evil Hydra organisation.

Hugo Weaving is superb as the bad guy, altered by science in an earlier version of the experimental serum that makes Steve Rogers into Captain America. He is actually very creepy.

What are the problems here? I am a bit fed up with “origins” stories and I am even more fed up with World War Two on screen as a US/Nazi face off. I want new plots and stories and progress. I want next summer’s “Avengers” movie and I want it right now. Sigh. Yes, I am aware this need of mine has been manufactured by hype.

Do stay after the credits. There is a terrific scene, presaging and adding to the build up for “Avengers”.

If you love Marvel comics as much as I do, there are lots of treats for you here. The cod-occult stream of tosh is up there with the best of conspiracy shaggy dog stories. You get very lovely nods to the other Avengers.

Dominic Cooper’s portrayal of Howard Stark is wonderful. Stanley Tucci is terrific as the scientist who makes the serum. Natalie Dormer –  Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors” – has a very special cameo.

Hayley Atwell is okay as the love interest, although I was hypnotised by her lipstick. I like her very much but she is restricted to a rather doll-like mode in this movie.

The story bothers me. Hasn’t this all been done much better in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Flags Of Our Fathers”, “Star Wars” and “Saving Private Ryan”? Doesn’t it make you think of those very similar, but much better movies?

“Thor” and both “Iron Man” movies leave you wanting more. I fear it’s the patriotism that curdles this mix. I understand why it is there as it is reassurance for these difficult times. But it feels off and overstays its welcome.

May I just add that I do believe that America is the best democracy in the world and our finest hope? But hitting our heads with the flag again and again hurts and makes us question the price of that freedom?

The audience felt this film went on for too long, playing with their mobile phones and getting into arguments with each other. Straying attention is never a good sign. Two skinny women arguing over a Diet Coke offered a compelling distraction. I checked my watch seven times.

Should you see it? If you love Marvel and the Avengers, yes. You need to know these stories to get the most out of “The Avengers”. The effects work better on a big screen than a small screen, so it won’t be the same on DVD.

If you skip it, I will forgive you very quickly.

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