Filed Under (movie review ) by Andrei S. on Sunday, 7 August 2011
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“The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both.” – Vaclav Havel
review written by Andrei Sipos on the 7th of August 2011
Together with Captain America: The First Avenger arrives the conclusion of the superhero films leading up to Marvel’s greatest cinematic sensation, the upcoming The Avengers that will feature an all-star cast of characters including Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America himself, with all of these comic book heroes having already received feature films of their own. As a fan of comic books, superheroes, or simply just someone who enjoys these types of movies, it’s hard not to be excited about The Avengers and look forward to how it’s all going to turn out.
In terms of the films building up to The Avengers, it’s safe to say that Marvel Studios haven’t delivered any overly underwhelming productions up to this point, though their movies have not managed to receive universal critical acclaim either (except for maybe the first Iron Man, which seems to stand out from the crowd in most people’s books). The character of Captain America is arguably Marvel’s most ‘American’ superhero, and as such may not be particularly popular outside of the United States considering its propagandistic nature, but as far as the hero’s journey is concerned, Captain America’s roots are more genuine and prominent than those of most other comic book heroes.
As a character born during and due to the days of World War II, most of the film takes place in the 40s, depicting Steve Rogers’ road to becoming Captain America and his rise as the nation’s greatest war hero. After being declared unfit to join the military ranks and aid his country in the war due to various health and physical shortcomings, the awfully skinny Steve Rogers is given another chance to enlist by the scientist Abraham Erskine, who believes that he has found the perfect subject for an experiment that could provide soldiers with advanced human powers. However, after Rogers undergoes a successful operation that makes him taller, muscular and enhances some of his abilities, the research facility is ambushed by an assassin that manages to kill Erskine, leaving the super-soldier formula lost.
The assassin reveals himself to be a member of Hydra, a secret organisation led by Nazi officer Johann Schmidt, who has obtained a mysterious artifact capable of producing advanced weaponry that could make his plans for world domination come into being, and only Captain America has the power to stop him. Compared to Iron Man 2 and the recent Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger is far more a film of its own rather than a build-up to The Avengers. While scenes relating to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency and its agenda are not excluded from the movie, they are far less prevailing this time around, making Captain America: The First Avenger a more rounded experience as a whole.
The plot does not present many surprises along the way and it’s just as formulaic as Marvel’s other recent films, but the movie does benefit from quite an impressive script that, in addition to providing a well-constructed narrative, makes sure every line of dialogue hits the right marks without feeling either cheesy or forced while also delivering a couple of witty and memorable one-liners along the way. The film also excels from a visual standpoint, painting a credible image of the 40s thanks to outstanding costume and set design, and top-notch cinematography.
There were some doubts regarding Chris Evans being cast as Captain America prior to the film’s release, most of which had to do with the actor’s comedic and light-hearted demeanor that he employed in many of his other roles. Fortunately, Evans delivers an incredibly convincing portrayal of the unassuming Steve Rogers, capturing the character’s grounded and noble attributes in a performance that will surely make him the face of Captain America for years to come, just as it happened with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and, more recently, Chris Hemsworth as Thor.
Another impressive performance is that of Hugo Weaving as the film’s main antagonist, Johann Schmidt. Weaving is given many opportunities to shine and develop his character throughout the movie and he undoubtedly makes the most out of them every time he’s on screen. Actress Hayley Atwell also stands out playing Captain America’s love interest with a feminine charm and unconventional look that sets her apart from most leading actresses of modern day. The cast is rounded off by actors such as Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan and Dominic Cooper, making Captain America: The First Avenger a film devoid of any weak links acting-wise.
So does Captain America: The First Avenger achieve something that hasn’t been done before? No, not really. Then again, there’s little experimenting to be had in a film of this calibre and subject matter. On the other hand, the superhero formula here is more polished than it’s been in quite some time, delivering an experience that is thoroughly engaging, fittingly compelling, and ultimately as gratifying as it should be. After all is said and done, Captain America: The First Avenger gets a place among the best of Marvel’s comic book adaptations, with the film taking the number one spot being more an issue of personal opinion rather than cinematic quality. Certain is only that Captain America: The First Avenger is a summer blockbuster in all its might and glory, which should be more than enough for most of us.