Monday, January 21, 2013

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
For Christmas, I got £20 from my grandparents (bear with me, this whimsical tale does improve). As someone who has just bought a house, this £20 seemed like the perfect excuse to splash out and get some films in. As a result, I hit the Amazon sales on Boxing Day and snapped up the Alien to Prometheus Blu-Ray box set for £25.

OK, so the £20 was all spent in one go - along with an additional £5 of my own money. Probably the fastest I've spent any Christmas money. Well, later in the Christmas period, I spotted The Avengers box set - again on Blu-Ray - which includes all of the films in the Avengers series, along with the main film itself. I wanted it, but alas I had spent my Christmas money.

But no! If I can spend £5 of my money on the Prometheus box-set, how about if I contributed £15 instead? Then, I would still have £10 remaining from the £20 present (still with me?) which I could put forward to The Avengers. Brilliant. So I bought myself The Avengers box-set (and, err, another 3 DVDs), proclaiming to myself that it was all being paid for by my Christmas money. Thanks, Gran & Granddad!

Anyway, I finally sat down to watch Captain America at the weekend just gone, with my girlfriend claiming it to be her favourite of all of the Avengers films (unsurprising - she is an americaphile). As I've only seen The Incredible Hulk, I reserved judgement.

The story is simple enough - it's the Second World War and the Nazis are at large over Europe. Happily, a German scientist is at hand with a magical serum to produce super soldiers for America who are just joining in to help the flailing allies. Only one - Captain America (Chris Evans) is created. Meanwhile, a malevolent German general (Hugo Weaving) has his hands on a mysterious object known as the Tesseract (not mysterious in mathematics - it's a 4 dimensional 'cube'), which he uses for creating super weapons that obliterate people.

Johann Schmidt pre-facelift
For those who are thinking, "isn't this a bit cliche?", you are absolutely correct. Patriotic Americans (including Tommy Lee Jones as an American general)? Check. Nazi enemies? Check. Super hero dressed in red white and blue? Check. Cheesy love story between said hero and a girl who has no interest in jerks? Check.

OK, so, we've established that it might be difficult to empathise with Captain America, especially if you don't live in America. With its Star Wars style light gun battles, it is a film that is corny in the extreme. This is slightly offset against its accessible humour, but the gung-ho attitude is definitely the overriding factor.

Actually, corny isn't necessarily a bad thing because that is exactly how the comic started out over 70 years ago. There are other nice nods towards the comic in the shift between the old style Captain America and his newer self with the vibranium shield and, later, with the subtle introduction of the Captain's original friend Bucky.

The visuals are expectedly brilliant. The transformation of Steve Rogers the weed into Captain America the macho, is impressive - even more so because the same actor (Evans) is used for both roles. It is almost as though midway through filming he decides to hit the steroids. The battle scenes also look good, but I did half expect a Jedi to appear at a given minute to put an end to the light gun fighting.

All in all, it has to be said that Captain America is a movie made for comic book fans. Unfortunately, it has clearly been shoehorned into the Marvel film series in anticipation of including the protagonist in The Avengers. Unlike my girlfriend, I feel this may be the weakest of the Marvel films.

I'm not looking forward to the argument about whether we see the sequel.

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