Another Marvel superhero, another origin story although this time we have a superhero with very few powers other than being able to jump higher, bash people harder and a 1941 period setting.
Equipped with a nifty USA emblazoned shield, Captain America (CA) was always going to be the hardest sell to cynical audiences not weaned on 1940 derring do cartoon strips. The clean cut hero with no flaws and a good heart is somewhat at odds with the many complicated, anti-heroes that audiences have now embraced.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a weedy guy, stood behind a lamp post you might not see him at all. His is brave though, throwing himself on a grenade to protect his unit buddies and desperate to go fight the Nazi’s in WW2. His buddy Barnes (Stan) has already enlisted but Rogers keeps receiving a “4F” rejected due to poor health from the medical board, despite numerous attempts using false addresses.
Help comes in the form of Dr Erskine (Tucci) recruiting for “Project Rebirth”, a plan to create super-soldiers using the usual powers you could not possibly imagine. Being the chosen one, Rogers turns into “Captain America” replete with ripped body, rather dodgy uniform, not yet the right shield and the letter “A” on his helmet.
So far, not that different to many other similar movies. However, we do have the best movie bad guys, no shades of grey here, Nazi’s and not just ordinary soldiers but Uber Nazi’s. The Hydra research unit, headed by Schmidt/Red Skull (Weaving), a man who despite working directly for Hitler, still believes there is wiggle room to be more extreme.
Due to circumstances, Rogers endures a lengthy period where he is tasked with selling war bonds rather than socking it to the bad guys. Fortunately, it is not long before he is unleashed with his rag tag self assembled squad, onto the unsuspecting Hydra unit. Stevens unit commander Colonel Phillips (Lee-Jones), offering support, great one liners and dressing down’s in equal measure.
Rogers is designed as a throwback, a decent man suddenly entrusted with strengths and power that amplifies everything that is inherently good and decent about him. In direct contrast to Schmidt, whose dastardly plans and world domination are stretched to the evil limit, following the application of the unimaginable power source.
Unquestionably Uber Nazi’s are the coolest villains, with the best gadgets, planes, cars and submarines which can be disintegrated with ray guns, shot and blown apart with little chance of offending a world wide audience. Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), as a Nazi Scientist ticks all stereotype boxes without breaking sweat, you almost expect a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” coat hanger moment to appear at any moment.
Evans does not get much opportunity to act but does well enough with what he is given, special effect techniques cleverly displaying him as a man 60 kg dripping wet, then allowing his transformation into the real buff super-soldier, Evans post gym, with few technical hitches.
The film is almost old fashioned in it’s action scenes, perhaps reminiscent of director Joe Johnson’s “The Rocketeer” in style and content. Rogers gets a sort of girlfriend, in the shape of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) whether CA gets even near first base is debatable. Dammit, there is a world to save after all.
This is the final piece in the Marvel “Avengers” puzzle, the new film due in 2012 incorporating all of the Marvel characters under “S.H.I.E.L.D” (Jackson), all of which have been carefully introduced to audiences over the last few years. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) destined to be Iron Man’s father, also gets a look in as mad inventor/billionaire, again linking the intertwining stories together.
The studio must surely be pleased at the reception received even for it’s “lesser” characters, with respectable box office returns for both “Thor” and “Captain America”.
Old fashioned swashbuckling fun in the Indiana Jones style, with a straight as an arrow good guy, pantomime villains and exciting well executed state of the art action sequences.
Fantastic Nazi villain lairs, awesome B-Wing bombers and enormous Nazi limousines, plenty of explosions and a reasonable story to hang all the action on.
What more could one want from a summer superhero movie?