Captain America: The First Avenger

Posted: February 11, 2012 in Movie Reviews

In Marvel’s newest super-hero adventure, World War II hero Steve Rogers battles elite Nazi forces, complete with patriotic shield and attire.

Many historical-fiction movies have been made with World War II as its backdrop, but few super-heroes have found themselves fighting the Nazi swastika. Captain America is a story about dealing with bullies, doing the right thing nomatter how hard it seems, and fighting for your country. A historical time period, lots of action, and plenty of emotion combine to make this film one of Marvel’s most gripping movies yet.

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 Summary: (May contain spoilers)

Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans—Fantastic Four) is a man half the size of the average guy, but has a heart that outmatches even the bravest, most daring war hero. Due to his size, he has been bullied his entire life, while never running from a fight. When World War II breaks out, Rogers tries to enlist, but in vain. His physical size prevents anyone from taking him seriously. When he is discovered by German scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine, though, he is offered the chance he needs.

Erskine says that he’s been working on a serum that will turn the tide in the war against Hitler. Using this serum, he will create a super-human who can out-run, out-smart, and out-fight any ordinary soldier. Erskine recognizes Roger’s heart of gold and selects him as the candidate for the experiment (conducted by Howard Stark, father of fellow super-hero Tony Stark/Iron Man).

The experiment proves successful, and Rogers emerges at least two feet taller with an Arnold Schwarzenegger build. Before Rogers has a chance to say, “I’ll be back”  an undercover German spy shoots Erskine and escapes with the serum. Rogers gives chase and recovers it.

Now without the man who believed in him, Rogers is deemed a laboratory guinea pig and is used to promote the war in a Broadway-style show. His persona is Captain America, aka “Cap,” a comical-looking character complete with blue tights and a stars-and-stripes shield. Rogers, though, realizes his potential but, again, no one takes him seriously. When Roger’s brother-like friend becomes MIA, he determines to rescue him. Dressed in costume, he infiltrates a secret German base and liberates his friend, along with 400 other troops.

During the mission, Rogers encounters Johann Schmidt (played by Hugo Weaving—The Lord of the Rings), leader of Hydra, an elite Nazi force. Using a supernatural glowing blue cube, said to be from the gods (a small nod to Marvel’s sister movie Thor) and containing unimaginable power, Schmidt creates advanced weaponry that emit blue lasers which disintegrate enemies.

Schmidt’s lust for power is not subject to flags and lines on a map; his target is merely “everywhere.” Even Hydra’s symbol—a skull atop eight grabbing arms—is emblematic of Schmidt’s power-hungry nature.  Through his own injection, Schmidt has made himself super-human; however, the serum has burned his skin leaving him with a bright-red skull, giving him the name “Red Skull.”

After his success, Rogers creates a more soldier-looking suit and takes up a new shield made with a tough but light bullet-proof metal. He assembles a team (nothing more than a band of the men he rescued) and stages attacks on several Hydra factories.

Be sure to watch the tag scene at the very end of the credits.

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  Captain America is a movie filled with heart and stamina. The fact that Rogers has a heart twice as big as men twice his size and wants to stand up against bully Germany makes him the perfect person to try the super-soldier serum. Rogers has had plenty of experience with bullies, and has no desire to stand by and watch as a bigger bully intimidates the world. However, as previously stated, his small size prevents him from being recruited. This aspect immediately makes us feel sympathetic towards him. Even after the experiment proves to be a success, he’s sentenced to the stage dancing with chorus girls.

Once Cap proves himself a valuable asset to the American forces, the legendary Marvel hero comes alive. The reason why the captain leaves such a lasting impression on us is twofold: firstly, he’s patriotic. Who doesn’t like a super-hero sporting stars-and-stripes? Secondly, he’s one of the finest, daring, most courageous super-heroes Marvel has in its montage of caped crusaders. These reasons, and the fact that it’s impossible not to root for him, makes for a 100% authentic super-hero, who fights for more than simply admiration and glory. His character alone earns our admiration.

I would have preferred that Captain America had had more of a WWII feel to it, rather than him battling futuristic bad guys with weapons that would never have been perceived in the 1940s. When you think of WWII, you imagine the allies against the axis powers and battles in the European and Pacific venues. However, this film didn’t have much of that. The majority of it was Captain America battling Hydra, a completely made-up branch of the Nazi force. I realize that this is a Marvel film, and is in no way supposed to be historically accurate, but I think they should have kept a little more with the WWII feel.

Special effects weren’t all that impressive, excepting Roger’s CGI body that turned him into a skinny anorexic. Chris Evans, the actor, really does have an Arnold Schwarzenegger build, however for the film a scrawny body was put onto Evan’s head. The end result looks completely realistic, and is perhaps some of the best special effects ever seen!

While not considered a masterpiece, Captain America is just downright good fun. It will not only keep you entertained, but will also spark that patriotism lying somewhere deep down in your heart. A great film of a classic Marvel hero.

8 stars

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