I haven’t gone to see a movie in the theaters since “Iron Man 2” in 2010, because nothing released interested me much. But I’ve always had a soft spot for Captain America, though I’ve never read more than the first couple issues that my grandma gave me in some kind of compilation back in the ‘80s or something. Anyway, this got good buzz from my Facebook “friends” so I thought I’d go see it.
I’d say it was worth the five bucks I paid to see it in 2D—it didn’t seem like the kind of movie to benefit much from the 3D thing. Like most of the Marvel superhero movies it’s a solid popcorn movie, though not as great as “The Dark Knight” in my mind.
When the movie begins, it’s in present day as a government team is digging around the arctic for a strange downed aircraft. Inside they find a frozen Captain America. Then we flash back to 1942, where a scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, formerly the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four) is trying to get into the army to serve in the same unit as his dead father. What he lacks in size he makes up for in courage, but he’s rejected for being too small and asthmatic. That doesn’t deter Steve, who applies later at a World’s Fair, foregoing a double date with his friend Bucky Barnes (a kid sidekick in the 40s comics) and two random dames. Steve’s tenacity comes to the attention of Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who is conducting a secret experiment to create a special serum to make “super soldiers.” He’s already used it on Nazi commander Johan Strauss (Hugo Weaving) but has since defected to America.
Steve is given the serum and comes out looking like a bodybuilder. A Nazi agent sets off a bomb and kills Erskine, making it so that Steve will be America’s only super soldier instead of having a whole army of them. He’s presented with two choices: be locked up in a lab for testing or become an army mascot known as “Captain America.” He agrees to the latter, where at least he can be doing something. It turns out that what he does is dress up in a funny costume and make speeches about buying war bonds. He also makes movies and even has a comic book!
Just as Steve is embracing his fame, he goes over to Italy and meets a hostile reception. When he finds out Bucky has been taken captive by the Nazis, Steve goes alone into enemy territory to break him out. There he confronts Strauss, going by the name the Red Skull because his serum turn his skull red, and becomes the real-life Captain America.
From there Steve, Bucky, and a loyal band of multinational/multiethnic troops try to wipe out the Red Skull and his evil HYDRA weapons plants.
I think what would have made this a little better to me was a little more realism. I know it’s a comic book movie, but I found the Nazi ray guns to be a little too far over the line into fantasy. And the whole “jewel of Odin” thing didn’t really add much to the plot. They could have achieved the same results with more conventional weapons, though those might not have looked as cool to the teens in the audience.
Also, as much as I hate this new trend of breaking movies into two parts, a la Harry Potter, I think this would have been better as two parts. One part to focus entirely on the World War II era and then another to bring Captain America into the modern age. That way they could have dealt better with the issues surrounding him going from 1943 to 2011, like his love interest Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) either being dead or really, really old. Because there’s just not going to be enough time in the Avengers movie to give that more than lip service.
No matter what, though, this was a million times better than the 1990 version Syfy aired at the time this movie came out. It’s worth seeing if you’ve liked the other Marvel superhero movies or just want two hours out of the heat.
BTW, stay after the credits for a preview of the Avengers movie coming next year!
That is all.
My score: 75/100 (3 stars)Metacritic score: 66/100 (2.5 stars)