HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
Burning Sea, The
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Captain America: The First Avenger Fighting the good fight
Year: 2011
Director: Joe Johnston
Stars: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, J.J. Feild, Bruno Ricci, Michael Brandon, Richard Armitage
Genre: Action, War, Science Fiction, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 4 votes)
Review: At the height of the Second World War, plucky patriot Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempts to enlist in the army alongside his best friend 'Bucky' Barnes (Sebastian Stan), but proves too puny to pass the physical exams. Recognising Steve's innate heroism, brilliant scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recruits him for the top secret Project Rebirth being prepared in war-torn Britain where his courage, wit and selfless decency impress beautiful English agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and grouchy Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones). Working with flamboyant billionaire inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Erskine's experimental super-serum transforms scrawny Steve into the muscular superhero, Captain America, whose exploits inspire his countrymen and infuriate the Nazi regime, including the covert Hydra organisation fronted by Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving - with an impeccable German accent) a.k.a. the hideously deformed madman, the Red Skull.

Created by Joe Simon and the legendary Jack Kirby in 1941, Marvel Comics' star-spangled superhero previously had a checkered career on the silver screen. Aside from a supporting role in the tacky Turkish oddity 3 Dev Adam (1973), there were two terrible TV movies starring Reb Brown in 1979 as well as the infamous Cannon-produced Captain America (1990) directed by Albert Pyun with Matt Salinger in the title role, which was never released in American theatres. Little wonder many felt the character was too kitsch to translate for the cinema or else too ideologically outmoded to engage a modern audience. But what the earlier films lacked was charm and sincerity, qualities Captain America: The First Avenger delivers in spades as well as an admirable intention to engage our emotions besides dazzle us with superhero action.

With Marvel now forging close ties between all their film franchises, this follows the trend set by Iron Man (2008), Thor (2011) and The Incredible Hulk (2008) and lays groundwork for the forthcoming Avengers movie, which curtails a few promising plot strands even though the film can stand on its own merits. The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the duo behind the Narnia films) is beautifully crafted with many subtle touches (note Steve's use of a trashcan lid in one early scene) alongside more overt flourishes (e.g. the "World of Tomorrow" exhibit where Howard Stark exhibits his latest inventions), but crucially takes time to establish engaging characters so that when the breakneck sci-fi thrills and outlandish action erupt onscreen we have a backbone of human drama to make us care. Markus and McFeely also add an interesting satirical layer to the Captain America mythos, as Steve is initially used not as a superhuman commando but a tacky, moral-boosting campaign figure encouraging Americans to buy war bonds. Amusing parodies of propaganda from the period include red, white and blue chorus girls, tie-in movies and, yes, comic books, until our hero is mocked by real servicemen. He wins their respect by rescuing a platoon trapped behind enemy lines, who include his old pal Bucky, and then assembles a winningly multiracial strike force to take the fight to the Red Skull.

Having already been the best thing in the otherwise lacklustre Fantastic Four (2005), Chris Evans delivers a charismatic and surprisingly affecting performance as a valiant but humble hero who defines what real American patriotism is all about. When asked whether he wants to kill Nazis, Steve replies he does not want to kill anyone but hates bullies. No matter where they come from. While Evans is outstanding, the film remains an ensemble piece with Atwell cast an agreeably gutsy and resourceful heroine. Instead of the usually tepid English Rose stereotype that usually occurs when a British actress is cast in these sort of roles, Atwell enters the film punching out a sexist soldier and holds her own from thereon. Tommy Lee Jones is perfectly cast as the growling military man, Sebastian Stan and Dominic Cooper find grace notes amidst the action, and the film finds room for snappy character work from Toby Jones as a conflicted Nazi scientist (look out for a well-scripted scene between him and Tommy Lee Jones), Michael Brandon as an oily senator and the ever-villainous Richard Armitage.

Opening with a nod to The Thing from Another World (1951) and including a climactic scene unmistakably inspired by the intro to A Matter of Life and Death (1946), director Joe Johnston one-ups his similarly retro The Rocketeer (1990), staging a number of rousing, feel-good scenes with gusto and foresaking comic book camp for gripping wartime heroics with added oomph.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4822 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
26 Dec 2011
  I was disappointed in this, it could have been two hours of bright, brash, kitschy Nazi-biffing, but it started glum and remained grindingly joyless for the duration. The Rocketeer was obviously the reason Johnston was brought aboard, so why wasn't he allowed to work the same magic here as he did there? To busy tying it all in with the tone of the others in the Marvel Avengers franchise, more's the pity.
       
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
Date:
27 Dec 2011
  I disagree. To my mind its strength lay in avoiding camp and attempting to combine pulp fantasy circa 1942 (mad scientists, outlandish contraptions, square jawed heroes) with a more humanistic approach, trying to imagine exactly what the army would do someone like Cap. There was a real story here with vivid characters and I like how his superhero transformation didn't automatically convince the military brass to use to Steve as anything other than a propaganda device. His whole persona became a metaphor for America itself, trying to live up to its romantic self-image and turn fairytales into reality. Honestly, I loved this film and would rank it among my top ten of 2011.
       


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: