Sunday, 7 August 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger (Film Review)

Anyone who knows their comic movie history knows that Captain America spells disaster for any production. The last attempt to translate the shield throwing star spangled man to the big screen was a train wreck which put Batman and Robin to shame.
But this? This is arguably the best Marvel comic film yet.

It doesn’t have Iron Man’s style and character development, and it lacks Thors humour and pseudo Shakespearian style. What it does have is a director, Joe Johnson, who knew what he was doing and was clearly taking notes from the last two films leading up to The Avengers.

The film covers the initial origins of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) becoming a superhuman, his development as a character and his exploits across the Second World War. Trying to capture all these on screen could have easily run the risk of bogging down the film trying to show the details, but the film is constructed expertly to work its way around them. The first act is devoted towards the motivations of the protagonist and directly setting the scene, freeing up the rest of the film for depicting the war setting.

The historic details of the war itself are brilliantly done, being very accurate but not once do they feel out of place with the futuristic troopers serving the villainous Red Skull. The effectiveness of this mostly comes from the film playing its goofy premise (Nazi super soldiers) completely straight faced. Something which works incredibly well if done right as shown with Thor.

Unlike Thor though there is a huge amount of action to satisfy its audiences littered throughout the film’s runtime. Depicting multiple fights with the Red Skull and the allies performing attacks upon his faction’s strongholds. Joining Cap in these fights are groups of multinational soldiers which are used to try and remind people that America didn’t single handily take down Nazi Germany with no help at all.

This entire bit is littered with small titbits which comic fans will be grinning broadly at. The Red Skull’s faction name? It’s HYRDA. One of the people who helped create Captain America? Howard Stark. The multinational team Cap works with? Every single one of them are secondary characters from Marvel comics. This is never played up to the point where the cameos get in the way of the plot, but they’re great to see on screen.

When all else fails: Send in the C list fodder.

So, you know what’s good about the film, now for what’s bad:

The problem with trying to cram in so much into a short runtime is that the film is forced to skim over a lot of things. Most of the fighting against the Red Skull’s strongholds consist of a montage scene of fighting with only the first and last battles being properly shown. After a considerable amount of time showing how Cap was chosen, made, used as an icon and finally made a soldier; it feels odd that so much of the fighting should be bypassed like this.

In addition to this the villains themselves are fairly one dimensional, with their motivations simply being world domination and being evil. This is especially true of the Red Skull who is not given enough screen time to truly develop and seems like a very generic foe at times. At least in Jeff Bridge’s case in Iron Man we got to see enough of him to make him feel like more than just an arch villain. This is a running problem with a few character bits, with the inevitable love interest plotline only being touched upon and not developed enough to give proper meaning.

While 3D is used a bit more than in other films, it’s fairly underused. There’s only a dozen bits where it’s effectively used and it’s not worth paying the additional money to wear glasses while watching this.

Besides those points there really isn’t that much to complain about. The cinematography is fantastically done, everyone gives great performances and the other films only exceed it in one or two areas. This is definitely the best non Batman comic film since Hellboy, go see it while it’s still in cinemas and you’ll have a fantastic time.


Captain America: The First Avenger and all related characters and media are owned by Marvel  and Marvel Studios.

Images were taken from

No comments:

Post a Comment