Mark Twain wrote, "it isn't the size of the dog in a fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." For one of Marvel's perennial characters–Captain America–the adage holds true as Steve Rogers' heart propels the movie to summer film success.
Captain America: The First Avenger–directed by Joe Johnston and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely– stars Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci and Sebastian Stan, and follows a young soldier's quest to join the United States military during the Second World War despite physically not measuring up to other recruits. Steve Rogers (Evans) is a scrawny kid from Brooklyn, New York who wants nothing more than to fight for his country and travels from one recruitment office to the next trying to find one that will clear him to join the U.S. military. One day Rogers' best friend, James "Bucky" Barnes (Stan), tells him he's going off to fight overseas, and it's during that conversation they have the night before Barnes leaves that Rogers catches the eye of a former German scientist–now working for the U.S. government–named Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci) who approves Rogers for induction into a special military program to create what will become the first U.S. Super Soldier. After surviving the boot-camp of Col. Chester Phillips (Jones) and winning the heart of U.S. Agent Peggy Carter (Atwell), Rogers embarks on a personal journey encompassing the empty, hollowness of fame to the engagement of super-heroics that actively defies all odds. The movie inspires a realistic suspension of belief that draws you in as the creators re-tread the classic tale of never giving up despite horrendous odds, weaving the film's plot-threads into an engaging story with heart that so happens to brim with action.
Evans performs equally well as both the sympathetic, scrawny kid from Brooklyn as he does the muscular, energetically heroic super soldier. At the core of both however is an alluring drive and determination that draws the audience into his exploits from the New York alleys to secret military bunkers in the heart of Austria. Regardless of the role, Evans' Steve Rogers is inspiring, heroic, touching, dryly humourous and confident while maintaining the same awkwardness inherent to his "scrawny kid" persona. Evans portrays Captain America respectably whether he's thumping the heads of Hydra agents or fumbling around as he tries to talk to Agent Carter.
Weaving delivers a routinely captivating performance as the Red Skull, maintaining a truly villainous presence while on-screen, clearly stealing the scenes from his cast mates as he plots, connives and slithers his way about his master plan to extend the Nazi third Reich beyond Hitler's grand plan, while using it as a vessel to hatch his own plot for global domination. Weaving's performance is certainly on par with his best, reminding me closely of his roles in the Matrix films, V for Vendetta and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Stan, Atwell and Jones also provide suitably complementary performances contrasted against Rogers, mirroring Rogers' most important drives: his friends and comrades, his sense of duty and defying his doubters. All three anchor Evans' Rogers into a truly human depiction that grips you, makes you laugh and inspires.
The film's story is solid and evenly paced throughout, articulately conveying the origin story of Steve Rogers and his induction into the Super Soldier program without having it come off as forced and over-bearing, unlike the haphazard attempt to re-tell the origin story of Green Lantern in DC comics' lone foray into the summer blockbuster neighbourhood. Marvel's film production team has mastered the art of introducing its comic properties to the mainstream, and does so once more with this solid entry to its library. The plot develops at its own pace, while adeptly characterizing Evans' Captain America as a symbol of hope and determination for both the public at home and the soldiers abroad. If I were to have any criticisms however, it would be here. The movie comes off rather preachy and ripe with military, World War Two era propaganda, even including an unnecessarily cheesy "Uncle Sam wants you" poster during the end credits. The filmmakers perhaps got carried away with their presentation, which left me with an awkward taste in my mouth as it concluded. Also, the CGI effects used to mask Chris Evans' physique–replacing it with that of a scrawny young man–was blatantly obvious and unnatural. Although there's only so much the team could have done, the effect didn't come off as genuinely realistic.
Despite the film not being the best summer movie, much less the best comic book movie, it's a solid effort that introduces Captain America to a wider audience while also establishing Rogers in Marvel's film universe as the company moves forward with its Avengers production–directed by Joss Whedon–due in theaters next summer, featuring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson as they reprise their roles from the recent crop of Marvel films. Captain America: The First Avenger provides the necessary character history of the Avengers' leader, while also managing to tell a great story in the process. The film, although not the best comic book film, hit its marks and was an enjoyable movie nonetheless.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com