“Captain America: The First Avenger,” the latest in Marvel’s roundup of superheroes, doesn’t feel like the other hero movies we’ve seen recently. The hipness of Iron Man is absent, the jokey feel of Thor is gone. Instead this is an old fashioned action adventure movie with a person with extraordinary person at the heart of it.
After being rejected by the U.S. Army Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), determined to join his friends and country in the fight against Hitler, volunteers for Project: Rebirth, a secret military operation, where he is physically transformed into a muscle-bound super-soldier nicknamed Captain America. Dedicated to defending America’s ideals, he and his handpicked team of heroes, take on the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), Hitler’s head of advanced weaponry.
“Captain America: The First Avenger” does a nice job at introducing the character into the film canon of Marvel superheroes. They wisely chose to start at the very beginning, which, as we all know is a very good place to start. The setting is WWII and director Joe Johnston has taken his lead from the propaganda movies of the period. The film, in look and in spirit is a throwback to the rah! rah! serials that would play before the main feature. To make the 1940s feel complete, in some scenes Toby Jones, who plays an evil arms expert, even seems to be channeling Peter Lorre.
It’s over the top, but in a rather charming old school way. Perhaps part of the appeal is that in the complicated times we live in it’s refreshing to see a movie that harkens back to a simpler time when the enemy was easily identifiable and a strong guy with a colorful shield and plenty of heart could be a hero.
Chris Evans does a nice job of playing the earnest Captain, and the technology that digitally places his head on the body of the pre-muscle bound Captain is flawless. Maybe the best performance in the movie.
Once again, however, the 3D adds nothing, save for some eye-popping subtitles and some really beautifully rendered 1940’s inspired closing credits.
The retro charm of “Captain America: First Avenger” is likely to be lost in the sequels and the “Avengers” movie, but for today it’s old fashioned feel is like a breath of fresh air.
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