19 December 2011

Movies: Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458339/

Action Adventure Fantasy

This film gives us the origin story of Steve Rogers, how he becomes Captain America, who Red Skull and Hydra are. All set mostly during World War II, just as the original comics were set. They also explain how Captain America happens to be around in modern times, just in time for the Avengers film due out in 2012.

The special effects were rather amazing. Especially turning a beefed-up Chris Evans (Captain America) into 98-pound weakling Steve Rogers during his pre-super-soldier serum days. Wow that was some amazing CGI work.
As for story, it was entertaining, they had a good extended cast of characters we might see referenced in the future, good continuity with the Marvel universe as presented to us in bits from the preceding Iron Man/Thor/Hulk films, and a good tie-in to the upcoming Avengers film. Yes, this is primarily a vehicle to introduce us to the Captain America character for the Avengers film, but it works well as a stand-alone film in the entertainment department too.

I think I enjoyed this one a little more than Thor because it had its setting primarily during World War II. Setting it in the period where having a Captain America made sense. Including Red Skull works really well in that context too. I liked the evolution of his costume and shield and the nods they make to the original comics in doing so. I also liked how they incorporated other Marvel WWII characters.
I think this one ended up more action-y and felt a little more grounded than "Thor".  I guess because it's a matter of technology vs. mythological origins. When you think about it, Cap'n America, Red Skull, Hulk and Iron Man are all products of human ambition conflicted with human corruption during the 20th into the 21st century. The Thor addition is sortof explained away as 'alien technology seeming to be magical' but we know that's just a slipcover over its being characters from Norse mythology retold and retooled.

If you plan on watching The Avengers it is worth it to watch this some time before. Especially if you've seen the two Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk and Thor. Captain America makes clear references to things we've already seen in Iron Man, Thor and Hulk. They all feed into the upcoming Avengers film. If you don't plan on watching The Avengers it is still an entertaining and fun film.

Yes, 2011 gave us a bunch of comic-book to movie adaptations. But I have seen a big difference in the Marvel films lately. They've been working toward keeping a continuity of story in the franchises and they've been putting a lot more effort into better stories with really slick special effects. True they are rewriting origin stories, canon character history and such, but I think they're improving as they learn from previous mistakes and I look toward a more unified future.

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