Last night Nate and I went to see Captain America: The First Avenger. This movie has everything: Nazis! Dancing Girls! Mythology! Technology! Dames! Old Ladies with Tommy Guns! Car Chases! Oh, and actually some nice dialogue about being right and good.
Because of the quaint "Go USA!" storyline that is inherent in telling Captain America's origin, it would have been easy for director Joe Johnston and the filmmakers to go with a tongue in cheek "we're in on the joke" approach. With help of a lovely script, a nice smattering of 2011 CGI, and a fun supporting cast, Johnston is able to depict this somewhat clichéd branch of the Marvel Universe without being trite or disrespectful.
Chris Evans shines as Steve Rogers. He plays the character with such heart and sincerity that the over the top "good guy" stuff doesn't ever come across as corny or forced. The audience believes that Rogers is archetypical American hero - earnest, completely virtuous and almost stupidly brave - without doubt.My main complaint is the poor character development of Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter. The filmmakers seem to have tried tocreated a strong female character to not only serve as a Roger's love interest but to counteract the male dominated cast (the only other female characters are the aforementioned old lady, a hysterical mother, the occasional army nurse/secretary and Howard Stark's dancing girls). They really missed the mark, and Peggy Carter seems more like a caricature of a strong female character as opposed to an actual strong female character. She comes across as an over the top ball-buster whose background is never explained. Even the love story between her and Cap is poorly developed and therefore unbelievable. Her main purpose might have been as a nod to hardcore Captain America fans who will surely recognize the name from Cap's extensive comic book history.
I also found the CGI used to create the tiny, pre-Super Soldier Steve Rogers completely distracting. In some scenes it looked great, and so I was distracted by trying to figure how they did that. In other scenes the proportions looked off and I wondered why they did that. In particular there was scene of Rogers in a car with Carter where he looked so much smaller than her that I worried that he should have been in a car seat.
Balanced with a well-written script, the film suffers no shortage of action and fighting sequences, and comes with the accompanying violence and death. The PG-13 rating seems apt. Know your child and their sensitivities before you take them.
All told, it was an entertaining film. Yes, much of the plot was preposterous, this IS a super-hero movie after all and suspension of disbelief is a vital part of enjoying such a flick. An all-star cast, a fully developed world, lots of laughs and nods to fan favorite characters make this a great summer movie.