Fight Film Friday: Captain America

Posted: July 22, 2011 in fight film friday
Tags: ,

Captain America: The First Avenger
USA, 2011
Genre: Action, Superhero, Science-Fiction
125 minutes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458339/

Chris Evans stars as the American super soldier, out to stop the fearsome Red Skull from using superior technology to take over the world.

Captain America: The First Avenger, the latest in Marvel’s line of blockbuster franchise adaptations, pulls out all the stops in getting the fans riled up for the Avengers film next year. Directed by Hollywood veteran Joe Johnston, he manages to combine everything needed to produce a quintessential comic book movie and does so beautifully. It functions well as a sort of adventure period film, with the background of WW2 and a touch of self-aware silliness. The visual effects are generally fantastic, as are most Johnston movies, with the exception of some hokey green-screening for a pulp action feel. It doesn’t look great, but it fits the aesthetic and tone of the story. The digital alteration of Chris Evans into a 90 pound weakling is particularly impressive, and while not perfect, demonstrates how far special effects have come.

Not really known for his acting prowess, Evans shines in the best role of his career. His role as Steve Rogers is both awkward and charming, incredibly All-American without being obnoxious about it. No stranger to superhero films, the difference here is the fantastic script by the team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The dialogue is funny and ridiculously entertaining, yet amazingly subtle and nuanced when it needs to be. This is exactly the kind of writing that fits the superhero genre, and allows the entire cast to reach their greatest potential. Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull exemplifies this balance between the cartoonish and genuine, taking a comic book supervillain and making it work with depth and character. Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips could have been just another military stereotype, but somehow exists as more than that, feeling completely in touch with the environment around him. Everything is tight and polished, from the performances to the plot, and is definitely one of the best written superhero movies to date.

Johnston knows his action, and it all comes together here. The choreography isn’t particularly sophisticated or elegant, but it’s a solid piece of work, and gets the job done well. The effects add flash and style to the already potent pyrotechnics, blending the CGI and practical effects wonderfully. Captain America is a fantastically fun film, and is certainly the strongest action movie to come out this summer. Whether you’re a fan of the comics or not, if you plan to see only one blockbuster this season, make this the one.

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