Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Captain America: The Frist Avenger Review

Last night I went to see Captain America: The First Avenger and I have to say, I think it is my favorite super-hero movie of the summer.  I thought Thor was okay and way over hyped, I liked Green Lantern more than most people seemed to, and I didn't see X-Men: First Class because I have had no association with the X-Men since a few years ago I was having the comics pulled and, despite Marve's continued promise that there would be no crossovers, one day I opened up my newest issue to find myself smack dab in the middle of someone else's story with no idea what was going on and no idea when they would get back to the story arch I was reading.  But I digress...

The first thing I want to say about Cap is that one of the reasons the movie works so well is that Steve Rogers is such a likeable guy.  Rogers is a true patriot and more than anything wants to be on the front line fighting the Nazi's, not because he want's to kill them, but because he doesn't like bullies.  The problem is he's small, a 90lb weakling with asthma, so the army won't take him.  But he keeps trying, and eventually finds himself in a special group of soldiers - candidates for the Super Soldier Serum.

It's important that Rogers is such a good guy, because as we learn, the Serum doesn't just amplify your muscles, it amplifies everything about you.  A good man becomes great, a bad man becomes worse.  But Rogers is just the guy for the job, having been a small, bullied man his whole life, he knows the true value of power, and more importantly, he knows compassion.  Also, he's the bravest guy ever, never backing down from anything.  "Once you start running," he says, "they'll never let you stop." 

The character of Steve Rogers is in such contrast to the recent run of hero's - Tony Stark being a billionaire playboy who becomes a hero only after seeing all the damage he has done; Thor a god and heir to the throne, a spoiled brat who loves himself more than anything and has some growing up to do, etc.  Rogers is different, he is a hero from the outset, a man who want's to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.  There doesn't need to be another reason for him. 

While Roger's most endearing qualities could run the risk of making him appear naive, the movie does a good job of not letting the character come across that way (well, he can't talk to girls, but that's mostly because before he became Cap they wouldn't talk to him).  Rather, he is a man who knows what needs to be done and is willing to do it, no matter the challenge.  In light of the recent end of the American space program, with Kennedy's speech about America going to the moon and attempting other hard tasks "not because they are easy, but because they are hard," Cap's star shines even brighter. 

I don't want to spoil too much, so I won't get much further into the plot, but I do have a comment on the way the film was shot.  There is a point where Cap is going around fighting bad guys, and the movie jumps around from action sequence to action sequence.  It may seem like an unusual choice at first glance but the reason it works so well is that it is shot in the style of an old WWII propaganda film, the type of films where a voice over would read all about the brave men and women fighting overseas while showing you a collaboration of shots, tanks rolling, planes flying, someone raising the American flag.  The style wouldn't have worked for Spider-Man or Iron Man or Thor, but for Cap's origin, it is the perfect fit.

So that's my take on it.  I love a good redemption story as much as the next guy, but there is something refreshing and even inspiring about Captain America and the innocence with which he sees things.  Superman is called the boyscout, but as far as the movies are concerned, the boyscout hasn't had a strong showing since the 70's. It is great to finally see someone step up and fill the gap.

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