There a lot of things that work about ‘Captain America’; a good number of them are things that only the hardcore, or ‘inside’ fan, will enjoy, such as the Howard Stark appearance; Captain America punching out ‘Hitler’; the homage to the original Captain America suit and shield; or even the inevitable Stan Lee cameo.
If you are a comic book fan, let alone a Captain America fan, and can appreciate the comic book history being interwoven into the underpinnings of this film, you will get so much more out of it than a typical moviegoer. Smartly, Joe Johnston’s direction underplays a lot of these moments from their fanboy value, and rather serves them up straight for the general audience.
The above-average script hits all the right notes, making wimpy Steve Rogers a sympathetic figure for the audience to rally around. It is to star Chris Evans credit that he gives Rogers the right amount of pathos for the role; scrappy but not overdone.
Evans’ interpretation of the character really shines through in his interaction with Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter, as the movie gives us the inevitable romantic interest but holds back on the reigns just enough to give it impact, particularly at the end (as in, the last line of the film, which serves up possibly the most meaningful ending to any of the Marvel films).
The rest of the cast is well-served by the script. Tommy Lee Jones is just fun to watch as Colonel Phillips, and delivers one of the movies best lines late in the game. Hugo Weaving is rock solid as the Red Skull, providing the subtle menace he has become so adept at delivering in some of his other films.
The rest of the plucky cast (in particular Captain America’s squad) are serviceable in their roles; characters that are not particularly drawn out but nonetheless fun to watch as they back up Captain America and take out HYDRA soldiers.
One surprising note was Natalie Dormer’s small role in the film. Is it just me or could she have benefited from more screen time? I saw her and immediately thought, why does she have such a small role in the film? Wasn’t ‘The Tudors’ supposed to catapult her to some higher tier of fame and notoriety? And really, what was up with the blond hair?
The movie contains some of the historical revisionism that Hollywood often allows to seep into its films. Perhaps not on the level of Will Smith in ‘Wild Wild West’ revisionism, but nonetheless, enough to catch my attention. Such as Agent Carter having being a figure of authority. Would the 1940’s have been a time for a woman to give orders to men and punch them out?
Also, the diversity of Captain America’s squad was, while enjoyable, another Hollywood fiction (and the film even tries to lampshade it with a comment by one of the characters regarding an Asian-descended US soldier). Another flaw with the film is the climactic battle between Captain America and the Red Skull. While it starts out well, the battle winds up concluding rather easily and quickly, as if the writers realized that they had no where else to go with it and hit the EJECT button rather hastily.
‘Captain America’ does its job well and puts in place the final building block for the upcoming ‘Avengers’ movie (in case you haven’t heard, stick around after the credits). The cast is enjoyable, Evans is believable in the titular role, the direction is slick, and the film is just plain fun. Worth catching in theaters and definitely adding to your DVD collection.