Saturday, 30 July 2011

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Captain America: The First Avenger 3D [Review]

Opinion: B-

Captain America feels like it has too much ground to cover and sees an inclination towards the story-telling build-up as opposed to an obligatory action climax that sizzles out before it even hits us in our senses. The over-ambitious script tries to make this a worthy film with substance over style, but this is only evident in the first half. With a very focused spotlight upon Steve Rogers and very little else for the rest of the other characters, Chris Evan handles his part better when he's CGI-ed into a puny little one than when he's Captain America.

"Captain America: The First Avenger" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

This probably isn't a fresh trend at the cinema this Summer. With so many comic book adaptations out there and pending in the production pipeline, it becomes a staple affair indulging in classic superheroes who're called up for Hollywood duty one by one.

With so many superheroes making their rounds to impress, how does Captain America fare then?

Fairly good, but only when he's much smaller in statute. That is essentially what separates this film from the others in the genre game. Director Joe Johnston knows that he can capitalise on that for both solid story development as well as a visual effect showcase opportunity for his VFX team where they alter Chris Evan's physique to one of a petite weakling.

After the novelty of seeing Evan short and skinny wears off, we begin to settle in and follow Rogers on his brave quest of serving his country by the only way he deems to be appropriate and acceptable. I get the intended message that's an indicative of how Rogers' never-give-up attitude places him forefront in the race to become the chosen one for an experiment by Dr, Erskine (played by a notable Stanley Tucci) to create a supersoldier out of him.

Not going to dwell further into the story itself, which is arguably predictable in a generic way, the build-up in the first hour sets a premise for us to understand Rogers better (which I did). But as soon as he gets enlisted into the military, the pace suddenly picks up as if the editor happens to check his wristwatch and realises that it has indulged in far too much time to sell a solid story (there's some questionable footages and cuts in this film as well, on a technical note).

What happens is you see the script fly by you without substantial character development.

Linear characters are everywhere, every single one of them. Neither Hugo Weaving's Red Skull nor Rogers' good pal Bucky (Sebastian Stan) appeals to us. And the weirdest thing of all? Every single one of the supporting cast outperforms their underwritten role, which is a regrettable shame to lay them  all to waste.

Who, you ask? There's Tommy Lee Jones (who managed to bag all the best lines in the film) and Hayley Atwell (whose screen presence as the superhero's love interest is surprisingly rich and confident for her poorly-written role) for a start. A Director should know that good acting can draw out the audience's emotional attachment, but Johnston didn't capitalise on his cast ensemble talents and instead relied a lot on Evans to deliver.

Which is fairly acceptable for a leading role with a good heart of love for his country.

The script was overly ambitious (in my opinion, that is) in churning out an incredible World War II flavoured tale of patriotism, which unavoidably feels like a propaganda film material in the middle act. Yes, it lets the pro-American sentiments within the audience to soar with pride and that feels good, but it begs the question of whether did the film allow our emotions to climb over our objectivity? Not that there's anything bad with it (perhaps there is, which sees a shortening of the film title to just "The First Avenger" in some countries for political rationales), but it has unfortunately resulted in the negligence of better supporting character-development.

Someone dies, who cares? No heartfelt moments during the demise of characters in the film.

As for technical excellence, it would seem that the well-duplicated era's feel and look by the film's treatment is commendable. Captain America is also offered in the third dimension and the effect appears to be lacklustre as the brightness was dim (but on an objective note, it could be just my poor luck to walk into a theatre that didn't project it properly) and there aren't a lot of scenarios that made use of the technology.

Of course, the film itself proves to be a decent watch in the first two acts and especially for fans who intend to complete the Marvel saga (who doesn't?) of uniting the four superheroes into one big film, The Avengers, in 2012. There's some teasing footage at the end of the credits to satisfy fans and remind them to save some cash for it before its final release next year.

Joe Johnston over-relies on Chris Evans, much like how Captain America relies on his shield.


  1. Very insightful review, J-son. Your writing skills are very impressive. Seriously.

    I'm watching Captain America tomorrow, and I'm actually excited about it. I'm quite suprised by the positive feedback this film received from the critics. I thought they're going to hate it. Mel did. :) Thanks for sharing these involving thoughts of yours!

  2. Thank you so much for your kind compliments George!

    Well I think there could be good reasons why they love it, maybe it's just me (and Melissa in this case) who didn't like it. Who knows you might enjoy it a lot better than I did!

    I'll be checking your site when you post your opinions later :)

  3. Haven't watch it yet. :P

    I heard many people said that there was nothing special about the movie but it was quite good.

    But, for me I wanna watch it coz I wanna watch THE AVENGERS in 2012! :D

  4. Great review, really interesting points made.

    But....I loved it! I thought it was such a great adventure covering all the Captain America origin basics and the look n feel of the film really appealed to me.

    The main reason why I loved the film so much was because throughput the film Cap was the epitome of everything good that the country wanted to be and through that inspire those around him.

    Great review though, really enjoyed it.


  5. @Russell Hi there! There's a lot of love for this film and I think your opinion of Captain America supports the stand further. I'm wondering if a second viewing might improve my impression of it, as your comments have given me some food for thought!

    Really glad that you've dropped by and shared on Captain America, thank you so much Russell! :D


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