This film is based off the Marvel comics super hero character Captain America. It follows Steve Rogers, who is a small and physically weak guy but what he lacks in stature he makes up for with heart. Attempting to follow his family’s footsteps and serve his country during World War II, Steve attempts to enlist and is rejected four times. On his fifth attempt a special projects scientist sees past the exterior and finds the inner qualities he wants for his special forces project in Steve. While in training Steve Rogers distinguishes himself and is chosen as the first candidate to take super soldier serum. After Steve takes the serum a German Spy infiltrates the special base and destroys the research leaving Rogers as the only Super Soldier. Steve then becomes Captain America and is forced to face the forces of Hydra, Hitler’s science division led by Johann Schmidt. Schmidt, the only other man to have taken the super soldier serum, has actually broken alliances with Hitler and has a plan for world dominance. Captain America becomes the world’s only hope in stopping Schmidt’s diabolical plan.
It has been a summer packed with super hero films, so where does Captain America rank with them? It is a distant second to X-Men: First Class, better than Thor and Green Lantern (all four films I liked). The sad thing is that Captain America done right could have clearly been the best super hero franchise of them all. There is so much to like about the movie that I honestly believe if they had broken the film into three parts and shot it as a trilogy it would have been regarded as the best of the genre hands down. As it exists in its present form the whole film feels rushed. Not only that I feel it has been rushed to clear the path for next summer’s Avengers film which continues the adventures of Steve Rogers (and at the end of the credits there is a brief teaser for the Avenger’s film). Oh how I wished the powers that be had taken their time with this franchise.
The casting in the film is excellent and like so many recent super hero films the casting of Chris Evans for the role of Steve Rogers is perfect. The special effects at the beginning of the movie digitally making Chris Evans into a meek man was perhaps the best effect in the film. It looks absolutely real and is not a distraction in the least. That is not to dismiss the effects throughout the film, as production value wise Captain America is top notch. Director Joe Johnston (who happened to get his start working on effects for Star Wars) is well versed in making period superhero movies. You don’t need to look further than his retro based super hero film from the 1990s, The Rocketeer, for an example of his work. The look and feel of Captain America is very 1940s authentic.
Despite all the effects in the film what makes Captain America so special is the story of Steve Rogers. His path to hero is great and his never give up attitude is refreshing. Steve Rogers, unlike a lot of other comic book characters, sought out the opportunity to defend people and fully embraces the chance to save people. A great line in the film (which is featured in the trailers as well) is “A weak man knows the value of strength, he knows the value of power.” In other words, because he knows what it was to be weak, he will have compassion when he becomes strong. It’s such a different characteristic than the normal vow of revenge against evil that most super heroes take.
There are so many things to like about Captain America that it makes it that much more frustrating that the filmmakers did not take their time with the gold mine of material that they had. Instead of letting the relationships develop and building the menace of Johann Schmidt, the film crams everything into two hours. Because of this, the emotional impact is not nearly as strong, the menace that is Johann Schmidt never feels as large as it should be, and what could have been one of the most emotionally charged conclusions to a super hero movie is completely wasted. Primarily because the film’s opening scene gives too much away and the tacked on ending that leads into the Avengers film feels completely out of place with the rest of the movie. I know that this review may feel negative, but it is merely disappointment that Captain America is only a very good movie when it so clearly and easily should have been epically great. It just feels like a golden opportunity was missed on this movie.
Films like Captain America – The Rocketeer, Iron Man and Batman Begins
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.
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