Review: Captain America – The First Avenger

Jul 26, 2011 | Reviews

Last Friday I watched the new Captain America movie, and seeing as how I love comic book movies, I clearly must share my opinion with anyone who stumbles blindly onto my website. As always, there are spoilers.

The plot is par for the course for an action movie, with random little bits thrown in as a nod to the original comic. This is just as far as I can tell; unfortunately, I know very little about Captain America’s backstory or whatnot. Steve Rogers starts out as a wimp, gets injected with the magical enhancement juice du jour, and turns into a tall, musclebound, blonde Aryan, which is all kinds of ironic when you know he’s fighting the Nazis. After some plot happens and reveals that his nemesis, the Red Skull, got the same juice and is planning something involving explosions so that he can take over the world –

Ah, to hell with it. I’m pretty sure no one cares about my opinion. I’m just going to rant for a bit, mmkay? Don’t bother to read any more if you liked the movie, or if you like stupid flashy comic book movies in general.

Here’s the whole thing in a nutshell: Chris Evans can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving looked like they were having fun. The generic actress who played the love interest (Hayley Atwell, actually, but who are we kidding here – she’s got some talent but her purpose in the movie was to look good in a 1950’s dress) was, as far as I can tell, the only female character with a name. The plot was a mediocre series of shoestrings connecting a number of large, blurry action sequences clearly designed to wow the 3D audience. The special effects that made Chris Evans short and skinny were horribly jarring because they forgot that his damn voice still sounds like it’s coming from the chest of a much larger man, and his head wasn’t scaled down to the size of his smaller body. Hello, walking Photoshop disaster.

There were moments where I thought they had something more. Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine needed more screen time, if only because he did such a fine job. The last fight between Captain America and the Red Skull was satisfyingly visceral, which suggests that someone on that movie knew how to choreograph a decent fistfight but just wasn’t allowed near any other action sequences. One scene, where wimpy Steve Rogers jumps onto a (dummy) grenade to save his squad while the rest of them run away, is oddly powerful. I can’t forgive the huge sections that either made me wince or roll my eyes, however. There was a musical number in the middle of the movie, for example, that I simply could not watch – and dear god, do I wish I was making that up.¬†After the credits, there was a trailer for the new Avengers movie that consisted of more blurry action shots, but still somehow got a round of cheers from the audience.

In short: this is a movie that I should not have gone to see, because it was clearly aimed squarely at the white, male 18-25 demographic who have the attention span of a concussed goldfish. You may possibly enjoy it. I did not, because I saw more of the same tired crap that is more likely to bore me than entertain me at this point.

You know, I’m always prepared to be surprised, when I go to see comic book movies. I like comic books, and after Iron Man, I had such hope that lightning could strike twice and the Powers That Be could write a decent movie with strong characters that didn’t ignore the female half of the human race. Every one since then has ruined a little more of my faith – I refuse to believe I’m expecting too much from these movies, but that means I can’t help but get angry when they serve up this dross. Yes, yes, Captain America is set during WWII and blah blah time period and all that, but you know what? This is a goddamn superhero movie, not a war movie, and they’re prepared to break or at least bend every aspect of the original stories if they feel like it, so why not add more female characters? Why?

Just as an aside – there will be an upcoming movie about Ant-Man, one of the original members of the Avengers. That list also includes Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, and the Wasp. Guess who’s not getting a movie? Oh yes, the lone female member of the team. Why am I not in any way surprised. She’ll probably be thrown in as an afterthought in Ant-Man’s movie, the same way that Black Widow was tossed in as eye candy in Iron Man 2.

(You know who’s also an Avenger? Scarlet Witch. Powerful as all hell, has had some awesome comic storylines, daughter of Magneto, for god’s sake. Do not tell me she couldn’t carry a movie on her own. But for all the mad flailing that Hollywood does to cash in on pre-existing intellectual properties, I am confident that I will never see a Scarlet Witch movie because she is a female comic book character, and Hollywood does not know how to make movies about female comic book characters.)

I think my only consolation about all this is that at least in the movies, the male characters are anatomically correct. In the comics, of course, Captain America doesn’t have any junk.