Captain America: the First Avenger

Captain America: the First Avenger

Director: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, and Hayley Atwell
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 124 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Action violence

This sci-fi, adventure film is based on a comic book character that dates back to the 1940s. Captain America was the first Marvel Comics character. He was created from Steve Rogers, who fought as a soldier in World War II, and was found decades later frozen in ice. In this film, as always, Captain America, does battle with terrible evil, symbolising all that has to be rejected.

The film takes us back in time to the Marvel Universe, and locates us in March 1942 in the middle of World War II, and in the days of Nazi Germany. Back then, a puny-looking Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was selected to take part in a secret military operation, named “Project Rebirth”. The program turned him into Captain America. As a super-patriot, as well as a super-hero, he rages war against the evil “Hydra” organization, led by the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who was head of Hitler’s advanced weaponry, and who now plans to dominate the world. Hayley Atwell plays the role of a freedom fighter, and is the love interest of Captain America.

One of the essential features of the Captain America series is that an apparently weak and ordinary person is transformed into a person, who is unbelievably strong. Physical strength is far less important in the series, however, than moral strength, because Captain America is dedicated to defending the ideals of America in whatever way possible. For Captain America, traditional values are always upheld, and this movie, true to its genre and origins, doesn’t deviate from supplying adventure entertainment that patriotically reflects the national interest.

The film tries to make the point that it is not about America, as much as it is about the worth and spirit of doing the right thing. The serum Steve Rogers was given bought him to the point of human perfection, but it was to help the United States in its war effort. Recruited for this purpose, Rogers foils the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), the embodiment of evil, in his mission to obliterate the US, using a special energy force called tesseract. As a key member of a select military commando team, Captain America infiltrates the Red Skull’s terrorist base to stop his destructive plan at the last moment. With tesseract bombs on board, Captain America flies the Red Skull’s plane into the ice to save man-kind, and wakes up in New York 70 years later, after being rescued from his icy grave.

Superhero films necessarily compete with each other for their special effects. Particular costuming always marks the super-hero, and novel gadgets are used to help the fight. In this film, the weapon to note is an indestructible metal shield emblazoned with stars and stripes. The special effects and heavy military-looking costuming in this movie don’t disappoint. They reflect the sophistication of modern cinema production studios, and the film produces scenes, helped by excellent animation, which dazzle and entertain.

The film’s production is intentionally dated, atmospheric, and its impact is enhanced by very good acting, and eye-catching, sophisticated digital technology. It also has a lot of humour and satire injected into the characters to give them human appeal. For those who know the series, the film will greatly entertain. However, it will also bring on board, with its constant live and explosive action and adventure, those who are yet to be introduced to the highly patriotic and energetic fervour of a famous comic book character serving good in the American way.

This is very much an US army-night out, though some may feel that serving the cause of military might is not the only path to all things right, even in the realm of sci-fi fantasy.

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