Dem Reviews: Captain America – The First Avenger

When Joe Johnston was announced as director of “Captain America: The First Avenger” I was immediately skeptical. Sure, he had directed one of my favorite films of all-time in “The Rocketeer” and this film was going to be set around the same time period so what could go wrong? Well, his direction of action sequences were what worried me and because of that, I set my expectations low in this area for the film as I was sure he could weave an exciting thread telling the origin of Steve Rogers transformation in the great icon Captain America. And I’m glad I did because the film performed exactly the way I expected it. And I loved it!

Chris Evans surprised me as I expected him to pull a Ryan Reynolds and not hold his goofy self back. He did an excellent job in channeling Steve Rogers and never once did I feel like I was watching the dude from “Not Another Teen Movie”, a character which he seems to inject a little of in all his roles. Tommy Lee Jones is awesome (as usual) and Hayley Atwell really surprised me with her stunning looks. What really surprised me was how awesome Dominic Cooper was as Howard Stark (him being, of course, father to Iron Man himself, Tony Stark) and feel he did a great job in the role.

The production design was exquistite. From the small details (like the retro Stark Enterprise logos) to the design of the costumes to the wardrobe of the era, everything looked amazing. The world created by Johnston and his team was really convincing and totally transported the audience back in time. Some of the special effect work looked kinda wonky but as the screening was in 3D, it was hard to tell if it was bad CGI artists or just the conversion (avoid seeing the film in 3D, if you can at all). The Red Skull looked sweet and the weaponry Hydra was using, for the most part, looked pretty damn impressive.

The throwbacks to the rest of the Marvel Universe are there and if you’ve been watching the other films, there are throwbacks to every single one of them but they are definitely not required viewing to understand what’s going on but merely and Easter Egg for those who’ve been paying attention. And with “The Avengers” opening next summer (there will be a button after the credits so be sure to wait for it. Our print didn’t have it, unfortunately) everything is nicely set up for the super team to assemble.

Is it the best film I’ve seen all summer? No, I think that title still belongs to “Super 8” but this one comes in at a close second (and you must keep in mind that, for the most part, 2011 might just go down as the worst year for summer flicks in a long time). But “Captain America” does a good job of not falling into some of the pitfalls that some of the more recent superhero movies have: pacing. The film hits all the right strides and flows along very well and although it’s not an action packed extravaganza, at no point does it feel boring.

P.S. – (POSSIBLE SPOILER) There a single line in the film that will cause anyone from our fair city of Fresno to laugh out loud. At our screening it caused the entire theater to erupt in laughter and applause. Prepare yourself!

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