Sunday, July 31, 2011

Captain America

In the midst of a fairly dreary summer Captain America emerges as an unlikely hero. This summer has seemingly had the goal of redefining empty spectacle and while one could hardly accuse Captain America of modest introspective filmmaking, it does at least want you to care about the people who are caught up in all of the CGI-splosions and tell a complete story about them. It’s almost a little sad how gratifying that is.

Like Joe Johnson’s earlier film The Rocketeer, Captain America manages to capture the fun, and dare I say innocence of the pulp era, with its straightforward heroes, hissable villains and retro future designs. Though it may lack The Rocketeer’s aesthetics purity it remains a welcome reminder that the sight of a Nazi taking a hard left hook to the puss will never lose any of its inherent charm.

Chris Evans, continuing his trend of being unexpectantly talented (he was always better than the movies he was in, watch Push sometime). He manages to play both Steve Rogers and Captain America convinincingly. Showing how the latter grows from the former. He’s easily the most human superhero we’ve seen since Tobey Maguire put on the red and blue. His opposite Hugo Weaving gets to Hugo Weaving it up, which is never a bad thing. His Red Skull is the ultimate pulp villain, marshalling armies of black clad soldiers and masses of infernal devices. Here is a man who knows the value of an ominous insectile war ship that he can stand in front of and cackle while it hovers ominously in the background. Stanley Tucci also makes a nice addition and Tommy Lee Jones also stars in the Tommy Lee Jones role. Delivering what I can only describe as The Platonic Ideal of “Old Crusty Tommy Lee Jones” performances.

Joe Johnston builds a unique look for the film (real visual imagination being another rarity this summer). Unadorned period piece for most of the America set segments, a look of sinister retro evil for the more fantastic sequences. Also welcome is his sense of lucid action. It’s amazing how much better spectacle works when you can see it.

I don’t want to oversell things here. It’s not a perfect movie, somewhat over long, with a climax that comes about fifteen minutes too late, and features one battle aboard a sinister hovercraft too many. Though it says something that it may leave the viewer hungrier for some more period action than The Avenger’s movie it sets up. Still in a summer, neigh a movie year as dire as this one has been it is rewarding to see something that comes in and does its job with such straightforward determination. Like its hero Captain America is old fashioned, which is by no means a bad thing.


Anonymous said...

I had so much fun with this. And I appreciated that the 3D actually enhanced the movie watching experience and didn't go too overboard. Probably the first 3D film watching experience I've had over the past two years in which I didn't walk away with a massive headache.

And did you catch the Star Wars nod during the climax? Good stuff.

J.D. said...

Yeah, this was just a flat-out entertaining film, which, sadly, seems a rarity these days among big budget blockbusters. It never loses sight of its humanity, actually getting you to care about Cap.

Johnston was the perfect choice to direct this film and really delivers the goods in an old school way, which I throughly enjoyed.

Now, let's bring on a Howling Commandos movie!

Neil Fulwood said...

"Though it may lack The Rocketeer’s aesthetics purity it remains a welcome reminder that the sight of a Nazi taking a hard left hook to the puss will never lose any of its inherent charm."

Well said, sir!

BRENT said...

Yeah certainly a better movie than I was expecting. I really felt as if we had a sure fire dud on our hands, so it was with relief/surprise that we didn't.
Not perfect, but compared to some of the other CGI heavy movies this year CA stood out for me. I enjoyed it and had alot of fun.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ PoT: You know I didn't actually see it in 3D, because I've vowed to wash my hands of post conversion stuff. I didn't catch the Star Wars reference but quite liked The Raiders one that started it.

@ JD: I seriously want that film so hard.

@ Neil: Thank you sir.

@ BRENT: Yeah, like I said it probably is benefiting from weak competition. But I'll take what I can get.

Joe said...

Always better than the movies he was in? Fie upon you, sir, FIE! I invoke Scott Pilgrim!

Bryce Wilson said...

True story I was almost going to write "Except For Scott Pilgrim" as a parenthetical to the parenthetical. But I went "Nah that movie is so obviously great that no one will call me on it."

Thanks for proving me wrong Joe.

Seriously though the way he delivers the line "Sometimes I let him do the longshots. While I go get blazed in my Winnie." nearly made me crack a rib.