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Captain America is simple comic book indulgence

There’s probably a column just comparing how Marvel makes great superhero movies while DC flounders in obscurity and red ink.
However, for now I think I’ll just rave a little bit about Captain America: The First Avenger.
My kind of movie. Great casting, strong performances and a minimum focus on special effects.
From the get-go it’s got a bit of an edge.
The story is simple. It’s World War Two and as Hitler advances, the Americans are looking for an army of super-soldiers. Apparently we have a slightly revised sense of history since the Americans were happy to let Hitler turn the map into his own home version of the game Risk. But I digress.
Directed by Joe Johnston – who knows a thing about story telling (Hidalgo, October Sky, The Rocketeer) there are some very clever things happening. Chris Evans, who stars as Steve Rogers, the 98-lb weakling turned superhero, is better known as Johnny Storm from the Fantastic 4. Ok that’s a little weird, having a guy who’s alread a crime fighter play another one. That’s some interesting casting, but Evans is very good as the mostly one-dimensional picture of American wholesomeness.
In a fairly clever move they take Evans and instead of buffing him up, they take the computer and shrink him down to the wimpy version of himself. It’s effective and of course keeps the look consistent throughout the film.
Tommy Lee Jones is superbly cast as the hard ass head of a special science division that’s trying to win the war. He’s a one note version of himself and it’s great.
One of the things I like about this film is that they’re true to the original comic book.
For the record, if DC would take some of their comic books and just turn them into movies they wouldn’t have Green Lantern crashing and burning due to scarcity of story.
Steve Rogers is a guy with a big heart and not much more until this German scientist who is looking to build the army of doom for the US sees the real courage in him and decides to make him the first test case for his human engineering experiment.
It’s so very 60s technology as Rogers goes into this big chamber and there’s all these lights whirring and humming and out comes strong man Chris Evans
It’s a good look and it works.
Tommy Lee is drooling and they’re all celebrating when an agent of Hydra, the super secret science division of the Nazis blows up the equipment and kills Herr Doctor.
So instead of an entire army, there’s just Steve. Tommy Lee is disappointed and relegates him to selling war bonds in a tricked out leotard. Best part of the outfit hands down is his shield and while this is intended for publicity, initally it sticks with him and as Captain America evolves, the shield becomes a big part of his strength and power. I am totally getting one. I just haven’t figured out how to work it into my daily life but oh ya, I’m gonna rock the  shield.
But you can’t keep a good man down with the help of mysterious secret agent Peggy Carter who becomes his biggest supporter and potential love interest.
She’s also very good and sees greatness in the wimpy Steve, not just the hunky dude in tights.
Keeping with the simple story telling, Captain America goes behind enemy lines, rescues a couple hundred soldiers single handedly and defeats most of the agents of Hydra. He frees his best friend from Jersey from a secret ward at Hydra HG and is so effective at fighting the forces of evil that The Red Skull, one of Herr doctors early experiments, blows up the entire lair.
On a personal note, I love movies where the evil genius has a self destruct switch built into the layout. Personally, I recommend against this if you’re thinking of trying to take over the world. Yes, have a super secret evil headquarters but skip that single  destructo button. I’m just saying.
So about the Red Skull. He really is a red skull. He wears a weird German military skin mask but he pulls that off for special effect and we see that he really is a red skull. Apparently he is the human equivalent of Prep G and Captain America is Prep H. Needed a little fine tuning.
In future episodes of CA he will fight communism around the world and wherever there’s a chance for evil, there’s the Red Skull.
I really liked this film. It’s old school action and doesn’t lean on any technology to make it work.
Evans is charmingly simple, the ultimate man’s man and the story just works.
It’s even more believable in today’s world of genetic engineering.
All of this is setting up next summer’s first installment of The Avengers which features Capt. America, Ironman and Thor. It looks great.
Simple comic book indulgence.
I love it.
For 2 hours I was caught up in the world of Captain America and in my world, that’s full value for your entertainment dollar.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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