Review | Captain America: The First Avenger

The patriot: Captain America and his sidekick Bucky

2011 has been being a trial year for Marvel Studios, and a heating for the studio’s big project: The Avengers. That’s also the problem that has been targeting their most recent films: the excessive concern regarding the superteam movie, which overcomes the will to make a good, solo movie.

Captain America‘s plot returns to World War II to accompany young Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) who, with poor physical skills, but hugely brave, is selected to a governamental program that transforms him in a super-human. So, he takes on the identity of Captain America in order to help the americans stop the devilish Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

If the plot itself already sounds retro and brings memory of those movies showed in 1970’s matines, director Joe Johnston makes a reasonable job by applying said tone to the adventure. Full of references (including comic books and movies), The First Avenger has good moments of nostalgia – with old fashioned sets and absurd characters -, but it lacks a concret, self-sustaining plot. Let’s face it: Cap is a very hard character to be adapted (selling a character who wears the U.S. flag in the international market shows to be a tricky challenge), but it relieves me that the patriotism theme was treated in a light way (a good example, the Captain was a propaganda boy before becoming a hero), avoiding some Michael Bay exaggeration level. Focusing on the man inside the suit is the key.

And that’s certainly the high point of the film: Rogers’ journey. Chris Evans gives great charisma and inspiration (overcoming his previous works) on the hero’s portrayal, pleasing the audience with his kindness. By the way, applauses for the excellent visual effects that made Evans skinny and short (the same tecnology used on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Hugo Weaving behind a slicky make up to play the Red Skull

Even with a nice pack of great supporting characters, the script from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely fails to find balance between them, much less give them a fine relationship. Rogers and Peggy Carter’s (Hayley Atwell, great presence), for example, is poorly explored and abrupt; exactly like the one in Thor, but if the problem with the God of Thunder’s adventure was an excess of humor, here are the clichés (including that disposable jealous moment).

The one who stands out, however, is Hugo Weaving. With tremendous talent to give life to the most bizarre and cartoony villains, the actor appears most of the time behind a striking makeup to play Red Skull. He’s another nazi stereotype, but with some exaggerated trails – beggining with his goofy Hydra army, armed with flamethrowers and laser beans (yes). And how to forget the laughable “Hail Hydra”?

It’s also nice to see Mr. Howard Stark (yes, it’s Iron Man’s old man) having something to do in the plot. Dominic Cooper adopts the same style Robert Downey Jr’s character had, even mildly referencing Howard Hughes. I also enjoyed Tommy Lee Jones’ moody General Phillips, who has the movie’s best jokes.

With a nice cinematography work and reasonable action scenes (the most interesting one being the shield fight), Captain America: The First Avenger fails by focusing too much on The Avengers, rather than it’s own story (as the stupid, sudden ending clearly shows us), but ultimately pleases with it’s retro vibe.

The Avengers has already damaged three Marvel Studios productions. I hope the long-awaited movie is worthy of four.

Obs: The 3D conversion is expandable, adding very little to the movie.

Obs 2: After the credits, we have the first trailer for The Avengers.


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