Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stephen McFeely
Producers: Alan Fine, Amir Madani, Dan Masciarelli
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled,
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Paramount Studios
DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
Run Time: 124 minutes
more than any other Marvel movie, Captain
America benefits from the awful straight-to-video garbage that the
comics company used to put out!
Previous incarnations of the patriotic superhero were stunning in their
crap-itude, and the mere presence of good character development and high
production values make this one look like a winner.
It also benefited from being released in the wake of the dreadful
Green Lantern, tempering expectations
that soared into the stratosphere after the grand
Thor and outstanding X-Men: First
Class earlier in the summer. Truth be told, it’s rather second-tier as
comic book movies go. But the bar has been raised so high in recent years
that “second tier” still constitutes reliable entertainment.
Director Joe Johnston hits upon a magic bullet that ultimately overcomes the
film’s structural flaws. Cap started out as 90-pound weakling Steve Rogers
before one of those marvelous four-color plot devices turns him into the
pinnacle of human perfection. Chris Evans, who plays Cap in the film, never
lets us forget that fact. Somewhere in there is the shy little guy with the
heart of gold: plucky and fearless, but used to being a living doormat. It
helps the character transcend his cardboard nice-guy persona and become a
figure we can actually care about.
Johnston gives him some help as well with a few interesting plot twists and
a gaggle of strong supporting players. Initially created as the first of an
entire army of Nazi-bashing he-men during World War II, Cap finds himself
alone in the world when the kindly scientist in charge of the operation is
gunned down by an evil spy.
He initially serves as a USO performer,
surrounded by dancing girls and admonishing the public to support the war
effort. That gives the filmmakers a chance to outfit him in the “classic”
costume for a bit, as well as heightening his frustration at not socking it
to the bad guys like he should. Johnston augments that with a wonderful
retro feel for the film, evoking a slightly skewed 1940s world of weird
science and daring deeds.
The assembled cast takes to it with gusto. We can count on old pros like
Hugo Weaving (as the sinister Red Skull) and Tommy Lee Jones (as that guy
Tommy Lee Jones always plays) , but comparative newcomers like Hayley Atwell
(as Cap’s steely girlfriend) step up to the plate as well. It often feels
more like an ensemble piece that the story of a single hero, and with a cast
like this, that proves to be a very good thing.
Would that the storyline kept up with the sets and performers.
unfortunately, can’t find a proper engine to drive its handsome chassis
forward. Johnston keeps the proceedings pointed more or less in the right
direction – starting with the ubiquitous origins story and moving forward
towards an inevitable showdown with the Red Skull – but while individual
action scenes work just fine, they feel curiously isolated from each other
rather than part of an organic whole.
That drags the film down during its middle portion as we fumble vainly for
traction and the narrative thread loses its way. It never quite regains its
momentum, despite Evans’ solid work in the lead. Partial fault for that may
lie with Marvel’s grand scheme to bring its heroes together in
The Avengers; a lot
of what we see here represents prep work rather than an actual movie,
forcing us to wait until next summer for payoff that should have been
present here (as it was in Thor
and the first Iron Man).
carries enough terrific elements to excuse such shortcomings, and its
popcorn fun holds up pretty well to additional viewings. But its flaws are
tough to entirely overlook, and prevent it from entering the upper echelon
of superhero movie elites. Thank God there’s still an interesting figure at
the center of it all, and that the filmmakers love him enough to flesh him
THE DISC: The Blu-ray extras are typical but fairly
nice. A silly short film called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s
Hammer brings SHIELD’s Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) into the forefront as he
takes down a hapless pair of stick-up men. The disc also includes six flashy
behind-the-scenes featurettes (including another thinly veiled Avengers
preview), deleted sequences, audio commentary from Johnston and his team,
and a DVD and digital copy (along with a 3D Blu-ray for those who really,
really need 3D). Like the movie itself, it’s solid and reliable, but does
little to stand out from the crowd.
WORTH IT? Yes, provided you haven’t stocked up on
other, better Marvel movies before. If it’s between this and Thor, go
with the hammer, but as the second half of a double bill, Captain America
holds its own.
RECOMMENDATION: The Marvel train keeps moving
forward, albeit a little slower than we might like. Cap is pretty well set
for The Avengers; we just wish he could focus a little more on the
movie at hand.
- Rob Vaux