Tuesday, September 10, 2013

'Captain America: The First Avenger' Review -- Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1

(Photo Source: Marvel)
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres in two weeks, so as part of my countdown, here's the next review in my blog series where I review every Phase 1 film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain America: The First Avenger
(Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 1--Avengers Assembled)

During my Thor review, I admitted that I had no previous knowledge or awareness of Thor as either a superhero or from Norse mythology, and that really the only things I knew about him were what he looked like and that he had a hammer. Now I have another admission: I may know even less about Captain America, if that's even possible. I only started getting excited about wanting to watch Thor after seeing the Iron Man 2 post-credits scene showing the hammer in the crater.

But for Captain America, there was nothing that got me excited, and maybe that's because I knew nada, zip, zero. As I've said, I have found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I'm enjoying these movies, overall. And the same is true here--having known nothing going into it, I found it to be a fun, action-packed movie that I enjoyed very much.

Something I've brought up many times is the casting, so let's do it again. With such actors on board as David Bradley (Harry Potter), Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings), Sebastian Stan (Once Upon a Time), Stanley Tucci (Hunger Games and many others), Tommy Lee Jones and Toby Jones, Marvel has yet again done a marvelous job with who they've hired. (And no, I didn't realize I made a pun until after typed that sentence.) Tucci, for one, looks nothing like himself in Captain America, and it's great when they can do that, especially with an actor so well-known and recognizable.

With regards to Hugo Weaving's character, however, I have a slight issue. It has nothing to do with Weaving himself. When he takes his face off and reveals this hideous red face--Red Skull, as he's called--it doesn't fit in. Now, you could say, c'mon, it's a superhero film, things like that fit in well. And yes, I know that. But I don't know what about it bothered me, but for some reason that red face feels so out of place that I almost would've thought they put him in the wrong movie.

Since all these MCU movies tie in with each other, it's great to have the addition of Howard Stark, Tony Stark's father. With this being set in the '40s, I was wondering how they were going to make it all connect, but they do a seamless job on this end. Going back to my complete naivety, I would've assumed every film in the franchise is set in modern times, but this one isn't. I knew chronologically speaking, Captain America comes first, but I had no idea it'd be this far back.

And I'm impressed by the sets and costumes, this taking place in Nazi Germany/WWII NYC. It doesn't feel as if people from the 21st century  are attempting to create a period piece; it just is--albeit with some fantasy elements thrown in, of course. Setting it in this era works--it feels very much of its era, regardless of the fantasy elements, as I mentioned. Even the titular character's costume feels fitting in this setting.

Thor Review -- Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 >>>

While I'm on the negativity train, let's get this out of the way: I'm feeling very indifferent to the romance between Captain America and his love interest. There's no reason to root for them--I don't know this actress (or at least I don't think I do), unlike in Thor; in that latter case with Natalie Portman, she's a known actress and manages to make us like and relate to her. But here, no chemistry, no nothing.

Chris Evans as the titular superhero: I wouldn't be able to pick him out of a lineup and go, oh, that's Chris Evans. He doesn't have any distinguishable features or anything. He's great in the role and all--no real complains, but he's not iconic/recognizable in the way that Robert Downey, Jr. is, or even Chris Hemsworth, for that matter.

So I've talked about the various actors, but there's one noticeable absence: Agent Coulson. Knowing that he's a major player in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I have loved seeing him in each of these movies. Now, I know Captain America is set, like, 70 years ago, but couldn't they have somehow fit him into the modern-day post-credits scene or something? Oh, well.

But going back to the positives: there are some impressive things, like what Captain America can do with his shield. And that gun that just obliterates people? Whoa!

And the final scene is brilliant, when he wakes up in modern day NYC--and Nick Fury's there, to boot. It's a nice bookmark to the first scene where they find what I think is the plane he was in.

And then of course, there's the post-credits scene, which I always get excited for when the end of the movie hits. This time, it focuses on Captain America and Nick Fury; there's a mission to save the world, which immediately transfers into a teaser for The Avengers, the film all its predecessors have been building towards, and the one I'll be watching next--can't wait!

**An error in this review was brought to my attention and I have since corrected the mistake regarding the character of Captain America.

Next week, it's the big one, what everything has been leading up to: The Avengers. Stay tuned...

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 Reviews:
Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk | Iron Man 2 | Thor | Captain America: The First Avenger | Marvel's The Avengers

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