September 3, 2011

"Captain America: The First Avenger" review.

Since I just got home from seeing it, I'm gonna post a review of Marvel's latest cinematic triumph: Captain America: The First Avenger. Since I may delve into some heavy spoilers, feel free to read more after the jump. If not, than stop reading here. You have been warned.

For the uninitiated, Captain America tells the story of Steve Rogers, a sickly young man living in New York during World War II. He's determined to join the US Army and serve his country, but he is deemed too weak to be a soldier. Little sidebar here: I have to give mad props to the visual effects company responsible for scaling down Chris Evans' body. As a fairly skinny guy myself, I was greatly impressed with how they managed to make such a bulky dude so freakin' skinny. It's makes him look like he's a polio survivor or something. It was incredible.

Meanwhile, while Steve is busy trying to get into the army, a sinister force is developing in Europe. They are HYDRA, led by Johann Schmidt aka the Red Skull. Let me just say right now: Hugo Weaving fucking owns in this part. He even got the character's German accent down pat. An old couple were sitting a few seats away from my mom and I, and the man was saying the Red Skull reminded him of Josef Mengle. I was gonna tell him that Red Skull is worse than him and Hitler combined, but I decided to keep my mouth shut and let them enjoy the movie.

Anyway, the Skull has invaded Norway in search of an ancient artifact of great power that he describes as from "Odin's treasure hold". Anyone who's seen Thor will most likely be able to make sense of it more, but it still a nice little bit that ties this whole "Marvel Cinematic Universe" thing together. He manages to find it, needless to say. He plans to use it as way to power up some heavy duty weaponry he's got planned out to make in order to -as with most villains- TAKE OVER THE WORLD! ("Of course!")

I thought the reveal of the Red Skull's true face was one of the best villain reveals ever! I'll even tempt a flame war by saying it was more awesome than the Joker's reveal in The Dark Knight. Especially since it looked a lot like the Red Skull was peeling off his own skin! If that's not nightmare fuel for the kiddies, I dunno what is!

I also have to give mad props to composer Alan Silvestri. I've been a fan of his work since hearing his scores for the Back to the Future trilogy, and he certainly delivers an epic, and very old-school kinda musical score. But the biggest props of all go to Marvel for picking the perfect director for this movie: Joe Johnston. If you've ever seen his cult classic film The Rocketeer, then you'll know he was the perfect choice for this material. If not, check it out. It's one of my favorite films.

Overall, the movie plays out like an old-time war movie from the 40s, albeit with a bit of comic book trappings thrown in. Also, I have to give props to the writers for writing Cap perfectly. A friend of mine in Boston described Cap's characterization as "Ned Flanders being Superman". Given the tone of the film, it works brilliantly.

Also, be prepared for a musical number in the middle of the movie. Yeah, I know. They really played up the period aspect of the film, but I don't care. The song is catchy, and plus, we see Chris Evans in a mock-up of the Captain America outfit from the comics, and they totally make fun of how ridiculous it looks! I love when comic book movies will do little gags like that.

I rate this as the best Marvel movie to date, and a wonderful precursor to The Avengers due out next year. 5/5

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