“Captain America” Movie Review

     Director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park 3) skillfully handles the Marvel Comics superhero origin story, Captain America: The First Avenger, and brings the final piece of the Avengers storyline to the big screen with everything one could want from summer entertainment.  As Steve Rogers / Captain America, Chris Evans plays the role low key and with a sense of humility.  His humble beginnings in the film likely contribute to this, but even when the superhero transformation occurs, Evans still plays his character as if he hasn't forgotten where he came from.  This makes Captain American perhaps the most likable of the Avengers super heroes.

     To me, a "special effect" must have the ability to fool an audience into thinking what they are seeing on screen is indeed real.  So many times you see an effect and even though it looks good, you still say to yourself "that's fake." As is the case with many films, you will say that very phrase during the many action sequences in Captain America.  When you won't say that is during the scenes Captain America pulls off perhaps the best effect of the year.  The seamless compositing of Chris Evans likeness onto the scrawny pre Cap Steve Rogers body.  The effects work here is done so well that when Rogers becomes Captain America, which is of course the actual Chris Evans,  it makes for an all the more powerful transformation.  Kind of like your reaction to the contestants on a "Biggest Loser" finale.

     The story follows a young Steve Rogers in 1942 as he repeatedly attempts to join the Army and fight the Nazis in World War 2.  As was previously mentioned, he's too weak to be accepted.  He has asthma and is unable to do a single push up.  He also is a regular victim of beatings at the hands of bigger men.  Problem is, he has heart and is willing to do anything to join and fight.  Rogers is recruited into a special project led by Colonel Chester Phillips, played by a gruff Tommy Lee Jones, and Special Agent Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, which sets out to create a "super soldier" that will give the U.S. an advantage in the war.  And just like that, Rogers is put into a chamber that apparently injects him with a "serum" that transforms him into what will become Captain America.  The real Chris Evans is now on screen and he looks huge.  He's also strong and can run really fast!

     As this is going on, the film's villain, Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving, has created  his own army in Nazi Germany called Hydra.  Though loyal to Hitler, Hydra and Red Skull slowly create their own agenda of taking over the world, doing so with weapons and technology that far exceed the limits of 2011, let alone 1942.  Meanwhile, Captain America is at first used as a PR tool for the war, but soon his skills and abilities seen while leading a daring prisoner rescue attempt complete his transformation in becoming Captain America.

     The film plays out in typical superhero fashion with the obligatory chase and battle sequences.  Captain America is a more down to earth kind of hero and plays well to those of us who are ordinary.  He's not invincible and nothing seems to come easy, but with the heart and determination he displays early in the film, he always seems to come through as expected.  It's really never explained why his famed shield comes back to him like a boomerang, but I just rolled with it as it is a superhero film after all.  What won me over was the script and the smart story which contained a worthy adversary for Captain America.  If I were to compare Captain America as a superhero to another it would be Batman, yet Captain America has much less to work with.  Maybe his tool bag will be improved in the upcoming Avengers movie.

     Speaking of that, stay through the end credits because an Avengers preview is attached at the end.  It's unfathomable to think of what they will come up with in a film that will include Nick Furry, the Incredible Hulk, Ironman, Thor, Hawk Eye, the Black Widow, and Captain America! I hope the screen writers are up to the challenge.  As for Captain America, the film serves as a worthy taste of what's to come. GRADE: B