Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
It nice to see there’s still some charm and excitement in movies based on comic books. Following the debacle of Transformers 3-D, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see another one. However, after hearing a couple of good reports, off I went to Captain America. And am I glad I did!
Everything that was wrong with Transformers was right with Captain America. It had a real story, engaging characters, terrific special effects, an excellent score, and more. As a prequel to the upcoming The Avengers, which has Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and others, in one special effects and testosterone-laden extravaganza, it’s good to be brought up to date with some of the origins of the whole crew.
Chris Evans, who was in a couple of the Fantastic Four movies, is Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers, a scrawny kid from Brooklyn who wants to enlist in the Army in 1942. After being rejected numerous times, a scientist working on a secret project sees something in Steve that inspires him. The scientist, played by the always-great Stanley Tucci, plans to make the ultra-army of chemically-enhanced, physically perfect subjects. Can Steve live up to his expectations?
The Army Colonel in charge of the project is the affably gruff Tommy Lee Jones, one of those actors who improve any project in which they appear. Hayley Atwell, who was so good in the last film version of Brideshead Revisited, is a British agent assigned to the project, who you know will be smitten with Steve. She’s not only tough and brilliant, but also incredibly beautiful. Aiding in the project is America’s A-Number-One industrialist Howard Stark. That’s right… the future father of Tony Stark, Iron Man. And the uber villain of the piece, the nasty Nazi who listens to Wagner, and proclaims his superiority to Der Fuhrer, is Australian thespian Hugo Weaving, of The Matrix series fame. You’d think he’d get tired of doing all these bad guys, but then, he does them so well.
Another aspect of the film that grabbed me was the score by Alan Silvestri, who’s been writing movie music for years, from Back To The Future, to an outstanding Spaghetti western-style score for Sam Raimi’s The Quick And The Dead. While Silvestri’s score for Captain America bears more than a passing resemblance to a John Williams composition, that’s to be expected under the circumstances, but there’s enough Silvestri in there to keep it interesting.
Director Joe Johnston, who helmed the hits Jumanji and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, once upon a time made a super hero movie set in the 1940s called The Rocketeer. It was beloved by genre fans, but since the movies-from-comic-books craze hadn’t firmly grasped the movie industry yet, it was a box office dud. However, Johnston does well by his current assignment, even though a lot of it appears to be an homage to Steven Spielberg. plus a few others as well. It’s as if The Dirty Dozen meets Indiana Jones meets Inglourious Basterds, and on and on. But that’s ok… Captain America is full of rousing excitement.
While the CGI is still obviously CGI, some of the shots, scenery, and sets are truly spectacular. Plus there are scenes utilizing 3-D as it should be, with scenes showing great depth instead of just throwing something at the camera. This is one of the best-looking 3-D films I’ve seen in a long time, and is also one about which I can say is really worth the extra money for the 3-D experience.
All in all, Captain America is an exciting couple of summer hours at the movies. It appears that among the spate of comic book-inspired movies for the 2011 season, they saved the best for last.
The PG-13 rated Captain America is now playing everywhere, and in some plexes you have the option of both 2-D and 3-D versions.