CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER makes for a good WWII-period adventure and lead up to Avengers

High concept thrills and fast paced action did not disappoint with Marvel Studios’ most recent release in their ambitious cinematic universe of multiple films creating its own canon with CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.  While enjoyable this film suffers much like some NBA teams–one star player and a lackluster supporting cast and an underwhelming opponent.

Chris Evans (formerly the Human Torch in the FANTASTIC FOUR series) handles the before and after of Steve Rogers quite well and commanding enough to be a lead player while also being “just a kid from Brooklyn” with a pure heart obsession, as apparently many young men succeeding the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941, of serving America’s armed forces in World War II.  Though his enemy are not necessarily the Nazi Party, or even the Third Reich, it’s a splinter cell bent on world domination called Hydra whom led by scientist Johann Schmidt (but we know him fondly as the Red Skull).

The problem lies in Red Skull’s underdeveloped role.  Rogers and Skull are supposed to be two sides of the same coin in every fashion from tactics to physicality.  We only get one dimension of how they are alike yet different though aside from being on opposite sides, there is no further or deeper yin/yang comparison to make this as great a rivalry on screen as portrayed within the many panels and splash pages of Marvel Comics.

The movie’s other support cast are merely faces in the crowd to fill in for the U.S. Army and are given a few lines.  Tommy Lee Jones stands out because he just is–the hard ass commander with his heart in the right place.  The female lead is pretty underwhelming just serving to move the story along and provide an emotional center for Rogers.  She serves her purpose but is not very memorable unfortunately.  Thankfully, Captain America as a hero and a symbol overshadows the film’s shortcomings.  Not failures by any means however I feel it was bare minimums for the real showcase.

Tying in the Marvel Universe is the real star here though much less than in IRON MAN 2 thankfully.  I caught references to every Marvel film dating back to 2008’s IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the aforementioned Iron Man sequel, and this year’s THOR, with the needed allusion to next year’s THE AVENGERS.

Well it’s one more piece to the big puzzle on the road to 2012’s summer movie season.  I hope it pays off for me as a fan.



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