Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Captain America: The First Avenger"

(Image source)

After my boyfriend told me that the first issue of the Captain America comic featured the hero punching Hitler in the jaw, I became curious about the movie.

Our story begins in New York City during WWII. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants nothing more than to serve his country. However, his scrawny build plus his laundry list of health problems both make him unable to join the military. Steve is persistent and goes to recruiting stations throughout the city, using a different alias every time, not caring that it's highly illegal to lie on your recruitment forms. When Steve is bullied, he stands up for himself and usually gets his ass kicked in the process.

Before his friend ships off to Europe, they go to a World's Fair type of expo. All sorts of futuristic technology are on display. Howard Stark (yep, Iron Man's dad) almost blows up a car while demonstrating his invention that's supposed to make it fly, which reminds me of Belle's father from Beauty and the Beast. There's yet another recruiting station at the fair. Steve makes a beeline for it. The doctor doing enlistment physicals, Erskine, sees potential in him, stamps Steve's draft card as eligible, and tells him he will be part of a secret military project.

At a training camp, Steve and the other recruits are told that only one of them will be picked for the next phase. That phase involves essentially being a guinea pig in an experiment to create a super-soldier. Steve is the smallest and weakest at military drills, but he's also brave and selfless. Dr. Erskine decides that he is ideal because his super-soldier serum also enhances personality; if you're a good person, it improves you. If you're not a good person, well...that brings me to my next point.

Unbeknownst to Steve, Dr. Erskine was forced to help a high-ranking Nazi officer, Johann Schmidt, before the good doctor fled from Germany. Schmidt was given the same serum they're planning to use on Steve. Because Schmidt is evil, the serum causes his face to melt off Indiana Jones style, leaving nothing but a red skull behind. This makes for quite the creepy villain. Red Skull's goal is to create more super-soldiers so that his Nazi unit, known as HYDRA, can take over the world.

Back at the secret military lab, Steve is put into a capsule and injected with the super-soldier serum. He emerges physically stronger and without any of his prior health issues. Instead of combat duty, Steve is forced to put on the iconic Captain America tights and do a traveling stage show as propaganda to sell war bonds. The presence of a musical number in the middle of a superhero movie caught me off-guard, but it was still a cool touch. Steve eventually goes overseas on a USO tour, but slips away before he's due on stage to raid a weapons factory run by HYDRA. He frees a group of prisoners and learns more about what Red Skull is planning to do. Now only Captain America can save the day.

This is one of those movies that I didn't expect to enjoy, but I quickly found myself being drawn in. It didn't feel anywhere close to 2 hours long. The special effects are incredible, as well they should be in a superhero movie. I'm not familiar with the comic book character, so I can't tell you how true Chris Evans's performance is to the source material. What I can tell you is I really liked the scene where Steve emerges from the capsule ;-) Chris also makes Steve/Captain America very likeable.

One of the things I liked most about this movie was the lack of a love interest. I personally think the whole "will they/won't they" thing in any type of action movie is normally a combination of plot filler and an attempt to create female fans due to the misguided belief that women won't like a movie unless there's romance somewhere in it. I did like Thor: The Dark World, but it was extremely guilty of this; I developed a strong dislike for Jane by the end. It was a smart decision to just make the movie about Steve becoming Captain America and punching Nazis in the neck.

Watching this made me legitimately excited about the Avengers sequel coming out in May.

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