Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger is a return to form for the Marvel comic-book film universe, and a solid final lead-up to the multi-hero film The Avengers, coming next year.

Chris Evans does a fantastic job of introducing us to the wiry little guy with guts who eventually becomes Captain America. Such unashamed, honest virtue is different from the typical superhero movie we’ve come to see over the last few years, and for good reason: internal conflicts often make for dramatic films. However, I don’t think such unwavering idealism would have worked with any other comic-book character than Captain America. Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones add heart to the movie, but the soul of this movie really is the Captain. Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull plays a satisfying villain here, but his motives aren’t clarified enough to warrant his fervor for evil. Hayley Atwell, playing love interest and British agent Peggy Carter does a more convincing job in her role than Hugo Weaving does in his.

The plot of the film was pretty standard fare. Hero battles villain. The ending was more climactic and earnest than I had expected walking into the theater, and it gracefully sets up the Avengers movie. Like many of the other Marvel movies of recent note, there is a decent amount of self-deprecating comic book humor that helps break up the slower parts between action scenes.

The effects of the film were solid. They were pulpy enough to feel like a Marvel universe, rather than our own, but they still carried the action to an exciting level. The art department and cinematographer did a good job recreating the 40’s asthetic throughout the film, though there was enough exotic comic book elements to bring you back into a world where superheroes really do exist.

Despite its own flaws, this is one of the better Marvel films to come out since Iron Man, and count me in to watch The Avengers next year.

Four stars out of five