“Captain America: The First Avenger:” Review

By: Jordan Magrath

Movie Mash-Up: Inglorious Basterds & X-Men Origins: Wolverine

“Captain America: The First Avenger” puts its own little spin on history, when it simultaneously shows the rise of a secondary good (Captain America) and evil (Hydra) in the context of World War II.  The U.S. government experiments with a mysterious (and relatively unexplained) procedure that turns a scrawny, patriotic American into a super-powerful soldier, nicknamed Captain America (Chris Evans).  Although his role as a super-soldier isn’t clearly defined, throughout the film he fights his way through the battlefield to a showdown with the main villain, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a.k.a. Red Skull.

Going into a movie with expectations is tough.  I try really, really hard to put my expectations aside and enjoy the movie while it’s playing.  I find it very easy to put critical acclaim aside.  For instance, knowing how well the movie is doing usually doesn’t influence whether I like the film or not.  It’s the other expectations that are tough to put aside.  The expectations that a film will be special in some sort of way.  This could be a novel idea, or great writing, or a great performance.  Something must be special.

I went into “Captain America: The First Avenger,” with these expectations.  It’d done well opening weekend (both in the box office and with critics).  The trailer looked pretty legit, and I was genuinely excited to see the movie.  These expectations ultimately left me very unsatisfied.  I was blown away with just how un-special this film was.  Obviously, this isn’t a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, this film is produced pretty well.  It has good action sequences, decent acting, and so on.  However, I can’t help but notice the lack of pizazz.  Yes, the fight scenes were good, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.  Oddly, there were some “300”-like slow-mo, shield thrashing beat-downs.  But, other than that, everything was average.  Painfully average.

I can live with average, as long as the plot doesn’t get dull or overdone.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.  There was cheesy line after cheesy line.  These lines are almost expected within the superhero genre, but that doesn’t make it okay.  I expect the writing to be more gritty than I got.

Then there were cheesy moments followed by cheesy moments.  The inevitable first kiss between Captain America and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) was one of the worst first kisses I’ve seen in any action movie.  Who decided that moment would be the best, Nicholas Sparks?

Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh.  I’ll say some good things about the film, too.  Captain America’s shield, something I’d picked out of the trailer as the most badass part, was pretty darn cool.  Yes, it was stupid that it magically could repel whatever the hell was being shot at him, but I’ll look past that.  I’m not here to harp on the reality of the plot.  If I was, I wouldn’t have enjoyed a single second of that film (especially that part where Captain America is running through a Nazi camp unnoticed with Red, White, and Blue hanging off of him).

I did think the ending was decent enough to save the movie.  I won’t say it’s worth seeing the movie in theaters, but I will admit that I was caught a little off-guard by the ending.  Especially since the film, up to that point, had been pretty generic.  (And no guys, I’m not talking about the post-credits Avengers trailer)

All in all, I’m still a bit torn.  I wanted to love this movie, and quite honestly didn’t.  “Captain America: The First Avenger,” took almost no real chances.  To make a superhero movie better than the rest, it must take some sort of chance.  This one did not.  It relied on it’s comic following to fill the seats and fatten the moneybags.  I would’ve loved to see a more ambitious story than I paid for.

Take this movie at face value, it’s a summer blockbuster.  I just wish it had wow’d me into believing summer blockbusters were worth something come awards time.

Rating: C+

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