2011 Running time: 124 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, the puny army recruit turned star-spangled hero of Marvel Comics folklore. Deemed unfit for military service, Steve volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals during WWII. Matrix star Hugo Weaving plays his Nazi nemesis The Red Skull, while British lovely Hayley Atwell is helpful agent Peggy Carter. Neat retro-styling and bone-shuddering action combine to deliver a supercharged superhero jolt.

Director

  • Joe Johnston

Cast

  • Chris Evans

  • Hugo Weaving

  • Tommy Lee Jones

  • Stanley Tucci

  • Dominic Cooper

Review

When Captain America made his triumphant comic debut back in 1941, the planet was at war and his superheroic Nazi-bashing propaganda escapades and simple, super-virtuous ideals were championed by not only American fans, but the world over.

Nowadays however, you're more likely to find Hollywood lampooning its homeland than celebrating it (if nothing else, Team America certainly ensures we'll never sing about it in the same way again).

So the last solo superhero piece in Marvel's grand Avengers puzzle was always going to be a tough sell, hanging its star-spangled hero and plot on an idealism that's as old school as they come. Taken as a rip-rollicking, tally-ho throwback and modern day matinee adventure movie however, it just about pulls it off.

Feeble asthmatic Steve Rogers (a digitally skinny-ised Chris Evans) wants nothing more than to serve his country and fight in the war, but his patriotism isn't matched by his puny, Army-averse frame.

Cue the arrival of fringe scientist Erskine (the predictably scene-stealing Tucci) who biologically pimps Rogers into the world's first Super Soldier, and the power to turn the tide of the war against the renegade Nazi splinter cell, Hydra.

Led by the entertainingly megalomaniacal, tomato-skinned Red Skull (an experiment gone wrong) and his newly acquired Cosmic Cube (a magical maguffin that gifts its wielder the power of the Gods), Cap's tasked with rallying the troops, getting the girl, and saving the day with little more than his perfect shield, perfect morality and dashingly perfect square jaw.

The worry with a character so gosh-darn goody two shoes is that unlike Spider-Man, Batman or even Mr 'Daddy Issues' Thor, there's no gritty or evolving character arc to explore.

Thankfully, despite the lack of complexity, Evans is effortlessly solid and casually charismatic as the titular Mr America, offering a believable and rootable hero as both weed (weirdly mismatched testosterone voice aside) and beefcake.

The supporting cast is equally competent, if unspectacular, with Tommy Lee Jones and Hayley Atwell offering snark and bolshy feminist sass respectively, and Hugo Weaving hamming it up as the amusingly accented supervillain.

And while the chemistry works, and the action skips along with nazi-punching gusto; it's the world that director Joe Johnston creates that's of more interest.

Considering his past form (he directed love letter to the 40s The Rocketeer), it's no surprise to find that comic-dom's first period adventure looks and feels distinct and, well, fun.

By splicing the wartime stylings with a pseudo-futurism, there are kitted up submarines, bikes and glowing weapons aplenty, compounding the nostalgic genre throwback feel.

But its niche is also what holds it back - it lacks Thor's OTT spectacle, Iron Man's wit or The Dark Knight's depth.

So while it's not the greatest superhero movie ever made, Captain America fittingly sets the stage for 2012's megamovie and - more importantly - nicely side-steps its potential pitfalls.

Captain America? *&#$ yeah!

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