Captain America: The First Avenger Review
“"I've Knocked Out Adolf Hitler Over 200 Times..."”
October 1st, 2012
**SPOILERS ARE AHEAD**
Marvel and Disney had teamed up and brought us back into a world where comic books could be made into wonderful films. They grabbed our attention with the Iron Man series and then got everyone excited for the "first avenger" Captain America. This is a film that had me hyped, ready to see more of what we saw from the previous films; but essentially let me down. The benefit of it was, it did lead into The Avengers film and it brought Captain America back from the dead.
The story, in the beginning was very intriguing and pulls you right in. They grab your attention and put you on the edge of your seat to start it all. They truly made us feel for Steve with the writing as he struggled to become a contributor to the heroic efforts being done overseas, while showing us he had the heart of a lion. We were ready to see Captain America.
I very much appreciated the way they did the origin of Red Skull... It was not some long, drawn out process and it wasn't too short that is was cheesy. It showed us how he became who he was and introduced us to his dark, twisted mind. After Steve Rogers takes the serum and becomes Captain America, the tone of the entire film seems to change and takes us downhill to a bad Zack Snyder feel film...
It was a very interesting idea to have Captain America as a stage performer without letting him be a hero right away. While we may have hated every moment of that scenario, it did do it's job of make us desperately want to see Captain America as a hero. The problem I have with it though is that they took way too long getting us there, which is why the film felt like it was too short in length. That was poor writing at its best. Then the rest just felt like a classic comic book cheesefest from there. This film just lost the tone that Iron Man had set up for The Avengers, and we did not see it again until he woke up in the hospital bed, many years into the future. I was finally saying to myself "Ok, here is that Marvel tone I know and love."
The acting was either spectacular or horrible. There was not very much in between. I felt the secondary roles were very weak in their delivery. The German spy who took the cyanide in Captain America's first chase effort was pathetic. He truly was reading his lines with no attempt at a real life expression for what he would be doing in that exact scenario. The assistant to Red Skull was the same thing, until he was in the interrogation room with Tommy Lee Jones. Now, Sebastian Stan as Rogers best friend, I felt, actually did a really good job. He was really the only secondary actor I though did his role extremely well. The rest of the non-main characters were decent, but not necessarily spectacular.
Hugo Weaving as Red Skull really let me down. When I first saw he was cast as the character, I was beyond excited. His was acting I would describe in this as decent, but a lot weaker than what we usually expect from him. I felt he was trying to hard to achieve a German accent, rather than deliver his lines with an effective voice. That was big part of why I think his role may have felt weaker. We wasn't getting as much dynamics and range of emotion from him because it was too difficult to do with the accent he went with.
Chris Evans as Captain America I would describe as ok. I feel he started of kind of weak. At a time where we are supposed to be connecting and sympathizing with him, it was hard to do. It simply felt like he was trying to hard to make us feel that way, and it came off cheesy; but he is a very young actor and I feel he got a lot better in The Avengers. Once he became Captain America, this is where you can tell he researched the hero himself as the hero. It is evident he had studied and trained a lot more to be that person than his former puny-self. Which is fine, but I wish he would have been that way with the character as a whole!
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark brings the word intriguing to mind. He was wonderful, yet strange. This was of course perfect for his role. I could totally see this guy being the father of Tony. I was extremely pleased with his character.
Stanley Tucci is one of those guys that I just will never understand why he never gets a lot of roles. He is a man who is every character he plays and almost always one of my favorite parts of the films he is in. This film was no exception. His facial expressions are among the best I have ever seen in Hollywood. He delivers with his tone, body language and just his overall being. He was able to do a realistic accent and still give us quite a bit of range with his tone! I felt he had one of the better death sequences I have ever seen on film. Flawless performance.
Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter was excellent. She delivered her lines flawlessly! One thing that really stuck with me when it came to her in this was that she was amazing at speaking with her eyes. She gave us perfect facial expressions throughout the film. I feel she was the best actor/actress in the entire film, just ahead of Tucci...
Tommy Lee Jones is such a gifted person in the art of acting. While this may not have been the greatest role we have ever seen him do, it was still really well done. While this line is not relevant to his acting, it makes me laugh each time I hear it "I brought you dinner!" Just excellent delivery of tone of his voice. There was no need to create an accent or anything for his character. Why do it when your own voice is epic enough!
The directing is where I really get upset with this film. I feel they were handed a wonderful story to tell. There was just way too much cheese. There were only a couple of lines in the script that were, most of the cheese came from the visuals and the overall feel of the film. Then there were things like the meetings of Red Skull and Captain America. I really wish they would of had more hand-to-hand combat between the two instead of using all these high technology. I am definitely not against it being there, since it was present in the comics and was needed to lead into The Avengers, I just wish they did not rely on that to create their "great visual" battles. Most of my issue came from the visual package for the tone, which I will dwell into below. The ending, was absolutely perfect though. It really set the tone for what should a movie in the Marvel film universe. This was something the film lacked until this point.
Alan Silvestri was very decent. It wasn't completely over the top wonderful, but it was still pretty good and fit the film perfectly. You had your hero theme, action theme, villain theme, and touching moments theme with a military twist! It definitely did what it needed to accompany the film. I appreciate the American march style theme for Captain America. It was perfect for his character. I liked the German feel meets the Imperial March for Red Skull, but I felt there needed to be more moving inner voicing to give his theme more depth and provide us with an even darker tone. But like I said, overall, it was a good score!
The visual package is what really drug this film down for me. Everything just felt way too over the top. There was just way too much CGI. When he was skinny, you could tell they CGIed his head to a skinny body. His head was much bigger than the body beneath it. There were even times where you could see the lines between his real skin and the fake CGI one... Even a lot of the buildings were CGI and it really effected the feel of the film and killed that tone I have been preaching about. Like the scene where Captain America dropped the bomb into the top of the tank and jumped out of the way in slow motion; the scene screamed the bad version of Zack Snyder. The tank was poorly sized and the effect just looked and felt fake. I really hate when films rely on CGI... it kills the tone of the film. I will say that when we finally go to see hand-to-hand action sequences, they were really well done. Very realistic on what would happen in a fight. These sequences were also very visually exciting, something that Joss Whedon realized with the character in The Avengers.
To me, Iron Man set us up for what everything should feel like, and this fell way short. While it is enjoyable, I will rewatch it several times over, it is much weaker than it's other Marvel films. I understand they wanted this film to be it's own thing, but it is still in that story arc universe and I wish they would have realized that. I hope everyone enjoyed this read. I am open to discuss anything and everything in the article.