by James Gilmore
Captain America: The First Avenger is the best of the “Avenger” origin movies to date. Although well written and directed, special recognition is in order for the film’s excellent casting, studded with marvelous actors and nuanced, layered performances. Hugo Weaving is a delight as always—that is, until he takes off his mask, at which point he loses his broad range of subtleties and becomes a mere caricature (as disappointedly expected in the superhero genre). Chris Evans displays remarkable flexibility in his transformation into Steve Rogers compared with his previous performance as the Human Torch in both Fantastic Four films wherein Evans plays a character who could not be more different. Impressive performances by Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones are also unavoidably worth noting.
Invested into the story is an intelligent journey toward the burgeoning of Captain America as superhero, playing upon not only the usual choices of balancing heroism and humanness but also the very idea of Captain America as an icon of World War II symbolism. Captain America ends up parodying his future self before actually taking the plunge into his role as true hero. Few superhero stories can boast an equally clever step. To cement his role as hero icon of the War, Captain America also makes the choice to not live to fight another day (in his own time), but makes the ultimate sacrifice—the mark of a true hero—one few comic book “super” heroes make, even though the term “hero” implies such a requisite act in order to receive such a lofty title.
Still, at times the action pushes beyond the realm of believability, which is further exacerbated by a few sub-par special effects and the obligatory comic book-like action sequences in the third act (which are always a bit harder to swallow). Also, one finds the glaring lack of visual verisimilitude in Steve Rogers’ pre-superhero physique annoying to the point of distraction while the minions of Hydra appear plagiarized from an unrelated videogame called Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001).
Overall, an enjoyable superhero film with a little something more.