Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

The fifth installment in Marvel’s Avenger’s series suffers from a lack of ambition.

Chris Evans stars as the Allies' red, white and blue war hero.

Photo Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Chris Evans stars as the Allies’ red, white and blue war hero.

Raghav Mehta

 

Captain America: The First Avenger

DIRECTED BY: Joe Johnston

STARRING: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving

RATED: PG-13

SHOWING: Area Theaters

When Nick Fury showed up at the end of 2008âÄôs âÄúIron Man,âÄù origin stories for all of the Avengers was inevitable. And while it may be about as timely as ArgentinaâÄôs entrance into World War II, Marvel Studios has gotten to arguably the most recognizable of the superhero team.

And now marking the fifth  installment in the Avengers pre-series, âÄúCaptain America: The First Avenger,âÄù directed by Joe Johnston (âÄúHoney, I Shrunk the Kids,âÄù âÄúJumanjiâÄù) has finally graced the screen in all its patriotic, Nazi-ass-kicking glory.

The story of the Captain America is probably not as widely known as Stan Lee, who makes a fantastic cameo lasting all of 2 seconds, would like it to be, but the 21st century version goes something like this.

The film opens with Nazi weapons specialist Johann Schmidt obtaining a MacGuffin called the Tesseract âÄì an ancient power source that could give the upper hand to the Axis powers and spell certain destruction for the American Way as we know it.

Enter Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, famous for his turn as the Human Torch in the âÄúFantastic FourâÄù series.

Rogers is sickly kid from Brooklyn who so desperately wants to enlist that heâÄôs tried and failed more than a few times already. Thirty minutes and forty bad jokes later, Rogers is discovered by Abraham Erskine, an expatriate doctor working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve. He picks Rogers, to the dismay of Colonel Phillips, as the subject of an experiment designed to create the worldâÄôs first super soldier.

Despite the unnecessary 3D post-production, the visuals are crystal clear. Johnston dusts off tried and true conventions from âÄúThe Rocketeer,âÄù embracing sepia tones and futurism. But despite his understanding of the familiar setting, he seems unsure of himself when it comes to his characters.

The fault here lies in the dimwitted script, leaving the director to rely heavily on his cast. ItâÄôs a crew that includes the likes of perennial good guy Tommy Lee Jones as the gritty Colonel Phillips, Hugo Weaving as the predictably menacing Johann Schmidt, (a.k.a. the Red Skull) and Stanley Tucci in the filmâÄôs most compelling albeit short-lived role as Dr. Erskine âÄì the German doctor that created the Super Soldier Serum.

The numerous and obligatory action sequences are made up mostly of slow-motion shots of Evans jumping either on or off of moving vehicles. There are explosions and anachronisms aplenty but overall, the plot is fairly basic, delivering only the bare necessities in terms of storyline.

For instance, the film never fully explains the motivation behind SchmidtâÄôs desire for world domination. It also never touches on what exactly turned his skull red or where he got that weird face mask from.

In an attempt to dial down the operatic grandiosity of other Marvel comic book flicks âÄî IâÄôm looking at you, âÄúSpider-Man 2âÄù âÄî âÄúCaptain AmericaâÄù is much too quiet to leave a significant impact on its audience. ItâÄôs assembly line Marvel fare so average, so unremarkable, that you canâÄôt help but sit with weary resignation at the utter lack of enthusiasm shown on-screen.

 

2 out of 4 stars