Captain America (3D)
The First Avenger is here (even though he came after Iron Man. And Thor. And no I still haven’t seen it)
I wrote a week or so ago about a few concerns I had about the movie and since then I’ve read some fellow bloggers lukewarm reviews which had somewhat lowered my expectations, and I’m sad to say they might have been right.
There’s been a lot of chatter recently about “superhero fatigue.” It’s true that we have been treated to a cornucopia of spandex clad and super buff protagonists of late, but as far as I’m concerned if the movies continue to be good then the more the merrier. That’s the thing though; each new hero will inevitably be compared to the last, despite more often than not having a completely different creative team behind them, so the problem becomes not just living up to your own hype, but also that of whoever the last guy was to save the world. I think that’s where Captain America lost its shine for me, because basically, it’s just not Iron Man.
On with the review then. Although it sounds like I wasn’t a fan of the film, I did enjoy it, and I think it’s a good popcorn movie which fits nicely into the summer blockbuster season. I just didn’t leave with that instant need to see it again that I have with other films. There are good action set pieces, a predictable but effective plot and all the familiar characteristics of a comic book movie. There’s the little guy who finds out he can be more, is initially rejected by those in power, mooned over by an intelligent and beautiful muse who is equally outcast, and then finally comes good in the big showdown where he saves the world. Superhero by numbers. There’s not exactly anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
As I’ve said numerous times, I like my heroes with a bit of an edge, so characters like Superman and the good ol’ Cap have never really done anything for me. Director Joe Johnston did manage to squeeze a bit of sympathy out of me with Steve’s back story, but in the end he is just a bland character and there’s not much anyone can do about it. I’m sure the proper comic book nerds out there will disagree with me on that, but I was hoping to be converted to the camp and unfortunately I just wasn’t.
As for the performances, despite my fears, Chris Evans did well as our leading man. He wont be troubling the Academy any time soon, but he did what he could with a fairly one dimensional character. Dominic Cooper pulled off a bit of swagger as Stark Snr and Hayley Atwell fitted nicely into the “woman hardened by living in a man’s world” role. The two stand outs though were Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones. Weaving again pulls out his big baddie card with appropriate menace, although I couldn’t help adding the words “Mr Anderson” to the end of every one of his lines (it’s a fun game, you should try it some time). The big reveal of his true face is ruined though by the fact that it’s been all over the internet for months and is also in the trailer Surprisingly, Tommy Lee Jones’ grouchy Colonel was actually my favourite character. He got pretty much all the good lines and was missed when he wasn’t on screen.
The action sequences were good, although they lacked a wow factor, particularly in the final confrontation between Red Skull and Cap. The plot is well paced and doesn’t drag but I was actually more interested in the film’s prologue and epilogue than the main story. At least that bodes well for next years Avengers, (I recommend you sit through the credits and wait for the stinger,) which will also benefit from an ensemble cast.
My final assault is levied, predictably, at the 3D. Those of you unlucky enough to follow my ramblings on twitter will know that I was struggling to find a screening in 2D near me, but in the end I caved and went for the Carl Fredrickson glasses. For once, I didn’t find the 3D distracting, and the usual problem I have with not being able to focus when the action moves fast didn’t happen (although everything went blurry in a couple of the trailers). Regardless, there was basically absolutely no point to the film being in 3D whatsoever. For most of the film I’d completely forgotten it was even in 3D (which is how I know it wasn’t distracting). The one montage scene of Cap and his team’s various conquests did have a couple of all right 3D moments, but definitely not worth it in the long run. In this case at least, the 3D seems to have moved from being and irritation to not being anything at all. Neither added nor detracted. If, like me, you have to pay extra for the privilege of the ugly glasses, try to find somewhere showing good old-fashioned 2D.
I hate to end on a rant. Captain America is a fine way to spend a summer afternoon and a good set up for the coming Avengers. I can’t help but think that they would have got away with a simple flashback next year though, as this does feel a little bit like that middle movie of a series that you have to watch so you know what’s going on, but all you really want to do is get to the big finish.