Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, Marvel Comics’ skinny but brave hearted weakling who turned a lifetime of bullying into a positive.
His acquired strength and fearlessness to an unusual degree, so much that he’s noticed by an army doctor who is developing a serum to create the perfect human solider.
What a perfect guinea pig! Rogers is injected and it changes him right down to his cell structure – he’s suddenly tall, insanely buff and well oiled.
He is Captain America! Rogers steps out of the pod a vision of muscular and moral power. He’s the personification of American might as the country entered l WW II.
Captain America was recreated as a Nazi fighting machine, but it wasn’t a cruel trick. He’s fully cognizant and happy to take part. His life’s dream is to whip Hitler’s rear end as an American soldier.
Now, he’s a solider and the ultimate solider with special privileges and built in respect –no more bullying.
But before he can punch out the Nazi’s lights, he must tour the States on a war bond mission as Captain America, backed up by a chorus of comely singers and tap dancers raising funds and his star quotient.
Each night he gets to slug Hitler onstage, but he’d rather be in Europe on the battlefields. That’s where his boyhood friends are. For now, it’s the star spangled banner spread thick, to music.
Rogers /Captain America’s leading skill is his ability to strategize. Where no one has been able to shimmy up the pole to capture the flag, he simply pulls the pole down and removes the flag. A little underwhelming to be sure.
But engaged in battles, Captain America thinks and acts fast, and can use that shield as a weapon and protection. He may be supercharged, but Rogers is a human being and that never changes. He is what he always was including sentimental over ladies, but in a bigger package.
Finally Rogers finds himself leading missions over Nazi Germany. He’s captured and imprisoned by the Hydra, the Nazi’s uglier cousins, led by Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt.
He’s a megalomaniacal zealot overseeing a kind of weird, mystical Wagnerian cult. He’ attempting to capture energy from a holy relic to annihilate everyone he doesn’t like.
There’s a telling moment in which a Jewish artist painting Schmidt’s portrait breathes a sigh of relief when it is judged to be good. It’s not that he’s sensitive about his art; he knows what he’s escaped, so far.
Somewhere along the way the story loses its initial impact. The ultra-modern underground Hydra lair seems to suck the life out of the story and Weaving’s Red Skull Johann Schmidt, golden boy of the horror extreme Nazi group Hydra is just too much, compared with the humanism of Rogers and his friends.
The Red Skull is jarring, not just the look, but the aspect, tone, the bizarre cartoon that he is. This weird contrast throws the film out of balance. Maybe it works in a comic book.
Flawless special effects take Rogers from 90-pound weakling into hulking superhero. The CGI is so seamless you may lose yourself admiring it. You can’t look away, wondering how they did that.
Even if its perfection distracts from the movie, it’s okay. This must be the longest, sustained use of detailed CGI on a moving human figure and its brill.
At the other end of the effects stick is Red Skull. Weaving is somewhere under a hideous red mask made of red meat stretched over a broken skull. It is so revolting you must look away.
It is the stuff of nightmares for sensitive souls and the lingering image said souls have after the movie’s over and they’re trying to sleep. Nightmares disturb them, nightmares of being gung ho for a movie that peters out.
Please Marvel, repair the damage to comic book heroes for The Avengers!
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35mm sci fi adventure
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Directed by Joe Johnston
Opens: July 22
Runtime: 125 minutes