Captain America: The First Avengers
Directed by Joe Johnston, (3/5).
As its title hints at, this movie is the final appetizer for much-anticipated blockbuster The Avengers coming to a screen near you in 2012.
Captain America is an unashamedly old-fashioned film. The year is 1942, the look is sepia and the effects are mind-boggling. Steve Rogers is a scrawny yet big-hearted Brooklyn kid, continually trying to join the army and fight the Third Reich. But his weight (90 lbs – an impressive feat of CGI) and list of past illnesses (asthma, and too many others to recount) have kept him out of the line of fire.
Witnessing Steve’s pluck and determination, a sympathetic scientist gives him a chance by enlisting him in a secret programme to produce the perfect American soldier through a treatment of injections and “vita-rays.” The experiment proves successful but, inevitably, irreproducible, and in no time Steve finds himself chasing Nazi vandals down the streets of Brooklyn. Such heroics obviously meriting promotion, Steve is recruited to travel the nation promoting war bonds, in his familiar (if ridiculous) red-white-and-blues, as the “Star Spangled Man with a Plan.”
What lingers most about Captain America is its innocent, throwback total embrace of the ‘Little Guy’. Even after obtaining superhuman powers, Steve’s compassion and aspiration to be “not a perfect soldier, but a good man” shines through. Sure it has every flavour of cheese mashed in, and although the plot is as predictable as a spectator’s mullet at Nascar, only a cynical ‘villain’ could deny the pure awesomeness of ‘goodies’ dealing to ‘baddies’ during WWII.
Absurd as it may be today, and as gut-wrenchingly cheesy as this all-American patriotic war film is, it’s still an appealing idea of a man who is, after all, the fictional embodiment of “Team USA’s” national ideal.