Review: Captain America: The First Avenger


Captain America: The First Avenger, directed by Joe Johnston. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and Samuel Jackson. Released by Paramount Pictures. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action). Running time: 124 minutes.

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Although shot in vivid color, Paramount studios’ Captain America: The First Avenger embraces a refreshing black-and-white, good versus evil worldview lacking in most of the recent spate of dark, nihilistic superhero films.

The picture occurs mostly in flashback—with a very brief framing story set in the present day—during the early days of America’s involvement in World War Two. Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans), like most patriotic young men of the day, is itching to enlist and join the fight. However, his motivation is more than patriotism: He does not like bullies and sees the Third Reich as the biggest bully on the planet. Unfortunately, he is too short and underweight to meet the fighting ideal, and finds himself marked “4F” at recruiting station after recruiting station. But although he does not have the physical strength of his friend, strapping U.S. infantryman “Bucky” Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan), he is at least as brave, standing up to bullies with little regard for his personal safety. Soon, the tenacious and brave Rogers comes to the attention of Dr. Erskine (played by Stanley Tucci), who is looking for volunteers to take part in his “Project Rebirth,” an experiment that aims to create an army of U.S. “super soldiers.”

Because of his bravery and strong moral code, Rogers is a perfect choice for Dr. Erskine’s project and becomes America’s first super soldier, thanks to Rebirth Serum. (However, due to an unfortunate turn of events, Rogers remains America’s only super soldier.) After capturing the public’s imagination with a spectacular display of heroics, the newly minted “Captain America” is relegated to life as a propaganda tool for the U.S. government, contributing to the cause of freedom with a two-bit floor show aimed at selling war bonds.

But when Rogers discovers that his old buddy Bucky’s squad has been captured by Nazi super soldier Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving) and his horde of HYDRA agents, Captain America springs into action. . . .

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