Review – Captain America: The First Avenger 3D (12a) [2011]

Star Rating: 2/5

Since when did a man wearing a bright, tight costume become a symbol of heroism in war? Only in the world of comic-books could this be possible. Indeed, whilst watching Captain America: The First Avenger (a prequel to The Avengers Assemble, due out next spring), one has to remind oneself where this (Marvel) superhero comes from to remotely appreciate the film.

Steven Rogers (Chris Evans) suddenly all toned after coming out of the machine that turns him into a superhero.

Captain America is set in the early-1940s, during World War II. Steven Rogers (Chris Evans – Fantastic Four I & II, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Avengers Assemble) is a small, scrawny young man from Brooklyn, who is desperate to join the American army. Except, he keeps getting rejected. It is only when Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci – The Devil Wears Prada, Burlesque, The Lovely Bones), a German-American doctor/scientist, wants to conduct an experiment on him that Steven is given the chance to enter the war.

Dr. Erskine wants to turn Steven into a super-strong human weapon, capable of defeating Johann Schmidt/Red Face (Hugo Weaving – Transformers IIII, The Wolfman, The Hobbit I), Erskine’s other experiment that went awry. Schmidt is a Nazi, and one of Hitler’s main henchmen. Schmidt, however, has his own intentions, such as destroying the world by using the almighty power in the Tesseract, a translucent cube, of King Odin of Asgard, Thor’s father. Only the enhanced Steven – Captain America – armed with a shield bearing the stars and stripes, can stop Schmidt from implementing his plan.

Captain America’s nemesis, Red Face (Hugo Weaving). If he’s a Nazi, where’s the swastika insignia on his arm?

The storyline can be followed easily and runs at a fairly decent pace. But at two hours, the movie could have done with being a bit shorter. Undoubtedly, one has to take the plot with a pinch of salt. When one watches Captain America take on whole armies in military fortresses, cheesy images of Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger with double-barrelled machine-guns (and seemingly limitless ammunition) spring to mind. This never bodes too well for a modern-day action movie, and Captain America is not immune from this either.

If the late-1980s/early-1990s action scenes don’t make one laugh, then the piteous acting and dialogue certainly will. The eponymous characters in Iron Man I & II and Thor (the other prequels to the upcoming The Avengers Assemble) may have lacked the depth of the main characters in X-Men: First Class, not to mention those in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, but at least Iron Man and Thor had arrogance, swagger and humour. None of the characters in Joe Johnson’s (Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, The Wolfman) Captain America have any real substance. They take themselves daftly seriously, with perhaps the exception of Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, Men In Black I-III, Lincoln), playing Colonel Chester Philips. Apart from him, the cast (including the usually sound Hugo Weaving) come across as wooden and shallow. They also say some embarrassingly cliché lines (even for a comic-book movie!) that do them no favours.

Captain America all dressed and ready for battle.

The music is little better than the acting. The same can be said for the special effects and the 3D. That does not mean that the special effects are disastrously poor; they are just not of the exceptional quality as those in Transformers III. The 3D, however, is virtually unnoticeable.

Captain America is unquestionably simplistic and appeals almost exclusively to Marvel comic-book fans. It distinctly lacks all the appeals and complexities of Nolan’s Batman series or Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. Then again, with a propaganda-inclined title, what else should one expect?

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10 responses to “Review – Captain America: The First Avenger 3D (12a) [2011]

  1. Fair enough that you’re trying to write.

    However, if you’re going to write scathing reviews like that, the reviews should at least be decently written.
    Your use of brackets is terrible (really) terrible. You need to sort that out. Your jibes are long winded and lack any kind of imagination as you’ve clearly over thought their wording and thereby, having done so, lost the possibly, as is (supposed) point.

    This is less a review and more an exercise in your arrogance. Try again.

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    • Rex, you are the first person I know of to have made such a complaint. Please let me know if you have more trouble loading it up in the future and I’ll see if there is a reason for it.

  3. I definitely agree about Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving, the high and low points of the film.

  4. Nice review and the way you described the characters lack of depth, that’s the way I feel about them too, which resulted in me not really caring for them.

  5. I’m commenting because you asked me here: http://mibreviews.com/2012/03/08/captain-america-the-first-avenger-and-super-hero-fatigue/#comments
    Clearly, I disagree with you on how good the film is. I liked it, you did not, you failed to convince me. The writing is an issue. Phail pointed out some of the issues inherent in your style, and I agree with all his points, except the one about your arrogance. I don’t think you’re arrogant, at least not in a way that every other critic isn’t. However, he missed that you have some run on sentences, a crime I’m occasionally guilty of as well. “Schmidt, however, has his own intentions, such as destroying the world by using the almighty power in the Tesseract, a translucent cube, of King Odin of Asgard, Thor’s father.” Way too many commas. That should have been 2 sentences, at least.

    The review would be better served by you having paid more attention to the film. The villain is not “Red Face”. In the movie, and in the comics and promotional material, he is referred to as “the Red Skull” with a “the”. Being unable to get the villain’s name right is fine if he’s never named, but he was called “the Red Skull” multiple times. There’s at least one full scene explaining that Hydra (the division Schmidt works for) severed ties with the Nazis, and this is referenced in later scenes, yet you still ask why “Red Face” has no swastika on his uniform. If you aren’t going to pay attention to the details, why should anyone trust your reviews?

    Otherwise, this review was alright I guess. I wasn’t offended, but I didn’t learn anything I wouldn’t have already known before going in, and I found some of your criticisms missed their mark. Sure, the film was cheesy at points (in a way I find charming) and OK, some lines were cliche, but I don’t get the 80’s action hero vibe. Also, the special effects work they did on Chris Evans to make him look smaller in a realistic way was incredibly impressive. Perhaps not visually stunning but it was impressive nonetheless, so I really don’t get your lack of enthusiasm for the effects.

    • mibreviews, thank you for reading my review and taking the time out to comment. It is much appreciated.

      First, I never said whether I did or did not ‘like’ the film. I never rate films on how much I ‘like’ them; it is not the way I review. I would surprise you if I told you some of the films I’ve enjoyed, but still have given low star-ratings.

      Second, you are quite correct in saying that I got the terminology wrong, and that I should have called Hugo Weaving’s character ‘The Red Skull’, rather than ‘Red Face’. However, this is an honest mistake rather than a deliberate act of deception on my behalf, so I think your assertion (that no-one should trust my reviews) is a tad unfair. On second reflection, and as a reasonable person, I’m sure you can see this.

      Third, a review is not supposed to spoil the film for the reader. (The only occasions I have and will do this for is when films return to cinemas, such as ‘The Lion King’ or ‘Star Wars I’.) A reviewer is supposed to give readers a taste of the film and a flavour for what they should expect, should they wish to see it. Just because you did not learn anything from my review (after having watched the film) and disagreed with my analysis of the film (not to mention my style) is absolutely irrelevant.

      Fourth, you have a point about the special effects on Chris Evans, when they make him look smaller. I gave this matter much consideration when I wrote the review last August, and decided not to mention it as I did not have the words and it did not add anything to the review. Still though, I maintain that the special effects used throughout the film were visually unimpressive. One could clearly see more often than not that the actors were performing before a green background. Although this is the case for a lot of films, other movies make the CGI look plausible, even though one knows what it is. Do you see my point? Did you really think those backgrounds were real whilst you watched ‘Captain America?’

      Fifth, if you find cheesy and cliche lines to be charming, that’s fine. But be honest with your readers and tell them. This will enable them to potentially seperate your bias from their suppositions or conclusions of the film. It will also give you more credit in their eyes because they will see that you can be objective in your thinking. Do you see what I mean?

  6. 1: Sorry, I sort of assumed a 2/5 rating means you don’t like the movie. Every article is someone’s first, so you should make sure to explain that, or link to an explanation, every article where your rating doesn’t reflect your personal enjoyment of the film.
    2: I think you missed the point of my criticism, and basically proved my point in your reply. I’m not MIBReviews. I’m one of several who produce content for that site/blog. My username is right there, but you missed it. My point wasn’t just that you got the character’s name wrong (something that shouldn’t have happened) but that you didn’t pay much attention to the film, which is a bad thing. The name of the villain is repeated enough times that you’d expect to know his name. If you couldn’t remember the name of Dum Dum Duggan (one of the guys in the crew Cap rescued) that’s one thing. I think his name was mentioned once or twice, tops, and a non-comics fan shouldn’t be expected to know him from his appearance. Not remembering the primary antagonist’s name is another thing. As for the other thing, there was an entire scene where Johann Schmidt informed Nazi officials that Hydra was terminating their affiliation with the Nazis, and where he killed the Nazi officials. There are a few briefing scenes afterwards where the leaders say that their unit isn’t going after Nazis, but Hydra, a group no longer associated with the Nazis. You asked why he has no swastika on his uniform, something the movie clearly explained.
    Imagine a review of The Lord of the Rings:The Fellowship of the Ring where the reviewer wondered why Barry Moore tried to take the Ring from Frodo. What would you say? I’d say “uh, his name is Boromir, something that’s clearly stated several times in the movie, and there was a scene where he argued for using the Ring as a weapon against Sauron. Then, while trying to take the Ring, he repeats that justification.” I’d then conclude the guy isn’t worth listening to because he didn’t pay much attention to the film. If you don’t pay attention, how can I trust your judgment?
    3: I’m of the mindset that spoilers are fine, assuming there isn’t a huge twist that the viewer is not supposed to know in advance. For example, my review of the same film contained the mild spoilers that Hydra isn’t with the Nazis, Bucky died and Cap woke up in modern times. The first is an important plot point but not something that knowing in advance would ruin the effect of. The second is something almost everyone who knows anything about Captain America knows (it’s just below knowing Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and Batman’s parents died). The third is confirmed by his presence in the Avengers movies. It’s the journey, not the destination, in those cases. However, there are things I didn’t know coming in that, had I read this, I’d have not known about and that may have affected me going to the film.
    4: To be honest, I don’t remember the special effects at all aside from
    Evans’ size change and the make-up on the Red Skull, which I think was mostly impressive. I’d have remembered if I could tell that something was very obviously green screened.
    5: Aside from during the (intentionally cheesy and very charming) musical number, I didn’t find any of the dialogue to be cheesy. Some cliches were used, yeah, but that can make something more realistic, as real people do use cliches in speech. Too much is bad, but none at all can detract from the realism, and they were trying for a somewhat realistic movie here.

    I mean this as constructive criticism, so please don’t be offended.

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