Monday, August 8, 2011

At the Movies: Captain America: The First Avenger

Before I get started here, I should say that Blogger appears to have run amuck again, having shunted my Etsy mini, followers, profile, listing, and archive widgets from their proper place on the lefthand side of the screen to the bottom of the screen. This happened once before. I think it eventually fixed itself, but this time I want to check out a couple of quick-fix sites I've bookmarked to see if I can't get a handle on it.

Now, on to the movie.

When I first heard about Marvel's Captain America feature, I instantly visualized Captain Planet, that green-haired, gray-skinned, musclebound recycling crusader of the mid-1990s. Why I confused some comic book hero wannabe with one of the classic Avengers I'll never know. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a star-spangled Chris Evans on the poster in the theater lobby!

Captain America, as it turns out, is about World War II and ninety-pound weakling Steve Rogers's (Chris Evans) burning need to enlist. But his small stature and laundry list of health issues get him rejected time and again, regardless of the many hometowns he claims. Then a kindly army doctor (Stanley Tucci) overhears him explaining his plight to his best friend, who just happens to be a strapping solider, and bends the rules to put him in uniform. Yet as with all stories of struggle, Steve's problems have only begun. He endures boot camp, the derision of his fellow soldiers, and the head-shaking doubt of the colonel (Tommy Lee Jones). Still, Officer Atwell, a.k.a. pretty Peggy, has taken a shine to his underdog determination and diamond-in-the-rough chivalry. Then the good doctor hurls a grenade onto the practice field, sending all the soldiers scattering save the intrepid Steve. It's this act of courage that finally earns him the respect of the colonel and the coveted spot as the guinea pig in a top-secret experiment headed up by none other than Iron Man's dad, weapons engineer Howard Stark.

After receiving the usual injections and electrodes and whatnot that figure in the plots of comic book adaptations, Steve emerges as a tall, muscular hunk of man worthy of Peggy's affections and the army's toughest assignments - the first of which turns out to be dancing around in a red, white, and blue suit with a troupe of chorus girls in an effort to hawk war bonds. Again, Steve suffers through adversity in true Marvel coming-of-age fashion until a chance opportunity at greatness propels him to hero status, launching the story into the blazing-gun, bomb-bursting territory of which boys young and old are so fond.

As always, this (the violence, that is) is where I began to zone out. I do remember a rather creepy villain in the image of a red devil. And something about Peggy promising to teach Steve how to dance. Then, just as I was in danger of nodding off, the story segued into a surprise ending starring Samuel L. Jackson and whispering, "Sequel!"

I probably have no business weighing in on movies that I didn't pick and aren't my cup of tea. But Captain America isn't bad as such films go, and the (gentle) 3D effects didn't make me sick, unlike the rollicking roller coaster ride that was Transformers. The bf was somewhat indifferent, also having had no prior knowledge of the original story. Still, a movie is a movie, and a good time was had by all.

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