Captain America Wants YOU to Get Excited about The Avengers!

Stop...and look at these great period details!
I’ll be the first to admit to suffering from superhero fatigue. It seems every summer is overrun by comic book adaptations and superheroes, most of them wallowing in mediocrity and indistinguishable from each other only in levels of awfulness. I choose my poison carefully, and this year I’ve found it refreshing that Hollywood has decided to do comic book period pieces, first with the fun 1960’s set X-Men reboot, and now with the workmanlike 1940’s set Captain America.  This is essentially one of many prequels to Marvel’s upcoming Avengers multi-superhero-mega-comic-book-all-star-uber-blockbuster-spectacular, which we get a preview of after the credits. I can’t say that I’m very excited about it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Captain America on its own merits.
Joe Johnston, your poor man’s Steven Spielberg and long-time likeable hack director, channels his Rocketeer roots with this WWII-based expository film about Captain America’s origins and his battle with Red Skull. I always enjoy a film where we kick Nazi ass, and a villain with a skeletal face is always fun. Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers aka Captain America. I’ve been told I’ve seen him in other films, but I couldn’t tell him from Adam. I suppose he’s just what we want in the lead with his all-American looks and wooden line deliveries. His gal-pal is played by Hayley Atwell (the fetching British actress who was the only member of the cast not to overact in last year’s atrocious TV miniseries The Pillars of the Earth). She looks absolutely smashing and certainly knows how to fill out those period blouses and skirts. Also on board is Tommy Lee Jones as the gruff commander, perfectly typecast. Then there’s Hugo Weaving as Red Skull doing an entertainingly bad impression of Christoph Waltz as Skeletor.
How do you like my blouse?

There’s a great attention to the period detail which I always appreciate (especially this time period) and credit must be given to the newsreel and USO musical number homages. Johnston, meanwhile, does his best to recreate Indiana Jones-style pacing and humor, which often falls flat but is harmless. The action and set pieces were nicely staged and looked good, though there was an odd sluggishness to the overall proceedings that kept the film from soaring to higher levels of entertainment.  The film also lacked the one-big WOW moment, though that might be more a symptom of our general malaise with overdone special effects and ridiculous CGI in other lesser films.

When you cut to the chase, the old-fashioned design of the film and Johnston’s earnest approach work in great favor when compared to the contemporary crassness of Hollywood blockbusters (see any Michael Bay film and most other comic book films). Captain America doesn’t work on every level I wanted it to, but the faults (like Weaving’s horrible accent and the cheesy humor) only add to the innocent fun. It’s a charming throw-back with great production values. I personally will never tire of the WWII era…and as long as there are beguiling actresses like Hayley Atwell willing to don the period attire, I’ll happily come along for the ride.

Side Note: Don’t waste your money on the 3D. We only chose the 3D route because it was discount Wednesdays at our local cineplex where all shows (3D included) are offered up at a flat rate. The 3D added absolutely nothing to the experience, and in fact, I imagine in 2D all the nice period details and action sequences will appear in clearer focus.



  1. Will probably get around to checking this out this weekend. Should be better than the offerings of the Captain American (old) Movie Marathon on SyFy last week.

    I think they’ve been showing clips from that old series on Conan O’Brien pretending to be clips from the new film. Funny stuff. –DHS

  2. Boy you weren’t kidding. You don’t have one picture of Chris Evans up there! It seems we had complete opposite reactions to the leads, but I can’t imagine it has anything to do with our respective tastes. Can it?

    OK maybe it can, but I still think Atwell was boring. I’ll agree she is stunning to look at, but she wasn’t given a whole lot to do except be jealous every now and then.

    I would take your side note a step further and say never waste your money on 3D. I haven’t seen a movie this year in 3D this year and not one of them was worse because of it. We need to end the 3D silliness now.

    Jason, amen to ending the 3D silliness now. Only once in blue-moon (pun intended) Avatar-like experiences should be allowed to be in 3D. Otherwise, it reeks of a cash-grab scam by the studios. –DHS

  3. The superhero fatigue invariably does set in at this time of the year, though as this is the “first” in a promised series, I guess we can use it as an example. I enjoyed it, but understand what it is, and I feel it didn’t approach the final film of the HARRY POTTER series that released the previous week. I’ll say I stand just about where you do, and will probably forget about the film in a few weeks albeit with fair enough remembrances of a decent time at teh multiplex.

  4. […] David Schleicher has authored a most intriguing essay on “Captain America” at The Schleicher Spin:                   […]

  5. You’re right about the 3D. Utterly pointless. It’s a solid film, but it never seems to quite get going which was disappointing in the end. Ironic that a film blown up into 3d in the end only seems to have one dimension.

    Katie – interesting observation. I think you’re pretty close to the mark, though for its 1940’s style I enjoyed the film a bit more. –DHS

  6. I thought the film was very well done and gets people excited about Captain America more so than The Avengers. only a quick segment at the beginning and the end lends itself to The Avengers..all the rest focuses solely on Cap and his origin story. But I understand the thoughts behind your argument.

    Some of the CGI could’ve been better, no doubt, but Red Skull…amazing!

    Overall, in the superhero genre, there’s no denying that Marvel succeeds…esp in bringing “B-list” superheroes and making them super popular (Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk) as opposed to DC (Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, Catwoman)

    The time period attention to detail was superb and I completely enjoyed this film…each of the 4 times I went to watch it!

    Nice review, DHS!

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