Saturday, April 05, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) ***½

PG-13, 124 min.
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon (comic book), Jack Kirby (comic book)
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Toby Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Richard Armitage, Bruno Ricci, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, JJ Field, Samuel L. Jackson

This marks the third time I’ve watched “Captain America: The First Avenger”, and it doesn’t lose its effectiveness. In the promotion for the new “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” the writers have made a point to express how they wished to reflect different cinematic action subgenres in their construction of the two screenplays. The new Cap is supposed to be a modern espionage type of picture inspired by such classics as “3 Days of the Condor” and other 70s politically critical spy flicks. The first was more inspired by adventure serials of the 40s and 50s depicting the American heroism of World War II, although my guess is it was most influenced by Steven Spielberg’s 1981 movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

This movie is the perfect patriotic romp. It sets the mood for Cap wonderfully, and somehow the writers find ways to seed some crops for future Marvel enterprises along the way. Of course, the Tesseract plays a major role in this movie and “The Avengers”. It appears it may have an influence in either the third Cap or “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” if the credit cookies for Cap 2 are any indication, and its role in “The Guardians of the Galaxy” seems confirmed by the “Thor: The Dark World” credit cookie.

But I think what makes the first Cap so good is how well it stands on its own, which it must as it is the only origin story that Marvel Studios is forced to place over 70 years ago. The studio took some risks with this movie, including a cast of B-listers and the period setting, which really pay off. I only wish we could see more of Peggy Carter (Marvel did include a short film featuring her in one of their DVD releases). Hayley Atwell is the perfect example of the type of risk I’m talking about. She’s not the Scarlett Johansson choice they made for Black Widow, and yet she’s charming, seems perfectly fitted for the period setting, and leaves you wanting to see more of her. I wonder if eventually Marvel will feel compelled to enter the whole time travel market so audiences can experience these characters in this setting once again.

Read my original review here.

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