Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941, the star-spangled Marvel Comics
hero known as Captain America has
been fighting for truth, justice and the American way for 70 years now. In his
long, illustrious career, the good Captain’s
four-color exploits have taken him from the battlefields of World War II to the
far reaches of outer space. But Cap’s greatest challenge was making a successful
leap to the silver screen.
Now in theaters, Captain America:
The First Avenger achieves
that feat with flying colors. This period-perfect film boasts superior
production values, an embarrassment of acting riches cast-wise and plenty of
flag-waving enthusiasm that carries this never campy, always gung-ho summer
actioner to blockbuster heights. As directed by Joe Johnston (who also helmed
the similarly-set cult favorite The
Rocketeer), Captain America smartly
sidesteps the typical pitfalls of the superhero genre, playing more like a WWII
spy thriller… albeit one that just happens to have a super-powered leading man.
Chris Evans (who has plenty of cinematic super-powered experience thanks to
two Fantastic Four flicks, Push and Scott
Pilgrim vs. the World) is said leading man, Steve Rogers, who is first seen
as a perfect example of the “before” picture in those Charles Atlas ads of
yesteryear. It is New York City 1942, and with the US now entrenched in the
latest world war, Rogers wants to do his part and serve the country that he
loves. Alas, the Army won’t take him… but a brilliant German scientist (Stanley
Tucci) working for the American government will. In a top-secret military
experiment, Rogers is injected with a “super soldier” serum and finds himself
subsequently bulked up, brawned out and a lot taller too.
However, the army brass (led by Tommy Lee Jones’ Colonel Phillips and Hayley
Atwell’s special agent Peggy Carter, a refreshingly distress-free damsel of a
love interest) don’t know what to do with the newly super-sized Steve. So they
costume him up as “Captain America”
and ship him out on war bond drive (complete with a line of USO chorus girls and
his own theme song, “Star Spangled Man”, composed by Disney songwriters Alan
Menken and David Zippel).
Meanwhile, a Nazi splinter group known as HYDRA is rising to power in Europe.
Under the megalomaniacal leadership of Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), better
known by his “super soldier” serumed pseudonym the Red Skull, is doing what all
good super villains do: plotting to take over the world. To that end, he has
harnessed the power of the “Cosmic Cube” (an ancient artifact legend has it was
created by the Norse Gods… cue the Thor crossover)
for his own arsenal of high tech weaponry (created by Toby Jones’ sniveling Dr.
While on a flop morale tour of US troops, Rogers hears that his best pal
Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) has been captured by HYDRA and left for dead. He
suits up as Captain America and
heads out on a one-man rescue mission that proves his worth to the Army beyond
being a red-white-and-blued spokesman. To better fight the good fight, Cap is
outfitted with an indestructible shield (created by Dominic Cooper’s strutting
Howard Stark… cue the Iron Man crossover)
and teamed with his own battalion of “Howling Commandoes” (as they were known in
the comics), a ragtag crew of inglourious basterds that includes Bucky, Dum Dum
Dugan (Desperate Housewives’ Neal McDonough) and Gabe Jones (Derek Luke).
Together, Cap and company battle the forces of HYDRA, leading our hero to a
one-on-one confrontation with the Red Skull that seals the fates of both of
As the title (awkwardly) suggests, Captain America:
The First Avenger is the latest
of several Marvel Studios movies designed to lead into next summer’s highly
anticipated “super group” epic The
Avengers. In that respect, it more than succeeds in upping the excitement
level, yet (unlike Thor earlier
this year) also succeeds on its own.
Toon Talk Rating: B+
- It’s a high def double feature with the Disney
Blu-ray debut of The Fox and
the Hound and The
Fox and the Hound 2, available August 9.
- Also due that day on Disney DVD and Blu-ray: Mars
- Bambi IImakes its Blu-ray debut on
-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics
Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an
avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk
reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.
Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
is posted whenever there's something new to review.
The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of
our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of
LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation
and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that -
speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
-- Posted July 25, 2011