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Toon Talk: Captain America: The First Avenger
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
July 25, 2011
Kirby reviews the latest release from Disney's Marvel Studios, the blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt

Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-3n/

Reel American Hero

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 Captains four-color exploits have taken him from the battlefields of World War II to the far reaches of outer space. But Caps 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 wont 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 Atwells special agent Peggy Carter, a refreshingly distress-free damsel of a love interest) dont 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. Zola).

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 Coopers 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 them.

As the title (awkwardly) suggests, Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest of several Marvel Studios movies designed to lead into next summers 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+

Coming Soon:

  • Its 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 Needs Moms.
  • Bambi IImakes its Blu-ray debut on August 23.

Discuss It

-- 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