Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Video review: "Captain America: The First Avenger"
“Captain America: The First Avenger” surprised me by not being awful. Fitfully entertaining in spurts, even. Coming off a summer of super-hero flicks that ranged from awful (“Green Lantern”) to pretty good (“Thor”), “Captain America” exceeded low expectations.
At 124 minutes, it's the rare summer blockbuster that doesn't seem like it's either in a dreadful hurry or languidly dragging its feet. The filmmakers take the time to set up the main character -- it's more than an hour in before Captain America debuts in a fight against the Nazis.
And yet the movie doesn’t dawdle; it simply takes its time establishing Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as a weakling who gets a chance to stand up to bullies after being zapped with the Super Soldier Serum during World War II. Nazis being the biggest bullies of all, they soon get their comeuppance at the hands of Captain America and his indestructible shield.
Speaking of that iconic red, white and blue shield – could somebody explain why it returns to him after he throws it at bad guys? Yes, we learn it's vibranium, the rarest substance on earth, and can absorb any shock. Still doesn't explain the boomerang-ism.
The physical transformation of Rogers from 90-pound asthmatic to hulking super-human is an example of well-done CGI. And Hugo Weaving is excellent as baddie Red Skull, whose moniker isn’t just a nickname.
The movie kind of loses its way in the second half, though, and there’s an annoying romance with a British spy (Hayley Atwell) that’s a long, unnecessary slog. And the plot has to jump through a lot of unconvincing gymnastics so Rogers can be frozen in ice for convenient thawing 70 years later, when sequels and “Avengers” tie-ins are in the offing.
I can’t quite recommend “Captain America: The First Avenger,” but there’s potential there. This character has a future.
Disc features are scrawny on DVD – consisting of just a couple of making-of featurettes – but beef up for Blu-ray.
On Blu-ray, the filmmakers, including director Joe Johnston, team up for a feature-length commentary track. There are also a half-dozen or so making-of featurettes.
My favorite was the one about the evolution of the protagonist’s costume; they demonstrated the unfeasibility of the comic-book version of his duds by having him wear an exact replica of them during Captain America’s debut as a USO entertainer.
The Blu-ray also has deleted scenes and a digital copy of the movie.
Movie: 2.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3 stars out of four