One has to wonder with the super patriotic mood that swept America after 9/11, how did it take Hollywood 10 years to make a Captain America movie? Not that this is a bad movie, but if it had come out in 2002 it would have been better if just for timing.
This story is set in the early 1940’s as America is entering WWII. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a 90 pound weakling with every medical malady you could imagine (asthma, hypertension, flat feet, etc.) Despite his frail build Steve has enough heart and patriotic spirit for ten men. He dreams of joining the army so he can give his life for his country as his father did, but recruiting station after station reject him as medically unfit. He stands up to a bully in a movie theater who disrespected the army and gets his butt kicked for it, but no matter how many times the bully knocks Steve down he keeps getting up and fighting. Steve doesn’t believe you can run away from a bully, or else you’re spend your whole life running.
While his friend is trying to dissuade him from trying to enlist at yet another recruiting station, German American army scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) overhears and is impressed by Steve’s fervent patriotism and determination. He approves Steve’s enlistment papers and assigns him to the Strategic Scientific Reserve, a super soldier program run by Dr. Erskine with hard nose Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and British Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Steve is half the size of the other soldiers, lags behind on runs and drills, but refuses to give up. Colonel Phillips tosses a dummy grenade into the squad. The other men scatter. Steve heroically jumps on the grenade. “You win wars with guts,” Phillips says, and Steve is chosen to be the first for the super soldier procedure.
Meanwhile, in Germany we meet Dr. Erskine’s first test subject for the super soldier serum Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). However the serum was not perfected at that time, and instead of turning Schmidt into a sculpted Chris Evans, it turned him into a hideous red monstrosity. Now, more evil than ever, Schmidt has captured a mystical glowing cube which holds immense powers that he plans to use for world domination.
The story sets up its heroes and villains, good vs. evil, patriotism vs. Nazism. The themes are clear and uncomplicated. There’s plenty of action and fight scenes in this movie, but I don’t think the filmmakers intended it to be a special effects bonanza. The effects are good. In fact the early scenes where Chris Evan’s head is placed on a scrawny man’s body are seamless, but the emphasis here is on the story.
The performances are all competent. Evans looks like how Captain America should look, and he’s convincing as a selfless youth from Brooklyn who would never put himself before others. Jones and Weaving never put in bad performances and they don’t disappoint here. Jones is the same warm but firm character he’s played in so many films. Weaving is a solid villain. Every movie like this is required to have a hot chick in it, and Atwell plays the hot chick role, but she does it with considerably more depth than say Huntington-Whitney in Transformers 3.
Everything about this movie is good, but nothing that will blow you away. It’s well told but a little slow and predictable. The 1940’s setting is a nice change of pace from other comic book movies. If you’ve seen the trailer and think you’d like this movie, I don’t think you’d be disappointed.