The last foundation piece in Marvel’s marathon jigsaw of movies, years in the making, comes to a conclusion in Captain America: The First Avenger. Much of the setting up for the climatic ‘Avengers’ has already been done earlier in both ‘Iron mans’, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Thor’ and Marvel’s latest entry feels very much like it’s running on tired legs, lacking a springy step against earlier zesty efforts.
Chris Evans is Steve Rogers, the tough ‘little man’ who isn’t deterred by continuing rebuttals to join up to take the American war effort to WWII Europe. He is finally selected for his ‘human’ qualities for a special programme to become the first ‘super-soldier’ that will change the course of the war against the Nazi’s and Hitler’s renegade former henchman and ‘Hydra’ division leader, Johann Schmidt Aka ‘Red Skull’(Hugo Weaving) .
The first half is a salute to all things American, within a captivating origin story that sets the scene for a second half of all too infrequent skirmishes on Europe’s battlefront that never really delivers on its promise.
Evans plays down the heroic wisecracking of his other superhero persona ‘The Human Torch’ of ‘The Fantastic Four’ so much so, that ‘Cap’ is well… pretty boring, to the point that his CG withered, pre enhancement dreamer offers far greater dimension and more of a hook in the ‘rooting for’ stakes.
It’s the skinny guy who provides any emotional grounding when the ‘poster boy’ captain’s war efforts fail to provide any real peril or true comradeship, attempted at by the usual rag tag band of heroes and an un-bothering best pal dynamic.
A midpoint ‘propaganda’ drive, while being fun could have been sacrificed for greater characterisation instead of an entrenched second act of clashes that builds to a brief, unrewarding finale with Hugo Weaving’s ‘Red Skull’ whose almost camp, Germanic musings are so stereotypical it dissolves any genuine menace.
The monopoly on wisecracking is given to and handled as deftly as always by the superb Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips who supplants all others to provide great laughs and ‘Cap’s’ best scene with a friendly interrogation of Toby Jones’ Hydra scientist Dr. Zola – “What is this? – Steak. What is in it? – Cow”. A better sharing of the comic wealth may have better served in creating a multi-dimensional ‘Captain America’ to truly root for.
Love interest is provided by ‘English rose’ Peggy (Halley Atwell), which goes on too tentatively and too long, when there is more than a nod and a wink to her ‘fonduing’ with the welcome appearance of Howard Stark, providing an origin in itself to the Stark family’s legacy and a synchronisation point for Marvel’s ‘Iron Man’.
With midpoint stagnation building to dissatisfying closing fisticuffs, only rescued with ‘Cap’s’ best moment in a time spanning ‘awakening’ which blatantly and unashamedly sets up ‘The Avengers’ (but no less brilliant) there’s a feeling that this was all ‘Captain America’ was only ever intended to be.
A fabulous origin piece in the first act that miscarries when dividing its attention in telling enough of ‘The First Avenger’s’ own earth saving story when only providing sporadic action; all while in sight of the big ‘assembly’ just round the corner.
‘Claratsi rating’ 7/10
“worth a look”
Watched on Sky Movies