Monday, August 8, 2011

A Shield of Excellence

Marvel Studio’s Captain America The First Avenger Means Bad News For Nazis and Good News for Fans of Fun and Excitement!

On Continuity
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Something is always changed, but rarely do those changes take anything away from the original material and stays close enough that all the original elements are covered. Call this movie a rarity because it did just that. Skinny reject from NewYork becomes the icon of a country saving the world from an evil madman bent on world domination, that somehow, always gets his hands on the Cosmic Cube. After saving the world, he is frozen and revived to continue being the icon of a country in present times...yup, it’s all there.
ARTH VADER (AV): Pontificator, the magic of Captain America, are the characters, hands down. Once again, Hollywood picks GREAT source material, but unlike so many other comic or graphic novel movies, Cap clings tight to the original story thread. This is the stuff of great super-hero movies. Originally conceived in World War II, Marvel gained the rights to WWII’s living legend, Silver Age of Comics Captain America in the early 1960's. This acquisition paved the way for the and brought about a super-hero renaissance. Instead of sidestepping the bright-colored patriotic garb and swash-buckling boots, Marvel chooses to use this as a storytelling tool that just further legitimizes the movie adaptation for me.
Casting, Directing and Acting
AV: Casting Chris Evans was pivotal, Ponty. There was some pretty raucous fan-boy uproar over this choice since Evans had previously portrayed Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch in 2005’s Fantastic Four. There are other Gems in Captain America though, dear readers. The venerable Tommy Lee Jones, the sensual Hayley Atwell and cool movie titan Hugo Weaving round out a star-spangled cast. A healthy nod to director Joe Johnston’s vision that made this movie slip from good and flirt with great.

Chris Evans has erased any doubt that he isn’t Captain America and Hugo Weaving didn’t do any less as the Red Skull. Dominic Cooper nailed who I thought Howard Stark would be based off seeing his son Tony, for two movies. Everyone brought depth to their roles, giving the casting and acting first rate status. The directing was just as superb, the film flowed so smoothly I was barely aware I had been sitting for two hours. The movie drew me in and refused to let me catch my breath...and that’s just the direction I want to go in.

Special Effects
AV: I don’t know how to explain exactly how deep the special effects were in this movie but I promise to be brief. SFX are just short of spellbinding these days, but in Captain America they are deceptively genius. Most notably is the hauntingly seamless portrayal of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as a 98 lb. weakling. It is hard to describe the effect as it is understated and so well executed that our eyes accept what we see as real. Suffice it to say it is some of the most mystifying SFX work I have seen to date.
TP: Agreed Vader...I too was mystified. The movie wasn’t bogged down with over-the-top effects.They were subtle and yet realistic. The presentation of Howard Stark’s “car of the future” shows it all...plausible with that “whoa” effect. The Captain himself embodied this since everything he did was plausible, but still made you say “whoa.” The advanced vehicles of Hydra were outstanding and the vaporizing effect of the weapons was just pure “wow.” How can any effects conversation happen without mentioning the shield? It can’t...the shield was awesome and when Cap threw it...I can only imagine the number of wet seats in the theater where every fanboy was letting loose.
Taking A Deeper Look
TP: The mark of a great film embodies ample amounts of humor, drama and action. Mark this paragraph, Captain America: The First Avenger is a great film. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud sequences, emotion swelling drama...and ample amounts of action. We got all that so smooth and connected that I was hard pressed to find any flaws. Anyone that was ever bullied, been the underdog, or been the little guy was instantly connected with Steve Rogers. Stanley Tucci was powerful as Dr. Abraham Erskine in his conviction of Rogers being a “good man” and delivered powerful thought food when he said “Most people forget that the first towns the Nazis invaded were their own.” Setting this film during World War II was exactly what needed to happen to accurately convey who Steve Rogers was and why Captain America was important.

Couldn't agree more, old friend! Captain America is a resounding success. That said, as a fanboy, I can’t help but wonder what this movie means in the face of continuity of this latest Marvel franchise. Did the Invaders happen? Will we be introduced to Baron Zemo? Will we see the like of [the original] Human Torch or the Sub Mariner? These all offer fascinating quandaries into the Captain America/Avengers mega-sphere. While the Red Skull, Cap’s arch nemesis, is clearly slated to be a super-baddy in future story lines, this movie does a handsome job of setting the stage for all kinds of sequel story lines and possibilities.

Looking Ahead: Sequels

TP: The only sequel I’m looking for is “Avengers!” After that, you can talk to me about Captain America II. There is no shortage of material in the Captain America mythos and thus, no shortage of potential screen material. I would like to see Baron Zemo, but the direction the first film took would make him an awkward choice now. No doubt Hydra continues on so Baron von Strucker might make an appearance as might Arnim Zola. I would be thrilled, with any sequel that features a Taskmaster versus Cap situation.

You and I are of a like mind here, Pontificator. The saga of Captain America isn’t told in one shot – not with the ending they gave us! As an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., he has incredible traction as both an Avenger and a super-agent. And let’s discuss the Avengers for a moment. This is going to be the THE greatest super-hero movie ever made. Even the sub-title for this movie, The First Avenger, implies the coming of this epic super-hero event in 2012. Furthermore, the Avengers means the introduction of scores of new characters (and new potential movie franchises!) such as Hawkeye the archer (Jeremy Renner), Russian super-spy Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and other possible additions like The Black Panther (rumored to be back in production), Ant-man & The Wasp, The Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver, among many others. Suffice it to say, I am so dang excited I could plotz! I can wait to see how it all unfolds.The Avengers, they are assembling…
THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Captain America: The First Avenger: An excellent movie...possibly one of the best hero films ever made, makes it easy to give it nine busted blocks.
Arth Vader rates Captain America: At a time in our nation’s history when many Americans feel divided and uncertain about the future of this country, this movie reminds us of the virtues of dedication, sacrifice and true patriotism. It does a good (and timely!) job of helping us remember what it means to stand in the face of adversity and give it a good right hook. Captain America is a family-friendly delight and a must-see on the big screen. I salute Marvel’s Captain America with a solid nine busted blocks. Good fun, great time and oh – whatever you do – STAY through the closing credits!

Captain America – The First Avenger: 9/10 Busted Blocks

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