Wednesday 27 July 2011
While some Marvel films have had plots with weak points, the overall plot of Captain America was senseless. We have a bullied boy who gets to be a super soldier, but he has no clear mission. It’s almost like he decides to save the world for the heck of it because he has nothing better to do just like a certain Johnny Storm. Red Skull could have been a great villain, but there is no clear motivation for his evil that I could discern. Sure he wants world domination, but he is more like a plot convenience, evil so that Captain America could be the good guy. The rest of the characters were pretty much all stock with about as much depth as postage stamps while the dialogue was so corny, I could have had it as a side dish with my BBQ chicken.
Speaking of ol’ Johnny, I thought Chris Evans was terrible in Fantastic Four, but in this film he finds a new level of bad. I swear he was channeling Reb Brown from the old 70’s television pilot for Captain America. To be fair, it probably had a lot to do with the godawful writing, but I have never seen such a one-dimensional hero. He’s so golden, my eyes hurt. Chris plays Steve Rogers/Captain America as a stalwart, pure-hearted Boy Scout who is perfect from start to finish. There is no character growth. As the ninety pound weakling and the god-like super soldier, he remains the boy-next-door patriot, the aw shucks, gee whiz, shoe scuffing puppy. He has no shadow or depth whatsoever and you’d think someone who spent the majority of his life getting beat down would have an issue or three. And not just “I don’t like bullies.” I did not for one minute buy into this I-just-want-to-be-a-good-guy bullshit trope. No one is that freakin’ pure-hearted unless they’re a child or Mother Theresa. Even Luke Skywalker wanted revenge.
It’s disturbing how he never questions anything beyond the one “Why me?” to Dr. Erskine. For crying out loud he’s a super soldier and they send him on a war bonds selling tour. He laps the assignment up like candy and it’s not until the real soldiers humiliate him that he wakes the hell up and starts to think for himself. Too little too late if you ask me. Let me give you another example of just how ridiculously naïve and pure this guy is. As Weak Steve, the ninety pound twig, he has no game. His friend Bucky tries to get him a girl, but he’s clearly not interested. So he becomes a badass power warrior. Even after this process, Rogers still gets no girl action beyond a chaste kiss from Peggy and one rather steamy one from a sexy secretary after she recognizes him from the newspaper. Then there’s big action sequences until he winds up frozen in ice for almost 70 years. So that means that Captain America is officially America’s oldest virgin. Get this man a purity ring.
The supporting cast was great and did what they could with such limited characters. Tommy Lee Jones is the gruff colonel who can’t stand “the 90 pound asthmatic.” Hugo Weaving stood out as the megalomaniacal Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, although his mask looked like it came straight out of Jim Carrey’s movie. He was, however, the only one to come close to a good German accent. Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones sounded like cartoon characters trying imitate Germans. The other stand out for me was Hayley Atwell. She did a superb job as Agent Peggy Carter and her character was smart, strong and held her own against the blundering males. Her chemistry with Evans was purely one-sided, though. At certain points he looked like he really wanted to bring out the lurve, but alas, he was more focused on saving the world from bullies.
I will give the film props for exquisite art direction. Johnston and crew really brought the period to life with superb costumes and set design. The production absolutely had the look and feel of the early 40’s. Hydra’s weapons were wicked cool, skillfully blending 40’s tech with a bit of steampunk and sci fi. I also appreciated the war bonds stage show. It was a faithful recreation of some of those over-the-top propaganda gimmicks. This film also blended nicely with The Avengers continuity with the source for Thor’s power used to fuel the Hydra weapons.
I know a lot of people loved this movie, but for my money it was a real stinker. X-Men: First Class, Thor and Green Lantern were far superior films to this. I like my heroes with some edge and here’s hoping that Joss Whedon will give Captain America some depth with The Avengers. You know, maybe hanging out with the sophisticated Tony Stark is just what the Red, White and True Blue naïve boy needs.