Thursday, November 10, 2011

Captain America. F--- Yeah!

I finally got around to seeing Captain Ameria: The Last Trailer For The Avengers Movie and it was...well, a movie. The superhero things are kind of losing their luster for me; the gee-whiz factor has really been gone for years—a casualty of ubiquitous CGI—but the real thing is just that the movies are getting (predictably) worse.

Captain America starts very strong. It's World War II (the best war). We're introduced to the physically frail Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, who played The Human Torch in The Fantastic Four movies) who, like all red-blooded young American men in 1943 wants to enlist in the armed forces. But he's just a wreck, physically. 4F.

He finds a way in when he's picked out by an army scientist for a super-soldier person. The scientist (Stanley Tucci, who seems to enliven every movie he's in, no matter how otherwise banal) reasons that an honorable, frail man will respect the power that the super-soldier program will give him in a way a naturally powerful man might not.

This part of the film is really good. It's unabashedly pro-American. Rogers is a truly heroic character in his wimpy form. And the transformation from wimpy dude to muscle-bound hero is great. (Well, really, it's the imposition of Chris Evans' face on a frail body that's so impressive.)

It's after he becomes Captain America that things start to drift. First, he's off selling war bonds. This is kind of cool and realistic, but it goes on too long. But then it gets into the action. And the action is, well, meh.

You know, director Joe Johnston has made one really excellent film: October Sky. But I guess that stuff don't pay the bills, so he does stuff like Wolf Man and Hidalgo—which, upon reflection all suffer in the same way. Johnston likes his characters, and you see this in a lot of little ways. Every character seems to matter.

But the action is just dull. It's all of the "fight until the scene is over" kind of stuff. The story progresses as it should but lacks tension and excitement.

Acting-wise, Evans seems to have gone to charm school since his Johnny Storm days, which is good, given the role. Hayley Atwill is appealing even if her character is somewhat stale even by comic book standards. Tommy Lee Jones is Tommy Lee Jones. And Toby Jones is Toby Jones, but with an English accent.

Then there's the villainous Red Skull. He's played by Hugo Weaving, who's been a popular heavy since his days of menacing Keanu Reeves in the Matrix movies. (He also made elves a lot more menacing than I imagined them to be in Lord of the Rings.) Thing is? He's actually way scarier without the Red Skull makeup.

The Red Skull's villainy is another place where director Johnston seems to lack conviction. I mean, he's a Nazi and he's got all kinds of blasty weapons, but there's no blowing-up-a-planet moment. I never felt like he was a real threat to the Captain.

Suffice to say that The Boy was mildly offended at the stupidity of the action scenes. Even with low expectations, they weren't met. And we did find ourselves talking about how bad the scenes were. Like, when the Captain is conducting his first raid amongst a crowd of laser-gun equipped Nazis, you can see the various Nazi extras waiting for their turn to attack. And the Boy felt it was unrealistic for a bunch of soldiers to be firing with automatic weapons at point blank range and not hit anything.

I've always kind of liked Johnston's movies, even when they weren't popular (like Hidalgo), but this whole movie felt a lot like padding. I'm feeling a little milked by the Marvel folks. This bodes ill for the Avengers movie.

9 comments:

  1. Well that was always the issue with Captain America. And Comics in general. Unless he is fighting another super powered being who doesn't have a gun how does he escape ever getting shot with the bullets flying every which way.

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  2. I recently purchased a book on kindle which was a compiltion of essays about Captain America and his role in American society. It was very interesting and illuminating.

    But I think the movie was really just fluff like most of the comic book movies.

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  3. It is a problem, generally, with Supes having it worst of all. But is it really any different from any recurring heroic character? Or any hero, come to think of it? Othello isn't brought down by a spear.

    It's interesting to note which ones work and which ones don't. The '70s Superman movies work (to the extent that they do) because of him struggling with his humanity and caring about others.

    Same with--sorta--Tim Burton's Batman. (Though "Batman Returns" has to be one of the rock bottom comic-book-hero movies ever.)

    It had already gotten hack by the third Spider-man movie, and ditched when Rattner did the third X-Men movie.

    But these moments are meant to create a vehicle for the action, or you end up with Singer's "Superman Returns" movie. And with the recent ones--Thor, Capt. America, Green Lantern--the action's no good either. It's just an attempt to overwhelm through CGI.

    Meh.

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  4. The worst part of the whole new Marvel series is what they have done with Nick Fury. The actually used the characters of the Howling Comandos only this time they were led by Bucky who is not a teenaged sidekick but the adult friend of Capt America. Instead they made Sgt Nick Fury out to be the Snakes in the Plane guy.

    That is not a ninny I would have picked. So to speak.

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  5. Raaaaaaaaaaaacist!

    Except that they probably did it for exactly the same reason Lucas used Jackson for "Star Wars". Attracting the "urban audience".

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  6. Nick Fury is supposed to be somebody like Neville Brand or James Remar. Not the Snakes on a Plane douchenozzle.

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  7. It's almost like having the biggest drug addict in Hollywood play Iron Man.

    Hey wait a minute......

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  8. In fairness (possibly undeserved), we haven't seen any personality out of Nick Fury yet, so maybe Jackson'll play it differently.

    As for Iron Man, I thought he was an alcoholic! Typecasting!

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  9. I just think it was rip off to have "Howling Comando's" and no Sgt Nick Fury.

    Also the timeline is all messed up as they had to change the story. Cap is found in 2011 instead of 1960's.

    The world is not making any sense.

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