Monday, December 12, 2011

Movie Review: Captain America

Sorry this is late, it's finals week for me and the USB with projects for two of my classes exploded and had to spend a few hours fixing that, fun times. Also, Christmas is coming up really soon which means I'll be traveling around so the updates might be a bit wonky. I have plenty of things to type about it's just a matter of getting my computer to agree with the local wi-fi, fingers crossed that my laptop will be in a good mood.

So here it is, the last movie I'm watching on campus for the year and there's not much else to say to introduce it. This is the last Marvel movie before The Avengers coming out this summer (it even has Avenger in the title) and was meant to introduce the last big member of the group (since the Black Widow and Hawkeye only got cameos in Iron Man 2 and Thor and no one knows what's up with Nick Fury, I've heard that even Joss Whedon, who directed the movie, knows his backstory) and it did that pretty well.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Summary: It's World War II and Steve Rodgers just really wants to go to Europe to fight Nazis on the front lines. Trouble is that he is a 4F, completely unfit for combat, and keeps getting denied until the scientist Abraham Erskine decides that he might be just the kind of man they need for their new combat project to create the perfect soldier.

The Good: I was pleasantly surprised that plot wasn't as straightforward as "Steve Rodgers becomes Captain America and goes to kick Nazi ass," it was actually a bit more complicated to get to that point and it actually worked well both logically and for the plot. I was also surprised that again there was a prominent female side character who was very competent at her job and, since her job is being a British secret agent, she also gets a chance to kick ass. In this respect Captain America is a bit more like Thor than the Iron Man movies since both of them have a bigger side cast that gets a chance to be more fleshed out, something the movies really didn't need to do since, well, if The Avengers is set in the modern day you can already guess the ending.   

The Bad: While the plot progression worked and was logical there were times it just felt too slow to me in the early parts of the movie. It probably wouldn't feel as slow a second time around but for a while I was wondering how they were ever going to get to Nazi Germany. There were also some scenes that seemed too over the top and unrealistic, even for a superhero movie (mostly the parts involving Hydra, the actual villains of the movie) and at times Red Skull was just so hammy that i couldn't help but roll my eyes. The movie wasn't my favorite of the Marvel superhero films but it was a solid entry regardless.

The Audio: One again the music in this movie stood out much less to me than the visuals. The only piece that really stands out to me was a scene towards the end where there is a radio playing in the background and I liked how the sound people had gone to the trouble to make it sound like an authentic 1940s transmission (and considering nothing jerked me out of the movie they must have payed the same amount of attention to everything else).

The Visuals: The CGI in this movie didn't look as sharp to me as it could have and some of my friends, who had seen the movie once already, noticed the same inconsistent bits in places. It's a given that a superhero movie is going to need CGI to achieve quite a few scenes but with movies as high budget as these the CGI doesn't seem to be quite top of the line. For the traditional bits on screen I rather liked them, I'm fond of 1940s clothing and style and the movie did a good job at making these things look both historically authentic and like real set pieces or articles of clothing. Nothing looked shiny and fresh, they looked aged and used which was a very nice touch. And of course, the CGI used to make Captain America's actor look like a super scrawny person at first was exceedingly well done. I was really curious to see how well this turned out since I know of another movie in the planning stages who want to use this same group for body modification CGI and now I really want to see what else they can do. 

Tangentially related to this, the other night my friends and I marathoned the two Iron Man movies back to back and after seeing this and Thor relatively recently we noticed something interesting. In Thor we are introduced to both a seemingly magical device called the tessecrat (or apparently the cosmic cube according to wikipedia) and one of the characters also figures out that the "magic" of the gods is in fact highly advanced science. This tessecrat appears in Captain America (it's the little blue device that Red Skull obtains from the monastery that powers one of their weapons and Howard Stark experiments with it) and then in the stinger in Thor (I think they had just recovered it from Captain America's plane). My friends figured out however that whatever the tessecrat is is the new element that Tony Stark created in the second Iron Man movie and it was based on plans that his father had left behind. I think this is a really neat little subplot that Marvel has woven through their movies and it also took care of some of my issues with Iron Man 2 so kudos to Marvel so putting in some serious thought for how to connect these movies in more than just a superficial manner.   

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