Thursday Night Movie Club
Captain America: The First Avenger
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Release Date: 22 July 2011

Director: Joe Johnston
Chris Evans
Hayley Atwell
Sebastian Stan
Tommy Lee Jones
Hugo Weaving
Dominic Cooper
Richard Armitage
Stanley Tucci
Samuel L. Jackson
Toby Jones
Neal McDonough
Derek Luke
Kenneth Choi
JJ Feild
Bruno Ricci
Captain America/Steve Rogers
Peggy Carter
James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes
Colonel Chester Phillips
Johann Schmidt/Red Skull
Howard Stark
Heinz Kruger
Dr. Abraham Erskine
Nick Fury
Dr. Arnim Zola
Timothy 'Dum Dum' Dugan
Gabe Jones
Jim Morita
James Montgomery Falsworth
Jacques Dernier
Captain America: The First Avenger movie poster #1 Captain America: The First Avenger movie poster #2 Captain America: The First Avenger movie poster #3
In the early days of America's involvement in World War II, volunteers are pouring out of the wood works to enlist to fight the Nazi hordes. Steve Rogers (Evans) has a burning desire to do his part. He won't back down from a fight no matter who his opponent is. Rogers has only one small problem. Rogers is a small man. He is short and skinny. All the heart and desire in him will not get him passed the Army's physical exam.

Rogers continued pleas and attempts to bypass the system go for naught. Until he catches the attention of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci). Dr. Erskine is heading up a very special and secretive project for the Army and Army Intelligence. He is attempting to use science to transform normal men into a new breed of Super Soldiers. Aiding Dr. Erskine is none other than industrialist/inventor Howard Stark (Cooper). Rogers volunteers to become the first human guinea pig.

The transformation is a resounding success. Success rapidly turns to tragedy a spy kills Dr. Erskine and destroys the lab equipment in the process. Without Erskine, the Super Soldier initiative is put on the back burner. Rogers is even more determined than ever to join the fight No matter how hard he tries, he has already washed out of the Army. No one wants him. But there is one branch of the military that will take Rogers. Rogers joins up. Wearing his now famous red, white and blue costume, Captain America is born. Rogers travels around the country soliciting citizens to purchase war bonds as part of the U.S.O. Not quite what Rogers had in mind.

As fate would have it, Rogers finally makes it over seas to the fighting but he is still part of the U.S.O. His new mission is to give morale to the troops. Ha Ha. The troops heckle him off the stage wanting to see more of the show girls than this costumed buffoon. A raid goes horribly wrong leaving several American troops prisoners of war. A rescue is deemed too risky. The troops are destined to spend the rest of the war in isolation. Rogers best friend, Bucky Barnes (Stan). Rogers knows that he is the only one capable of rescuing the prisoners. Aided by Stark and Peggy Carter (Atwell), Rogers is dropped behind enemy lines. Rogers' rescue mission is a success. Colonel Chester Phillips (Jones) can no longer ignore the value of Captain America. With the right propaganda, Captain America soon becomes a major thorn in the Nazi's side.

But if we can do it... they can do it. The presence of a spy inside the secret U.S. laboratory means that the opposition knows about the Super Soldier Initiative. It follows that the Nazis would have a similar program. Steve Rogers/Captain America's nemesis is Johann Schmidt (Weaving). The Nazi attempt to create their own Super Soldier had a terrible side effect. Schmidt is scarred for life turning him into The Red Skull for obvious reasons.

Only three actors today have the voice and onscreen presence to create the evil masterminds of the modern cinema, Hugo Weaving, Alan Rickman and Jason Isaacs. Captain America turns the reins of terror over to Weaving (the evil agent Smith from The Matrix trilogy). His commanding voice is enough to stop Captain America in his tracks as a factory explodes around them. The Red Skull is calm as can be amidst the surrounding chaos. Menace never had it so good.

Adolph Hitler's grand plan is the rule the world. The Red Skull's plan is to aid Hitler but along the way the Red Skull aims to rule Hitler and the Nazis as well. This is all fine and dandy as long as his minions remains a secret. Captain America is putting a serious damper on the Red Skulls plans.

The special effects in Captain America: The First Avenger are top-notch. Special note goes to the opening sequences showing skinny-runt Steve Rogers. On first glance, one would believe that the opening sequence is actually played by Chris Evans and that future scenes of the bulked up Captain America are the effects shots. In reality, it is quite the opposite. There isn't the slightest visual error in the shots of the skinny Rogers.

Evans also played the hot-headed Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies. Captain America is a much different roll. Steve Rogers is all gung-ho but without the cockiness. He is driven to serve his country, to do his part to defend freedom from tyranny. Evans brings out Rogers' determination as well as his frustration in being the one left behind, the man nobody wants. Rogers is looked down on because of his physical size. Only he can see the potential hidden within. Evans brings out all of these elements.

The action sequences have been done before, most notably in 300. This is the technique of a traveling shot in which the action plays at regular speed and then switches to slow motion as Captain America bowls over German soldiers with his shield. The effect is done well and gives a real sense of the power of Captain America. His boomerang shield is great fun to watch as it bounces off of trucks, soldiers or down winding corridors.

The cast all handle their supporting rolls better than many other comic books turned into movie projects. The standout among the supporting characters is Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark. He looks, sounds and acts the part of the man who will someday be the father of super hero Iron-Man. He is half-crazy with an unlimited supply of enthusiasm combined with a child's glee playing with all of these wonderful toys.

Many of the comic books that have been reincarnated for movies have failed because the screenwriters just cannot seem to get the word "comic" out of their collective consciousness. Other recent attempts (The Green Hornet, Green Lantern and Fantastic Four) have failed because they couldn't avoid the inherit silliness of the concept: comics are supposed to be funny. There is nothing silly with Captain America: The First Avenger. The story, characters and actors take this movie seriously and the result is one of the better comic/movies recently.

Marvel Studios has made no secret in its plans to make a series of individual movies depicting the beginnings of many of its super heroes. The final goal is the upcoming The Avengers movie uniting all of these characters into one grand movie. It is a very good thing that the screen writers, director and producers had the sense to make this a stand-alone film. Captain America accomplishes this and more and leaves the audience wanting more. Soon come mon!