Hey there, people...
I'll be the first to admit that the Marvel movies aimed at setting up their 2012 AVENGERS film haven't been perfect. Personally I really dug THE INCREDIBLE HULK and IRON MAN. I felt IRON MAN 2 and THOR were weak in comparison, which left me wary of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, but I still held VERY high hopes that it would be the badass movie that I wanted it to be. Hell, before seeing it, this and Fincher's GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO were the only films that gave me a cinematic boner when I saw the previews. Thankfully, Joe Johnston and company executed THE FIRST AVENGER with highest precision.
Is this movie perfect? No. Is it the best Marvel film - along with just being a really good movie? I strongly believe so. Especially when seeing super hero movies like GREEN LANTERN (God forbid anyone from seeing it) and watching the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN trailer (God forbid that, too) - it only helps one to appreciate CAPTAIN AMERICA that much more as a movie.
THE FIRST AVENGER works well because, no matter how fanciful it becomes, the story always carries a slight taste of reality. Of course it deals with WWII and Nazis and Germans with ray guns, but CA also makes us feel that society, our country, and our military needs a being like Steve Rogers - much like the first IRON MAN made us wish there were Tony Starks in the world, which I also loved. This Captain America is a superhero, but he's also a critical part of a far more real world. And, even within his superheroicness, he evokes tangible real world counterparts - like Seal Team Six, for instance. He's not...inaccessible.
Although CAPTAIN AMERICA is more or less a period piece, it doesn't force it's setting upon you. There are strong trappings of the 1940s throughout, but there's so much sci-fi-ness and modern themes, designs, and ideas in it - it really is a story that could be actually be told in any era. You can pretty much get the basic plot of this film from the trailers and TV-spots. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a man with health conditions which prevent him from joining the army during WWII. Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) finds Rogers and recruits him to later be transformed in "Captain America." Red Skull, along his evil army, have in their possession a strange cube with great powers - and attempt to take down America (not for Hitler, but for himself). From there, it's up to Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wrangle the Captain and ultimately save the day.
Simple enough, yes. But this is a whole journey - from start to finish - that captures and holds our attention. Never once did I find myself bored in this movie, and the main reason for this is: scenes in this movie are strategically short and they never drag on. This isn't good because I'm ADD (which I am) - it's good because it means there's very little flab here, which brings the film a sense of propulsion and urgency. Each non-action sequence scene feels like it runs between 2-4 minutes, moving things along briskly but still giving actors enough room to make their points. Which they do well...
Rarely do I find myself amused by an entire cast, but I did in this movie. Everyone is perfectly cast for the character they play. The genius Mr. Stark is a completely different personality than his son (the Tony we see in IRON MAN), but there are still some subtle and amusing similarities. The Colonel is your hardcore military man, yet also the comedic relief of the movie with his jack-ass, take-no-prisoners persona. Hayley Atwell's character is hot...very hot...and has good chemistry with Steve/Evans. Finally, Chris Evans nails both versions of his role - the sad, sickly, weak reject and the ripped, high-octane badass . He's my new favorite character in the Avengers universe, sorry Robert Downey Jr.
If you have any desire to see this movie, you won't be disappointed. Whether you're a child or grown up, there's a little something for all - humor, suspense, drama, hard action, James Bondish super tech, and even a hilariously gaudy musical montage. Go! For every one of you who don't see and love CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER this weekend, somewhere a patriotic puppy will become sad!
PS: Stay after the credits to see the first teaser for THE AVENGERS. It'll give you quiet a nerdgasm.