Captain America: The First Avenger (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/07/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 124 mins

Hugely enjoyable and superbly written, this is a thrilling action-adventure that gets everything right, thanks to a note perfect performance from Chris Evans, a great supporting cast, some terrific action sequences and some impressively inventive direction from Joe Johnston.

What's it all about?
Directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids), Captain America: The First Avenger is based on the popular Marvel Comics character and set in New York in 1942. Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a 90-pound weakling who's desperate to enlist in the US Army alongside his best friend James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan), but who keeps getting ruled as too weak to fight.

When Steve agrees to be part of an experimental project run by Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), he's transformed into a taller, strength-enhanced supersoldier and soon he's being used as a propaganda tool by the US government, under the name Captain America. However, when he learns that Bucky has been imprisoned behind enemy lines, Steve gets a chance to prove himself on the battlefield, aided by gorgeous special agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).

The Good
Chris Evans is perfectly cast, reining in his usual wise-cracking screen persona in favour of a more thoughtful, courageous and heartfelt performance that works brilliantly. There's also a host of terrific performances from a superb support cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones (as Colonel Phillips), Dominic Cooper (as Tony Stark's dad, Howard Stark), Toby Jones (as Nazi genius Doctor Zola) and, best of all, Hugo Weaving, who does a note-perfect Werner Herzog impression as evil, nose-less, red-skinned supervillain The Red Skull (Cap's arch enemy in the comics).

The excellent script perfectly captures the comicbook feel and Johnston gets the tone exactly right throughout – it's also clear that a lot of attention has been paid to the source material (there are several subtle nods to fans) without making the various references distancing for newcomers. In addition, the period detail is extremely impressive and the 3D effects are superb (aside from all the shield-throwing moments, Hayley Atwell's red dress is the best argument for 3D seen so far).

The Great
Johnston orchestrates some terrific set pieces (a thrilling chase scene is an early highlight), including a jaw-droppingly brilliant musical number/montage sequence that actually serves an important dramatic purpose. That said, the film does tail off slightly in the second half and suffers a little from not properly explaining its central plot device (a cosmic cube stolen by The Red Skull).

Worth seeing?
Captain America: The First Avenger is a thoroughly entertaining comicbook movie that's worthy of a place alongside established hits (and fellow future-Avengers) Iron Man and Thor. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 19/10/2017 19:27

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