Another Marvel comic adaptation, following in the footsteps of Iron Man, Thor and pals, Captain America focuses on one of Marvel’s earliest creations (he first appeared in comics in 1941), and certainly their most patriotic. For the Captain with a stars and stripe costume and shield is the alter ego of Steve Rogers, a weedy young fellow who desperately wants to fight for his country in World War II but in reality isn’t even strong enough to take the lid off a jam jar by himself.
In this cinematic version of events, young Steve (Evans) finds himself rejected by the US military recruiters on account of numerous weaknesses, but then snapped up by scientist Dr Erksine (a fun turn from Stanley Tucci) with a special project on the go. Soon, Steve is being strapped into a pod-like machine and injected with serum, an elixir that turns him into a muscular dreamboat with a bod Schwarzenegger would be jealous of. Of course, nasty Nazis want the serum too, especially renegade baddie Johann Schmidt (Weaving) who is part-Bond villain, part-mad scientist, and utterly determined to take over the world, regardless of what his mate Hitler is doing. Could our newly-buff, shield-carrying good guy be the one to save the day, and the world?
With enjoyable support from Jones (as army colonel Phillips) and Dominic Cooper (as Howard Stark, inventor dad of Tony, aka Iron Man), this adventure romps along in the early stages and bears more than a slight resemblance to Raiders Of The Lost Ark (watch out for Schmidt making a sly reference to events from Spielberg’s classic early on). Director Joe Johnston handles the retro feel with flair (even though, as so often seems to be the case, the 3D isn’t worth the bother) but, once Steve goes from weakling to he-man (via a great sequence in which he uses his new physique to sell war bonds) and starts using his fists, a few plot holes appear and the action becomes so-so, leading to a disappointingly dull finale.
It doesn’t help that Evans (whose head on a skinny body in the early scenes looks distractingly freaky) has as much charisma as a turnip, or that his romantic lead (Atwell) is equally forgettable, but one hopes Evans’ lack of cinematic suaveness will be accounted for when they’re handing out screen time when he returns as Captain America in 2012’s ensemble pic The Avengers.
Is Captain America: The First Avenger suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This movie is aimed at kids over the age of 12.
Schmidt is quite sinister throughout and when he becomes SPOILER ALERT! Red Skull, his face may frighten younger viewers.