Every once in a while there comes a movie that changes the face of the industry forever. Captain America is not that movie. And every once in a while there comes a movie that scars the industry so bad that it never looks the same again. Captain America is not that movie either. I’ll tell you what Captain America is – yet another superhero flick. Nothing more, nothing less – just that.
The release of the film has been grossly mistimed. Just when the world was reeling from an overdose of testosterone-charged alpha-males beating the crap out of wicked, sinister beings, Hollywood decided to pop another one out. It’s World War 2 and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has failed to enrol in the army. He is a vertically-challenged 90-pounder with an assortment of ailments; so no surprises here. Despite this, he is a fanatical patriot. Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) notices his fervent enthusiasm and recruits Rogers. However, it isn’t long before they shove his lousy arse into a capsule-shaped chamber and stuff him with micro-injections of serum doused with ‘vita-rays.’ He emerges as a buffed up, macho-man, a foot or so taller than he originally was, all ready to impress women and kick some evil Nazi butt.
For any movie to be at least watchable, the protagonist needs to possess better acting talent than a mannequin, yes? Director Joe Johnston is clearly unaware of this “golden rule” of movie-making. Chris Evans is a tall, powerful man who would have made one hell of a mannequin in a Nike store but his talents are wasted as an actor. He does his part in a contrived manner, as if he isn’t sure of what he is doing either.
The villain doesn’t fare much better either, perhaps out of consideration of not giving Captain America an inferiority complex. Johann Schmidt or Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) isn’t the epitome of evil you’d expect him to be. He looks like a cross between The Mask and Voldemort, neither man known for their facial structures. Red as a baboon’s backside, hairless with flat ears and crater for nostrils, it might make you wonder what caused him this drastic loss of sex appeal. Since villains and heroes justify the existence of each other – they have to be evenly matched. They are made for each other in the movie, so, woohoo for that.
Set in the 1940s, the film does its best to rekindle the American hatred for the Germans. However, it doesn’t have much of war-like feeling to it. Everything focuses around Captain America. He is the freedom fighter that American’s never had. The movie goes to great lengths to instil a sense of patriotism among its countrymen. The whole show is about America – American glory, soldiers, saving America from the clutches of evil, the American colours on the costume and shield; ad nauseam. Bet the Germans thought that sucked.
The special effects and action are the only noteworthy things. They aren’t groundbreaking, but through this pile of chaos you need something to cling on to. The fight sequences are exciting and have been backed up by solid effects. They have repeatedly CGI-ed Evans, leaving one wondering if there’s any scene where he looks his usual self. (And that’s a compliment too!)
The dialogue isn’t very clever. There is a part where Red Skull asks, “You don’t give up, do you?” to which our faithful Captain, ever the man of words, smartly replies ‘No’ instead of the hundred other possible funny retorts (like ‘That’s what she said!’). However, superhero movies usually make a rather pleasurable watch. They don’t require much effort to digest, don’t overtax your grey cells and entertain well. Captain America earns some brownie points there.
Even by the end I couldn’t figure out what his superpower was meant to be – he couldn’t fly, he couldn’t turn invisible or shoot laser – but he could jump really well, so I am inclined to think that it had something to with frogs. The movie also gives away a bitter truth – the real American hero is a miniature version of King Kong pumped with steroids. Gosh, the Americans must be feeling really proud. Alas, there’s no justification for the stupid wings on his helmet. I still have no clue as to what Marvel is doing, but with X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Iron Man 2 already out and The Amazing Spider Man and Ant-Man in the making, I don’t want to know either!
The author blogs on Blogspot – psychocritic.blogspot.com.