Well, Marvel has done what many have said they couldn't do. Many scoffed at the idea of The Avengers. To pull this off, Marvel would need to introduce each character in their own film and sell the audience on that character from the beginning. There would be no room for error. Even ONE bad movie out of the bunch could sink everything that they've put together. Who could blame people for being skeptical? However, it is my proud duty to inform you that, with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, they have succeeded. Every movie in this series, from Iron Man to Captain America, has been great; now all that remains is The Avengers (more on that later). For those that don't know, the film follows the origin story of the titular Captain. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a puny but patriotic kid from Brooklyn who wants nothing more than to sign up for the Army and kick some Nazi arsch. He is offered a chance to take part in a Super Soldier experiment that turns him into the perfect American hero, with amazing strength, endurance, and agility. The casting here is great; Evans is a perfect Cap, appearing very down-to-Earth and likable at the same time, despite portraying a star-spangled Boyscout. Hugo Weaving is quite good as the Red Skull, but there isn't a great Hero/Villain relationship (an prime example would be Batman (Michael Keaton) and the Joker (Jack Nicholson) in Tim Burton's Batman, or Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Darth Vader (Sebastian Shaw/James Earl Jones) in the Star Wars movies). Red Skull is a Nazi and Cap is an American soldier, so of course they're going to hate eachother, but there's nothing there that makes this Hero/Villain match-up especially unique. Hayley Atwell plays the beautiful-but-cunning Peggy Carter, Cap's love interest, a great departure from the "Lois Lane" we usually see in these kinds of movies. The standout for me (aside from Evans) is Dominic Cooper, who does a fantastic job playing Howard Stark (father of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) from Iron Man). The very second he steps on screen, you can tell, "yup, that's Tony's father." The special effects are, for the most part, quite good. There's heavy use of CGI, but there's only a one or two shots where it's BLATANT CGI (ie. looks especially bad). The makeup for the Red Skull is a standout here, combining practical effects and some digital tweaking to make something that looks really REAL. Also, whereas Thor's 3D seemed arbirtrary and distracting, the 3D here is actually done REALLY well, and is well worth the price of admission. As many before me have said, there IS one shot in 3D involving the shield that WILL make you jump. 3D that actually gets a reaction out of me is an impressive feat, and here it is used to the film's strength. It isn't gimmicky or overused (there aren't fifty "WOAH, LOOK AT THIS SHIELD, MRRROWWWWRRRRRR IT'S COMING RIGHT AT YOU!!!" shots), but it's not underused and distracting (like Thor's). The atmosphere is great, and it really works well as a period piece in the same vein as Indiana Jones or The Rocketeer. I'm not ashamed to say that I felt a bit patriotic during the montage around a quarter in when Cap is selling war bonds and socking Ol' Adolf in the jaw. Captain America is a great ride and the thrilling final chapter in the path leading up to The Avengers.
My Rating: SEE IT IN 3D.
Thought it was over didn't you? No, much like these movies, I've decided to hide a little Easter Egg regarding The Avengers at the very end, right after most people have aready left! So, right, The Avengers. In addition to a little bonus clip showing us what became of Cap after the end of The First Avenger, we actually get a full-length TRAILER! And oh my God, what a trailer it is. This thing left me hyped something fierce. The idea of it sounds incredible enough; Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Captain America, all in the same movie! But when you actually SEE these guys together... It got me excited, to say the least. Anyone who stayed after Thor should know the direction the story will be going in, so there's not much to talk about there. Sadly, we didn't get to see the Hulk at all... Pity, but of course Marvel's going to play up the Jolly Green Giant in the same way they played up the monsters in Cloverfield or Super-8; you have to see the movie to get a good look at him. In addition to the amazing Avengers trailer was the Amazing Spiderman trailer. I might write an entire article on this one (because I have a LOT to say about it), but for now I'll just say this; first person wall-crawling, on the big screen, in 3D. With The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers, 2012 looks to be The Year of the Superhero Movie. And it can't come soon enough.