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One Movie Punch

Jan 29, 2018

Today’s movie is “Captain America: The First Avenger”, starring Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, a sickly young man desperate to join the army to fight the Nazis during World War II. After being rejected for medical reasons, a Nazi defector and scientist named Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees potential in Steve and signs him up for an experimental program, in collaboration with Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Tony Stark’s father.

There is so much to love about this film. From the moment Steve Rogers is given a chance, you cannot help but root for him, watching him fail at the physical tests, but using his heart and his mind to succeed where others failed, all under the watchful gaze of Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell). After passing a key test, Steve is chosen for the super soldier program, and succeeds in transforming into a much taller, incredibly buff Steve Rogers.

However, the same process that works on Steve Rogers was first attempted within the Nazi weapons division, a terrorist group known as Hydra, on Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), the leader of Hydra. And Hydra has acquired an ancient technology from a church in Norway, a relic from the Asgardians known as the Tesseract, an object of immense power that Hydra is attempting to weaponize.

The cast is a combination of great acting and great casting. Chris Evans, with the help of some nice editing, literally becomes Steve Rogers and then later Captain America. Hayley Atwell debuts Agent Carter with a performance so strong that she would go on for two television seasons and future film appearances, along with Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark. Tommy Lee Jones is well cast as Col. Chester Phillips, although the role isn’t much of a stretch. And Hugo Weaving as Red Skull brings all the gravitas from his work in previous films. Even little casting choices, like Toby Jones as Dr. Armin Zola have big consequences in later films and shows.

The only criticism I have with the film are some of the slow-motion action scenes, while exuding that comic book panel feel, tend to look overtly green-screened, but that might be because the real-time action scenes were so good. I also feel that viewing the film after the revelations in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Agent Carter” confuses the narrative, especially given Hydra’s ancient, cosmic, cultic origins. I’m willing to overlook all that, though, with the rapid fire nostalgia and poignancy that keeps this film engaging and enthralling from start to finish.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80% (CERTIFIED)

Metacritic: 66

One Movie Punch: 9.0/10

“Captain America: The First Avenger” is rated PG-13 and is available wherever you enjoy movies.