"Captain America: The First Avenger," the fourth comic book movie of the summer, is the best comic book movie of the summer, a light, clever and deftly balanced adventure picture with real lump-in-the-throat nostalgia, with Nazis — who make the best villains — and with loving references to "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost...
There is so much “business” that the fourth big comic book movie adaptation of the summer has to take care of that frankly, it’s astounding that director Joe “Jumanji” Johnston is able to take care of it all, and with style.
“Captain America” has to connect this World War II-era hero to modern times. The movie has to tie into all the other Marvel comic book movies that are part of “The Avengers.” And it has to be fun.
It is. Johnston has delivered a light, clever and deftly balanced adventure picture with real lump-in-the-throat nostalgia, with Nazis — who make the best villains — and with loving references to “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
The movie’s first trick was turning hunky Chris Evans (“Fantastic Four,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) into what the ads in the back of comic books used to call “a 98 pound weakling.” They digitally “Benjamin Button” the guy into Steve Rogers, scrawny shrimp. But with World War II in full fury, Rogers is determined to serve his country, even if that country’s military rejects him as “4F,” unfit physically. He signs up for a special unit to be turned, thanks to a serum, into super soldiers.
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Rogers is treated with scorn by his commanding officer, played by the commanding (and funny) Tommy Lee Jones. Rogers is sent on publicity tours, given a silly costume and a red, white and blue shield. But a little interference by a British agent (Hayley Atwell), a little gadget-tinkering by Howard — father-of-Tony — Stark (Dominic Cooper) and a USO tour to the front lines means this Captain will soon show his mettle.
Being the hero means the normally jokey Evans isn’t given much funny to say. But he brings a proper earnestness to the character.
“Captain America” is too long and it could do with a few more laughs. But then, like the movie around him, Evans has so much business and back story to carry that the real marvel of it all is how much fun it actually is.