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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

SYNOPSIS:
In 1942 as the war rages in Europe and American youth are enlisting, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a brave but underweight and sickly young man is rejected several times by the army. But he is given a chance by Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) to undergo an experimental treatment for a US army Super Soldier program which makes him a powerful and resilient soldier. The military dubs him Captain America and sends him on an extensive tour under the watchful eye of British intelligence agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), to promote war bonds and boost morale, dressed in the colours of Old Glory. He itches to become a real soldier, and gets his chance when the egomaniac Nazi Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) unleashes his plot to obliterate most of the world using a super-force developed by Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). He is assigned to Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), who doesn't think much of his chances.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
America wins the war ... again, or rather Captain America does, as the latest Marvel Comics superhero flies off the pages of the comic books onto the big screen. Well, he doesn't actually fly like Superman, but he does leap very high and great distances when circumstances call for it, and he has a powerful athlete's body. After the scientific makeover, that is, which transforms Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into the square jawed hero. To the film's benefit, Evans makes his character palpably human and even in action scenes he retains an earthly humanity.

The story is a fantastical and fevered comic book affair in which the ultimate baddie, Johann Schmidt, played with icy venom and boiling hate by Hugo Weaving, is even worse than his Nazi boss Adolf. Schmidt Schmidt runs the ultra-fascist HYDRA; he doesnít have the patience to wait for the Fuhrerís plans ... Besides, he wants to rule the world on his own, thanks, to the work of brilliant and diminutive scientist Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones).

Also present - but on the side of the goodies of course - is self confessed brilliant engineer Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), imported from the Iron Man series. Stanley Tucci makes a small but vital contribution as the man who recognises just what a good and decent chap Rogers is, the ideal candidate for the program. "Good inside," is his criteria.

Rogers is hardly out of the lab in his new, powerful guise when a Nazi secret agent infiltrates the secret facility and makes off with a vial of the serum that has turned the 70 pound weakling into a 120 pound fighting machine. Rogers has his first assignment ...

Technically outstanding, Captain America offers all the visual thrills of a superhero action movie set in the recent past, and boasts marvellous characterisations from a top cast. Hugo Weaving is a spectacular villain, especially when he reveals his deformity (thanks to a bad experiment) which explains his nickname: Red Skull. But Weaving, as always, makes much more of this character than you might expect from a two dimensional comic baddie.

Tommy Lee Jones is brittle and bristly as Col. Phillips, the hard-ass army man who has a nice line in pithy and Hayley Atwell shines as the gorgeous British brunette who catches the attention (and the heart) of Captain America; she is no shrinking violet, but retains her femininity even when she has to impose some discipline on new recruits who know no better than to smirk at her.

The screenplay is focused and anxious to get on with the story, so much so there is a bit of info missing at the beginning, when Rogers isn't told and never asks what he is being asked to do. It's a small defect in what is a complex and relatively economical screenplay, given how much has to be crammed into it, from winning the war and winning the girl to defusing the destruction of the world, and a couple of smaller skirmishes. All to a big, rousing score from Alan Silvestri.

But be assured, with his trusty, impenetrable shield blazing with the American colours, Captain America will also repulse any nit picking and win over the film's target audiences. The super hero recipe is the Marvel gift that keeps giving and Captain America sticks to it with the best ingredients it can find by way of cast, to deliver a star spangled burger with the lot.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


HUGO WEAVING INTERVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (M)
(US, 2011)

CAST: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Richard Armitage, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones, J J Field, Derek Luke, Natalie Dormer

PRODUCER: Kevin Feige, Amir Madani

DIRECTOR: Joe Johnston

SCRIPT: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (comics by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shelly Johnson

EDITOR: Robert Dalva, Jeffrey Ford

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Heinrichs

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 28, 2011







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