Saturday, August 27, 2011

Captain America (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Captain America: The First Avenger

If Washington Congress has you soaring for a visual diversion, you can elect to see "Captain America: The First Avenger". This film, from the famous comic book is not all flash and bang. We really get a sense of who this hero from zero is, and what he goes through on his journey.
He is Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) at first he is teased and beat up. A genuine ninety-eight pound weakling. He fits kind of illustration you would see on the back of well, an old Marvel comic. He wants to join the army to fight the Nazis.

Evans, with his skinny arms and concave chest is like something out of Mad magazine or Stephen King. "Captain America" like Robert Altman's "Popeye " has texture and feeling and a true sense of place. With its Pop Art 40s-era look, the film moves like a crisp cartoon. In watching it you can almost imagine the feel of the comic in your hand.

Steve Rogers' transformation from weakling to buff Wonder is as suspenseful and campy as anything in an old "Amazing Stories" episode. Our hero is injected with painful iron charges or some kind of Gamma vitamins. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense and doesn't matter.

Rogers is sent, not to the front lines as we might have expected, but to entertain the troops and get them to buy war bonds. He is heckled and hit with rotten tomatoes.
Then he gets the idea to rescue his army buddy Howard (Dominic Cooper) and try to infiltrate a Nazi Mastermind. This is all with the help of Colonel Phillips played with rich comic sternness by Tommy Lee Jones.

The fun starts when Rogers puts on his costume from his last stage routine. The little tin shield looks like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box but this is the humorous evolution of a Hero after all, and thankfully things are not perfect from the start. We pull for Captain America because of his struggling origins.

Yes, the evil Dr. Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) is Evil. He is more foreboding in his human incarnation however. Director Johnston could have skipped the red skull. After ten minutes of it, I was hooting with laughter. But it's not everyday you get to see an horrific talking skull.

Special mention should be given to Toby Jones as the perfect pulp Nazi doctor-type that is glimpsed in so many movies. He fits to a tee in his spectacles and anemic white face.

At the film's end, one roots for Captain America all the more, not least for its Frankenstein overtones.
It is an entertaining lark and bits of it could be used for an actual army recruitment film. Wait and see.

Write Ian at

No comments: