Monday, February 20, 2012

Everything, Including a Monkey with a Parasol

Chris Evans as Marvel's flagship super hero, Captain America
By Dan Hagen
THIS is how you make a super hero movie. THIS is one of the best of the genre ever made, with first-rate actors like Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones and a clever script that offers derring-do, in-character humor and heart. 

Chris Evans is surprisingly solid as a weakling with true-blue courage, desperate to pitch in against the Nazis in WWII. 

It touches all the essential elements of super hero melodrama — weakness transformed to power, thrilling rescues, only seconds to spare, the world on the brink of total darkness, heroic self-sacrifice — but it grounds them in characters you care about and makes the whole bizarre Sturm und Drang situation seem almost credible. Even Captain America's strange costume and his WWII comic book get relatively reasonable explanations.
Nazis always make super heroes seem more credible because of their sheer level of lip-smacking sadism. And here we have the super-Nazis of Hydra, led by the most purely evil of all Marvel villains, the Red Skull (played with cold relish by Weaving, in a perfect and nicely hideous mask through the actor can actually act).

The Geek Factor is well-balanced and satisfying, with the film's plot tying seamlessly and clearly into both "Thor" and "Iron Man." We even get a glimpse of Marvel Comics' first super hero, the android Human Torch (a later incarnation of which was played by Chris Evans in the two Fantastic Four movies).

This movie has everything, including a monkey with a parasol. (And be sure to watch past the end credits).
From Cap's 1960s revival in Avengers No. 4.

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