Wednesday, August 10, 2011

...CAPTAIN AMERICA...Major Disappointment!

Forget coming out and siding openly with Republicans or Democrats, this is the post where I lose a bunch of Facebook friends...

Finally saw CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER last night and I was really, really, extra, super, mega disappointed.

Unlike with the THOR trailer, which I didn't like but the movie turned out to be entertaining, I should have trusted my instincts on the lousy CAPTAIN AMERICA trailer. (Although I love the CAP comics and the characters, so it's inevitable that I had to see this one for myself on the big screen.)

My criticisms:

Overall, this movie was long, tedious, and boring...and it took forever to get this train on track. It needs a good edit, especially with the first half. I can't imagine sitting through this one a second time, it was paced so badly.

Once the story gets going, that whole Red Skull/cosmic cube storyline is not that great...and by the end of the movie, the storyline seems to be basically a direct Rainbow Bridge to the inevitable Avengers movie.

A lot of people criticized the choice of Chris Evans online just because he played the cocky Human Torch. Chris Evans was a good choice...and, yes, since he's an actor, he can play the opposite with Steve Rogers: humble and heroic. So that casting never bothered me. That is the least of this movie's problem.

The Red Skull was good enough, although, I think in light of more emotionally complex villains in Marvel movies, such as Loki and Magneto this summer, the Red Skull comes off as a simplistic, old-school cartoon evil villain. Which is about right for the Red Skull if you've ever read CAPTAIN AMERICA comics. So I guess that was good enough but a tad dissatisfying.

What I thought was clever was that they explained the whole Captain America identity initially as an Uncle Sam character to rouse soldiers and Americans during the war. That was a good move and a logical explanation for an otherwise corny alter ego.

A little too much character development and origin stuff before we get to the primo Cap stuff. We also get an entire movie's worth of prototype Captain America costumes...I know it makes sense to save the good costume for the (contemporary) Avengers movie and ground the costumes in reality, but I still don't like these costumes...

That first mission was ridiculous...Did he need to take the phony shield with him on the mission (after all, it wasn't vibranium or whatever) and with a giant American flag on his back, he sneaks around inconspicuously through the Hydra facility. Other than liberating the Howling Commandos, which could've been elsewhere in the movie, this whole part of the movie was unnecessary filler, delaying us from seeing him with the "real" costume/shield.

Way too many contrivances, such as the Nazi escaping in the submarine waiting for him off the dock...Tommy Lee Jones and Sgt. Carter arriving with the car as Red Skull's plane is about to launch...Rogers guessing a phony baseball game on the radio because he happened to be at that game, etc....a million little silly moments like that. Not to mention Red Skull's silly bombs with the names of American cities on 'em. Seriously? They're painting exposition on the side of the bomb props!

They made the Red Skull and Hydra beyond Nazis, so we don't actually get to see Cap do some Nazi-smashing...which defeats the original point of this character.

The zipline to the roof of the train move was cool but ultimately absurd and unnecessary. That whole train battle was kind of dubious.

The romantic tension between Cap and Carter never ignites in a real way. Ultimately, Captain America is turned into a kamikaze pilot (remember, he doesn't know he's going to survive the ages trapped in ice as he crashes Red Skull's plane). I'm not sure how I feel about that part, I think I would've preferred to see him wind up in ice during battle (maybe while fighting the Red Skull on the crashing plane and this way they both get iced and we get the extra threat of Red Skull surviving into modern times...instead Red Skull gets the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Nazi leader special at the end.)

Another nitpick: What was the point, truly, of that mindfuck 1941 apartment environment that Rogers wakes up in other than to try and trick the audience? Isn't he going to look out the window and see that the cityscape is just a big screen? That was funny.

Finally, it's a contest to see who is phoning in their performance the hardest: Tommy Lee Jones or Sam Jackson. Jones wins since has more screen time. I've never seen Jones look so out of it on screen. He took the money and ran...

After a summer that gave us two terrific Marvel movies in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and THOR, I have to regulate CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER to the bottom of the Marvel barrel, where gross stuff like WOLVERINE, IRON MAN 2, GHOST RIDER, Ang Lee's HULK, and ELEKTRA sticks to the ground. It's not nearly as bad as those movies, but given that the source material is Jack Kirby's Captain America (the first comic book I ever read was a Lee/Kirby Cap), the stakes are greater and it's failings make this movie much more disappointing for me.

(OK, to everyone de-friending me right now, it's been nice knowing ya!)


Greenblatt the Great! said...

JERRY BOYD writes:

I disagree. I found it rousing, patriotic-wise, and Jones was good, gruff, and you could see his viewpoint changing as Rogers as CAP proved his heroism.

Evans did a nice job, also, and the fight scenes could be followed and were exciting.
The train scene with Bucky's death meant something but the HOWLERS were shortchanged, overall. Also, their NAMES weren't given until the credits! I hate that and all the movies do it now!
Carter was good and not a bimbo.
HYDRA was an auxiliary of the Ratzis, so that worked for me.
I thought the Yggdrassil Tree and the Cosmic Cube were nice touches, and of course, it all meets in the AVENGERS movie, but that was expected, right?

THOR's ending with JANE FOSTER on Earth and Thor in Asgard sets up a upcoming romantic rendezvous meeting to come, also. Marvel was big on tie-ins! I have no problem with that.

NICK FURY is wasted so far, but then, he has no lines. Maybe in the Avengers movie...

Greenblatt the Great! said...

Jerry and I can debate this movie all day long....I agree Evans was fine and carried the movie as well as he could.

Jones' viewpoint changing about Rogers - that must've been pretty subtle, I didn't see much turn in his character, which I found the lazy usual for Jones.

Somehow, the unrequited love between Thor and Jane Foster felt more authentic then Cap and Maggie Carter, even though you know the former couple will meet again in Avengers or Thor 2 and the latter couple will never meet again...but Cap will probably get her daughter Sharon Carter, right? Hey, HEY, hey!

I agree with Jerry that Nick Fury is a dud. Sam Jackson's been sleepwalking through that role since day one. For the love of Sylvester P. Smythe, give Sam something to do in the Avengers or get rid of this character already.

(It woulda been cool and kinda funny, by the way, if they stuck in the original Caucasian Nick Fury leading the Howling Commandos in the Cap movie.)

Anyway, it's fun to agree and disagree on these kinds of movies. It's nice, for a change, to be debating the merits of a movie other than the last STAR WARS trilogy!

James Baker said...

I agree that the movie was a lot flatter than I had expected. I was disappointed, But I dont think I disliked it as much as you did.

The pleasant surprise for me was CHRIS EVANS, he was one of the things I liked and the plot line of CAP being used as a PR clown was fun.

In general, I liked the film much more in the front half; when it was rooted in a somewhat believable 1940s. I take it that was the part that you thought dragged? but I connected with that part. My caveat here is that I was not really familiar with the CAP character so setting some background was important, for me at least.

But when the action really "started" was when the movie lost my interest. here are some of the reasons why:

We saw CAP get super-sized, which is all well and good but it was never clear to me how he subsequently had such GREAT fighting skills. Who trained him to do that martial arts stuff? he certainly never learned it on the WAR BONDS chorus line, or from a life time of getting his ass kicked in NY back alleys.

Cap basically walks into the HYDRA compound, grabs some keys and sets a bunch of soldiers free and steals some HYDRA toys, with little or no resistance from the baddies. This made the "threat" of the bad guys seem trivial.

The super-advanced futuristic weapons of HYDRA were way too sci-fi for my tastes. Despite the posturings of the RED SKULL we never really see HYDRA UNLOAD and pose any real danger. What we ACTUALLY see is CAP and his boys THRASHING them from start to finish.

What this story really needed was an ALDERAAN being destroyed scene. If we saw Some major European city flattened by HYDRA, we would have truly feared what they would do to New York. But, for all their fancy toys, they seemed like the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

That said, I enjoyed the idea that RED SKULL is so crazy that he thinks HITLER is a wimp and HUGO WEAVINGS performance was entertaining. he did the best with what he had.

Greenblatt the Great! said...

Jamie, you summed things up for me with your own perspective.

I totally agree with this:

"The pleasant surprise for me was CHRIS EVANS, he was one of the things I liked and the plot line of CAP being used as a PR clown was fun."

Yeah those were the best elements for me as well. The Capt. A as Uncle Sam propaganda figure was funny and it made a lot of sense. Evans was solid. I liked him as Human Torch (about the best part of those FF films) and I liked his portrayal of Rogers here. I never had a problem with his casting like a lot of people did online---that's a silly argument: "He played the Torch, he can't play Cap." He's an actor, and he proved here that he could play a different type of hero.

As for the rest of what you wrote, I agree that the Red Skull/Hydra scheme/plot was severely simplistic and under-nourished (esp. when compared to, say, X-Men FC) ----and the action sequences oddly flatter than they should have been. You also seem to be saying the stakes were not high enough, which again feeds into the simple plot thing. The planeful of bombs thing at the end...I mean, even in the original Donner SUPERMAN, they did a twist on this with the missiles heading for Jersey and California and managed to make that more exciting and nail-biting.

"But, for all their fancy toys, they seemed like the gang that couldn't shoot straight."---yeah, exactly! Even though the Red Skull was decent here, those Hydra guys of his were not that menacing and pretty easy to conquer. It was like sending Cap through that video game Beserk!

I'm not sure I liked it less than you did, Jamie. It sounds like you're echoing my sentiments, more or less, using different examples.

Ultimately, we seem to agree that, of the three, X-Men FC and Thor were better movies. Captain America was not a total failure but it was not as good as it shoulda been.

I could see why they got the director of ROCKETEER to direct this one, but ROCKETEER was definitely a more faithful adaptation of that comic than this was of the CAP comics. I didn't get that sense of Kirby sci-fi scale.

Question, Jamie: In all honestly, would you sit through the movie for a second time? I thought it had some serious pacing issues. It felt really long. Maybe another edit on this film would help move it along.

James Baker said...

Michael... hmm yeah I think you nailed it with that question: not sure if I would want to see this one again anytime soon.

I guess a lot of the enjoyment of these things is the level of expectation. I had no hopes for THOR at all and it surprised me. I had high hopes for this one (because of the DIRECTOR's Rocketeer, which I thought was great) and it let me down.

let's just say this, I didn't walk out of the movie FURIOUS but none of us who saw it were stoked either.

I am starting to think that I really enjoy CHRIS EVANS. he has been the saving grace in many films that I have seen. As you say, he was the ONLY good thing about FF.

James Baker said...

oh, and I have to admit that I had some concerns about EVANS' casting here, but it was NOT from the assumption that he could not act in a different role than the cocky punk he often plays, it was from the even more nerdy concern that one actor probably shouldn't be cast as two characters in the same universe. My nerd-mind had a cosmologiocal crisis!

X said...

I was disappointed too. For the entire time I was just hoping to get another glimpse of the Gorgeous Brit, and I kept harping on how the Racism of the day was basically ignored.

I want to be pumped about the Avengers, but I don't trust Joss. My mind might be slippin' but so far the biggest thing he has done in relation to comic book movies is when Wolverine says "You're a Dick" to Cyclops in X-Men (2000).

It might serve me better to have low expectations. That way I can't be disappointed- at the very worst I'll just be correct.

Greenblatt the Great! said...

El Hombre SN,

I've never really followed Joss Whedon's work but my impression has been that his stuff is kind of emo and squishy. I'm not sure how he'll do directing the AVENGERS flick. It sounds like a wild card choice like when they got Favreau to direct IRON MAN (which worked, esp. on the first one). I can't say I'm buzzed for AVENGERS based on that clip at the end of CAP so my expectations are low for that one. I was never a big AVENGERS reader as a teen so hopefully it'll be a THOR-level surprise.

Yeah, Jamie, I agree, ROCKETEER was great creatively, even though it failed commercially.