I love to go to the movies, almost as much as going to Disney theme parks. It’s my way to escape reality for a little while. A good movie takes you out of reality and into a separate world. Too often this summer, though, the films have been subpar. There’s too little character development or not enough done to create the world of the film. And then, there’s a film like Captain America.
When you see this movie, grab your popcorn, settle into your seat and prepare for entertainment on a grand scale. You will fall in love with Steve Rogers, the scrawny kid who only wants to serve his country. You’ll be thrilled when Steve becomes a symbol for the hopes and dreams of a nation looking to end the war. You’ll swoon at the romance between Steve and Peggy Carter. But most of all, you will have a fantastic time at the movies.
Captain America is a film that firmly plants its flag in the era of World War II, but not the reality of World War II. Instead, like Disney’s Main Street USA, this is an idealized version of World War II – the war that never was, but always will be. It’s the version of the Greatest Generation that we have been taught to idealize by Tom Brokaw and the History Channel. That’s not a bad thing, rather is perfect for dropping a superhero into that world.
The film does an amazing job of setting up Steve Rogers’ character in the entire first half of the film. Chris Evans portrays the earnest and dutiful character as a hero before he even gets super powers. That cannot be underestimated. What makes Captain America work in the comic book world is that the man himself is a hero. It just so happens he has the tools to make himself something more. It’s a point made early on in the film, that the procedure he goes through enhances all that is good about him, not giving him new powers.
That sets up a very black and white world in the film, with a contrast between Rogers as Captain America and the Red Skull, portrayed by Hugo Weaving. It’s easy to see that the Skull is a comic book villain, but that’s what he should be. We’re talking America versus the Nazis here. There’s no room for shades of gray.
I could wax poetically about how faithful the film is to the comic books, how many fun Easter Eggs there are, how the plot builds and builds to its climax, but it’s all superfluous. Director Joe Johnston, of Rocketeer fame, has crafted a film that takes the good vs. evil ethos of comic books and grafts it onto a World War II adventure that should make even the most cynical reviewer grin. Go see this movie and prepare yourself for the desire to sling a shield when you come out.