MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★
Following the mind numbingly tedious Thor 3D, I have to admit I entered Captain America 3D with one or two pre-judgments. Thor drained me of any belief in this Marvel universe, or the build up to the supergroup that I’ve been informed are known as ‘The Avengers’ as each Marvel hero gets their own blockbusting entrance before presumably joining forces/clashing/generally exploding things together in 2012. Thor was a pretty insufferable couple of hours and just looked like going through the motions so Marvel could reign in your £££s before pulping out yet more of their avenging drivel. Negative geek points for me. Just as Thor leaves our screens, another Marvel twin takes its place. Marvel, can’t you please give our screens a break?
Set during World War II, Captain America actually offers a small treat of preposterous and bombastic historical revisionism. Chris Evans plays Steve Rodgers, a young, scrawny American who volunteers to take part in a ‘super soldier’ experiment and be transformed into what becomes Captain America. Meanwhile, Nazi officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) has been injected by a similar super-serum, whilst also attempting to utilize the power of a mysterious energy source to use for his Nazi terrorist subgroup HYDRA, in order to conquer the world for himself. Yeah, it’s all just a little bit silly.
But somehow, it just about stays together. It benefits from a good start as we’re introduced to our young hero. I have to give credit to the effortless visual effects that transform Steve from a wimpy looking kid, to the strong, handsome superhero he becomes. The physical transformation is effortlessly performed and I’m not quite sure how it was done. Unlike Thor, Steve Rodgers is introduced to us like a character firmly attached to real life. Sure, it’s a bit of a cliché but he’s a young man desperate to prove himself, grow up and join the army like all his friends, despite his lack of physicality. It’s presented like a nice underdog story. It’s quick to get attached to our hero and the effects altering his size go a long way to accomplish this.
Unfortunately, as the film drags on (and at over 2 hours, it does), the script fails to keep a grip of the character we’ve literally seen grow up on screen and it’s difficult to connect the boy we first meet with the all-powerful superhero from the second part of the film. A few more glimpses of that inner self-doubt would have gone a long way. However, Hugo Weaving as the Nazi supervillain offers a fine performance, spoiled only by a disappointingly rubbery looking design when we discover what lies beneath his face.
Predictably, the 3D adds nothing and more often than not when I took off my glasses the screen still looked focused, which is just typical of a tacky post-conversion with a lack of detail. Director Joe Johnston is pleasingly referential, such as a motorbike chase which had a satisfied wink to Return of the Jedi. Learning his trade as an art director on the original Star Wars trilogy, Johnston certainly has an eye for effects and the big budget isn’t wasted here and feels more in touch with something that’s actually happening, unlike Thor’s opaque blue screens.
Captain America is certainly not without its flaws and is best during its strong start before our hero just starts exploding things, but at least we have a hero we can feel some attachment towards. The plot is utterly absurd but it’s quite fun and gives me some faith that this whole Avengers rubbish isn’t utterly redundant.
Captain America is out on 29th July in the UK and out now in the US. Certificate 12A (UK). Running time 124 mins. Marvel fanboys and girls will want to stick around until after the credits for the ‘Avengers’ teaser.
Review by David Rank