I always feel a little apprehensive about going into a theater to see a superhero film. The main issue I take is that screenwriters often get lazy. If you aren’t privy to the back story, it can feel like hanging out with two old friends who can’t stop telling inside jokes and you’re just left staring blankly. Maybe the only exception to the rule is “Batman,” which feels more like an American cultural institution then a superhero franchise. But going into “Captain America,” really knowing zero about the superhero, I tried to keep expectations low.
I was pleasantly surprised by “Captain America.”
Although the film ended with a plot twist (that I frankly didn’t understand) which was meant to set up the final film rather than sum up this one, everything that came beforehand served as a quick refresher of the last film and a nice setup to the final part of this trilogy.
The film reintroduces us to Captain America, played by the boyish Chris Evans. In the “Avengers” series, Captain America always felt like the weakest link. Evans’ range always felt a little limited, going between boyish charm and angry scowling, but here he feels more comfortable as both a physical and comedic presence. Here, with the focus on him, he is pretty terrific.
Captain America works alongside Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) under the leadership of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). They are part of S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization that is in an all-out fight with HYDRA, an evil entity founded by Nazis.
The chemistry between Johansson and Evans is potent and for once in the series, Johansson is able to carve a character that is more than just a sexy sidekick. Here she is fierce and playful.
Jackson is also an interesting character, although he pushes into caricature territory. He delivers his lines in a way that only Jackson is capable of, even giving a nod to his “Pulp Fiction” fame. Robert Redford appears against type as the villain, and he brings the same level of seriousness and intensity as he did in “All is Lost.”
To the film’s great credit, there are some beautifully CGI action scenes, but it’s the Jason Bourne-style hand-to-hand combat that is truly impressive. The film also pushes itself far in its exploration of Nazism; at times the film feels more like part of the “Batman” series than a Marvel movie. Although this isn’t as exciting as the Tony Stark movies, it’s an enjoyable addition to the Marvel clan.