First, an observation and some questions.
The American public of Marvel comic fiction won’t notice that Chris Evans’ Captain America looks exactly like the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. Evans — as you remember — did the part in two popular films.
Comic book citizens just aren’t very bright. They won’t notice anymore than citizens in DC Comics. People in Metropolis and around the world cannot pick up that Superman and Clark Kent look suspiciously alike. Same problem with Bruce Wayne and Batman. How could people in comic book cities not know they are probably the same guy?
The lack of discernment isn’t in comic books alone. Look at California’s fictional citizens of the 1800s. They couldn’t pick up that Don Diego de la Vega hiding behind that pathetic little mask is actually Zorro.
Masked guys in fiction just seem to catch a break. If I throw on a mask and go rob a bank, then most of the people I know will recognize me when the APB photos go out.
This really has nothing to do with Captain America: The First Avenger. And if he’s the first Avenger, why is he the last to be introduced to movie audiences?
Many questions. Few answers.
For the 10 people left in the world that don’t know, Captain America: The First Avenger is the film that sets up the “discovery” of the popular super hero of World War II America who disappeared in a supersonic plane crash. He is propelled him into the 21st century and a date with The Avengers in May of 2012.
But first a whole movie is devoted to Captain America’s back story.
Most of Captain America is set during World War II when a kindly German refugee scientist transforms Evans’ skinny, sickly Steve Rogers into buff, bodacious Steve Rogers super man.
After getting attention from the news media for capturing a Nazi spy and saving a little boy, he becomes victim to the bureaucracy and a pissed-off colonel. Instead of fighting Nazis, Rogers does a song-and-dance show biz routine as Captain America and recruits regular people to sign up for the war.
Later, irony puts him close to the front lines where his best pal has been captured by Johann Schmidt. He’s a Nazi scientist who has turned a power hidden on Earth by the Norse gods into a super weapon. The same scientist that turned Rogers into a super man also turned Schmidt into one. Unfortunately, the formula wasn’t quite finished. So it turned Schmidt into a red-faced super freak.
Rogers rescues his friend and other prisoners from the nasty Nazi. He does it as Captain America. Later he is made a captain, patches things up with the colonel and goes on to dozens of daring, awe-inspiring deeds.
And all of this in 3D if you so choose.
Sometimes 3D is works. Sometimes it doesn’t. While the extra dimension is appreciated, this time it isn’t all that special. But neither is the movie. What little plot you’re given is all set-up. The producers are preparing you for the big show next May.
Not so special doesn’t mean the movie is totally terrible or a complete waste of time. Character actors Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones add light, life and just a touch of humor to an otherwise dim picture. They’re just not in it enough to keep the thing lit all the time.
Maybe that’s where Evans’ Human Torch persona would come in handy. Since the Marvel comic movie public doesn’t see the resemblance between the Human Torch and Captain America, maybe he could light up a scene or two. At least the Fantastic Four character has a personality, knows how to have fun and toss off a fun line or two.
A fun line or two would have been good.
Also wasted is the usually entertaining Hugo Weaving — The Matrix’s evil Agent Smith — as Johann Schmidt, aka Red Skull. He has so little to do and just a few pathetic lines.
It’s unfair to blame the actors. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley (The Chronicles of Narnia movies) write this as if it is an ode to something sacred. Fun is definitely not allowed. Director Joe Johnston who did last year’s dreadful The Wolfman plays along. He, too, treats Captain America way too seriously.
Johnston and his two writers never quite figure out this isn’t a character teaching the moral lessons of a C.S. Lewis kid’s book. Captain America is a super hero who should be having super fun.
So should someone plunking down hard-earned bucks to catch it.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, July 22 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.