Captain America. F— Yeah!

I finally got around to seeing Captain Ameria: The Last Trailer For The Avengers Movie and it was…well, a movie. The superhero things are kind of losing their luster for me; the gee-whiz factor has really been gone for years—a casualty of ubiquitous CGI—but the real thing is just that the movies are getting (predictably) worse.

Captain America starts very strong. It’s World War II (the best war). We’re introduced to the physically frail Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, who played The Human Torch in The Fantastic Four movies) who, like all red-blooded young American men in 1943 wants to enlist in the armed forces. But he’s just a wreck, physically. 4F.

He finds a way in when he’s picked out by an army scientist for a super-soldier person. The scientist (Stanley Tucci, who seems to enliven every movie he’s in, no matter how otherwise banal) reasons that an honorable, frail man will respect the power that the super-soldier program will give him in a way a naturally powerful man might not.

This part of the film is really good. It’s unabashedly pro-American. Rogers is a truly heroic character in his wimpy form. And the transformation from wimpy dude to muscle-bound hero is great. (Well, really, it’s the imposition of Chris Evans’ face on a frail body that’s so impressive.)

It’s after he becomes Captain America that things start to drift. First, he’s off selling war bonds. This is kind of cool and realistic, but it goes on too long. But then it gets into the action. And the action is, well, meh.

You know, director Joe Johnston has made one really excellent film: October Sky. But I guess that stuff don’t pay the bills, so he does stuff like Wolf Man and Hidalgo—which, upon reflection all suffer in the same way. Johnston likes his characters, and you see this in a lot of little ways. Every character seems to matter.

But the action is just dull. It’s all of the “fight until the scene is over” kind of stuff. The story progresses as it should but lacks tension and excitement.

Acting-wise, Evans seems to have gone to charm school since his Johnny Storm days, which is good, given the role. Hayley Atwill is appealing even if her character is somewhat stale even by comic book standards. Tommy Lee Jones is Tommy Lee Jones. And Toby Jones is Toby Jones, but with an English accent.

Then there’s the villainous Red Skull. He’s played by Hugo Weaving, who’s been a popular heavy since his days of menacing Keanu Reeves in the Matrix movies. (He also made elves a lot more menacing than I imagined them to be in Lord of the Rings.) Thing is? He’s actually way scarier without the Red Skull makeup.

The Red Skull’s villainy is another place where director Johnston seems to lack conviction. I mean, he’s a Nazi and he’s got all kinds of blasty weapons, but there’s no blowing-up-a-planet moment. I never felt like he was a real threat to the Captain.

Suffice to say that The Boy was mildly offended at the stupidity of the action scenes. Even with low expectations, they weren’t met. And we did find ourselves talking about how bad the scenes were. Like, when the Captain is conducting his first raid amongst a crowd of laser-gun equipped Nazis, you can see the various Nazi extras waiting for their turn to attack. And the Boy felt it was unrealistic for a bunch of soldiers to be firing with automatic weapons at point blank range and not hit anything.

I’ve always kind of liked Johnston’s movies, even when they weren’t popular (like Hidalgo), but this whole movie felt a lot like padding. I’m feeling a little milked by the Marvel folks. This bodes ill for the Avengers movie.

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