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Captain America - The First Avenger (3D)


Stars: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Derek Luke, Neal McDonough, JJ Feild, Bruno Ricci, Kenneth Choi, Richard Armitage, Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Joe Johnston

Superhero movies have recently become regular cinematic offerings: this CGI adorned action epic ranks as one of the most enjoyable.

Director Johnston effectively introduces yet another Marvel Comics superhero and then sends him into action in WW2. Result? Like Errol Flynn in Objective Burma, it was the Yanks who won World War Two. But then, given Captain America is no ordinary GI but a skinny volunteer bulked up with mighty muscles and super-powers by an experimental scientific programme headed by German-born scientist Tucci, how could it be otherwise in Hollywood-style history?

According to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s ingenious screenplay, 90 pound weakling Steve Rogers (cleverly created by CGI) is transformed into mega-muscled Captain America who, after having a hard time on tour selling War Bonds accompanied by all-singing, all-dancing dancing girls, blazes into action in war-torn Europe to destroy the über-powerful Hydra soldiers created by splendidly sinister Weaving – who basically believes Hitler is a sissy…

Evans is quite some superhero – apart from thumping all and sundry and diverting missiles with his metal shield, he is able to race along the streets chasing a fleeing car and catch up with it and then, even more amazingly, emerge from the chase with perfectly clean feet. Atwell is fine as Evans’ English romantic interest, joining him in a notable sequence near the climax when she and Evans speak to each other over the radio in what I took to be an affectionate tribute (with reversed nationalities) to David Niven and Kim Hunter’s radio conversation in the classic A Matter of Life and Death.

Johnston’s direction, his best since The Rocketeer, draws good central performances, among them Tommy Lee Jones, happily reprising his standard gruff screen persona to good effect as Evans’ sceptical senior officer, blending vigorous combat action, superhero super-dramatics, splendid stunts, spectacle and state-of-the-art CGI, topping it with a climax worthy of Saturday morning serials and a clever coda.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by Deluxe.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Jul 2011