Movies are all about escapism and suspending disbelief for me. So I guess this one kinda provided some exercise for my disbelief muscles. Plus, it had all the guy flick ingredients: motorbikes, guns, explosions, skinny guy turned super-soldier. But my initial “yeh, that was fun” reaction kinda fizzled out once my mind retraced the evening’s entertainment on my journey home.
Maybe as the years fly by and kids are becoming more and more desensitized, Hollywood expect that adults are too…and feel they have to go to greater extremes to entertain people? But actually I feel they need to make more of an effort in the emotional department. As usual, I avoided the trailers like the plague, for fear of spoiling the movie. (They always show all the best bits, don’t they). But it was kinda futile, as the movie just told the vanilla Captain America story anyway. No real embellishments or thought provoking tangents.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been an avid movie goer for as long as I can remember. As a kid I worshiped at the altar of Saturday morning cinema. A mixture of cartoons, classic comedy (Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, 3 Stooges) and vintage super heroes (Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, Batman). No I’m not that freakin’ old. They’d been repeated umpteen times since my parents were kids. But there were new bums on seats and still money to be milked from these prints before the celluloid deteriorated beyond repair.
The reason I harp back to the good old days is to point out that I’ve seen some cheesy special effects in my time and therefore appreciate how far things have come in that respect. In fact, that’s one of the things that keeps me young at heart and smiling like an idiot during most movies. (At least on the inside). The child like wonder: “imagine how even more magical movies would’ve been when I was a kid, if they’d had effects like these“!
I’m loving the whole 3D revival right now. I’m gob smacked they can take Chris Evans’ (the actor who played Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four; not the BBC Radio 1 DJ) face and super-impose it on weakling Steve Rogers’ body for the first half of the flick. (Reminded me of Benjamin Button in that respect; tho’ I don’t know if the special effects teams were related in any way). I’m impressed that producers of modern day movies are afforded a virtual cast of thousands; without the financial and organizational headaches that must’ve plagued the makers of epics such as Ben Hur. But…movies these days always seem to come up short in the areas of plot development and actually making the characters themselves 3 dimensional. They kinda miss the point that there’s more to life than special effects.
Love Chris Evans. Push was a cute flick and as one of several super heroes in the Fantastic Four, he stole the show. But here, his band of comrades show visual appeal. (Take the big fella in the bowler hat, with the handle-bar mustache). But we never get to see what they’re capable of. We know nothing of their background; don’t see what special skills they bring to the table. Nada.
I’ve no doubt Chris’s character would’ve stolen the show (after all he’s the hero named in the title); but there’s no other allies highlighted as anything other than mediocre, for him to rise above. I guess participants here are like 99.99999% of participants in most real wars: Cannon fodder. (Harsh, but true). OK, I guess real soldiers ain’t got time to stop and grieve, when the guy next to them pops his clogs. But nobody here so much as bats an eyelid…not even a: “sh1t, that was close; I’m glad it was him not me”. If the characters themselves don’t give a toss, then why should the audience?
Maybe I’m a big softie ‘cos I prefer my Hollywood wars to feature characters you care about. Flicks like: the Dirty Dozen or the Magnificent Seven. Where we’re given a group of guys we can relate to and we’re guided to appreciate the sacrifice they’re making. If there’s no-one to emotionally invest in, what’s the freakin’ point?
Then again, I guess the bad guys were glossed over with equal ambivalence. Love Hugo Weaving too btw. He was great in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and makes an excellent Bad Guy. (Think the Matrix. Kept expecting him to don his shades and refer to Cap as Mr. Anderson). But, as the baddie version of the super soldier, he never really gets to show off the extent of his powers. In typical psycho fashion, he thinks nothing of killing underlings who fail him; but he shoots them rather than flexing his speed or super-human strength muscles.
Schmidt (aka RedSkull) seems bent on blowing up his own facilities every other scene, rather than let them fall into enemy hands. Furry muff, I suppose. But he doesn’t show much in the way of advanced intelligence, ‘cos he doesn’t even wait until the allies are inside, so at least he can kill a few. In fact his character just seems dumb, rather than any real threat, if you ask me. As you’d expect of any Bond-style baddie (or is it Dr. Evil), Schmidt takes time to explain his plans to Captain America; then stands there like a moron when he’s about to shoot him, but sees Cap’s comrades zip-wiring in to his rescue. (Reminded me of the Dr. Evil henchman who got run over by the steam roller).
Schmidt and Dr Zola just reminded me of Pinkie and the Brain. “What are we going to do tonight Red Skull”? “Same thing we do every night Zola…take over the world”! The Hydra salute was a scream; reminded me of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short in the 3 Amigos. (Anyone know if it was intended to amuse)? And the hydra troops themselves were worse than the biker gang in Every Which Way but Loose. Everyone…and I mean everyone…can kick their asses. Most advanced weapons on the planet; which they practically give away to guys with regular guns…and not one of them could hit the side of a barn; let alone Captain America…even when he keeps throwing his shield away.
Somebody explain that one to me. I mean it’s not boomerang shaped. It’s a disc. But he throws it; often taking out 2 or 3 bad guys at a time and it still comes back. It’s a comic book thing…I know. But it would’ve seemed just as likely if he’d thrown a Frisbee and it came back with a dog attached. He’s obviously never had Scotty to remind him that he can’t change the laws of Physics.
I so wanted to love this movie, that it’s a real shame there’s so much about it that frustrates me. Harnessing the power of the Gods (a la Raiders of the Lost Ark) is one thing. But why did they have to put it in such advanced and perfectly machined equipment? (Mass produced in the blink of an eye). Yes, I know…it’s a comic book and they’re always science fictiony; but sticking a few old fashioned dials on the equipment didn’t seem enuff to justify people accepting it as nothing worth arching an eyebrow at somehow.
History-wise I know German scientists were advanced and there’s more than a smidgeon of the a fore mentioned science fantasy mixed in; but it would’ve been nice if someone could’ve expressed a little surprise at the scale of the tanks, the space ship nature of the plane in the final scenes and the ray guns in constant use through-out the flick. I mean the good guys just pick up a ray gun, find the trigger in the usual location and seem fairly unimpressed at the destructive power they’ve just gained. (The guys next to ’em don’t even say: “woah! How freakin’ cool is that!? Gis a go”. They may as well have just picked up a rock to throw).
Was it bad of me to want the good guy to at least trip once or take a bullet in the shoulder; to show he wasn’t invincible? They could’ve used such a mishap to highlight his tolerance for pain or his ability to heal. Instead his advanced body chemistry is merely noted to have the side effect that he can’t get drunk. WTF?
As I said, I know it’s based on a comic book and so it’s basically a kids movie that maybe adults can enjoy. But given that it’s a PG-13, it somehow feels more like an adult flick that’s been dumbed down for kids. (Which seems none too bright. Since year-on-year kids get a hell of a lot more street-smart than we ever were at that age). Don’t know which direction the Simpsons aims in the age/intelligence stakes. But that seems more like kiddie entertainment, with some adult jokes thrown in. So…somehow…it seems easier for the whole family to get a kick out of it.
Final rating? “Meh”…