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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Chris Evans
Hugo Weaving
Stanley Tucci
Tommy Lee Jones
Hayley Atwell
Richard Armitage
Dominic Cooper.
Directors
Joe Johnston.
Screenwriters
Christopher Markus
Stephen McFeely.
Running Time
124 minutes

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The First Avenger: Captain America
The cap fits


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Plot
America has entered World War II but puny patriot Steve Rogers (Evans) is still 4F. However, after military scientist Erskine (Tucci) spies Rogers' inner strength he's inducted into a secret programme and injected with a serum that gives him uncanny speed and strength. When Nazi scientist Schmidt (Weaving) discovers a powerful artifact, Rogers must take the mantle of the nation's first super-soldier, an emblem called Captain America...


Review
The First Avenger: Captain America
Browse more images »
Like this year's X-Men: First Class, The First Avenger finds fresh wrinkles in the well-worn superhero origin story by setting the action in the film-period of the character's comic-book birth. Where Matthew Vaughn's take on X-Men was pure '60s spy caper, Joe Johnston's Captain America is a boy's-own '40s war story, full of derring-do, knockout dames and dastardly Nazis.

Marvel’s matchmaking of director to material may not appear as astute as hitching Shakespearean Ken to Thor but Cap is a generation older than Spidey and Johnston’s Saturday-morning-serial sensibilities have been his signature since The Rocketeer. Johnston also won an Oscar for his SFX work on Raiders Of The Lost Ark and it’s Spielberg's benchmark - rather than, say, The Dark Knight - that’s clearly the model here.
In reaching for this Indy-ideal, the movie begins confidently. Cutting between Rogers' trials on the home front and the terrible triumphs of Schmidt in Europe, the narrative lines are sharply drawn, the pacing unhurried and a platoon of quality scene-chewers are deployed in classic character parts that require zero nuance.

3D murk aside, it all looks mighty swell. Johnston is in his element recreating the retro-futurism of period sci-fi and the transformation of the excellent Evans from puny punchbag to man-mountain is a fantastic coup de theatre. The self-evident swagger culminates in the movie's best sequence - a winning piece of metafiction that pegs the creation of 'Captain America' to war bonds propaganda and allows Johnston to wink at the original Joe Simon-Jack Kirby comics before moving on.

Once Rogers is pitched into battle, however, the movie loses its footing. The plotting becomes choppy, the spectacle is muddled by far too many characters and the all-important set-pieces are a bit pedestrian – Bond would never zip-line onto a high-speed Alpine train just to stage a shootout in a corridor. Plus, poor patriotic Cap turns out to be a stiff. After Stan Lee defrosted him for the Avengers in 1964, Cap became interesting as an old-school gent marooned in the coarse present – Joss Whedon will get to play with these dynamics next year but Johnston just gets the plastic action figure to play with.

None of this would cause lasting damage were it not for the modern-day bookends that make for a miserable climax and rob Cap of his overdue glory. The Han Solo routine should really have been reserved for the pre-credits of The Avengers; shoving Cap into cold storage at the close of his solo debut is a bush league dramatic error – if nobody your hero saves survives to the final credits, his mission is meaningless.


Verdict
Charming, handsome and full of pep – all 70 year-old Cap lacks is a knockout blow. Still, Johnston should be saluted for old-fashioned heart in a cynical age, while Marvel should be confined to barracks for cynical marketing.


Reviewed by Colin Kennedy

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The First Avenger: Captain America
Empire Star Rating

Captain America: The First Avenger

Too cliché for it's own good, but Captain America is a fun superhero ride that never takes itself too seriously, yet still impresses. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 03:22, 24 June 2012 | Report This Post


Dull

Sorry, but this really didn't work, I can't put my finger on it, but this just didn't hang together well. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mentat72 at 11:34, 08 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

L: Fluke Skywalker Yeah but we're talking about Howard Stark a fictional super-genius, not your average allied scientist there.ure, but as he said to Tony in Man 2I'm limited by the technology of my time". In addition, we can see Howard Stark here as still developing his designs and maturing as a designer. I mean he was pretty young. I just think the Nazis still being ahead of the allies despite Howard Stark's technical wizadry to be true to the 'reality' of WW2. ulda worked on the fil... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 04:31, 27 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

L: Emyr Thy King L: Fluke Skywalker Actually that's probably a fair point - but as I've never really read that many comics with the Red Skull in it I probably wasn't a very good judge of the character.till, you can judge the character as portrayed on-screen without the need for an in-depth understanding of the character's history in comic lore. I just thought he came off more camp and eccentric than threatening or pernicious. I swear the scene where Toby Jones's Zola says "this w... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 20:35, 26 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

L: Fluke Skywalker Actually that's probably a fair point - but as I've never really read that many comics with the Red Skull in it I probably wasn't a very good judge of the character.till, you can judge the character as portrayed on-screen without the need for an in-depth understanding of the character's history in comic lore. I just thought he came off more camp and eccentric than threatening or pernicious. I swear the scene where Toby Jones's Zola says "this will end the war!..." (befo... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 13:37, 26 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

Didn't mind the repeated attempts to join up, it was just the list of medical conditions as long as your arm that made the characterisation of the guy feel to me like 'he's a total idiot, of course he couldn't get into the army with all that wrong with him'. It's even said in the film that the asthma would have been enough to make him unfit for duty, so why not just have him with asthma? Pretty minor point, compared to the questionable 'he's a total nobody before the procedure and afterwards, ... More

Posted by jobloffski at 09:38, 26 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

L: Emyr Thy King When I first saw the film in the cinema, I really quite liked it. I thought the film had plenty of "heart", it was at least sincere. agree - it really did feel like it had heart] Whilst I liked the Red Skull's appearance despite the visibility of prosthetics, I didn't think he was menacing. He played it more like an eccentric than a guy who was cruel and evil. ctually that's probably a fair point - but as I've never really read that many comics with the Red ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 23:34, 25 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

When I first saw the film in the cinema, I really quite liked it. I thought the film had plenty of "heart", it was at least sincere. Even when we have the tongue-in-cheek 'war bonds' scenes, they never devolved into parody nor treated the character with contempt. However, on repeated viewings I think the film doesn't hold up as well as the others in the Avengers series. Out of all the individual offerings, I certainly think Iron Man and Thor are easily the best so far (with hopefully the Avenge... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 17:19, 25 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

Of all the Pre-Avengers films found this the weakest by a very very long way, and any sense of drama at the end was totally spiked by the modern day framing device. A longer time in the modern day over the course of the film with 'man out of his time' as the driving force would have made a far stronger film given the utterly perfunctory nature of the plot and uselessness of the threat provided by the red skull. IM2, Thor and TFA, all left me thinking 'thanks Marvel, I just love film... More

Posted by jobloffski at 00:59, 24 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

Overall I found Captain America to be a film I was rather unsure about. I didn't dislike it nor did I overly like it. It was just a "meh"/indifferent film. It had its stronger moments/parts, that being the performance of Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones and the good CGI effects, especially with regards to Evans slight-framed Steve Rogers. The script was rather solid but simple, though I never got the impression that it was solely based in the World War 2,there were certain elements that... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 22:54, 23 April 2012 | Report This Post


Captain America

I also really liked the retro futuristic vibe as the review states - it kinda reminded me of Sky Captain a bit with some of the design. I especially liked the flying bombs - a very cool idea and the massive bomber was also great. It was amazing how they turned Chris Evans into a puny weakling though and that's what you call a fantastic use of CGI. Generally the film looked pretty stylish and WW2 setting also set it apart from your average superhero movie. I'd give it 7/10 I actually enjoy... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 18:43, 23 April 2012 | Report This Post


Captain America Rises Again

Brilliant film. Great action, acting, CGI. Evans is fabulous. Weaving is a great villain. Songs are great. Can't wait for the Avengers. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 22:56, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post


Pretty decent - entertaining enough, though not particularly memorable. It's a pretty spot-on review. The period setting helps it stand out from the raft of other comic book films. Cap himself was a bit bland as a character though, I hope the review is right and they can get more out of him by setting him up as the "man out of time" in the Avengers. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by coljohnmatrix at 20:31, 22 February 2012 | Report This Post


The Cap Fits!

After the very bad 90's version, Captain America was in dire need of a complete reboot and surely anything would be better? Well I was relieved to find that this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable superhero flicks of recent times. Chris Evans was well cast in the lead as he looked and acted the part perfectly. Hugo Weaving was as good as ever as the Red Skull too and it's always nice to see the ever reliable Tommy Lee Jones pop up. The action scenes were very well done and it was a prett... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 22:26, 12 January 2012 | Report This Post


Very enjoyable adaptation. For my money Thor probably was the better of the two, but this one is not far behind. Chris Evans is perfect for this role. Tommie Lee Jones is his typical reliable self (Blown Away notwithstanding). Hayley Atwell was solid and gorgeous, which didn't hurt matters. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Turd Ferguson at 20:09, 04 January 2012 | Report This Post


Empire Review Spot On, but...

the review is technically correct; an excellent hero genesis story followed by a less impressive montage of clumsily linked, average action sequences. Don't let these negatives put you off because the first third gets you to fall in love with Cap so you forgive his film the whole way. I would have said 4 stars, but cheesy lasers replacing gritty bullets, the cringeworth 'Hail Hydra' salute and not enough Cap super power on show - it has to drop to Three - but still "a good man". ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 10:26, 30 December 2011 | Report This Post


Watched this on Blu Ray over Christmas, really enjoyed it. A good old-fashioned romp, and I think easily the best of this years superhero movies. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by UTB at 13:18, 29 December 2011 | Report This Post


Watched this the other night. I liked it. Was very much an old fashioned serial actioner in the vein of say Indiana Jones or Flash Gordon. Loved the lack of cynicism and it's "pure" heart. Though it did feel about 20 minutes too long. 3 out of 5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sutty at 14:06, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post


Captain America: The First Avenger Review

With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 14:11, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


Brilliant

Alot of people have downed this film as boring but personally i think its one of the best actionhero films from the avengers characters (just below iron man) in my view. As usual Hugo Weaving acts brilliantly as the villain, Tommy Lee Jones Is fantastic in every role he plays and Chris Evans was surprisingly good. Watched it twice in 2weeks! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AntGC at 13:10, 15 December 2011 | Report This Post


Good Enough Film. Great performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving. Chris Evans was quite good to play the first avenger. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 11:14, 16 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America: The First Avenger

Just got around to seeing this. Enjoyed it, entertained me for 2hrs but wasn't quite up to the standard of Thor or Iron Man IMO. You wanted more from the ending(s) which definitely lacked emotional payoff. Even the final punch-up was a bit Iron Man 2, flashy but over very quickly. Performances were very good on the whole with Jones and Tucci stealing every scene they were in. And was that Dempsey from Dempsey and Makepeace as the Senator? inks to the wider Avengers stories were nicely done thou... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fuzzy at 23:52, 24 August 2011 | Report This Post


Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger is a very good film. The story is very well told, the action scenes and the visuals are excellent. The actors did a very good performance for their characters especially Chris Evans, for me he was the right choice to be the role for captain america. Red Skull looked awesome in the film. The problems with the film is a bit earnest and cheesy. I enjoyed watching this film and is very exited to see The Avengers next year. I would recommend to go see this film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward9630 at 00:50, 17 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

L: Jessica_ca_ca_ca The Captain America cartoon was always a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine when I was younger, so it was with some trepidation I eventually saw the movie and... I'm still somewhat baffled as to how Chris Evans was so tiny! The things that can do with special effects these days, blimey. ie was somewhat short - couldn't have been longer than an hour 15 mins tops, yet I think it was a good idea to keep it short and sweet. more humorous than I thought it would be - Stanl... More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 19:03, 11 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Captain America

The Captain America cartoon was always a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine when I was younger, so it was with some trepidation I eventually saw the movie and... I'm still somewhat baffled as to how Chris Evans was so tiny! The things that can do with special effects these days, blimey. The movie was somewhat short - couldn't have been longer than an hour 15 mins tops, yet I think it was a good idea to keep it short and sweet.   Much more humorous than I thought it would be - Stanley Tuc... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 13:54, 11 August 2011 | Report This Post


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