Review: Is Captain America: The First Avenger Really The Next Raiders of the Lost Ark We Were Promised?

Once again, a comic book movie is hitting the big screen this summer, and it's closing off what has been a pretty impressive run for most comic book movies this summer. Now one of Marvel's most interesting and patriotic superhero's is getting it's chance at reeling in audience members world wide, but is Captain America a strong solo establishment for a beloved character, or just another forced movie made to set up the Avengers?

The First Avengers brings us back to the 1940s, when America was fighting in World War II against Nazi Germany. Steve Rogers' dream is to fight along side the troops in Europe, but unfortunately is much too scrawny and weak to pass any of the physical tests. His friend James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, has already successfully joined, and just inspires Rogers even more to join the forces.
His numerous trials at joining the army catch the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine, a scientist working with the United States military for an experiment known as Project Rebirth. Erskine was able to escape Nazi forces in Germany, and came to America after being forced to use his (Not yet completed) super soldier serum on a man known as Johann Schmidt. Schmidt is in charge of a Nazi sub weaponry division known as Hydra.
Erskine is able to convince the Colonel Philips of the US military that Rogers is the man they've been searching for, and with the help of Howard Stark (The father of the yet-to-be-born Tony Stark/Iron Man), are able to turn Rogers into their first successful super soldier. But soon after the serum of the experiment can be recorded for future use, Erskine is assassinated by a Hydra agent.
Now Rogers; the only super soldier in the American military, must lead the US to victory against the Nazis and Hydra, and stop Johann Schmidt from creating a weaponry so powerful (With help from the power of the Cosmic Cube), that can ablivirate all of New York City. Rogers teams up with Allied Forces agent Peggy Carter, his old friend Bucky Barnes, Howard Stark, and a whole army of soldiers known as The Howling Commandos to stop Schmidt once and for all, but little do they know the fate that lies ahead.
The First Avenger has one of the best tones I've seen in a film in a long time. With so many other period pieces being released this summer (X-Men First Class in the sixties, Super 8 in the seventies, Transformers: Dark of the Moon in the sixties, etc.), The First Avenger takes the cake for really making the audience feel like they were just transported right in the middle of World War II. Everything from the dialogue, humor, setting, clothing, story, music, and overall film are done magnificently to fit the time period of the story.
While I was skeptical of his casting, Chris Evan definitely managed to shake of his Human Torch days, and portrayed Roger exactly the way a imagined to be in the comics, a humble hero who was always a good person, and a becomes a true leader. Hayley Atwell was equally as amazing in her role of Peggy Carter. A perfect choice for Cap's love interest, and the love triangle between her, Rogers, and Stark just made the movie all the more interesting.
Sebastian Stan's version of Bucky Barnes might be the most controversial for those expecting a direct adaption of the comics. Bucky isn't the little perky child sidekick of Cap that was in the comics, and is instead the same age as him, and just a best friend and fellow soldiers of Rogers. Bucky also doesn't suffer the same fate as his comic book counterpart in the film. While I approved of most of the changes to the character, Bucky really didn't have as much importance and screen time that I had been expecting for such a prominent character.
The rest of the film performances were very strong. Dominic Cooper was terrific as Howard Stark, and played played his version of Stark perfectly in contrast to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark. While it was easy to see the similarities between Tony and his father in the film (Both are entrepreneurs, womanizers, cocky yet brilliant, etc.), yet Cooper's version of Stark was nothing like John Slattery's version in Iron Man 2 (More of a Walt Disney type of character) Tommy Lee Jones does an impressive job as Colonel Chester Phillips, basically playing that classic veteran general we see in all war movies (Which isn't a bad thing actually), and Toby Jones does a perfect job as Schmidt's minion scientist; Arnim Zola. 
As for Hugo Weaving, his portrayal of the Red Skull wasn't as amazing as I was expecting, but he still managed to pull off a scary villain. Weaving's Red Skull wasn't the same evil mass murderer that I had known from the comics, and really didn't seem as over the top as he should've been. His crave for the the power of the Cosmic Cube seemed a bit cheesy and cliche at times, and he seemed toned down and censored from how evil he could've been. Now don't get me wrong, Weaving did a pretty great job as Schmidt, but just didn't really live up to my expectations.
Now one thing that the First Avenger was lacking in was the fight scenes. While the final fight scene is pretty good, the rest of the scenes are pretty quick and boring. The film really doesn't get into to detail on the adventures of Cap and the Howling Commandos, and instead gives us a short montage, and skips right on ahead. While it's obvious why Johntson chose to do this (To leave room for sequels), it really felt like we were missing a major chapter in Steve Roger's life. We also hardly see Cap fighting Hydra troops one-on-one, but instead rapid shots of weapons being shot, and before you know it Cap is already gotten himself to Schmidt.
Captain America: The First Avenger is by far one of the best comic book movies I've seen, and really passed most of my expectation of what Cap would look like on the big screen. Joe Johntson made Captain America exactly the way it should've been, and was really able to incorporate all the elements of the comics, and transition them perfectly to the big screen. It also didn't suffer from too much forced continuity to the Avengers (Ala Iron Man 2 and Thor), and really stood out as a perfect example of a solo superhero origin. Whether you're a comic book fan or not, and if you haven't seen a good old fashioned movie in a while, Captain America is the movie for you. Despite some flaws, this one's sure to be a classic.
I give Captain America: The First Avenger 4 out of 5 stars:
And here's the Captain America: The First Avenger trailer:
What did you think of the First Avenger? Are you going to see it?