Rating: 3.75 of 5
I know I’m in the minority of people who really like this movie. Ok, maybe not the minority because it opened to $65M but it’s one of the few movies Kel and I disagreed on substantially so it feels like a minority. And, I think it feels that way even more because she’s right about what works and what doesn’t. But I still like it almost because of the things that don’t work.
The look of the film was great. I liked the gritty, old world feel that it had and that it really captured a 1940 sensibility. The whole Red Skeleton thing was close to the campy line, but he’s the sort of character that would be really hard to do without a certain amount of panache so I can let that slide.
I thought the dialog and the writing was all really good. The action was decent but there were a few montages in the middle where I would have much rather had some actual scenes or something with more depth. Montages work, sometimes, and these felt like glossy filler.
I even liked Haley Atwood quite a bit and adored Sebastian Stan. He’s got some serious presence and always does interesting work, even when playing a straight up hero.
The division between Kel and I, and the crux of the matter, is about the story elements of Captain America.
I loved his character. I loved the innate and unwavering integrity; the courage; the unquestioning heroism. I adored the conversations he had with Dr. Erskine and found it fascinating that Captain America then got to become the embodiment of everything they discussed. Theory becoming living, breathing reality and can theory survive that sort of substance.
Kel didn’t like that he had no internal conflict. He is a purely noble character who, though he gets put in one distasteful circumstance and has to deal with one hard blow, never questions himself; never doubts the virtue of his choices; never wrestles with any of his decisions. He never wrestles with anything internally, he just shows up and fights the bad guy and looks great doing it. She didn’t like that.
And she’s right. From a storytelling perspective we need conflict. It’s what we relate to; it’s what makes things interesting and complex. In fact, our conversations about Captain America prompted the Darkness of Heroes post.
But I can’t help that I like the pure nobility of his character. It wasn’t false or superficial or one dimensional, which are the general criticisms of stalwart heroes. Chris Evans even does a noteworthy job of taking that purely heroic character and giving him substance and dimension. Granted it might be boring for some people (ahem, Kel) but in him, I liked it.
See how Captain America: The First Avenger ranks with the other Marvel movies.
ETA: Now that I’ve seen The Avengers, Kel is right. Captain America is more interesting with a little bit of darkness in him.
ETA 2: HULK thinks it’s very well done and doesn’t comment on the lack of conflict at all, which absolutely does not mean that I win. Mostly he liked how well they handled Peggy Carter and he’s totally right about that.