What’s it about? Scrawny, asthmatic Steve Rogers is desperate to do his part to join America’s effort to fight the Nazis in World War II. He finally gets his chance when a scientists asks him to participate in the U.S.’s Top Secret Super-Soldier program. He is injected with a serum that turns him into exactly that: super-strong, amazingly fast, and possibly the first of a new breed of soldier. He is soon dispatched to Europe to fight Hydra, a new threat rising from the folds of Naziism.
What was good? Chris Evans does a good job portraying the earnest, too-good-to-be-true Rogers without ever seeming cheesy or forced. The WWII period setting is a blast, and the addition of comic book sci-fi elements make it feel like it’s as close as we’ll ever get to a live-action Wolfenstein movie. Hollywood’s go-to bad guy Hugo Weaving actually underplays the role of the Red Skull a bit, which easily could have gone over the top. The action is entertaining, the pacing is fast, and Alan Silvestri’s score is an old-fashioned throwback to the glory days of John Williams. Tommy Lee Jones basically plays himself in the cranky old man role, but is so funny in his delivery that he basically walks away with every scene. Plus there’s a guy who carries a shotgun and fights while wearing a bowler hat. And I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to have a superhero who wasn’t dark, brooding, and full of angst, but instead was ready and willing to fight evil.
What was not-so-good? The movie feels somewhat like a “greatest hits” version of Captain America. (I’m not a comic book guy, so I have no idea how faithful it is to the source material.) You get a nice montage of missions, but don’t really get down and dirty watching them succeed or fail. And Hydra doesn’t feel like it’s fully developed as a villain or a threat. More menacing bad guys and a sense that our heroes are facing monumental odds would have helped enhance the suspense. The ending is also a blatant set-up for The Avengers, rather than bringing a story to a close.
What age would be appropriate for kids to watch this movie? I’d say 10 and up would be ok. The Red Skull is exactly that–his face looks like a red skull. Missing the nose and everything. That could creep kids out. And there’s a nod to a famous death scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark that could have them talking.
Is there anything a Dad can teach his kids from this movie? Sure, there’s plenty to talk about. The need to stand up and fight evil. The sacrifices soldiers make for the rest of us back home. WWII in general. Why shotguns and bowler hats make a killer combo. Whether a super-soldier could outrun a car. Tommy Lee Jones’ awesomeness in general.
Thumbs-up or “Not-thumbs”-up? Two thumbs up!