Since I did a review for the Batman: Under The Red Hood DVD, how couldn't I do one for the Cap movie? This was one of the FEW movies I actually wanted to see in the movie theater, but I instead decided to wait for the DVD to get released. Well, the movie is loading in my PS3 and should start up soon, so let's get to it!
Captain America: The First Avenger(2011):
What Happened: Back during World War II, scrawny Steve Rogers from Brooklyn winds up getting a special serum and becomes America's first super-soldier. The creator of the serum, Dr. Erskine, is murdered by agents of the Nazi's special science division, Hydra, which is led by the Red Skull. The Skull knew of Erskine because he himself took a prototype of Erskine's serum which granted him enhanced physical abilities, while leaving him with grotesque red skull-like head. Steve becomes a propaganda tool for the US government to sell war bonds as Captain America, but is more keen on actually fighting in the war, something his commanding officer, Col. Phillips, doesn't want to see since Steve was basically untested on the field. Eventually while entertaining some soldiers in Italy, Cap learns that his childhood friend Bucky Barnes(and most of Bucky's platoon) was captured and/or killed by forces of Hydra. With some help from Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, Cap ends up busting into the Hydra facility on his own and rescuing Bucky and the rest of the captive soldiers while meeting the Skull face-to-face for the first time. With that rousing success, Col. Phillips allows Cap to create a hand selected team to take the fight to Hydra. Cap's squad(basically the Howling Commandos) meets with several successes taking apart Hydra bases, but are racing against the clock as the Red Skull, using an insanely powerful artifact that he felt was left behind by the gods(basically a Cosmic Cube), is busy building a massive airship that was powered by the artifact and was capable of wiping out the entire US eastern coast within an hour's time. Cap and his squad end up capturing the Skull's right hand man, Armin Zola, but at the expense of Bucky, who is killed during the mission. Zola rats out the location of Hydra's main base and Cap and his squad attack, forcing the Skull and his Hydra goons to leap into their aircraft before they are completely prepared to. After getting a kiss from Peggy, Cap alone manages to get aboard the Skull's aircraft before the Skull was able to take flight. After dispatching of the Hydra goons, Cap meets the Skull in the plane's cockpit and the two have their long-awaited showdown. The two adversaries toss each other about the cockpit until they eventually rupture the unit holding the artifact, at which time the Skull grabs the artifact hoping to use it against Cap. Unfortunately for the Skull, the power from the artifact seemingly disintegrates him before the artifact itself burns through the bottom of the plane falling into the ocean below. With the plane's power-source gone, and the controls damaged during the battle, Cap contacts headquarters and tells them that he was going to down the plane in the icy northern Atlantic waters before it reached any populated area. Peggy, who was at headquarters, tries to talk Cap out of his plan, but the two realize that there was no other way and Peggy stays on the radio with Cap until the plane slams into the ice below. Fast forward 70 years and an expedition exploring the northern Atlantic comes across the frozen remains of the airplane, as well as Cap, who ended up in a state of suspended animation. Cap eventually wakes up, freaks out a bit and is met by Nick Fury, ending this one.
The Good: Everybody in the movie did a pretty good job with the roles they were given. I especially enjoyed the Skull, Dr. Erskine and Col. Phillips. The addition of characters like Dum Dum Dugan, Armin Zola, Howard Stark and others was a nice little treat for a Marvel fanatic such as myself. Call me a sap, but I really enjoyed the interaction between Cap and Peggy Carter. The final battle between Cap and the Skull was awesome, mainly because it was two hated enemies beating the hell out of each other. There was nothing fancy about it, it was simply a fight. Even though it was never called as such, I liked that the Skull was using the Cosmic Cube the entire time, since that rung true to the comic books. Speaking of which, the special effects with the Cube and the Skull's appearance were topnotch. Cap bashing people with his shield was as fun on screen as it is in the comics. Cap's “death” scene was a real tearjerker. The beginning and end of this film were really well done.
The Bad: Bucky as Cap's childhood friend as opposed to a younger member of the army that Cap could have found/saved/anything was a bit annoying. Speaking of which, Bucky's death was downright infuriating! He was offed by a random Hydra agent in a scene that was basically throwaway! It had literally NO emotional impact on me whatsoever. Seriously, wouldn't it have made more sense for the Skull to have been the one to kill Bucky since there was no Baron Zemo in this movie? The middle of the movie dragged a bit... The time between when Erskine dies to when Cap rescues Bucky and the rest of the soldiers was completely forgettable. The ending wasn't an ending at all, it was basically the beginning of the Avengers.
The Verdict: This wasn't the best comic book movie I've ever seen(that distinction still goes to X2), but it's definitely one of my favorites. It didn't stray TOO far away from the comic books which is always a good thing, although the Bucky stuff REALLY hurt my enjoyment of this one. I still don't get why Bucky couldn't have been a 16/17 year old soldier that Steve takes under his wing. I'm not saying to make him a 14 year old army camp mascot like in the comics, but Bucky as Steve's childhood friend/protector just didn't add anything for me. Plus his death was just plain bizarre... I mean seriously, he was killed by random Hydra agent #276! Really?! Sure, as the head of Hydra, the Skull kind of/sort of was responsible for killing Bucky, but it would have been way more personal if the Skull had a more active hand in Bucky's death. Besides the Bucky portions, which could/should have been better, this movie was a great way to spend 2 hours. I mean hell, even though I KNEW he wasn't dying, I still got all teary-eyed during Cap's “death”! That tells me that the story had me and had me good. May 2012 can't get here soon enough, bring on the Avengers movie!
Score: 9 out of 10.