Marvel Studios seem to be the most prolific movie production setup around at the moment - or maybe just have the most productive marketing machine behind them? Probably the latter, but turning out two big blockbuster films in one summer is some mean feat. Only a matter of a few months after Thor comes Captain America: The First Avenger, the story of how small-and-weak-but-big-of-heart-and-national-pride Steve Rogers is transformed into the generation-spanning Super Soldier.
And it’s a good film. Director Joe Johnston has been around long enough, having worked with some big-name directors and on some big-scale projects in the past to know how to effectively build a story and shoot some inspired scenes; some of the shots are pure comic-book, really inventive and full of detail. The build up is nicely paced so as to introduce each main character effectively and the action scenes aren’t too heavy going. The cast does a decent job too; I’ve said before that if you put accomplished actors willing to play it straight in somewhat ludicrous scenarios, more often than not it pays off and it does again here. Veterans like Tommy Lee Jones (effectively playing the same role he did in The Fugitive, just in another era) and Hugo Weaving command every bit of screen time they get, be it with short sharp quips or German-accented delusions of grandeur respectively, whilst the two leads - Chris Evans as Rogers and Hayley Atwell as would-be romatic interest Peggy Carter - are fine enough.
There are times though that the villains of the piece - the Red Skull’s HYDRA army - don’t seem to pose much of a threat, seemingly over-run with great ease by the lesser-well equipped Allied Forces and therefore takes away from developing any feeling of suspense or taking away from an emotional investment to the characters; but there are times that the violence is sharp and shocking (for a PG film) and everyone seems vulnerable, and that does tend to balance things a little.
Overall though, it’s another highly enjoyable superhero romp and another example of how having the right creative forces behind a project (as opposed to money men with only a fleeting interest in the subject matter) works. Long may Marvel stay on the right track to and beyond The Avengers.