World War Two infused with a star-spangled superhero, laser beams and plans for world domination can only mean one thing: a new Marvel comic film adaptation. Explosive and romantic all at once, Captain America: The First Avenger is certainly one of the best of Marvel’s class of 2011, up with X-Men: First Class and Thor.
Scrawny but determined, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempts to enter the US army despite numerous rejections, but a chance run into Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), puts Rogers in line to become the chief lab rat for Erskine’s Project Rebirth to create a superhuman army. After proving his courage, Rogers is injected with the serum that transforms his skinny body into a herculean frame. Meanwhile, crazy Nazi scientist Johann Schmidt A.K.A The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) is creating weapons to wipe out major cities in the world. After initially being used as a cheap propaganda trick, Rogers, now Captain America comes to the rescue of his comrades in the pursuit to stop Schmidt.
Director Joe Johnston offers us a mouth-watering visual spectacle blending sci-fi with a 40’s backdrop, spaceships and tanks, lasers and bullets. In classic superhero style, Captain America has no problem storming a weapons factory by himself, and no matter how far fetched, the scenes were fast, exciting and always sweetened by the Captain’s trademark shield throw.
But Captain America: The First Avenger doesn’t just rely on firepower. Comedic moments courtesy of Tucci, and the romantic flame between the Cap and stern but sexy Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), means the film offers other dimensions. The romance is fiery as Atwell and Evans click well – obviously her interest in him has nothing to do with his god-like physique – but it is clear that the Captain has a thing for girls in uniform.
Plot-wise the film is a little shakier. Starting off in a fluid manner, Captain America lays the foundation and was set to charge on, but quickly begins to trip over its own bootlaces. The action becomes choppy, and jumped around too much making it difficult to follow at times. And as soon as the film jumps forward some 70 years, you lose the characters that the whole film has built up. There is also the sense that you need to be a bit clued up on comic books to understand some of the aspects, such as the blue glowing cube (of some sort of immense power), or who Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is in relation to the Captain, although a cheeky trailer for the new Avengers film sheds some light, if you can wait until the end credits finish.
One has to expect a fair sprinkling of cheese over a superhero movie, but handled right, and this can create some of the funnier moments where a film pokes fun at itself. The problem with Captain America is that these instances aren’t played up enough and those moments of potential cheese, become very cringy, and instead of poking fun at itself, the film seems to take these lines and scenes all too seriously.
But these shortcomings do not interfere too much with a film that ultimately has enough flare, romance, bad guys and swish action to leave you feeling fulfilled, excited and ready for Marvel’s next superhero crew, The Avengers.
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With a more troubled history than Middle Earth itself, The Hobbit films are now going from strength to strength. A formidable cast and the return of Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson, signals high hopes for the two part prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Elijah Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in the trilogy, has recently joined the cast of new and old faces. Middle Earth veterans including Sir Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis and Orlando Bloom make their return to what Wood has called “a family reunion”.
Martin Freeman, who will play Bilbo Baggins, is among the new talent. His Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Smaug the Dragon, and is accompanied by an array of new faces to the Tolkein franchise which includes Stephen Fry, Evangeline Lilly, Barry Humphries, Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner and Richard Armitage.
Wood takes up his old role as Frodo Baggins. “You know, it’s a very small piece, and I think that’s the most appropriate. Obviously Frodo’s not alive within the context of the Hobbit piece,” he told MTV.
He continues, “the way that it’ll fit in will not at all infringe upon the integrity of The Hobbit. So I think it’s – it’ll fit. And it’ll be appropriate. And I’m excited. It’ll be great.”
Wood has also revealed that he has read the script for the first Hobbit movie, telling The Hollywood Reporter that it is “incredible”.
“It definitely expounds upon the book; there are already characters that are cast that are not in the book, so that indicates that it goes slightly outside the boundaries in the structure of the original novel.”
The two hotly anticipated films have had their release dates announced by New Line Cinema and Warner Bros Pictures. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the duo, is scheduled for release on 14 December 2012. The second installment, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is set for release on 13 December 2013.