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Captain America: The First Avenger(2011)
Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull.
For more about Captain America: The First Avenger and the Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray release, see Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper
Director: Joe Johnston
» See full cast & crew
Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray Review
Diary of a wimpy kid.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 19, 2011
I was meant for more than this.
Captain America has to be one of the ultimate "zero to hero" movies ever made. A scrawny nobody becomes a larger-than-life -- literally and figuratively -- hero of World War II, a national icon, and ends up as one of several superheroes tasked with saving the world on a regular basis. How's that for a boyhood fantasy come true? It's something that's probably too fantastical for anything but the worlds of comic books, movies, and wild imaginations. Indeed, Captain America is the embodiment of all three, a fantastical movie that's not about beating the odds, but running right over them in the name of truth, justice, and the American way, with apologies and all due respect to Superman, of course, he of that other comic book publisher. Marvel's Captain America franchise transitions superbly to film; the movie just oozes excitement and a bigger-than-life attitude. Combine that with a good story, strong characters, and action aplenty, and it's arguably the best Marvel comic book-turned-movie this side of Iron Man.
World War II is in full swing, and most able-bodied young men are eager to sign up. Unfortunately, young Steve Rogers' (Chris Evans) dreams of standing up to Nazi bullies are shattered when he's rejected from service for a myriad of health-related issues. The scrawny Steve is a classic 4F, but his heart and determination to enlist catches the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a German defector and the brilliant scientist who's going to get Steve into the action. The only catch is that Steve must submit to a select program for growing super soldiers using Erskine's highly advanced serum, perfected with the aid of industrialist Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and administered under the supervision of Army Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and British officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Steve is selected for his grit, bravery, and determination to be the first injected with the serum. It works; Steve becomes a larger, more muscular, and supremely athletic version of himself, but his transformation may be the last. A Nazi saboteur destroys much of the lab and gets off with the last vile of serum, but Steve is able to catch him before he escapes, opening a door that leads to a ruthless and power-hungry Nazi officer named Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) who had previously undergone Erskine's genetic manipulation but with unforeseen negative consequences. Now, with Schmidt in possession of an otherworldly power fit only for gods and in command of a powerful army that calls itself "Hydra,", Steve Rogers must go behind enemy lines as a new breed of hero dubbed "Captain America" and save the world from a foe more dangerous than even Hitler himself. Not bad for a skinny little nobody kid from Brooklyn.
Captain America isn't the perfect movie, and it's not even the best comic book adaptation of the past decade, but it embodies the spirit of what a comic book movie should be quite unlike anything that's come before it. The movie is highly stylized, action-packed, sometimes ridiculously over-the-top, and several of the characters play more like grossly exaggerated caricatures than they do complex human beings, but isn't that what a comic book -- at least at its most basic level -- is all about? No doubt the best comic series are up to the challenge of delivering as much character development and complex plot elements as rip-roaring fun (see the aforementioned Iron Man and Christopher Nolan's Batman films), but good 'ol Cap crashes onto the big screen in a movie that's superficially the most entertaining comic book movie of them all. But there's still more to it than that. Director Joe Johnston's (Jumanji) picture also emphasizes characterization and, to a lesser extent, drama, both supplementing the action but not drowning it out. The primary players -- as particularly evidenced through the budding relationship between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter -- may come across with a hackneyed fašade but are nevertheless highly effective in framing the movie's dramatic content, leading to an emotionally climactic scene that might even draw a few tears from the more easily-moved members of the audience.
Captain America also excels in its ability to paint such a convincing picture of the past while sprucing it up with a bunch of mad scientist Nazi technology that gives the story an edge and reinforces the movie's comic origins and fantasy-inspired plot line. Never mind that the whole "evil Nazi lair packed with energy weapons and super soldiers" seems like something out a Wolfenstein video game. It works -- seamlessly -- in context, and how could it not when the plot revolves around a genetically-engineered super soldier (hailing from an era when such things were the realm of science fiction only) battling a mutated and devilishly-fun red skulled adversary bent on ruling the world and making Hitler look like Mother Theresa? That's the charm of the movie; that it can be so grossly over-the-top yet so convincing and absorbing is a real credit to just how well the material translates to the screen. It's all about setting the right tone, and just as Director Johnston achieved in another, similar World War II-era Fantasy picture -- The Rocketeer -- he just nails it in Captain America, creating a diverse make-believe world that's rooted in fact but brought to life through fiction, a wonderful combination that makes it a wonderfully complete experience and a new classic of escapist entertainment at its very best.
Then there are the movie's characters, none of whom are in the least bit complex but all of whom are elevated well above the basic needs a movie like this demands. What emotional attachment audiences will develop with them is grounded in basic love/hate/pity sorts of broad, sweeping elements, but that's more than enough to work in conjunction with the film's big action and baseline but effective drama. Chris Evans is surprisingly good as the title character, playing the Captain with both a wide-eyed enthusiasm and a hardcore action hero fašade at the same time. He grows quickly into the part, and not only from a physical standpoint. Evans never gets too ambitious with the part and never seems awed by the challenge of brining one of comic-dom's most immediately-recognizable characters to the screen or lost under the figurative weight of the mask or behind the iconic shield. His Captain America isn't nearly as complex and interesting as Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark, but then again the script isn't as strong and the actor isn't as dynamic. It's still a solid all-around performance. Hugo Weaving is also quite good as the heartless, demented villain -- both in his mask and out of it -- even if he plays the part as an over-the-top caricature of the prototypical mad Nazi villain, but it works well in context and actually enhances the film's comic book-inspired tone. The rest of the cast is strong, with Stanley Tucci dominating the screen, as always, while Tommy Lee Jones plays Tommy Lee Jones, though both give way to the sumptuous Hayley Atwell, who pulls off the 1940s look remarkably well.
Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray, Video Quality
Captain America leaps onto Blu-ray with a gorgeous 1080p transfer. The image appears rather subdued by design; fine detail is extensive but not always redly evident, and colors are dull throughout. That doesn't make this any less of a looker. Paramount's transfer is extraordinarily stable, crisp, and yields breathtaking clarity and cleanliness. Detailing is astounding in spots; complex facial textures are evident in both the brightest shots and the lowest-light conditions alike, but the picture's sepia-toned shots do lend a rather pasty look to faces where shadowy corners occasionally struggle with smooth color transition. Nevertheless, textures on military helmets, Captain America's complex suit, concrete and brick fašades, and the like are all outstanding. The digital photography occasionally produces minor banding, but the image is otherwise pristine and free of any perceptible digital anomalies. Blacks are sturdy and inky, yielding richly-texrtured dark scenes and never crushing out details. Some viewers may be turned off by the absence of "eye candy" visuals; the color palette in particular appears always drained and favoring a dark gray, black, blue, or sepia-toned structure. Nevertheless, and judging the transfer based on the movie's intended appearance, there's no denying that this is another first-rate Blu-ray transfer from Paramount.
Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Captain America blasts onto Blu-ray with a well-rounded DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. This is a balanced but still exciting track that handles every extreme thrown its way with ease. Whether a chilled Arctic wind that blows through the listening area at film's start or minor ambience like Brooklyn traffic, buzzing insects, or the rumble of a prop plane as heard inside the cabin, the track never fails to surround the listener with mood- and scene-critical atmospherics. At the same time, there's no shortage of high-energy sound, either. The action proves totally immersive; gunfire -- from conventional and fictitious energy weapons alike -- erupts from every corner of the listening area during shootouts. Explosions are hefty and built through strong, but not excessive, bass. The surround speakers carry much of the action, helping to immerse the audience in the film's most dangerous scenes. Music is strong, balanced, spacious, and incredibly clear. It's carried by the front but, like everything else, enjoys some measure of surround support. Dialogue remains grounded up the middle in every scene; it's clear and never lost through any of the supporting elements, heavy or otherwise. It's not quite on the level of spectacular, but this is pretty much everything an action-oriented, fresh-from-theaters soundtrack should be.
Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Captain America arrives on Blu-ray with a good assortment of extras, including an audio commentary track and several informative featurettes.
Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Captain America certainly isn't at the head of the pack in terms of comic book movie greatness, but it epitomizes that genre better than any of its contemporaries. The movie is playfully fun, an addictive watch, and loaded with action, but still smart enough to offer fair character development and a good plot line, both of which aid in enhancing the movie's dual finales and setting it up for future installments in the Marvel universe. Additionally, the cast is strong, the direction is smooth, and ancillary elements are top-notch. In short, Captain America is everything a movie fan could want from a big budget comic book summer movie. Paramount's Blu-ray 2D release of Captain America yields fantastic picture quality, a potent 7.1-channel lossless soundtrack, and a fine assortment of extras. Very highly recommended.
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Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: October 25-31 - October 25, 2011
Captain America, as the name implies, is the most blatantly patriotic superheroes of all time, and when he first appeared in December of 1940, he made his impact by punching Nazi leader Adolph Hitler in the jaw. It was one year later that the United States found ...
• Details on Captain America: The First Avenger (Best Buy Exclusive... - September 26, 2011
Paramount and Marvel Home Entertainment have provided details on the Best Buy Exclusive Edition of Captain America: The First Avenger. The Blu-ray/DVD & Digital Copy combo pack will include collectible packaging showcasing the superhero's first appearance in 1941's ...
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