Thursday, July 21, 2011
No one makes a more sympathetic hero than a 98-pound weakling. If he's bullied, orphaned and asthmatic - if he gets beaten up by jerks in alleyways on a regular basis - why, all the better. Behind that concave chest beats the heart of a lion.
Meet Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), the stick figure who becomes the strapping wartime Nazi hunter in the sturdy-framed "Captain America: The First Avenger," the latest in this summer's long succession of highly muscled hero movies. What distinguishes Cap is his humble backstory, which involves neither hairy gods nor hot-dogging test pilots but a kid from Brooklyn who just wants to fight for freedom.
Five times Steve has tried to enlist, but each time he's been rejected. Then he catches the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). Erskine is a gentle German scientist, now working for the Americans, with an awesome new serum that can turn a runt like Steve into a super-speedy, superstrong super-soldier. And so is created Captain America. After being misused by the government to sell war bonds and star in movie shorts, Cap will go on to fight this particular movie's villain: Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a nutcase Nazi who controls a spooky blue energy source that hails from the Nordic gods.
"Captain America" serves as both an energetic intro to the character and a cheerfully retro nod to simpler times. What it lacks in fresh ideas, it makes up for with gung-ho action and a sincere lead performance by a star whose usual MO is frat-boy quippiness