With a title like ''Captain America'', there are only two kinds of movie you can make. You can either go with a tribute to the silver-age, two-fisted serials, or you can make an introspective, 21st century exploration of 1940s propaganda. The movie we get flounders between the two, and fails to deliver either. The movie starts at well enough, giving us a likeable protagonist with relatable origin story. The transition from weakling to all-American superman is nice to watch. It is probably the first time in a movie we get to see how a superhero would really end up: the subject of military interests and crass, smultzy commercialism. The problem is that this doesn't last. The movie almost immediately starts spewing out clichés and stale action tropes. Maybe the corny love plot, hammy villains, and perfunctory melodrama are supposed to hearken back to the old serials, but if they wanted to do that, they should go the whole distance and provide imaginative action scenes too. Instead of Indiana Jones though, Captain America opts for bad sci-fi laser battles and CGI fireballs. Watching this reminded me of the atrocious screen adaptation of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen; big on the CGI anachronistic tech, small on the heart. It also fails as an examination of 1940s sentiments and propaganda, which is a shame because they seemed to be going down that route early on. Captain America gains his fame as a stage character in propaganda shows. It seemed to me that the natural thing to do was to run with the propaganda element. They should have made the villainous Red Skull the Nazi propaganda equivalent, and their inevitable battle the product of two propaganda machines desperate to show which side is boss. It would be interesting arc to have Captain America built up as a warrior on stage, but being unprepared for the real conflict on the front. But they couldn't do that, because they discarded any sense of down-to-earth, gritty realism with Norse magic and laser guns. I wouldn't go so far as to call Captain America a bad film, but it certainly lacks enough good qualities to deserve a recommendation. It is neither clever and introspective, nor good brash fun. I was never bored, yet I was never impressed.
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