Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Released in Theaters: July 22, 2011 (2D & 3D)
Genre:Comic Book, Superhero, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 125 minutes
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson, Toby Jones
Official Site: http://captainamerica.marvel.com/
SYNOPSIS: After being deemed unfit for military service, puny Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America (Chris Evans), a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.
Sex/Nudity: A few kisses and some flirting. Two characters are drawn to each other throughout the film. Soldiers ogle a woman in a beautiful dress at a fancy party. Captain America goes shirtless in a few scenes.
Violence/Gore: The movie is centered on Nazi Germany during World War II, so there are lots of war scenes: action violence, weapons, fireballs, hand to hand combat, car and motorcycle chases, destruction of buildings and vehicles, and a high-tech super weapon that can vaporize people. The main villain, Red Skull, has a bony red face that might be scary to kids. The body count is high, and a couple of characters are shot point-blank, but not much blood is shown. One character goes through a propeller and blood splatters everywhere. A character falls to his supposed death from a moving train. Another character commits suicide rather than be captured. A child is held hostage.
Profanity: A few uses of “hell,” “ass,” “damn,” “son of a bitch,” “oh my God,” and “bloody” as British slang. Soldiers are called “ladies” as an insult.
Drugs/Alcohol: A character drinks Schnapps and later implies that he’s had too much (though he’s not shown drunk). Soldiers drink beer and other alcohol at a pub, and one character is tipsy. Captain America attempts to get drunk but is unable to, thanks to his new indestructible body.
Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 12 and older who like Marvel or Captain America comic books, or movies with lots of action and war scenes.
Will Parents Like It? There’s lots of war violence, but also a patriotic message. The PG-13 rating is on target, and kids 12+ should be able to understand that the violence is comic-book-superhero type violence.
REVIEW: Despite the best efforts of my comic-book-loving friends, I haven’t been able to get into comic books since my Archie and Veronica days as a youngster. Even then, I never read superhero comics (though my brothers wish they still had all of their now-valuable comics). So my appreciation for ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is strictly movie-based.
Here’s the thing: the best superheroes can span any generation, and Captain America certainly does that. Most of this movie takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany, and the attention to detail is spot-on: the settings, vintage cars, military uniforms, even the sepia-wash of the film. But beyond that, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, is the ultimate hero.
He’s brave, compassionate, loyal, kind and resourceful. He believes in something greater than himself, and he’s willing to die for it. He gladly stands up for people who can’t stand up for themselves. He doesn’t have the personal demons that torment other superheroes like Iron Man and Batman. And even though he will do anything to become a soldier and start fighting Nazis, he says at one point that he doesn’t really want to kill anyone. He’s the sort of hero that’s relevant in both the 1940s and modern times.
The movie begins in 1942 with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) trying to enlist in the Army time after time, but his puny body and health issues keep getting him turned away (digital technology was used to “shrink” Evans down for those early scenes). But Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recognizes something greater in Steve, so he helps him enlist. Scrawny Steve is put through rigorous training paces by Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and meets the lovely but stern Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Then he’s taken to a super secret location and injected with a serum that turns him into the buff and brawny Captain America.
At first, Captain America becomes the face of the war, touring the country and making appearances with dancing ladies to sell war bonds. But when intel is uncovered about the nefarious HYDRA, Germany’s experimental science division led by the evil Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), Captain America puts himself in the line of fire. With a rag-tag team of soldiers, he leads a rogue rescue mission to find his buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and stop Schmidt’s powerful super weapons before they’re unleashed on the world.
While some of the dialogue and scenes are a little corny – picture Captain America returning from a dangerous mission with his team, striding towards the camera over a distant hilltop, and dropping a one-liner to his unbelieving superiors as he approaches – there’s a lot to like about ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’
In addition to Steve’s aforementioned hero qualities, it’s fun seeing the 90-lb. weakling become instantly transformed into a beefy superhero who’s ready to go after the bullies. Marvel fans will enjoy seeing the backstory to his shield and red-white-and-blue outfit, as well as appearances by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Tony Stark/Iron Man’s suave dad working his tech-savvy magic in the war room, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). As with the previous Avengers-related movies, be sure to stay through the credits for a glimpse of what’s to come.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Syndicate her family movie & TV reviews in your publication; visit her at Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email firstname.lastname@example.org.