AWFJ Women On Film – “Captain America” – Review by Susan Granger

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This is the last in the individual, interconnected Marvel prequels, following “Iron Man, “The Hulk” and “Thor,” leading up to next summer’s star-studded “The Avengers.”

Based on the hero, created back in 1941 by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, it revolves around Steve Rogers, a patriotic Brooklyn kid who dreams of becoming a World War II hero. Problem is: every time he tries to enlist in the Allied Forces, scrawny, asthmatic, 98-pound Steve is rejected for medical /physical reasons. But German émigré scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recognizes his dedication and recruits him for Project Rebirth, a top-secret, experimental procedure, transforming him into the cell-enhanced, invincible Super Soldier known as Captain America.

In his new persona, strapping Steve joins forces with his buddy, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and British military liaison Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) under the command of Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) to destroy the Nazis’ hotshot science division known as HYDRA, under the diabolical auspices of villainous Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), whose cohorts chorus, “Heil Hydra!”

Simplistically written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and formulaically directed by Joe Johnston (“The Rocketeer,” “Jurassic Park III,” “Wolfman”), it’s an old-fashioned action-adventure. Like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man/Tony Stark, Chris Evans is perfectly cast as Steve Rogers. Evans previously played another comic-book hero, the smart-alecky Human Torch, in both “Fantastic Four” movies, but this is a far more well-rounded portrayal. As for the origin segment, Evans’s face is grafted onto a skinny, 5’ 4” teenager’s body using digital technology.

Hayley Atwell doesn’t fare as well. In Marvel comics, her character of Peggy Carter is a smart, savvy, self-assured operative but, here, she serves as Steve’s romantic interest/moral compass. Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving add stalwart support, along with Dominic Cooper as wealthy industrialist/inventor Howard Stark.

Bottom line: it’s more fun than “Thor,” “Green Hornet” and “Green Lantern.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Captain America: The First Avenger” is a solid, stylish, superhero 8, saluting the red, white and blue.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.