Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Captain America

I'm always game for an old-fashioned superhero movie, though I am often disappointed at the theatre. We all need heroes but I've been a bit worried lately about the types of heroes modern audiences desire. In recent children's movies, we've had at least two examples of "protagonists" who are in fact villains: Despicable Me and Mega Mind. Both these characters presented themselves to the world as evil, but their inner good unfolded throughout the movie. I think the appeal for this type of "hero" is that the pragmatically realistic audiences of today's America, who have witnessed a bemusing socio-political military conflict in the Middle East, feel deluded by the John Wayne type of macho-hero of yesteryear.

However (that is to say: "to contradict everything I've just said"), there is room yet in our hearts for superheroes. I believe that part of the Harry Potter phenomenon is that the conflict between good and evil is fairly black and white and we are willing to suspend are lack of confidence in heroes because we have in fact entered a literally magical world where, just maybe, true heroes still exist. The movie business is going to great lengths to provide audiences with heroes. One way is to make the story so incredibly unbelievable that you'll believe anything that happens because you know it could never happen (?). Another way is to take traditional genres of adventure and modernize them (Cowboys vs. Aliens). Yet another method is transform tried and true literary adventures into modern action flicks (Sherlock Holmes).

The Marvel series, leading up to the ultimate super-hero film, The Avengers (not Emma Peel/John Steed Avengers), combines all of these techniques. They're incredible because the heroes possess super-human powers. It is a traditional genre because there have been super-hero movies forever, but it's modernized with a lot of new film technology (and some BIG bangs!). And one could even consider these classic comics as part of our popular literature; we must also remember that the new Tin Tin film will be coming out sometime this winter.

Captain America, and its predecessor Thor a couple months ago, are fairly traditional super-hero films. In some ways they are downright average. They're predictable and clichéd. But they are also, and most importantly, classic. Captain America contained some very witty dialogue; the humor definitely contributed to the enjoyment of the film. The hero is a good man, with a good heart and a strong conscience. That's the kind of hero I would like to follow - someone who still has hope, honour, humility. He's also terribly handsome.

The female lead in this movie is incredible. It's so refreshing to see a strong, independent, intelligent woman on the scene! Although the protagonsit is a male, Peggy Carter plays more than the sidekick role of "other" to Captain America. She has lines, most of them either terribly poignant or terrifically funny. Her character is respected by the others on the screen. And she definitely gets to kick some patootie!
There isn't too much else to say about this movie. It has a very interesting ending twist which surprises but doesn't shock. The love story is tender and romantic, if a little clichéd. The villain is ugly, scary, dangerous, and 100% evil - just the way you want him to be. The explosions are AWESOME! I'd say it's an all-around good movie, though it doesn't say anything very profound. It's a good movie for the kids and it's also a fun movie for people who like classic films because it certainly has a bit of a nostalgic vintage feel which is quite pleasant.

So, I hope you will go and see it. Then tell me what you thought about it - I'd love to hear what you have to say!

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