It's hard to win my heart over when there's no faces to connect with. Red Skull has a red skull, and all of Red Skull's henchmen wear gimp masks, so the only face of the enemy is Toby Jones, the stubby scientist stuck between a madman and a laser gun, who we actually feel some sympathy for!
Chris Evans was just perfect as Steve Rogers. The shrimpy weakling Steve Rogers, before he gets his super-serum, was a seamless effect with Evans's head on a concave weakling (Not a body double. He was so small, maybe it should be body "three-quarters"?)
Hayley Atwell as the British agent who goes all moony for Rogers. She actually gets to shoot bad guys and punch d-bags first, so she's not useless like Rose Byrne's agent in X-Men: First Class. She tends to stand uncomfortably close to Steve in their dialog scenes, and she barely cries at the end. She also looks perfect in the period hair and makeup.
|That lipstick was a.maz.ing.|
I guess the reason I brand the movie "workmanlike" at the top of this review is my cynicism at work. This origin movie, which, like most origin movies, doesn't contain much action for the first 30-40 minutes, felt more like a necessary stepping stone for the Avengers mega-franchise than a story by itself.
I am also undrewhelmed by its director Joe Johnston. Johnston, a former George Lucas protege, was the art director for Star Wars Episodes 4-6, plus Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Battlestar Galactica TV pilot in 1978. Since Honey I Shrunk The Kids in 1989, he has directed eight more effects-heavy features, including Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, and The Wolfman. He doesn't seem to direct with much character or personality. The most cynical part of me thinks he's the director you can count on to successfully accomplish your film's technical challenges. Kind of like Michael Bay with no personality and a smaller budget.
TRIVIA: Before he heads to the front, Rogers performs in US Savings Bond fundraising shows, where he gets to knock out "Hitler" for the crowd each day. The guy playing the actor playing Hitler, James Payton, has another famous part with no dialog: the father of Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix (we only see him in one of those magical moving photos.)
TRIVIA: Strangely, Joe Johnston has directed another comic book movie set during WWII where undercover Nazis are plotting to steal American technology in order to create super-soldiers: The Rocketeer. Compounding the strangeness, both movies feature wealthy industrial tycoons with awesome moustaches: Howard Hughes invented the rocket in The Rocketeer; The real-life Hughes is the inspiration for the Howard Stark character.
|Dominic Cooper (L) and Terry O'Quinn (R)|
My grade: how about a B?
Regal Fenway Stadium 13 (screen 12) with: Adam, Angus, Geoff, Ilan, Jack, Jeff, John, Marc, and Marc's other friend whose name I never got :-S