Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aloha to Captain America - The First Avenger

This past week was busy - hubby's birthday, older son's birthday, high school homecoming, and Library Friends' book sale.   We planned to attend the Hawaii Five O premiere on Waikiki Beach ... but we were too tired.   We watched the "red carpet coverage" on the local news station ... and they headed to the base theater for Captain America - The First Avenger.

Yes, this movie debuted back in July.   The base theater procures movies @ six weeks after their debut; that's why the tickets are cheaper.   I should add that I know nothing about Marvel Comics.   A friend recommended the movie to me, "You'll like the patriotism theme."

Before I offer my thoughts on the movie, let me tell you about base theaters.  They play the music of the National Anthem before the previews.   They project a video of military personnel around the world.   Everyone stands to respect our national symbol.  By the way, September 14 is the 197th anniversary of The Star Spangled Banner.

The original flag that inspired the National Anthem -
it is now on display at the Smithsonian.

Back to Captain America, it was an entertaining movie with a nostalgic WWII backdrop, thrilling action scenes, engaging special effects, and a "David vs Goliath" theme.   "David" is actually Steve Rogers - an teenage orphan who wants to join the Army during WWII "to do his part".  Repeatedly denied because he is too thin and asthmatic, he watches his best friend (and ladies' man) Bucky go off to war.   Yet Dr. Abraham Erksine, a DOD scientist and German emigre, sees something in Steve.  Dr. Erksine recruits Steve for the secret Project Rebirth.  Steve proves his worth when he demonstrates extraordinary intelligence, courage, and conscience during "basic training".

Spoiler - I commend the producers for the scene at the flagpole and with the grenade.  It reminded us that soldiers are not just muscles.

Once Steve undergoes the experiment, his weak body gains enhanced power.  He demonstrates these powers when Dr. Erksine is assassinated by an German agent of HYDRA, Hitler's weapons research program.   Steve rescues a boy taken hostage by the agent and his effort is captured by the press.   Unfortunately, Dr. Erksine's death marks the end of Project Rebirth but Steve is recruited for propaganda duty as "Captain America".  Stateside, he becomes a success in selling war bonds.   Overseas, Steve is panned by the troops who'd rather see the chorus girls.   Once again, he has to demonstrate that he can contribute to the war effort.  Steve not only learns that he is performing for Bucky's unit but that Bucky is missing after the unit tried to attack HYDRA's research facility.   He dons his Captain America uniform, grabs his enhanced shield, rescues the American prisoners, and destroys the facility.   Steve finally receives recognition from Colonel  Chester Phillips who doubted Steve when he first arrived at Project Rebirth.   Colonel Phillips tasks Steve to lead an assault against the remaining HYDRA facilities.

Spoiler - Steve selects several soldiers who he rescued, including Bucky.   I commend the producers for casting a wide range of ethnic groups to portray these Allied Soldiers.  They demonstrate that this was a combined effort of Allied Forces to overcome the evil HYDRA.

The Goliath in the movie is German commander Johann Schmidt.   He previously worked with Dr. Erksine on human body enhancing drugs.  But Dr. Erksine became alarmed with Schmidt's mental stability (and presumably fled to the US).   Schmidt continued to pump himself with the unstable drug, built  his own army to bypass Hitler, and created a devastating weapon from Norse mythology.  The drug has not only made him insane, but turned him red.  Hence, he become the Red Skull.

Clearly, Steve Rogers as Captain America is the star of the show.  Actor Chris Evans is spot on with his portrayal of the "accidental hero" - Steve just wanted to serve like everyone else.   Evans allows his character to grow emotionally while keeping hold of  the "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn" attitude.

The movie also offers a superb cast of supporting characters including:

- Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips.  His one liners inject just enough humor into the script.

- Hayley Atwell as British Agent Peggy Carter.  She delivers a combination of women's empowerment and sex appeal to encourage and intimidate Steve Rogers.

- Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erksine.  Tucci subtly portrays the "father figure" for Steve Rogers.

- Dominic Carter as Howard Stark.  Carter delivers a "Howard Hughes" inspired industrialist who is intimately involved with Project Rebirth.

- Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury ... from the future.

Final Spoiler - the latter two characters bridge Captain America to Marvel Comics' next project - The Avengers (see below).  At the end of Captain America, Steve Rogers destroys HYDRA'S factories, contributes to Red Skull's death, but crashes a plane carrying bombs into the Arctic Circle.   He wakes up 70 years later in modern day NYC where Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D., asks him to join his team.

Kudos to for the clever picture above - any Dallas fans?!?!

I thoroughly enjoyed Captain America for its entertaining value and embedded symbolism.  I thought it a great movie to watch on the eve of September 11.   In honor of Captain America, I am giving away the winners' choice of  book from RWA stash to find another dashing hero.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about a recent movie that you enjoyed.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, September 17, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winners on Sunday, September 18.


Kim in Hawaii

Howard Stark is the father of another Marvel Comics' character - Tony Stark, aka Iron Man.

We heard from another friend to stay through the screen credits.  We were treated to a special preview of next summer's blockbuster movie, The Avengers.   Marvel Comics contracted the actors for multi-movie deals to culminate with The Avengers, including:

- Chris Evens as Steve Rogers/Captain America

- Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man

- Chris Hemsworth as Thor

- Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye

- Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk

- Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, the only female member of S.H.I.E.L.D.

- Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D

Thus, Marvel Comics will deliver next summer the "Dream Team" of Superheroes!

To learn more about Captain America - The First Avenger, log onto its website at this link.

To learn more about The Avengers, log onto the IMBD site at this link.  It lists the cast and has a link to the still developing movie website.

The cast of The Avengers