Journal Entry: Mon Aug 15, 2011, 2:04 AM
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.
Okay, I finally saw CAPTAIN AMERICA. Thumbs up. Despite the negative or unsatisfied opinions of others, I say it's a winner. It always pays to make up one's own mind. So, there it is. If what I have to say makes you curious, feel free to investigate for yourself in order to mold your own righteous evaluation. Haha!
Cinematically speaking, Marvel's characters are now kicking DC's collective arse. It's no good to put all the eggs in one Bat-Basket, fellas. And Superman shouldn't have to carry the rest of the burden. Green Lantern I have yet to see. And Wonder Woman deserves a lot more respect than the TV treatment she was to receive.
Of course, I have minor quibbles with CAP. No such thing as a perfect film. I still feel that Chris Evans was not big enough, despite all the pumping up he did. However, it's inevitably better to cast a solid actor rather than someone with the ideal physical stature, primarily when the role requires depth of character, and a lot of dialogue. With all due respect, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan The Barbarian was a less demanding role in the way of verbal acting, and nuance. So, in other words, Chris Evans obliterates both Reb Brown's real muscles, and Matt Salinger's fake muscles in one stroke, while also stomping out his own portrayal of The Human Torch. Flame out. You're Cap now, pal.
Speaking of physiques and performances, the digital legerdemain used to create skinny Steve Rogers was one of the more masterful Hollywood illusions I have seen in some time. Leander Deeny managed to perfectly synch his performance and movements with that of Evans, enabling the special effects wizards to seamlessly blend the two actors, creating one character. Most of us knew this was being done due to the preview trailers. But watching the full performance with a skeptic's scrutiny is the real test, and they far exceeded a passing grade. Well done!
Hayley Atwell is marvelous as Agent Peggy Carter. Tommy Lee Jones adds the ideal craftsmanship and non-cheesy weight of a veteran Oscar-winner as Colonel Chester Phillips. He bolsters his every scene instead of stealing it, or chewing the scenery simply because the material's source is a comic book. A classy show, Mr. Jones. Hugo Weaving is as good playing The Red Skull as he is consistently on the big screen, whether he is an elf king, or an Agent of The Matrix. Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, and the rest of the supporting cast are excellent, especially Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola. But I was particularly impressed by Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine. Tucci brings a low-key sensitivity, veracity, warmth and humor to his role that helps at times to elevate parts of this film from its light, escapist form.
The relationship between Steve Rogers and "Bucky" Barnes could have been typically cardboard. But Evans and Sebastian Stan effectively convinced me of a geniune friendship between the two characters, despite the brevity of their time on screen together. As they battled the bad guys side-by-side, I never got the sense of the stereotypical and annoying "sidekick" at all, something the comics medium practically celebrates as a cliché. This was a fresh approach to the Hero/Sidekick dynamic, with a cool spin.
There are moments when I felt the film's tone became uneven, and Joe Johnston's direction veered too near to his usual treacly, heavy-handed style. But this is miles beyond THE ROCKETEER. In the superhero film steeplechase, I would rank this effort well ahead of THOR, and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, and about neck-and-neck with IRON MAN. I think what's missing is something that cannot be provided in today's darker world, Hollywood glamour notwithstanding. A Captain America movie almost demands a rousing finale that inspires, triggering as many goose bumps as a great Superman film should. Alan Silvestri's average score does little to help. But the "innocence" of the 40s is long gone. Naïve flag-waving, and brash political symbolism is out of fashion these days, justifiably. The mighty nation is not so shiny anymore, and villainy not so black-and-white. Just as it may be crass to claim that Superman fights for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Captain America may have to redefine himself better to encompass a higher ethic, and represent a more honest, global ideal.
That's my take. As always, your mileage may vary.
Listening to: The Death Rattle of Would-Be Assassins
Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
Playing: Arkham Asylum on PS3
Eating: Stuff and stuff