Chris Evans can’t save ‘Captain America’

Film review

Chris Evans stars as Captain America/Steve Rogers in "Captain America: The First Avenger" -- Paramount

In “Captain America,” the talented actor Chris Evans (shown in and out of uniform) does the best he can with the material that he was given.

Actor Chris Evans, from "Captain America", poses for a portrait at the LMT Music Lodge during Comic Con in San Diego, Thursday, July 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Associated Press photo

“Captain America: The First Avenger” is widely said to be the best of this summer’s crop of super-hero movies. I disagree.

While better than “Thor,” which isn’t saying much, “Captain America” falls short of “X-Men: First Class.”

The best thing that “Captain America” has going for it is the charismatic Chris Evans, who engagingly played the “Fantastic 4”’s smart-assed Johnny Storm and who did a great turn in the sci-fi film “Sunshine.” Like “Sunshine,” “Captain America” isn’t worthy of Evans’ talents, unfortunately.

“Captain America” in a post-Abu-Ghraib world doesn’t woefully overdo the nauseating patriotic crap, but doesn’t give the good captain an awful lot to do that is very interesting once he finally meets and far exceeds his goal of fighting for the U.S. military against Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

In the action Captain America repeatedly loses his one-of-a-kind, impenetrable shield, which he always gets back, we quickly learn, so that trick gets old fairly fast — seriously, the character of the patriotic, skinny, sickly pre-Captain-America Steve Rogers is more interesting than is the fairly invincible hulk that he is morphed into — and the Red Skull, the villain, played by Hugo Weaving, is captivating for all of about five minutes.

True, a friend of mine who had seen “Captain America” before I did had told me that the Nazi-accented Red Skull sounds just like the Austrian-born former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and so every time the Red Skull spoke I heard not the Red Skull, but Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger, and I have wondered if maybe they’d wanted Schwarzenegger to play the role but couldn’t get him, and so they asked Hugo Weaving to do his best Schwarzenegger.

In any case, the glowing blue cube that is supposed to be the source of the Red Skull’s power is not very interesting and not very creative. I’m sick of movies in which we’re just supposed to accept some mysterious power, whether it glows a pretty blue or green. (On that note, I haven’t seen “Green Lantern,” since it roundly got shitty reviews, but just about everyone for some reason has said how great “Captain America” is, which is why I saw it.

And I don’t care that something was in some comic book first, by the way. Something works in a movie or it doesn’t, regardless of its source.)

And we’ve had plenty of movies about Nazis and about Nazis interested in occult powers — “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Hellboy” come immediately to mind. Did we really need another? The retro (World-War-II-era) look of “Captain America” is fairly cool, but didn’t we kinda already see that in the unfortunate “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”?

Tommy Lee Jones does a great job as Steve Rogers’/Captain America’s commanding officer, but it’s the same role of the cranky old man that Jones has been playing for some years now, unfortunately.

And the time-traveling twist at the end of “Captain America” is more likely to make the viewer feel a bit ripped off rather than ooohed and ahhhed — and feel way too rushed to be prepped for Captain America’s next cinematic appearance, which, presumably, will take place in the present. (Again, even if it was in a comic book first, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be good for a film.)

In a nutshell, with “Captain America” it’s been there, done that. It’s a fairly technically well done rehash, but it’s a rehash nonetheless.

Love Chris Evans. “Captain America” — not so much.

My grade: C+

P.S. The showing that I attended was in 3-D. Oops. I hadn’t even known that they’d released it in 3-D. The 3-D effects make no difference, though, as nothing comes flying at you. Not even the shield. Why they released it in 3-D, other than for increased profits, eludes me.

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