Captain America


I mostly knew Captain America from his bad 1960s cartoon show, and he always left me a little cold. He could run and jump and punch, and he had that damned shield, but his costume was beyond dorkitude. I don’t recall any individual episodes, but I still remember the theme song:



When Captain American throws his mighty shield,

All those who chose to oppose the shield must yield . . .



(There’s an echo of T. S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday” in that last line, but I digress.)



Well, Partner and I saw the new “Captain America” movie on Sunday, and I have maybe a little more respect for Cap now.



First of all, it’s beautifully filmed. It’s mostly shot in an elusive sepia, the color of old newspapers piled in the attic, to remind you that this is the 1940s, and the fights and battle scenes are very beautifully delineated. (We saw in in 2-D, which I don’t think spoiled any of the effects; naturally Cap chucks his shield right in your face a couple of times, and there are a few explosions which I’m sure would have been spectacular in 3-D. But we didn’t feel that we’d missed anything of importance.) But the final impression of the cinematography – and I think this is intentional – is of a very very very prolonged flashback.



So: we meet young Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, morphed down to the size of Gollum, or maybe Dobby the Elf). Steve is patriotic and kind and brave and sweet and asthmatic and anemic, and he has big sweet vulnerable eyes, and he aches to be a hero. We meet Stanley Tucci as Steve’s mentor / kindly uncle / father figure; Tommy Lee Jones (who reminds me of a big talking piece of leather) as Steve’s commanding officer, who basically reprises every role he’s played over the past twenty years; and some skirt (Hayley Atwell) playing a tough cute scientist who provides the necessary love interest.



A few injections and Vita-Rays later, little Steve turns into gigantic Steve, and is provided with a seemingly endless supply of tight white t-shirts. (Evidently the machine that makes your muscles bigger also oils you up. Also, it’s okay to leave your pants on during the transformation, because they change size automatically, right along with you.)



Big brawny Steve becomes a salesman for War Bonds; he sings and dances, he’s featured in comic books, kids love him. (Get it?) And he is dismally unhappy, and dissatisfied.



Finally, however, he meets the villain of his dreams. Hugo Weaving plays Johann Schmidt, and if you don’t know Johann’s secret – and his comic-book monicker – I ain’t gonna tell you. I loved Hugo’s irritable / vaguely constipated Elrond in “The Lord of the Rings,” and his Agent Smith in the Matrix movies was wonderfully creepy. He’s equally good here, as a smug uberNazi with an Odin complex.



There are a kajillion tie-ins with other recent Marvel movies: a dash of “Thor,” lots of “Iron Man,” and maybe even an echo of “The Hulk.” And we get a brief look-ahead to the Grand Unification: the Avengers movie promised next year.



And at the end of the movie –



Oh, come now. Who do you think I am? I wouldn’t do that to you.



[Evil chuckle.]




Captain America, Thor, and my cardiac well-being


Libby Gelman-Waxner, in her “Premiere” column, printed a letter from a reader who said: “I notice you only like movies if you think the star is attractive. That’s not what movies are all about.” Libby replied: “Oh yes they are.”


So I watched the trailer for the new “Captain America” movie. Oh my goodness. Chris Evans (the beefy Human Torch in the “Fantastic Four” movies) starts out weak and puny (CGI, naturally), but then Stanley Tucci (sporting a beard and a hilarious accent) puts him into a big metal sarcophagus, injects him with Grow Juice, and –


Well, the result is just breathtaking. One of my favorite moments in the trailer is when the woman scientist furtively touches his bare chest, just to see if it’s real.


I burst into tears and went into arrhythmia at the same time.


And then there’s “Thor.”


The title character is played by some blond monster named Chris Hemsworth. He’s more scruffy than handsome. But there’s a scene (see, Thor’s been tossed to Earth by the All-Father Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins, and he has to bunk with a nice human family for a while) in which he comes out of the bedroom wearing only pajama bottoms, and Natalie Portman scrutinizes him with frank admiration . . .


Oh my poor heart, I can’t take too much more of this.


But once again, Libby is absolutely right.


This is exactly what movies are all about.



%d bloggers like this: