Captain America – Mindless Summer Entertainment

On Saturday I was scheduled to go with a friend to Staten Island to attend a minor league baseball game.  Once or twice a summer we make this expedition to see the Staten Island Yankees, having decided that the expense and schlep of an expedition to the Bronx to see the major league club is not worth the bother.  But on Saturday the temperature was over 100, the humidity was high, and neither of us felt like sitting out in the sweltering heat, so we bagged the trip, and suddenly I had unexpected free time. Captain America beckoned…..

And I was curious, after reading an entertaining interview with Chris Evans in The New York Times, to see how this one would turn out, although I would probably not have seen it in its opening weekend had not the weather caused the baseball cancellation.  (By the way, I assume the SI Yanks played their game in the sweltering heat, as their parent club did on Saturday afternoon, to a surprisingly full house.  But then, given what fans pay for Yankee Stadium tickets, blowing off a game is a much bigger sacrifice than I had made.)  In the event, I was well satisfied with the film.

First thing first: I thought Chris Evans was splendid as "Captain America."  The role calls for the slight injection of some depth and personality into a comic book character, and he handled that just fine.  He obviously buffed up for the role, and filled out his form-fitting costume awesomely well, while projecting a wholesome personality with an important dose of modesty and self-sacrifice.  Although I have to say that the early scenes in which the future Captain America is a scrawny but determined weakling were the most fun.  Seeing him flunk basic training but get selected for the experiment was awesome.  And the final set-up for the sequel was well-handled.

All the supporting players were fine.  The plot is total nonsense, a bizarre mash of war film, sci-fi fantasy, and melodrama, but it is fast-paced to hold the audience's attention, and the special effects – although obviously using a fair amount of computer simulation – are reasonably convincing within the parameters of the contemporary action film genre.

In other words, given the paucity of watchable stuff coming out this summer, it's no surprise this was a first weekend smash hit, although hardly in the dramatic league of the last Harry Potter film.  I hope it earns Evans lots of good script proposals…

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