Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger

2011, PG-13, 124 min. Directed by Joe Johnston. Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., July 29, 2011

Captain America is an uncomplicated guy, as befits a character who first burst onto comic book pages in 1941 with the Stars and Stripes emblazoned on his signature shield. Born runty but transformed in a lab into a Nazi-fighting supersoldier, Captain America – on page and onscreen, as played by Chris Evans – embodies old-fashioned values such as self-sacrifice, unwavering belief in American exceptionalism, and a chaste tenderness for a red-lipped dame. Captain America's retro aesthetic is corny but copacetic, and director Joe Johnston's allusions don't stop there; his tips-of-the-hat range from Powell & Pressburger's 1946 picture A Matter of Life and Death to his retrofit of 1983’s Return of the Jedi hoverbike chase on Endor (prick your ears for the tell-tale Wilhelm scream, a stock sound effect from the Fifties that was revived in the Star Wars trilogy). Chockablock with occult mumbo jumbo, hyper-accented baddies, and a gruff, tough Tommy Lee Jones (as the Captain's superior), Johnston's film starts well with the rock ’em, sock ’em diversion of a Saturday matinee, but eventually, one starts to wonder: Does Captain America have anything original to say? The airless plot moves from geographic point to geographic point with hardly a blip in its dramatic arc, while potentially interesting detours are ignored altogether. The final conflict is so protracted as to comfortably accommodate a bathroom break. Don't worry. You won't miss anything you haven't seen before.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Joe Johnston Films
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Go see the actual ballet instead

Josh Kupecki, Nov. 2, 2018

The Wolfman
This monster reboot disappoints terribly, making up in blood and entrails what it lacks in heart and soul.

Marc Savlov, Feb. 12, 2010

More by Kimberley Jones
We Have an Issue: Staying Present, Preparing for the Future
We Have an Issue: Staying Present, Preparing for the Future
This week’s cover story looks at how the pandemic is shaping architecture and design

Aug. 14, 2020

Hillary Clinton, Anthony Fauci Headline This Year's 100% Virtual Texas Tribune Festival
Hillary Clinton, Anthony Fauci Headline This Year's 100% Virtual Texas Tribune Festival
Programming includes Ted Cruz and Lincoln Project mischiefmakers

Aug. 11, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Captain America: The First Avenger, Joe Johnston, Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle