Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 30
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WOW, THAT STUFF REALLY WORKS!: The frail 98 pound weakling Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has been transformed into a muscular superhero by the amazing serum developed by the former Nazi Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, not shown)who has decided to use his serum for the forces of good.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Kam Williams

This adventure film continues the recent trend in comic book adaptations where the protagonist plays a critical role in the outcome of a significant historical event. Marvel comic’s Captain America (Chris Evans) comes to the rescue during World War II after a cosmic cube called the tesseract, which is purported to be a source of limitless power, falls into the hands of a Hitler henchman Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving).

The evil Nazi was horribly disfigured but also endowed with superhuman strength as a result of tests with a top secret serum that was designed to create a master race of super soldiers. However, Schmidt takes matters into his own hands when he gets possession of the tesseract. Taking advantage of the cube’s powers, he changes himself into the Red Skull, an evil alter ego.

The maniacal madman hatches a diabolical plan for world domination with the help of a horde of renegade German soldiers whom he arms with death ray weapons. We know they have shifted their allegiance from Hitler to the Red Skull because instead of Heil Hitler! they now say Hail Hydra!

Meanwhile, in the United States, we find Steve Rogers (also Chris Evans), as a frail 98 pound weakling, desperately trying to enlist in the military despite suffering from asthma and a host of other assorted ailments. When he’s rejected once again at a New York City recruitment center, the frustrated patriot’s complaints are overheard by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a Nazi defector who created the serum that had mutated Johann Schmidt.

Now Dr. Erskine is putting his talents to work for the forces of good. He offers Steve a chance to train in the Strategic Scientific Reserve, an experimental outfit run by hard-boiled Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and a British Officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Of course Steve jumps at the opportunity to become the first to test the new and improved serum.

The injection transforms Steve into a superb physical specimen with an even more muscular physique than his best friend, Sergeant Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).

Steve dons a red, white, and blue costume and is given an impenetrable shield made of vibranium, the rarest metal on earth. Accompanied by a crack team of commandos comprised of his pal Bucky, Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), Jacques Dernier (Bruno Ricci), Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi), and James Montgomery Falsworth (J.J. Field), they set out on a search and destroy mission to find the Red Skull and his minions.

Directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji), Captain America is a riveting roller coaster ride from beginning to end. It has a winning combination of features that hold an audience’s undivided attention, with a compelling plot that ratchets up the tension all the way to the final showdown, eye-popping action and special effects, a sweet romance between the leads who have excellent screen chemistry, and lots of unexpected moments of levity (with much of the hilarious comic relief coming from Tommy Lee Jones). Don’t forget to sit through the closing credits for a sneak peek at the sequel, The Avengers, that is set to be released next year.

The best superhero blockbuster of the summer!

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for intense science fiction violence. Running time: 124 minutes. Distributor: Paramount Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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