[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Captain America yet, then don’t read any of this, ok?]
Have you ever seen Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis? I hated that movie, passionately. After all the hoopla about how romantic and wonderful it was supposed to be, all I could see was a cosmic mix-up that ruined two people’s lives. Romance? What a load of drivel. The young man watches as his girlfriend is hit by a car, if I remember correctly, and she goes into a coma. Unable to live without her, he begs his close friend to put him into their cryonic freezing chamber, which they’ve been working on, with the promise that when Helen wakes up, his friend will wake him up as well.
Of course, it’s a movie, so things get screwed up. He wakens, 53 years later, discovers that he’s still young, the world has moved on, and eventually finds that Helen survived and grew old without him. Of course, he eventually ages quickly, and catches up with her, so this is supposed to be sweet and wonderful. Whatever.
But whenever I see a movie (ok, it isn’t often) where the main character is put to sleep or frozen, so they survive their friends and loved ones, all I can think about is the heartbreak involved in such a plot. Who cares if they’re still young? I don’t. That person’s family is probably dead. Their classmates are all dead. They’ve left the life they’ve known behind them, and know nothing about the future they’ve ended up in. What could they possibly have to live for, now?
I was aware, despite my unfamiliarity with the Captain America comics, of this aspect of the story, and how Steve Rogers would eventually make it into the future, in order to be a part of the upcoming movie The Avengers. For me, it’s hard to block this out of my mind for the entire movie, but I do try. Really.
We open on the scrawny Steve Rogers, determined to join the U.S. Army, but again and again, he’s turned down. Enter his best friend, Bucky, who’s about to go overseas, which is all that Steve has ever wanted to do. You can see how these two men care for each other, as close as brothers. And how long does it take me to think… oh, dear, there’s a best friend in this movie. Does that mean he’s going to die? Oh, man, he’s probably going to die. Is that cliché? It must be. The best friend always seems to die, leaving the leading man as a broken shell, having to overcome his deep inner pain. Could they kill somebody else, for once?
But away Bucky goes, and Steve meets Stanley Tucci. Ok, fine, he meets Dr. Erskine, who sees something in him that no one but Bucky ever has. That he’s a good man, which is a quality more important than physical strength. And we are all glad to see Steve get his chance… besides, now he gets to meet the girl. And boy, is she a winner, though the other pundits I’ve read complain about her being able to knock down a full-grown man. As fun as it is to watch, can’t the girl just break his nose? A small girl can do that, and still look realistic, right? I think that guy would’ve gotten the idea.
Enter Colonel Phillips, as played by the inestimable Tommy Lee Jones. Doesn’t everyone love Tommy Lee Jones? And they used him to such good effect here. My favorite lines are a toss-up between “I’m not kissin’ you” and “Cow.” Abrupt and disbelieving where Cap is concerned, you still can’t help but love him. Oh, did they ever cast him right for this one.
And enter into experiment control center. Yes, we already ran into Howard Stark, but this is just a reminder that Dominic Cooper is perfect for this part. I much prefer him to his son, by the way. And I agree with those who’ve said Cooper was born to play this part. Anything’s gotta be better than watching him play Willoughby in the new BBC mini-series Sense & Sensibility. Don’t get me wrong, he acts well and this new version easily competes with the Emma Thompson version. But I thought Willoughby was supposed to be a lot more likeable, so you see why Marianne fell for him. I see neither looks nor charm to draw you in, so I don’t understand her attraction to him at all, except for the fact that it’s in the script.
Aside from that, the rest of the new mini-series is fabulous. Don’t be against it, just because it doesn’t have Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant in it. I actually refused to see it for a while, just because of that… but have you ever thought about the fact that Thompson, Winslet, Grant, and Rickman are all really a bit too old for their parts? The characters in the book are supposed to be SO much younger. Did you realize it? Watch the new one, and see what you think.
Back to the Captain. Just as the experiment is about to begin, you get a glimpse of the one and only Richard Armitage, as an undercover Hydra agent. Sure enough, Chris Evans finally gets to show off his muscles, and then Heinz Kruger blows up the lab, and kills Erskine. It was kind of fun seeing the old lady shoot the machine gun at him, though. And so begins the awesome chase scene, with Steve Rogers running through the city, barefoot, and leaping from one car to another, trying to catch his friend’s murderer. Of course, he catches him, and Kruger takes cyanide. I know, I know, Armitage makes an awesome bad guy, but he was just wasted in this part. Anyone who’s seen him as Lucas North, John Thornton (he’s a good guy in this), or Guy of Gisborne knows that he’s capable of so much more. No wonder Peter Jackson recognized his abilities and hired him to play Thorin. Anybody else counting down until The Hobbit?
And there we have it. Steve Rogers, the super soldier, and none of them know what to do with him. Cue the musical montage, where he gets to peddle war bonds, with female dancers dressed in red, white, and blue. The music is… ok, I wanted to cringe, watching him walk around with that music playing, but when we sat through the credits, I realized the music wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. It was the cheesiness of it that got me. Yes, I know it was purposefully cheesy, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch. : )
Ah, but then he discovers that his best friend is either dead or captured, and with Agent Carter and Howard Stark’s help, he’s dropped behind enemy lines, where we meet some new people among the captured soldiers. A reminder to every comic fanatic… I am very unfamiliar with comic book stories, the exception being X-men, and even there, I’m only barely acquainted with their back stories. So, when I saw Neal McDonough’s character, I had a vague recollection that I’d seen him in something before, but was delighted with his look. The mustache and hat were great fun.
But the real thrill was when I recognized JJ Feild (yes, I spelled that correctly). Until I looked them up on Wikipedia, I was unaware of the characters of James Montgomery Falsworth and Union Jack. All I cared about was that Feild had a part in this movie. Maybe people assume that if you’re in a BBC drama or other Jane Austen movie, then you can’t be in an action film. But I tend to think that if they have the acting chops to be believable in Regency dramas, then they have the ability to give their action film characters more depth. And I first discovered JJ Feild, when I saw him play Henry Tilney in Masterpiece Theatre’s newest version of Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen.
I think Northanger Abbey, like Persuasion, often gets overlooked, as S&S and P&P are much more well known and immediately understandable. I admit to having trouble reading both of them, originally, but once I got into them, I found myself liking them MUCH better than the others. And Henry Tilney is now one of my favorite Austen characters… especially after he’s brought to life by the one and only JJ Feild.
I know that Captain America is all about Cap himself, but I do with they’d had a few more scenes that would showcase the camaraderie between the rest of the Howling Commandos. Dum Dum Dugan, Lord Falsworth, Bucky, and all the rest deserved a bit more screen time than they got. I’d go see a follow-up movie with the lot of them, as they struggle with Cap’s loss.
The scene with Cap and the returning prisoners is great, but I’m really glad he didn’t get to kiss the girl right then. I think it would’ve taken away from the glad return of the men, having to watch a kissing scene, and Steve Rogers still hasn’t quite figured out where he stands, as a man, who was once little, but is now a giant among men, physically, as well as mentally. No matter how tall you are, those girls still take some figuring out. : )
My favorite scene in the whole movie is probably when Rogers picks up his shield and asks Agent Carter what she thinks. After she shoots at the shield and says that she thinks it works, the expressions on Rogers’ and Stark’s faces are absolutely priceless. Mixed in there are the “Did she really just do that?” look, as well as the “Whoa, what a woman!” look. Nothing could’ve been better.
Maybe you think I’m skipping over the Red Skull, but this isn’t really a review so much as me mulling over what I saw, and thinking about… more of what I was thinking about during the movie. Hugo Weaving makes an excellent bad guy, as we all know, and I don’t sit there and ponder his motivation for what he does. His acting doesn’t take me out of the story, so there’s no extra mulling required for me, when it comes to him.
And then we come to the train sequence. It was quite cool, watching them zip-line down onto it, but I wish more of the team could’ve gone. Like I said, more screen time was needed for the rest of his team. But watching those three get on the train, my feeling of impending doom for a certain best friend returned. I wasn’t wrong. Watching a shootout with bad guys, I hear the unending litany in my head of “Don’t die, don’t die, please don’t die”. But I also know that if Bucky lives, then there’ll be another loose end left behind, when Steve ends up in the future. Ah, don’t you love how you overthink these things?
But when Bucky fell, I was untouched, and didn’t shed a tear. Hurt and crushed for his friend, yes. Sorry he had died, yes. But no tears Was it because their acting wasn’t good enough, or because I was certain that he’d die anyway, so I’d prepared myself? These directors need to figure out how to finish a movie without killing off the best friend. Come on, why can’t the best friend be there at the finale, proud to know the Captain, knowing that he was always capable of these great things?
And with the grand finale, they invade the Red Skull’s base. Quite fun to watch, I again wanted more screen time for the others. Yes, I know, it was a lost cause, but there you have it. Falsworth returns Cap’s shield, and then does he ever see him again? The car chasing after the plane was very fun, and Tommy Lee Jones got to liven up the kissing scene with my favorite line (yes, I finally decided it’s my favorite). But I think after the wheels of the car went over the edge, and the girl stood up, by all rights, that should’ve tipped the car over the edge. Just sayin’.
Once into the plane and trying to finish the Red Skull, I started to lose interest, wishing they’d reach the end, because I knew where it ended up. Sure, Red Skull loses and Steve decided to crash the plane to save the world. It reminded me of the scene from the new Star Trek, where George Kirk has to say goodbye to his wife, and keeps talking to her until the ship explodes.
But I was taken out of it, and not attached enough emotionally, in this movie, to shed a tear for them. After all, Cap doesn’t die, but she eventually will. Of old age. As will his family and friends. I’m very sorry for them all, and touched that Stark keeps looking for his friend, determined to find him. The only thing that would make this better for me (not for Steve, of course), would be for Agent Carter to marry Howard Stark. At least, it would make it more interesting, and they’d have that bond of losing someone they loved. There would also be some extreme awkwardness during The Avengers, if Tony Stark was the son of Cap’s friends. But, again, I don’t know Iron Man’s back story, so you don’t need to ruin it for me.
And so, the movie ends with Steve Rogers waking up in the future, and Nick Fury telling him he’s been asleep for almost 70 years. And then asks Cap the stupidest question I’ve ever heard, “Are you going to be ok?”. Seriously? The man’s just lost his past AND his future (possibly with Agent Carter). He’s never been to a dance with his best girl, on that date he was promised. He’s in a world that he doesn’t know or recognize. He’s lost everything except his life. And what does life have for you, when you’ve lost your grip on everything that was real? He’s completely lost, and now has to find his place in life, once more.
And yes, my heart hurts for his friends who lost him, 70 years ago, but they thought he was dead, so they at least had some closure. Captain America has none. And he gets to head straight into The Avengers movie, with the vagaries of Tony Stark and Thor to deal with. I only hope the directors are able to show Cap finding his place, and doing him justice. I could see him getting completely lost, amidst the other superheroes, and having to sort out all their stories. And yes, we did stay for the scene after the credits, so there’s hope for Steve Rogers.