Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Marvel Plays Captain America Too Straight, Early Reviews UPDATED

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 20, 2011 at 8:05AM

So far so good for Marvel Entertainment, which has churned out more blockbusters than stumbles. This year, both Thor and X-Men: First Class delivered, and Sony's 2012 reboot of Spider-Man will be previewed at Comic-Con, along with a full screening of Captain America: First Avenger, which always presented a challenge. How do you dust off a patriotic World War II Nazi-fighting hero--battling larger-than-life the Red Skull--and make ten-year-old boys believe in him again? Marvel bravely took on the task, starting out the movie with the discovery of a buried fighter plane in the Arctic, and reaching back in time to resurrect the origin story of Steve Rogers, a 90-pound weakling-turned-super-strong-war-hero.
7
Thompson on Hollywood

So far so good for Marvel Entertainment, which has churned out more blockbusters than stumbles. This year, both Thor and X-Men: First Class delivered, and Sony's 2012 reboot of Spider-Man will be previewed at Comic-Con, along with a full screening of Captain America: First Avenger, which always presented a challenge. How do you dust off a patriotic World War II Nazi-fighting hero--battling larger-than-life the Red Skull--and make ten-year-old boys believe in him again? Marvel bravely took on the task, starting out the movie with the discovery of a buried fighter plane in the Arctic, and reaching back in time to resurrect the origin story of Steve Rogers, a 90-pound weakling-turned-super-strong-war-hero.

Director Joe Johnston (Rocketeer) and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely never lost sight of “scrawny inner Steve,” and used 30-year-old Raiders of the Lost Ark as their touchstone, as well as the original Jack Kirby comics. But much as Steven Spielberg seems to hover over everything these days, this well-designed movie could have used more of Raider's wink-wink humor and outright slapstick. Raiders has a very different tone from Captain America: it's a madcap romp, a violent romantic action comedy. Captain America plays it too straight, with no laughs at all.

Give me Quentin Tarantino, who approached Nazi-killing in World War II with considerable humor and brio; he gave the anti-Nazi action genre a twist. Captain America, as played by Chris Evans with able support from Hugo Weaving of Matrix fame as the Red Skull (channeling the voice of Werner Herzog), comely Brit soldier Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper as weapon inventor Howard Stark (Tony's father) and rock-solid Army colonel Tommy Lee Jones, is dead-ahead dull. If nothing else, Marvel is establishing one of the characters who makes up the sprawling superhero ensemble The Avengers, already under way with Joss Whedon wrangling Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), among others.

Finally, no period pictures should be shot in 3-D. It pulls you out of the movie. Immersive all-digital environments like Tron, Avatar and Transformers, if well-mounted, can work in 3-D. But not live-action period sets, especially if it's shoddy retroactive 3-D, as this is. They're already too unreal and fake--the 3-D makes it worse.

Here are more details on Marvel's recent output; the Village Voice posted Karina Longworth's pan Tuesday night. UPDATE: Variety takes the same tack, describing the film as "red, white and bland." Predictably, genre-friendly Drew McWeeney thinks the "sincere" film is one of Marvel's finest so far. THR writes:

As the last Marvel prequel that includes two Iron Man and Incredible Hulk movies before next summer’s The Avengers, this one feels perhaps a little too simplistic and routine.

This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Festivals, Franchises, Genres, Studios, Reviews, Summer, Steven Spielberg, Comic-Con, Indiana Jones, Spider-Man, X-Men, Period, Comics, Action, Paramount/Vantage/Insurge/CBS


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.