peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2011 08 02 CaptainAmerica

Captain America

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At the largely-empty 4pm session at The Ritz in 3D. That 3D was pretty jarring as it didn't add much to anything. I was intending to go to the late session but woke up at 6am this morning after a one-coffee Monday. (It seems that disruption of my caffeine regimen makes me sleep less, and in the short term work harder, at least on things that don't require much deep thinking.)

This summer I'm watching all these cartoons I didn't read as a kid. I'm sure they represent/debase many blokes' childhood, but to me there's nothing sentimental in it. This one is yet another genesis story, pushing the fascistic country-first buttons and not much else. It's not a great action flick, largely because the characters are entirely meh and the director has no conviction in the action scenes, resorting to an action montage early on for no apparent reason.

There are loads of cinematic hat tips: the flying fox is a no-tension ripoff of Attenborough's effort in Where Eagles Dare, as are pretty much the entirety of the World War II themes, or at least those that aren't fake and/or anachronistic. I guess returning to that war makes sense to Hollywood, for history has not been kind to America since. X-Men did a better job with their retro James Bond revival aesthetic; mutants are so much less fake than supermen.

Hugo Weaving really hasn't moved past Agent Smith. I liked him as Agent Smith, but I don't like Agent Smith trying to be Mr Evil German. Acting-wise he's solid but his character is mirthless/worthless, a generic bad dude, set on world domination and therefore timely liquidation at the hands of the superman. Perhaps the novelty was that he's "wearing a mask" for the first half of the film; one gets the impression that he watched Kill Bill Vol. 2 and decided to put Bill's theory of superheroes to the sword. I felt sorry for Hayley Atwell, she of the trembling lip and vacuous character; she should have been a companion of Doctor Who.

Captain America was the cartoon industry's contribution to the war effort; when we see him flogging war bonds and the kids running around pretending to be Captain America, that is what this character was all about. Those scenes are a 1940s update of the same in Once Upon a Time in America and resonate because they are timeless. (Or entirely of their time, take your pick.) My point is that this character makes no sense in the modern era: the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not spread around, and even the recent economic turmoil (that one might partially attribute to the cost of these wars) has had more effect on the class of people who are actually fighting, i.e. the women and men who aspire(d) to profit from their labour, than the people who once bought war bonds; it is not so easy to pretend that we are still in this together. So rather than rebooting these tired anachronistic characters, how about cooking up some new ones? This apparently being the last in the Avengers prequels (whatever that means), one has to wonder what's going to get the mega treatment in 2013.

Dana Stevens gave it a faith-testing thumbs up.