Captain America: The First Avenger
Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios
Reason for the Rating: Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Plot Summary: Small and sickly, Steve Rogers has been deemed unfit for military service, until he is accepted into a top secret program that ultimately turns him into Captain America, defender of America and her allies.
PopFam Recommends: A must-see for the superhero fans in your family.
Superhero movies are out in-force lately, aren't they? Thor, The Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, and last year's Ironman 2. Oh, and let's not forget X-Men: First Class, which released earlier this summer. You could almost get tired of the same-old same-old. I say "almost" because movies like Captain America not only bring our comic book heroes to life, but they do it so well.
If you're not familiar with Captain America, it begins with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a small, sickly young man who desperately wants to join the army and fight the Nazi's. Unfortunately, the army isn't interested in asthmatics with heart conditions who are a good foot smaller than your average man. Steve might be small, but he's not a quitter, attempting to join the army no less than five times. It's on the last try that he's spotted by Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who concludes that Steve is the perfect specimen for his newest invention, a serum that will make the perfect soldier. What Dr. Erskine sees isn't just Steve's size, but his heart and courage. Give this man the perfect body coupled with his goodness and courage, and you'll have the perfect soldier.
If you choose to see this movie, the biggest question you'll be asking won't be, "How did they make those bodies disintegrate?" or "How did they get transform Hugo Weaving into Red Skull?" No, you'll be asking, "How did they make his body so small?" Because, they really do make Steve look physically emaciated. This is where amazing computer graphics come in. They did not give Chris Evans a body double and paste his head on top. They did not animate a computer body. They actually shrunk Chris Evans' body using a computer program. Which actually pretty amazing.
The original Captain America was introduced in 1941, before America entered WWII. It was written to inspire patriotism and often showed Captain America fighting American enemies. True to it's history, the movie is set during WII, but it isn't the Nazi's he ultimately fights. Shortly after receiving Dr. Erskine's serum, Rogers realizes a greater threat to the world: Johann Schmidt, aka Red Skull. Red Skull was a Hitler devotee, until he gave himself a dose of Dr. Erskine's serum. While in Steve Rogers the serum made him bigger and faster, it made Schmidt more evil, leaving him with the desire for worldwide domination.
Although Steve is the perfect specimen for a soldier, the Army isn't ready to use him as a warrior. Instead they put him in the role of Bonds salesman, giving him a super-hero type costume and sending him on a nationwide tour to sell bonds. All goes well, until they send him to entertain GI's somewhere in Europe. Basically, he's laughed off the stage. While licking his wounds, he hears that a large group of soldiers has gone missing, and he is certain he can save them. With a little help from his friends Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Steve sets off and shows the Army what Captain America can really do.
As I said earlier, there are a lot of super-hero movies that have been released during the past year or so. Some have been great, others not-so-much. But I was happily surprised to see a well made movie in Captain America. The acting was strong, with performances from such greats as Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, and Stanley Tucci to those from Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell. The story was interesting and totally historically inaccurate (which just made it more fantastical). It was well told, well acted, and just plain fun.
As the parent of young boys, I know how tempting it is to take your young ones to see super-hero movies. If your kids are anything like mine, they beg to see the latest release. But, this movie has a PG-13 rating for several good reasons, not the least is Red Skull. Not only is he scary looking, but he is evil through and through. If your child is prone to bad dreams or is easily frightened, keep this movie on hold until they are truly ready to process the more mature themes presented. Otherwise, go, watch, and cheer for this American super-hero who inspired patriotism during some dark days of our history.
Oh, and don't forget to stay through to the end of the credits. A little surprise awaits you there.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• Steve Rogers was set apart not only by his size, but also by his great courage and goodness. What unique gifts has God given you that set you apart from others?
• If you could take off your face and reveal your true identity, what would people see?
• Red Skull sought power in order to dominate the world. If you had ultimate power, what would you do with it?
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