Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 17th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Flex Appeal

film_captainEntertaining 'Captain America' fights foes with '40s flair

Sure, you're fed up with comic book superhero movies. Who isn't? But if someone holds a gun to your head and forces you to see one, you could do a lot worse than Captain America: The First Avenger. What makes this one stand out is its fidelity to its source material, and the era that produced it—the 1940s, when America was the last hope of the free world, the war against evil was considered just, and the favorite pulp reading matter of kids were still called comic books (not graphic novels).

Working from a clever script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, director Joe Johnston works the comic book aesthetic for all it's worth: shiny period cars, sexy dames, tough, red-blooded fighting men.

But at its core is a human story guaranteed to gladden the heart of everyone's inner fanboy; a stout-hearted guy in a misfit's body given the chance to prove he's a hero inside.

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers with an appealing mix of modesty, gee-whiz enthusiasm, and gutsy courage. It's 1943, the war against Hitler is in full swing, but Rogers, an asthmatic, 90-pound weakling from Brooklyn, can't get drafted. Every time he tries, he's classified 4-F. He's also too scrappy to give up in a fight, so he's always getting the stuffing beaten out of him by neighborhood bullies. (The CGI effects by which Evans' head is evidently morphed onto someone else's undernourished body in these scenes are convincingly done.)

But expatriate German scientist, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) overhears Steve talking about what the war effort means to him, and invites him into a secret government program. Over the doubts of his new commanding officer, Col. Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), Steve distinguishes himself with brains and bravery (if not athleticism) in basic training. He's the first one chosen to be injected with a mega-steroid-type serum that enhances his physical prowess (and the only one; the lab is blown up by saboteurs before the Army can create an entire unit of super-soldiers). The serum, we're told, not only pumps up the body, but deepens whatever is inside—in Steve's case, passionate morality and goodness.

An example of the serum gone wrong is Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a Nazi honcho in whom Erskine's potion not only burned the skin off his face (he's now known as the Red Skull), it intensified the evil inside as well. Breaking off from Hitler, Schmidt is waging his own campaign against the world, with his own mad scientist (Toby Jones), his own fleet of rocket-powered vehicles, and his own army of robotic super soldiers (who can't shoot any straighter than the Star Wars Storm Troopers).

As the inevitable battle looms between these good an evil supermen, Steve's team expands to include beautiful Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), a sharpshooting British army officer who doesn't take any guff from the boys, and master-builder/tech genius Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). But Steve takes a detour en route to his destiny in the movie's most inventive subplot, when he's co-opted by the Army PR machine to zip his impressive new physique into a spandex "Captain America" outfit and tour the country selling war bonds. A hero to little kids, he inspires a comic book and appears in Saturday matinee movie serials.

This is a nice touch by which Johnston is able to pay homage to the character's pulp fiction origins, but it also allows the movie Steve to break away from them. When his act doesn't go over with the men at the front, he ditches the star-spangled outfit, gets Stark to design him some functional equipment, and joins the war effort in earnest, applying his newfound prowess to a one-man mission to rescue an Army unit taken prisoner by the maniacal Schmidt.

There's a whole lot of other business about an ancient artifact of the god, Odin, an energy cube thatfilm_captian functions into the plot somehow or other, pitched battles between good guys and bad guys, stuff blowing up, and things flying off the screen in 3-D (only one of which is kind of cool, involving Steve's boomerang shield). But Evans, Jones, and Atwell keep things on point in this entertainingly retro adventure.

CAPTAIN AMERICA:

THE FIRST AVENGER

★★★ (out of four) Watch film trailer >>>

With Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, and Hayley Atwell. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Based on the comic books by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Directed by Joe Johnston. A Paramount release. Rated PG-13. 125 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.