I went to see Captain America today, the first time I've been to the movies in maybe two years. I enjoyed it immensely! The 40s design was amazing, the action thrilling, the acting surprisingly strong, and the effects stellar. It was also surprisingly funny. Tommy Lee Jones's dry one-liners are particularly hysterical. Chris Evans was not only a heaping slab of beefcake walking around with a shield (though there was disappointingly little shirtlessness), but turned in a very strong performance. Captain America could have just been a goofy, hokey cornball, or a sanctimonious jerk, but the writers and Evans made him both believable and rootable. I want the T-shirt he wore -- and wore very, very, very well -- at the end, BTW.
The rest of the cast was also superb. The aforementioned Tommy Lee Jones could have stepped straight out of one of my dad's John Wayne war movies as the grizzled colonel in charge of the SuperSoldier program. Hugo Weaving leaves no scenery unchewed, but in that utterly delightful way he has, as Red Skull. Stanely Tucci does a wonderful kindly scientist. The until-now-unknown-to-me Haley Atwell as the love interest (who is, gratefully, more than just a female love interest, and actually I must applaud the movie for creating an organic and very sweet variation of the obligatory romantic subplot) was terrific. Dominic Cooper, who is also very hot, was inspired casting as Howard Stark, Iron Man's father. He really could be Robert Downey Jr.'s father. You know, if he wasn't younger than RDJ or whatever.
I want to give special kudos to the movie's score, which was very effective in highlighting and complementing scenes' emotional tones, without the overpowering, emotionally bullying "YOU WILL NOW FEEL THIS EMOTION!" so many movies today go in for. It didn't try to create emotion out of whole-cloth, which is what those bullying scores do, but served to heighten it. A particular favorite is Captain America and the Star-Spangled Singer's war bond pitch: it's corny and catchy and makes you want to go swing dancing.
This sounds completely corny and even sad, but what I loved most about the movie was the way it made me feel as an American. Without the over-the-top jingoism and xenophobia so often indicative of this kind of movie, Captain America is all about what is best about the US: our optimism, our energy, our generosity, our selflessness, our diversity, our resolve. I left the theater wanting to salute the flag, punch some Nazis, and kiss a seaman (and a Marine... and a grunt...) in Times Square. In this time of political insanity and economic stagnation, where it is the worst about us (our ignorance, our arrogance, our pig-headedness, our prejudice) that seems to be all we really are, it was nice to be reminded that we do have better-selves buried somewhere. If only we had more Steve Rogerses, a good man who can't stand a bully no matter who he is and a heart that won't quit, in real-life.
Just a note: if you stick around for the Avengers sneak-peak after the credits, be forewarned: LONGEST. CREDITS. EVAHHHHHHH!!! Seriously, it took a shitload of people to make this movie, and they all deserve credit for a great achievement, especially the five million special effects people who were necessary to produce it in less than the decade it probably would have taken a more credit-friendly team, but man. My friend is convinced they just started making up people at one point, to prolong the agony.