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Captain America : The First Avenger

The reviews of Captain America: The First Avenger in the US and UK were good, and it opened strongly in the USA, knocking the final Harry Potter film off the top spot.

US reviews

"Pretty good fun," said the New York Times (21st July). Roger Moore, writing in the Orlando Sentinel (20th July) says "It’s too long and it could do with a few more laughs," but adds, "the real marvel of it all is how much fun it actually is."

Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun Times (20th July) said "It was a pleasure to realize, once Captain America: The First Avenger got under way, that hey, here is a real movie, not a noisy assembly of incomprehensible special effects. Of course it's loaded with CGI. It goes without saying it's preposterous. But it has the texture and takes the care to be a full-blown film."

The Hollywood Reporter (20th July) felt that "it  lacks the deft touch, appealing character interaction and sophisticated storytelling skills of Marvel Comics’ X-Men: First Class," but it concedes that the film should satisfy fans of the comic-book character. Film Journal International (21st July) says that "bravura action sequences, exceptional performances and core emotional truth make Captain America: The First Avenger a heroic achievement."

Time magazine (22nd July) considered that "Captain America is a modestly engaging little-big movie in the median range: well below the first Iron Man, somewhat above X-Men: First Class."

UK reviews

In the UK, the Daily Telegraph (28th July) said "It has everything you might want from a movie of this kind — bangs, baddies, nonsensical backstories — except for the most important element of all: surprise." The Guardian (28th July) calls the film "cheerfully strident", the best of the summer's superhero films.

The Independent (29th July) praised the first half of the film, which it said showed itself to be "more reflective, and more ambiguous, than we might have been expecting. It has dabs of incidental colour and character sufficient to suggest the film-makers wanted it to be a story as much as a spectacle." But it continued, "Too bad, then, that the film's latter stages fall back so unthinkingly on the platitudes of the action adventure movie." The Daily Mail (29th July) said "It is a popcorn movie, but much better than most of its kind."

The Observer (31st July) was distinctly unimpressed, but The Independent on Sunday (31st July) called the film "one of the more joyful examples of the [superhero] genre." It continues, "Joe Johnston directs Captain America not as a brooding exploration of human frailty, as today's superhero movies tend to be, but as a ripping yarn, one which has its share of funny lines, but without any irony to undermine the Boy's Own heroics."

In London, the Evening Standard (29th July) said, "The movie's real weapon is the creditable performance by Chris Evans," but adds that, "it's without irony and genuinely patriotic." The weekly listings magazine Time Out (28th July - 3rd August) also tackled the issue of the film's American patriotism, which led to it being released in some countries entitled simply The First Avenger. "Respect is due to Joe Johnston and his screenwriters for not only fashioning a nifty, highly entertaining slice of pulpy comic-book action, but for making this most divisive of costumed crusaders universally relatable."

British film magazine Empire's verdict was "Charming, handsome and full of pep – all 70 year-old Cap lacks is a knockout blow. Still, [Joe] Johnston should be saluted for old-fashioned heart in a cynical age."

It was also reviewed in the local British press, for example the Sunday Mercury (31st July), a Midlands-based paper, and the Liverpool Echo (29th July) - some of the scenes involving Richard Armitage were filmed in Liverpool. A syndicated piece appeared in many other local papers, including the Coventry Telegraph (27th July).

BBC Radio 4's Front Row reviewed the film on 25th July (it's available to listen to indefinitely on iPlayer).

The film was reviewed in Sight and Sound (October 2011), a British film magazine, and although he wasn't mentioned, a still of Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger illustrated the piece. Kim Newman acknowledged that director Jim Johnstone "catches the 1940s tone well: the film finds an acceptable rationale for the Captain America persona." But he continued "The problem is a familiar Marvel shortcoming: so much is set up for future episodes that this one feels sketchy."

Other European reviews

In Denmark, Frederiksborg Amts Avis commented, "There is a successful combination of established stars such as Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving with Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell and a number of "newcomers", who with commitment and dicipline all compete with each other in talent as well as charisma. Facing this cast's level of talent and great ingenuity even the most explosive action falls short." [translation]

And in Germany, the Nordbayerischer Kurier (18th August) said that Johnstone "has taken the prototype of the American hero and created a very amusing, completely clichéd, dramatic, heroic epic [...] an action-packed movie full of irony." [translation]


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Captain America : The First Avenger : Introduction | Pictures | Reviews | Production details and DVDs
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