REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger

21 07 2011

The bookend of a four comic book/superhero summer, “Captain America: The First Avenger” was given the onerous responsibility to keep audiences from succumbing to genre fatigue.  Luckily, it’s one of the better of these four – but that’s not saying much given this summer.  Joe Johnston’s take on the classic character actually gets some of the basics right, having the narrative storyline that “Thor” lacked and the decent visuals that “Green Lantern” didn’t bother to have.

But just because it’s an improvement doesn’t necessarily means it good, especially taking into account how poor the aforementioned movies were.  “Captain America” is barely bearable, so middling and nondescript that you can’t help but wonder how smashing “The Avengers” could possibly be with all these sub-par buildup movies.  If it’s lucky, it will be equal to the sum of its parts – and Chris Evans and company do about as little to fix the existing Marvel deficit as the President and Congress are doing to fix our national deficit.

Evans has remarkably little charisma despite being devilishly (albeit guiltily) entertaining in the “Fantastic Four” series, neither as a CGI-enhanced shrimp nor as a P90X-enhanced “Men’s Health” cover model prototype.  Playing Steve Rogers, selected to become the superhuman Captain America thanks to his tenacity in the face of bullying, he never really gives us a reason to get invested in the movie – something crucial for a lackluster summer blockbuster in need of some distinguishing feature.  He hits one note the whole movie: dull.  At least in most action movies, the main guy seems to be enjoying kicking butt … and Captain America gets to fight Nazis in World War II!  What more could an action hero ask for?!

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WTLFT: July 2011

8 06 2011

Yeah, I shortened the name.  It’s a lot more palatable.  This post will tell you What To Look Forward To in the month of July.  We have transformers, captains, teen stars, teen wizards, sex friends, zoo friends, hellish bosses, honey bears, and smurfs – just to name a few.  Here they all are; you can make up your mind if any of these actually appeal to you.

July 1

Cheating- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” actually comes out on June 29, and, if you want to get really technical, June 28 at 9:00 in IMAX 3D and RealD 3D.  So while you curse me for my horrific crimes against nature, humanity, and blogging, watch the trailer and decide for yourself whether or not you want to subject yourself to Shia LaBeouf and a lot of loud noises orchestrated by Michael Bay.

On the quieter side of things, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts plan to use their star power to fill seats at “Larry Crowne,” which looks like perfectly middle-of-the-road rom-com territory.  On the louder side of things again – and by louder, I mean girlish screams and constantly ringing cell phones – “Monte Carlo” gives young girls what they need during the summer.  A nice helping of Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, and Leighton Meester should have the tweeners saying “OMG!” until the next season of “Wizards of Waverly Place” hits the small screen. (There’s also a creepy thriller called “The Perfect Host” starring David Hyde Pierce, which I feel obliged to mention since it’s the only indie offering amidst these studio genre pics.)

July 8

Fingers crossed that “Horrible Bosses” will be funny!  I remember reading a piece on a blog for The Los Angeles Times well before the movie started production that praised it, so hopefully it stuck to the script.  If it’s a hit, I motion for Jennifer Aniston to stop doing horrible rom-com fare and stick to raunchy comedy; I chuckle every time I watch the trailer and hear her say, “Shabbat shalom; someone’s circumcised!”

As for “Zookeeper” … well, I hope the kids enjoy it.

I’ve definitely been going through a documentary phase ever since last year’s “Inside Job” rocked my world, and Michael Rappaport’s “Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest” could feed my obsession quite well.  It follows the titular hip-hop group (known as A Tribe Called Quest if you are as clueless as I was) from formation to fame.  Best case scenario it provides a fascinating expose of the craft of rapping much like “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” did for standup comedy last summer.  Worst case scenario I get to see some of my favorite artists talking about a group I’ve never heard of before.

Another interesting documentary (that I can only PRAY makes it to Houston sometime before I leave for college) is “Project Nim,” the story of a chimpanzee experiment.  I’ve always been interested in stories where lines and boundaries we once thought clear are exposed and shown to be more porous and relative than we thought, and this looks to deliver on a big scale.

July 15

Some tiny little series ends on screen.  It’s no big deal, it’s not like these movies define my youth.  It’s not like it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  But in all seriousness, I’m not going to cry.  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” – BRING IT ON!

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