Review: Captain America: The First Avenger
With plenty of heart, humour and solid action Captain America has finally arrived.
The film starts off well enough, a plane has been found buried in the frozen wastelands of Antarctica.
Agents break into the plane and uncover a circular artifact of red, white and blue...
Cue America, 1942 and a puny Steve Rogers is just about to be rejected, again, from enlisting in the army.
Marvel Studios have really done a fantastic job with the effects here. If you'd been living in a cave for the last eight or so years you really wouldn't know that wasn't Chris Evans.
Down hearted he takes himself off to the cinema where, after an exchange of words with a guy in the theatre he gets the living daylights kicked out of him down an alley.
He's only saved when his friend James 'Bucky''Barnes steps in and chases the bully away.
Bucky has enlisted and he is to be shipped out to Britain the very next day.
This is the film which really starts to tie the mythology together. We see Rogers and Bucky heading off to the Stark Expo, where a young Howard Stark - brilliantly played by Dominic Cooper - is showcasing the latest Stark inventions.
Rogers slinks off to try his luck at enlisting again and his conversation with Bucky is overheard by Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) - who's interest is piqued by the scrawny guy with a big heart.
Meanwhile, deep in the Alps, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), the head Hitler's feared science division Hydra, has found himself in possession of Odin's fabled Cosmic Cube and has managed to harness its power. He has developed a deadly weapon which will help him in his aim of world domination.
Needless to say Rogers makes it onto the list of a special project, aimed at creating a supersoldier who will take the war to Hitler. Tommy Lee Jones gives a brilliantly humorous turn as Colonel Chester Phillips, delivering lines which just drip with sarcasm.
It is here Rogers first meets Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who is working to help the allies win the war.
After a series of test, they decide Rogers has all the qualities needed to by their super soldier - brave, intelligent and above all a good man.
And so Captain America is born, with Rogers casting aside his scrawny body and emerging from the pod as a superhero.
Now comes the distracting bit, not because of that tight white t-shirt (well, partly) but because most of this next segment was filmed in Liverpool. Spot the Dock Road, Bascuel Bridge and Stanley Dock.
The resulting publicity inspires the powers that be to send the Captain, replete in blue tights and sporting the famous shield, on a publicity tour to raise cash and moral for the troops.
But this soon wears thin and after a disastrous USO style show Rogers learns Bucky's regiment has been hit and that his friend is missing.
With Agent Carter and Howard Stark's help he flies out to Bucky's last known location and launches a one man rescue mission.
It is here he comes face to face with the Schmidt, who reveals himself as the Red Skull. He had injected himself with Dr Erskine's serum and is just as fast and powerful as the Captain.
After a tense battle, the soldiers break out and the Captain returns to base as a real hero.
Realising exactly what they've got, the army task the Captain with forming an elite band of soldiers to hunt down Hydra's bases and destroy them.
This culminates in a massive battle fought in the alps and the ultimate showdown on a doomed plane between the Red Skull and Cap.
As much as I loved this film there were times when I just wished it would slow down a bit. It felt a little ADHD in places, bouncing between fights and locations.
There were some great performances in there, from Tommy Lee Jones and Dominic Cooper especially. Cooper really did capture the cheeky cockiness of Robert Downey Jnr's Tony Stark.
While the chemistry between Rogers and Carter was never 'sizzling', it was very believable as a much gentler 40s attraction.
I loved the little nods to Indian Jones and Star Wars, which director Joe Johnson has been heavily involved with .
In an exchange with one of his victims (David Bradley who plays Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films to be exact) the Red Skull declares he is here for Odin's Cosmic Cube 'While the fuhrer digs for trinkets in the desert.'
Later there is a bike chase sequence through the forest that is reminiscent of the speeder bike chase in Jedi.
There have been some superb superhero movies out so far this year - X-Men First Class and Thor spring to mind - and Captain America can, quite rightly, sit up amongst them.
Don't forget to wait until after the credits for The Avengers teaser. Roll on May 2012.