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Erasure and Captain America: Civil War

Posted on August 14th, 2018

Dave!Today I headed over to Seattle to see Erasure with my long-time internet friends Matt and Scott. It was my third time seeing the band, and Andy and Vince were amazing as ever.

If I had a complaint, it was The Moore Theater Seattle has no air conditioning. I was in the front row and had (relatively) few people next to me and I was dying. Poor Andy Bell was dancing and singing his guts out and I thought he was literally going to die. But he was a total trooper...

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

The set list was as follows...

  1. Oh L'Amour (One of two tracks from Wonderland, their first album)
  2. Ship of Fools (One of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  3. Breathe (One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, Nightbird... their eleventh)
  4. Just a Little Love (First of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  5. Chains of Love (Second of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  6. Sweet Summer Loving (Second of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  7. Victim of Love (One of two tracks from The Circus, their second album)
  8. Phantom Bride (Third of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  9. World Be Gone (Third of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  10. Who Needs Love Like That (Second of two tracks from Wonderland, their first album)
  11. Atomic (a Blondie cover)
  12. Love to Hate You (lone track from Chorus, their fifth album)
  13. Blue Savannah Song (first of two tracks from Wild!, their fourth album)
  14. Drama! (second of two tracks from Wild!, their fourth album)
  15. Love You to the Sky (Fourth of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  16. Sometimes (Second of two tracks from The Circus, their second album)
  17. Always (lone track from I Say, I Say, I say, their sixthh album)
  18. Stop! (from the Crackers International EP... or album 3.5, I guess)
  19. A Little Respect (Fourth of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)

The skipped tracks from Erasure (their seventh album), Cowboy (their eighth, and probably my favorite, album), Loveboat (their ninth album), Other People's Songs (their tenth album), Union Street (their twelfth album), Light at the End of the World (their thirteenth album), Tomorrow's World (their fourteenth album), Snow Globe (their fifteenth... a Christmas album), and The Violet Flame (their sixteenth album).

Songs I would have liked to have heard? Heavenly Action, Weight of the World, just about anything from Cowboy plus Don't Say You Love Me, and I Broke It All in Two.

Not that I can really complain though... nineteen awesome songs was above and beyond!

If you ever have a chance to see them live, Erasure is worth the ticket of admission.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 13: Captain America: Civil War
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Holy crap... what if Robert Downey Jr. had said no? What would this movie have been then? Chris Evans has made no secret of the fact that he never really wanted to sign on for Captain America because he had his fill of super-hero movies with the two awful Fantastic Four flicks. But he was talked into it, and signed a contract for a set number of appearances as Cap. And that was smart. Get the big money while he could, then move on to the directing career he wanted which would pay a lot less. He later extended his contract to include Avengers 4 when Avengers: Infinity War was split, but it's assumed that's the end of it. What's so cool is that Evans is such a stand-up guy that he agreed to cameo appearances in Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming outside of his contract. Marvel Studios, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make the most of the original Captain America while they had him, and essentially created another Avengers movie instead of a Cap solo film. Taking the general idea from the comic book event of the same name, Civil War was a way to tear everything apart before bringing it back together again. And they pulled out all the stops doing it. In addition to getting the first appearances of Spider-Man and Black Panther, we also get Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, The Falcon, Agent 13, Ant-Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, The Vision, and Scarlet Witch. When you consider that this could have easily been a movie with Cap as its only hero battling some random villain, that's beyond incredible. It was, of course, just a warm-up. I don't know that this was a better film than Winter Soldier, but it was a comic book fan's ultimate dream movie at the time. It was certainly mine. Kinda still is.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Wow does Marvel Studios have the whole de-aging thing down! Seeing young Robert Downey Jr. at the front-end of the film was so cool. And it wasn't just for kicks... it actually had real relevance to the story being told. But, of course, the scene to beat would have to be the airport battle. Finally. Finally! After spending most my life waiting for a live-action super-hero battle that wasn't a pile of shit (I'm looking at you, X-Men 3) we got it. It didn't hurt that Spider-Man and Black Panther were in the mix, and absolutely everybody was used to their full potential. Including... Giant Man!
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Wanda accidentally blew up part of a building when she levitated an exploding Crossbones who was in the middle of exploding. Sure some people got killed because of her inexperience. But the alternative was a lot more people on the ground getting wiped out? Including Captain America? I don't get how that pertinent fact was never raised in the entirety of the film. It bothers me because it's the whole turning point for The Accords being enacted, and it doesn't really make much sense.
   
SIDENOTE: Still hilarious to see Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei in a movie together again (I'm a big fan of Only You). Red Wing, which was a real-live falcon pal to The Falcon in the comics was made a drone in the movies. Once again we have Marvel being faithful to the source material... just updating it in a way that makes perfect sense! The Incredible Hulk is a movie largely ignored from the Marvel Studios canon, even though it was firmly established to be a part of it. And every once in a while, they drag out General Thunderbolt Ross to remind people of that. This actually makes me happy, because though Mark Ruffalo is better-suited to the role, the hulk movie was not a bad film at all. I expected that there would be a good reason for Thor and The Hulk being left out of Civil War, I just didn't expect it to be as good a reason as we were handed in Thor: Ragnarok. Once again, Marvel Studios knows exactly what they are doing.

   

Art and Captain America: Winter Soldier

Posted on August 10th, 2018

Dave!This was one of those days.

I compensated by hiding in my bedroom and reading through all the of "Art of the Movie" books from the first eight Marvel Studios films. Except... it's actually nine books because I bought the art book for the Peggy Carter series that was on ABC, which I love (there's also books for the Agents of SHIELD series, but I don't love that show even a little bit). It made me want to watch Agent Carter all over again, but that will have to wait...

Art of Marvel Studios Books

The only book I'm missing is the one for Agent Carter: Season Two, which was an okay-not-great-series, but I'd still like to have it because the production design was fantastic for it. But... $48. Yeesh. That's a chunk of money considering I wasn't a big fan of the show.

And now It's time to re-watch one of the best movies ever so I can finish up this entry!


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 9: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
There's a part of me that wants to call this my favorite Marvel Studios film. It gives us a flawless portrayal of Captain America, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Agent 13, and also? Robert Redford(!) as Alexander Pierce! But the real beauty of this movie is that it defines Captain America in a way that makes his 1940's mentality painfully relevant to the modern world, and positions him as the definitive conscience of the entire MCU. And speaking of relevant... how cool is it that a film set in 2014 managed to continue story elements of the first movie set in 1942 so amazingly well. Bucky, Zola, and Hydra were old ideas made fresh. And not in a way that rang hollow or was contrived. Even Cap's original uniform (which is far superior to what he got in The Avengers) was dusted off and came back. Genius.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Pick one. There are no wasted moments in this entire film. The action sequences are all brilliant. But that scene where Steve goes to visit a dying Peggy Carter... yargh... a lump in my throat every time.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a damn thing. If a perfect comic book movie exists, this is a contender.
   
SIDENOTE: The way they updated Falcon is, as with everything else in this movie, perfect. By the way... that's Jenny Agutter as the lone woman on The World Security Council and the one that Black Widow impersonates to infiltrate SHIELD. Many Americans probably won't know who she is, but anybody familiar with British Television knows that this is just as cool casting as Robert Redford!

   

Smoke, Fire, and Captain America: The First Avenger

Posted on August 6th, 2018

Dave!I've been in two fires.

The first one was at a friend's house. He asked for help packing up he and his family's stuff because they were in the path of a wildfire that was out of control and advancing too quickly for them to evacuate on their own. I drove a rental truck up to their place, helped them pack it up, then drove it to his parent's house. By the time I had retrieved my car and headed back, they were told to leave and had evacuated. They ended up losing their garage and a chunk of their roof.

The second fire was at my home (well, the one before last) and it was terrifying. I spent eleven hours on the roof of my apartment building keeping the roof wet and putting out so many small fires that I lost count. Once I climbed down to go to the bathroom because I couldn't hold it any more. When I finally got back on the roof everything had caught fire. Fire on the bushes. Fire on the lawn. Fire on the shed. Fire on the roof. From then on I peed off the roof. Not that it mattered... everybody else had left. When the police came to force me to evacuate, both buildings to the side of me had caught fire. I had no idea if I would ever see my home again as I left.

Luckily, thanks to an amazing group of firefighters, my home was spared while everything around my apartment was burned to the ground or badly damaged. I was told that it was because I stayed behind when everybody else had left that the firefighters decided to hold the line at my building and save it. I was... and still am... incredibly grateful. Everything I owned was in there except the clothes on my back, my car, my hard drive, and the two photo albums I managed to grab as I evacuated.

The price being that I still wake up from time to time in a blind panic because I think I smell smoke.

And on days like today where there are wildfires burning and I smell actual smoke, I have a tough time of it. Apparently that's all it can take to send my head back to the roof of my old apartment when the whole world was burning around me.

The difference being that if I were caught in another fire, I wouldn't worry about losing everything I own as much as I used to. All my photos are stored in the cloud and backed up on a hard drive I keep at work. Everything else is just "stuff" and can (mostly) be replaced.

All I need out of life is underwear and my cats.

And the underwear are optional, as always.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 5: Captain America: The Last Avenger
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Even as Marvel Studios was pulling all the pieces together to assemble The Avengers I had no idea how Captain America was going to fit into it. Developed in 1940 as a pro-America response to the rise of the Nazis, Cap was kept relevant in the comic books by constantly reinventing him in the face of modern times. But that's in comics. How would they translate a star-spangled antique to the movies and not have him look ridiculous? Well, this movie is how. An origin film through and through The First Avenger stripped away decades of jingoistic baggage to create an every-man hero who wanted to fight for the little guy by standing up to the bullies of the world. Taking place almost entirely during World War II, the story was everything you could hope for in a super-hero movie, and there were zero missteps in how it was laid out. Steve Rogers desperately wants to save people by joining the war effort but he's physically incapable of doing so, and branded 4F for service. But his heart and courage land him in the US Super Soldier Program where science turns him into the most celebrated hero of the war. Along the way he battles classic Cap villain The Red Skull, and absolutely everything about it was flawless.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: When Cap is leading back all the soldiers he rescued after his first outing, you get to see exactly who he is and how he will work in the MCU.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Seriously. Nothing. There's nothing that could have made this a more perfect introduction of Captain Rogers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
   
SIDENOTE: At the end of the movie Cap sacrifices himself to save New York and ends up frozen in the Arctic ice shelf. Fast forward to modern times and he's dug up from the ice to become a founding member of The Avengers and one of the most famous comic book super-heroes of all time. That tracks pretty closely to what we got in the comics, and the movie is painstakingly faithful to the source material. What's interesting is just how closely the events of this film lead into The Avengers. Black Widow came from Iron Man 2, Loki and Hawkeye came from Thor, and The Tesseract came from Captain America: The First Avenger. Everything up until now has been moving the football forward, all in preparation for the home run which was to come. The patience and planning it took to have such a plan in place is absolutely mind-boggling, and Marvel producer Kevin Feige was: The One in charge of keeping it all together. That he's still in charge just goes to show how successful he's been at his job.

   

Marvel Colorform Crapfest

Posted on May 17th, 2018

Dave!You would think that when you pay for a movie in iTunes that the poster art would remain the same as when you bought it. But that's not the case. A while back Marvel started changing all the artwork in their store, which ended up changing the artwork on all the movies I bought.

And it all sucks.

Not that I'd be thrilled if it were better than the originals... I want the art that I recognize so I can recognize the movies I own. I want what I originally purchased.

Take for example the poster for Guardians of the Galaxy...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

They hacked up pieces of the original poster, rearranged them, then slapped them on a boring-ass background. It looks worse than shitty, because there's no composition or context. Can you tell what in the hell Star-Lord is doing? Holding on to a handle? Who the hell knows?

The sequel poster is even worse. The cool and colorful art with all kinds of cool movie imagery in the background. It's been replaced with something so boring as to be sedate by comparison...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Thor: The Dark World is especially horrific in that he no longer looks like the god of thunder, but somebody in a red cape and bad hair...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Since most Marvel movies take place in New York City, Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air since it switched it up to the West Coast and San Francisco. To be sure there was no mistaking this, they put it right there on the poster...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

When they remade it, they simply stripped away all the cool supporting elements and slapped some ugly-ass faux-metallic effect. Lame.

Group films like Avengers have posters that are carefully crafted to show the dynamic of the team. But now all we get is a grotesque cut-and-paste hack-job that has no interplay between characters and no dynamic. Somebody with a box of Colorforms could do the same damn thing... and probably better, since people wouldn't have their legs cut off and be suspended in air...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Another great example of this... Captain America: Civil War. What was the most incredible part of the film? The fact that there was a massive battle which pits hero against hero. But the new poster rips this away, completely confusing the story. For all we know from looking at the shitty art, this is a Captain America and Iron Man buddy picture. Or an Iron Man movie with a guest-spot by Cap, since the figures have been reversed and Stark is in the #1 spot...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Doctor Strange is a mind-bending film which introduces magic and other dimensional planes to the Marvel Universe. But now? Some guy in a red cape with a tall collar? Shitty. Utterly shitty...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

I think my most hated poster remake is for Iron Man 3...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

The original poster was SO cool. Foreboding atmosphere, Tony's house exploding, and The Iron Legion are all there... along with a ravaged but determined Iron Man. But the remake? You can barely even tell that's Iron Man. Looks like the cover to some kind of Harlequin Romance or a shitty, low-budget crapfest. And can somebody please explain why the characters are fading into a star-field?

I understand the thinking in redoing the posters. They are trying to create something that will be easily understood at the smaller thumbnail sizes that you'll find in iTunes or other movie streaming services. But when they come up with something this shitty, does it really matter if you more easily understand them? If anything, I'd argue that the original posters are more distinct and interesting... even if you can't fully tell what's going on when reduced to tiny sizes.

At the very least, they could leave it up to the buyer which poster to display in their iTunes library.

Because the new crop is more than just ugly and boring... they're offensively bad design.

   

The Avengers: Infinity War

Posted on May 2nd, 2018
Dave!And lo, Marvel Studios absolutely wasn't kidding when they taunted that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not idle hype. Though Comic Book Reality being what it is, you have to wonder just how much of what happens in this truly epic film will have lasting effects on where we are going forward. Something tells me not all of it is going to all be washed away. What ends up sticking is anybody's guess. Except not really...

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Poster

If you've ever read comics before... if you've ever been left hanging in the middle of a two-part comic book story before... then there's nothing much in Infinity War that could be all that shocking to you. Likewise, anticipating the thrust of the story in next year's still-untitled-conclusion-movie also doesn't take much effort. And yet... Infinity War actually did redefine the word "epic" when it comes to super-hero movies... or movies in general, really. Obviously, my thoughts on the film are going into a spoiler-laden extended entry, which you absolutely do not want to read if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet. You've been warned. And also... another warning? Skip any trailers you haven't watched yet. One pretty major spoiler was dropped in one of the trailers I saw, and I'm still pretty raw about it. And now? This is your last chance. Do not proceed unless having a movie ruined is something you enjoy. Spoilers await in an extended entry... → Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Civil War

Posted on May 13th, 2016
Dave!As a huge, huge, massively huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, you would think that I'd have seen Captain America: Civil War on opening day. And heaven only knows I wanted to so as to avoid spoilers that plague the internet... but work got in the way. Today I had to run an errand for work, and decided to see the film on the way back home. And it. Was. Spectacular...

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

I'm putting my full comment in an extended entry so people who haven't seen it yet can do so... but, suffice to say, it's absolutely everything you want in a comic book movie. Go see it immediately. For everybody else? Continue at your own risk... → Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

War!

Posted on March 12th, 2016

Dave!My brain.

My brain is melting.


   

Marvel continues to blow past my expectations with each new film.

Cannot wait for this.

   

Bullet Sunday 366

Posted on February 2nd, 2014

Dave!Put down that foam finger, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Bowl! Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for their massive Super Bowl win. I'm especially happy for long-time Seahawks fans who have kept the faith for so very long and have now had their devotion rewarded...

Seahawks Victorious!
Pete Carroll, 9/11 Truther and Seahawks Coach, celebrates! Photo by Charlie Riedel at the Associated Press

I'm less excited for all the fair-weather Hawks fans who are all too happy to shit all over Seattle when they're losing... but will still be celebrating "their" victory tonight.

   
• Twelfth! Personally, I think the whole "Twelfth Man" thing is annoying as shit, but there's no denying that it's become bigger than the team they're dedicated to supporting. This was made abundantly clear when a Boeing jet was taken out to draw a big "12" across Washington State...

Boeing Twelfth Man Plane Ride

It's the ultimate Etch-A-Sketch!

Though, I have to say that this huge display of fandom pales in comparison to this guy...

He's probably the only person happier about the Seahawks' victory than the actual Seahawks.

   
• Kitteh! Everybody knows about The Puppy Bowl... but did you know there's a KITTEN BOWL?!? I just finished watching the big game, featuring Meowshawn Lynch...

Kitteh Bowl at the Kitten Bowl!

Adorable. You can get more info at The Hallmark Channel.

   
• Cap! Holy cats does Captain America: Winter Soldier look frickin' amazing...

Thrilled to see The Falcon debut at last... would be even more thrilled if a black super-hero would get their own film. Hello? Black Panther? Luke Cage? Brother Voodoo!? And while I'm equally thrilled to see Black Widow making an appearance (which makes total sense because of The Winter Soldier)... where is her frickin' movie? Even if the film is a dud, at least we're finally getting to see S.H.I.E.L.D. at the high-tech kick-ass organization it is (as opposed to the embarrassment we've been getting from the lame-ass television show).

   
• Mine! I'm probably going to catch some crap for posting this... BUT IT'S JUST SO TRUE!

I've lost count of the number of times I've asked "Do you want something?" and am told "No!"... only to have my date/girlfriend EAT MY FOOD! Seriously, you said you didn't want any... SO KEEP YOUR DAMN HANDS OFF MY FRIES! Not that I can actually say that, but I want all the fries!

   
• LEGO! Okay... okay... I know I won't shut up over The LEGO Movie's impending release, but how can you blame me? The latest trailer is beyond awesome...

And...

Could Chris Pratt BE any more perfect for the role?

This may very well be the greatest movie ever made. I cannot wait to see it.

   
Annnnd... chocolate pudding time!

   

Avengers!

Posted on May 4th, 2012

Dave!HOLY CRAP WHAT A FRICKIN' AWESOME MOVIE!!

I don't want to spoil it for anybody, so I'm not going to give away anything. Except to say that The Avengers is a comic book lover's dream that even people who don't care for comic books will enjoy.

Which is not to say it's perfect. There are definitely some moments where it dragged a bit. But, unlike the crappy trio of original X-Men films which wimped out in every way possible, The Avengers attempted to show the brutal reality of what it would be like when a super-hero team come to life. And it totally worked...

The Avengers Movie Poster

Writer/Director Joss Whedon just eclipsed every other comic book super-hero film ever made. And I loved, loved, loved it.

With one small exception.

Which I can't talk about without RUINING THE FILM FOR ANYBODY WHO HASN'T SEEN IT.

So absolutely DO NOT read the extended entry until you've seen the movie. Seriously, you just can't go any further if you haven't seen the film. Even if that's going to be on DVD two years from now. Which it shouldn't be, because this movie is screaming to be seen on the big screen.

But before we get to that, time to update my whole "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard as follows...

The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Watchmen... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Cap!

Posted on August 18th, 2011

Dave!Before we do this, GO GET FREE MATT & KIM!! Yes! FREE! And not a bad track!

Last night after my complete mental breakdown over losing David's Pizza, home of my favorite pizza on earth, I decided to drink a lot of alcohol and go see Captain America. While neither eased my pain completely, I was a lot better off at the end of the day.

I'm going to review Captain America: The First Avenger now, because I'm a total comic book geek like that but, if that's not something you care to read about, I'll just sum it up thusly: This film is pretty close to flawless. Not just for a comic book movie, but for ANY movie. Even if you're not into the whole super-hero thing, it would be worth your time to watch. I love, love, loved it...

Captain America Poster

Before we get into the movie itself, a little background on me and Captain America.

Growing up, I was a total DC Comics fan (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.)... and not much of a Marvel Comics fan (Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, etc.). That being said, Cap was the first Marvel comic that I got into. It all started with Captain America and Falcon #211-213 by comics giant Jack Kirby. The stories were originally published in 1977, but I got ahold of them as a poly-bagged set the early 1980's (I'm guessing they were re-prints?). These issues were a great read, having plenty of action and featuring the quintessential Cap villains The Red Skull and Arnim Zola. Unfortunately, my new-found infatuation with the Captain America universe was short-lived, because the current issues of the title were a drastic step down from the Kirby reprints I had just read. After that I pretty much ignored Captain America unless he was in other Marvel titles, like The Avengers.

Captain America #212

All that changed in 2004 when Ed Brubaker came onboard for a Captain America relaunch. Since then I've been a fan of the character, snapping up most of the graphic novel collections as they are released. Far from being an exercise in one-dimensional blind patriotism, Burbaker's treatment of the character was a fascinating exploration that actually had some depth to it. Even though he eventually ended up killing Steve Rogers, then bringing him back (of course), the book remains an excellent read.

Which is why I was terrified over the Captain America film despite the awesome set photos that were released. There was just too much to lose.

Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. The First Avenger is near-flawless, and works on so many levels. As a straight-up action movie, it's a good time. As a war-movie, it's an immediate classic. As a super-hero film, it's faithful to the source material. Like Iron Man and Thor before it, the character just works on film. Beautifully.

It all starts as the USA has entered World War II and weakling Steve Rogers wants to join the fight. Unfortunately, a multitude of chronic illnesses makes him unfit for duty. Never one to be discouraged, Steve keeps trying until he has the good fortune to be noticed by Dr. Abraham Erskine. The good doctor is secretly working with the US Army to develop a new "super soldier" serum, and Steve Rogers has the qualities of heroism, bravery, and kindness he's looking for. The experiment is a complete success, and Captain America is eventually born... becoming the "Sentinel of Liberty" for the American war effort. Lots of cool action sequences ensue.

The Good Great

• Casting. I'm not the biggest Chris Evans fan, but there is no denying that he is Captain America on-screen. Unlike his previous role as The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films, Evans actually has to project something more than cocky aloofness here. He has to be a living, breathing icon, and he nails it. The early scenes where special effects have turned Evans' perfect physique into wimpy Steve Rogers is where he really shines as an actor, and his every scene is exceedingly good. Other roles are equally well-cast, most notably the incredible Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine, Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips, and an absolutely amazing Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull.

• Story. Usually origin stories are notoriously superficial and boring on the screen, but director Joe Johnston and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely somehow managed to make Captain America work perfectly. The set-up is just right, telling the viewer everything they need to know about the world they'll be visiting. The progressive origin of Cap is both logical and entertaining. The action is full-on excitement without becoming comical. It's everything you want in a comic book movie... or any adventure movie, really.

• Costumes. Captain America's garish outfit would be a really easy thing to screw-up on the big screen. That didn't happen. The evolution of his costume is handled incredibly well, with everything making perfect sense. The period-specific costumes for all the other actors were equally amazing, and really made you feel you were back in time. Somebody should win an Oscar here.

• Rewards. There were clever moments with some of the characters which hinted to their futures (as shown in the comic books). They were clever enough to reward comic fans, but subtle enough not to confuse newbies. My favorite? Arnim Zola's intro. Genius.

• Effects. The tough thing about having futuristic energy weapons showing up in the 1940's is that it just doesn't work logistically. But the integration was so deftly handled and so logically explained that it just didn't matter. And, again, mad props to the people responsible for turning Chris Evans into wimpy Steve Rogers at the beginning of the film...

Real Chris Evans VS. Wimpy Chris Evans
I know special effects are good now-a-days, but this is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

The Not-So-Great

• Set-Up. I love the way that the Marvel Universe films are all fitting together (ultimately culminating with The Avengers movie next Summer)... but Captain America goes overboard. Having Tony (Iron Man) Stark's dad be the leading scientist of the war effort? Cool. Having the Cosmic Cube come from Thor's dad's treasure room? Great. But having the so much of the plot being a set-up for future films? Dangerous. Especially at the very end of the film, which seems a little tacked-on and artificial. In the future, let the movies stand on their own... if they're well-made and faithful to the source material, they'll still fit into the Marvel film universe and get people excited to see more.

• Bullets. Near the beginning of the film, a Hydra Nazi is being chased by Steve soon-to-be-Captain-America Rogers. Along the way he fires like a bajillion bullets from his gun... without re-loading. Man, how I hate that.

   
So overall? Fantastic and faithful film with a lot of action, honesty, and heart.

And this updates my whole "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard as follows...

Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Watchmen... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B

   

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