'Captain America: The First Avenger'
(Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, et al / PG-13 / 124 mins)
Overview: Meek U.S. Army soldier Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) takes part in an experimental military program that infuses him with super-human powers, and uses his newfound strength to battle the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) in this comic-book adventure from director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman, The Rocketeer).
Verdict: Captain America avenges summer's sodden comic-book adaptations like Green Lantern and deadening combat spectacles like Transformers with a jaunty, retro style and stirring World War II story.
Yes, the characters are cartoonish (they're comic book heroes, after all), but this is the kind of old-fashioned popcorn entertainment summer is made for.
As the titular comic book character, Chris Evans has an appealing, earnest quality, whether he's playing the digitally enhanced (reduced?) scrawny Steve Rogers or the well-muscled super-soldier dubbed Captain America. Evans provides just the right human anchor to the flash and dazzle of director Joe Johnstons's production. The movie wouldn't work without Evans' likability and the sense of integrity he projects, as well as his all-American good looks.
But before we even meet our hero, the story focuses on a group of present-day soldiers who find a shield frozen in the Arctic. The timing switches to 1942, where we meet renegade Nazi Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), who has found an extraordinary power source he plans to use for personal global domination.
Cut back to the USA.
The diminutive Steve (Evans) desperately wants to serve his country. But try as he might, the skinny, pint-size fellow can't transcend his 4-F status. Steve's plucky courage is rewarded by military scientist Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who enlists him for an experiment that will transform the puny guy into a brawny soldier with superhuman strength and speed. Throw in an indestructible Vibranium shield to fend off bullets and a superhero is born.