Movie Talk

Review Roundup: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

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'Captain America' (Photo by Marvel/Paramount Pictures)

Brace yourselves: Villains onscreen this summer have been vanquished by Thor's hammer, the Green Lantern's ring, and a variety of X-Men who shape-shift and mind-read into and out of most situations.

Enter "Captain America: The First Avenger" into this bunch. The movie, starring Chris Evans ("Fantastic Four") and directed by Joe Johnston ("The Rocketeer"), is one more character to come to life from the pages of Marvel Comics. The plot is set in 1942 and focuses on a scrawny soldier who wants to fight Nazis. A serum injected into the shrimp turns him into the superhero Captain America, a one-man fighting force.

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The American superhero will also join "The Avengers" cast next year. So how does this lesser-known comic-book hero stack up against the other recent comic-book flicks? Well, the consensus is Cap fares better than some recent heroes (sorry, "Green Lantern"), but he's no "Dark Knight."

Here's what the critics are telling us.

The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris assigned the movie 2½ stars out of four, saying the movie itself packs a "powerful, but predictable, patriotic punch." But the critic dismissed Evans: "This is what the ongoing onslaught of comic-book movies lacks: stars." He adds that the star of "Iron Man," Robert Downey Jr., "is the exception when he should be the rule."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times is more enthusiastic. He grades the movie a three out of four stars and calls Captain America a "hero we care about." He adds, "As we plunge ahead into a limitless future of comic-book movies, let this be an inspiration rather than 'Thor' or 'Green Lantern.'"

Red Eye's Matt Pais gives the movie three out of four stars and notes that, unlike "Green Lantern," the movie "doesn't try too hard or overreach with its effects or comic relief."

Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly gives the comic-book movie a solid B and calls it "stolidly corny, old-fashioned pulp fun." But the critic complained that the dialogue lacked "wit" and that the "Boy Scout on steroids" "could have used a bit of deadpan hipness."

The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt opined that the superhero flick didn't hold up to other recent films: "'Captain America' lacks the deft touch, appealing character interaction, and sophisticated storytelling skills of Marvel Comics' 'X-Men: First Class.' And let's not even bother to compare this to Christopher Nolan's 'Batman' series."

A.O. Scott of the New York Times delivers the judgment of his 15-year-old screening buddy: "'Better than "Thor" or "Green Lantern,"' and while that isn't saying a lot, it may be saying enough."

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