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This 'Captain' is quite a Marvel

Published August 02. 2011 05:01PM

"Captain America: The First Avenger" is an entertaining addition to the Marvel Comics universe. It's possibly the best among the offerings since "Iron Man."

Director Joe Johnson ("Jurassic Park III," "October Sky," "The Rocketeer," "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids") captures the flavor of the World War II era when Steve Rogers is transformed into Captain America.

Johnson has a knack for period pieces, especially those of the pre- and circa World War II era. "Captain America" has a warm sepia tone. The sense for the first part of the movie is that of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (both, "The Chronicles of Narnia") is based on the Marvel comic by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Steve Rogers becomes subject of a secret military operation to create a super soldier. Newsreel footage, World War II plot elements and two strong movie actors manifest believability to dialogue and plot.

As a German scientist in exile in the United States where he's working for a secret branch of the military, Stanley Tucci is completely convincing.

Similarly, Tommy Lee Jones, as an avuncular military colonel, provides brassiness and energy in key scenes.

Chris Evans (Human Torch-Johnny Storm in "Fantastic Four") is a cerebral Captain America with a sharp-witted quip ever at the ready. Evans' intense eyes and passive face force the viewer to look inward, or at least wonder what is going on inside this superhero's mind.

Hayley Atwell ("The Dutchess," "Brideshead Revisited," "Cassandra's Dream") is formidable as Peggy Carter.

Hugo Weaving (Elrond, "The Lord of the Rings") is an intimidating presence as Schmidt-Red Skull.

The art direction is stupendous. Framing of scenes, editing and sequencing gives the sense of comic book frames. You almost expect to see "Pow!," "Bang!" word balloons pop up on the screen.

Mere words are superfluous when you have squadrons of Computer Generated Imagery teams, as does "Captain America." The movie sags during a battle montage scene, as well as during one or two too many battles. The score by Alan Silvestri gamely propels the action forward.

The screenplay has humorous moments, as when one character says to another, "You're taking all the stupid with you."

Captain America" is back to reclaim the turf ceded to an "Easy Rider" celluloid anti-hero in 1969.

"Captain America: The First Avenger," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action; Genre; Action, Adventure Science-Fiction; Run time: 2 hr., five min.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The CRA (Credit Readers Anonymous) legions are growing, with many of you wise enough to stay after the final "Captain America: The First Avenger" credit roll to see Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, who also appears in the final scene) and Captain America in a short scene, plus previews of "The Avengers," scheduled to open May 2012.

Box Office, July 22: "Captain America: The First Avenger" opened at No. 1, with $65.8 million, pushing "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" to No. 2, $48 million, $274.1million, two weeks, and keeping "Friends with Benefits," opening at No. 3, with $18.5 million.

4. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," $12 million, $325.7 million, four weeks; 5. "Horrible Bosses," $11.7 million, $82.4 million, three weeks; 6. "Zookeeper," $8.7 million, $59.2 million, three weeks; 7. "Cars 2," $5.7 million, $176.4 million, five weeks; 8. "Winnie the Pooh," $5.1 million, $17.5 million, two weeks; 9. "Bad Teacher," $2.6 million, $94.3 million, five weeks; 10. "Midnight in Paris," $1.8 million, $44.8 million, 10 weeks

Unreel, July 29:

"Cowboys & Aliens," PG-13: Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford make their stand in the Wild, Wild West when the aliens invade. Wierd, huh?

"Crazy, Stupid Love," PG-13: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore star in a movie about a couple in marriage counseling.

"The Smurfs," PG: Hank Azaria, Katy Perry and Jonathan Winters voice the little blue creatures who move to New York City. Smurf City, here we come.

"Attack the Block," R: A teen gang protects their London neighborhood from an alien invasion.

Read previous movie reviews at Email Paul Willistein at: and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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