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'Captain America' review: Not like most superhero movies

Chris Evans in a scene from the 2011 film, 'Captain America: The First Avenger.' (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

July 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
"Captain America: The First Avenger" is not like most superhero movies. Yes, you get action and special effects, but what sets "Captain America" apart is the focus on story over spectacle.

In the film, Chris Evans emerges as Hollywood's latest superhero thanks to a military medical experiment that turns his character into all muscle. He begins the film as a 98-pound weakling who just wants to serve his country during World War II.

The film tells the story of this unlikely hero who fights for his country during wartime. Along the way, there is an evil villain, it is a superhero movie after all. But the story plays out with an almost nostalgic feel, just with the benefit of modern technology.

Evans is well-suited to play our hero, while Tommy Lee Jones shows us his sometimes comedic side. And rather than casting any number of young pretty Hollywood stars for the female lead, it's nice to see an unfamiliar face, Hayley Atwell, play Captain America's potential love interest.

There's a certain silliness at times, but I think that's because the film also has a bit of an innocent feel. "Captain America" does not rely on its special effects -- one reason I don't think you really have to see it in 3D -- it relies on its story.

So while there may be a little less dazzle here than in most superhero films, there is certainly more to tell. And because of that, it sets us up well for future films in the franchise.

I liked the history this film gave me about Captain America, it doesn't feel like a crash course in "here's everything you need to know quickly, now here's a bunch of cool action." There's also a nice twist at the end.

And, of course, you have to stay through the credits for your first look at "The Avengers," when Captain America and other superheroes get back in action.

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