Did you guys see Jurassic Park III? You know the guy who directed that also helmed this. He was also responsible for The Wolfman last year. Though that won an Academy Award, so I won’t be cruel to that one. Plus, much like Captain America, the best part of that film was Hugo Weaving straight up chewin’ scenery. My point is that Joe Johnston was a bold choice to direct what would be the final piece in Marvel’s film-puzzle before The Avengers hits next may. At the same time, much as Kenneth Branaugh was an inspired choice to take up Thor Johnston is one of those directors who, when on his game, would be perfect for something like Captain America. The number one reason that people have been giving since the day he signed on the dotted line was the fact that he directed The Rocketeer which shares some similar themes as well as the “period piece” setting. Well, Captain America is decidedly better than The Rocketeer. Though to be honest I’d love to see Timothy Dalton hamming it up against Hugo Weaving. That would be golden.
The film begins in the present day, where a team of scientists drilling in the arctic find something unusual. The story is familiar to anyone who has a basic knowledge of Captain America beyond “he fights Nazis.” From there we fade back to World War II, where we meet up with Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt laying siege to a village in Norway hoping to obtain some ancient Norse artifact supposedly taken from Odin’s throne-room. At this point we must accept that if you’re not seeing every Marvel Studios film you’re not getting the full experience. The item in question is of course the Tesseract, or the cosmic cube, which was actually glimpsed by keen eyed viewers in Thor earlier this year. We’ve finally reached the point where everything has come together and while if you missed Thor you can still enjoy Captain America, the sense of connectivity will be an added bonus for fans who have been following the buildup since Iron Man.
I have to say that this is probably the best origin story comic adaptation to date. Only Iron Man really comes close. There have been some complaints that Steve Rogers doesn’t really have a character arc, he just has a physical transformation. Those people clearly missed the point of the film. Steve was always a good man. His discussion with why he was chosen to be a super-soldier with Stanley Tucci’s Abe Erskine (another standout among many) touches on this quite effectively. Steve’s real arc doesn’t get a chance to begin until he reaches the future. With this being a true origin story, we don’t get to deal with that yet. A good portion of that will be dealt with in The Avengers I would assume. And that is the only downside to Marvel’s interconnected universe. There will always be things that get lost in the shuffle. In a movie like this you can’t get everything in a two hour time-span.
But they do manage to work in a good number of things that work, a truly epic villain who isn’t afraid to go big in a way that most villains have been lacking for a while on screen now for one. Hugo Weaving is perfect as the Red Skull and it’s good to see a true, and pardon the term, “comic-bookey” villain on screen and done well. He’s what the scenery chewing villains of the 90’s Batman franchise aimed for but missed entirely. Much credit must be given for making a character that could have been hokey and downright lame into a memorable character.
Chris Evans also does a good job portraying Steve Rogers. He’s almost too likeable. He brings that sense of honor and duty that Steve Rogers has always had as well as a truly great degree of charm. After seeing him in the role I’m not sure if any of the other names on the shortlist to play the character would have worked out near as well. This is the first time where I watched Chris Evans and didn’t see Chris Evans. I saw Captain effing America. As much as I enjoyed him in Fantastic Four, his Johnny Storm was much like the wise-cracking characters he had played in other films. In Scott Pilgrim, I got a feeling he was mostly just Chris Evans making fun of Chris Evans trying not to be Chris Evans. Here, he was Steve Rogers. The earliest parts of the movie where they used all the CGI left in the universe to make him a skinny little runt seemed to distract from the fact that this was an actor playing a part. I was greatly impressed.
But one of the things that truly stunned me, especially coming off of something like Thor, is that the romance element of the story was handled organically and sincerely. Hayley Atwell, who will likely become a lot of young men’s new celebrity crush after this film, plays a fully developed character in her own right whose relationship with Rogers is given time to shift and grow in a way that feels very real and genuine. Compare this to Chris Helmsworth’s attraction to Natalie Portman in Thor that was basically boiled down to “She’s Pretty, He Has Muscles.” Granted sometimes that’s how real relationships do happen but it doesn’t make for the most satisfying cinematic experience. The Rogers/Carter romance is definitely more interesting. Steve’s jealousy of the attention Tony Stark’s dad keeps throwing her way over the course of the film is one of the more entertaining aspects and shows that even though Steve is a good man at heart, he’s just like you. He hates it when good lookin’ dudes start eyeballin’ your girl.
Personally, this is my favorite of the Marvel Studios entries. I’m a big Cap fan and I feel they nailed it with this one. Iron Man comes very very close. But there was something about this film that just felt more like a Marvel comic come to life than any of the previous entries. Iron Man II attempted that feeling but in the wrong manner. Cameos out the wazoo do nothing. But capture the tone and feel of the page and translate it to screen, and you’ll get something truly special, which Captain America is. I plan on seeing it again very very soon.
I’ve been crushing on this girl hard since I saw her back in Up In The Air with George Clooney. Something about her is just awesome. She’s pretty, for sure. But there’s something else there. My gut reaction was only solidified by her portrayal of Stacy Pilgrim in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. The World which I’ve already pegged as the greatest film in the history of existence.
Anyhow, she’s awesome and I have nothing else prepared, so she gets a birthday post here at the queso.
I actually am 24, so this works out well for me…
Seriously, you guys, I might have pee’d myself a little last night watching this movie. It was just the balls. I don’t think I have ever been so enamored with a comic book adaptation so long as I have lived. If Watchmen had made me feel half this tingly maybe it wouldn’t be an afterthought in most people’s memory. I was lucky enough to score VIP screening passes for Scott Pilgrim through a friend who used to work with me up at the store and it was all I could do to not hump her leg while weeping tears of gratitude but then I figured that not doing so would be the bigger sort of thank you, and restrained myself.
For those of you not keeping track at home, Scott Pilgrim is the film adaptation of the book series of the same name that may be the greatest Canadian manga ever concieved. It is the book that gave us such unforgettable panels as this:
Unfortunately that particular scene is not in the film. My soul weeps, but it’s okay, because a lot of the weirder/more hilarious stuff did make it into the film when I feared that it would be excised in the name of rational thought. But this film defies rational thought. It exists to make your brain turn into jello pudding and tell you to giggle like a little girl. It is the kind of movie that doesn’t get made often; the genre-hopping whirlwind of dubya-tee-eff crushed inbetween the dueling breadloafs of coming-of-age drama and romantic comedy to form a totally awesome sandwich of WIN!
Now, despite my gushing I have to say that the film has some flaws that will be more obvious to those who haven’t read the books, mainly that condensing the series down so heavily cuts out a lot of the character moments that made the books so damned amazing. We don’t get inside Scott or Ramona’s head in such a way that we ever really feel the true weight of their relationship or the relationships they left in the past. We just get that Scott is kind of a dork and Ramona is a hot chick with a lot of baggage and everything just sort of goes from there.
For those of us who have read the books, everybody is so damned perfect in their roles it’s not even funny. Kieran Culkin is downright amazing as Scott’s super-gay roomate Wallace Wells and Mark Webber is damned awesome as Stephen Stills aka “the Talent.” Oh, and this film does nothing to stifle my crush on Anna Kendrick, who I’ve totes had a thing for ever since I saw Up In The Air.
If you don’t go see this movie when it comes out, we can’t be friends. If you don’t like the movie, I’m going to kick your (insert cuddly animal friend here). That’s not a threat, that’s a promise. *glare*
I’ve been waiting for this book for a while now. Not just since the end of volume five, but since around the end of book three really. I mean, it’s an amazing series and I don’t really want it to end, but I’ve been anxious to see what the end product would be as a singular entity; if creator Bryan Lee O’Malley could pull off five volumes that continuously knocked it out of the park. Each individual book can be viewed as an accomplishment in and of itself, but the series as a whole is an amazing work of graphic storytelling with rich character arcs that are becoming less and less the norm nowadays.
I think that’s what really draws me in with this series. Sure it’s fun and the humor is great but it’s the intricacies of the character arcs are what keep me coming back. O’Malley makes the reader care about the characters in such a manner that we can be honestly surprised by the turns their story takes and find ourselves more engrossed with the developments than the next video-game inspired fight to come down the pike.
That sums up volume six easily. While we’ve been anticipating the Scott/Gideon showdown, the best parts of the book are those that give us a glimpse into the mind of Scott and the rest of the cast, where their story gets examined to the point where the feel like real people and not like two dimensional characters. We get some revelations about earlier events that shed some light on why Scott does the things he does in the way he does them. His rationalizations and mental gymnastics in regards to past relationships add another layer to his attachment to Ramona.
The last few weeks have wreaked havoc on my love life, so maybe I’m viewing the final volume through the lens of my own cynicism, but the conclusion of the book is sort of the antithesis of traditional romance. We get a story that simultaneously warns against falling head over heels in love, implying that it’ll get you stabbed in the heart with a giant sword, while also saying that it takes letting go and falling for someone with all of totality is the only way you’ll find someone worth loving at all.
It’s a conflicting final chapter, but a satisfying one. I truly believe that this will be a defining series for a lot of people. I’d rather a bunch of nerds use this as the basis for their idea of romance than the way some people use Twilight. Sure, they’re both unrealistic but at least Scott Pilgrim has a sense of balance. I think the ambiguity and eagerness to let the reader decide what they want to glean from the story is what will essentially have people coming back to re-read the book. I doubt I’ll have the same interpretation of the story if I revisit it in five years, hell, probably a year from now.
But it can’t be denied that it’s an amazing story, and a unique one, which is hard to say for alot of books out in this day and age.
So, I woke up this morning to find this new Scott Pilgrim trailer, and suffice it to say, I simply fucking squee’d. This new footage certainly helps to assuage my fears that Michael Cera can’t realistically pull off Scott’s demeanor, as that scene where he orders the package is just spot on. This may be my favorite movie of the year and it’s not even out yet. Dear god, this just looks aces.