x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Captain America: The First Avenger

While a preposterous story, the fine supporting characters and expert balance of action, comedy and drama make this film feel utterly authentic.

Director: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones
**** 

It could all have gone horribly wrong. Finding superhero success at the box office has largely meant downplaying the obvious kitsch-factor of tights-wearing crusaders and placing the likes of Batman and the X-Men in worlds that resemble our own, where human drama can unfold.

But how do you make modern audiences interested in Captain America - a 70-year-old comic-book archetype, whose primary function was to beard the Führer while dressed in the Stars and Stripes?

The answer is by changing very little. The movie's greatest triumph is its gorgeously recreated period setting. Evans brings the title character to life wonderfully; first as the weedy army reject Steve Rogers, then, after an experimental super-soldier procedure, as the rippling slab of beef, Captain America.

But rather than being sent to Europe to fight Nazis, he is given a goofy red, white and blue suit and forced on the road to sell war bonds. It's not long, however, before he absconds and comes face to face with a force even more bloodthirsty than Hitler - Hugo Weaving's gruesome Red Skull. A raft of fine supporting characters and an expert balance of action, comedy and drama make a preposterous story feel utterly authentic.