Movie Reviews

Captain America: The First Avenger (10/25/2011)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Hugo Weaving and Samuel L. Jackson

Directed by Joe Johnston (The Wolfman, Jurassic Park III, Jumanji and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids)

Captain America is a superhero everyone can root for.

Captain America: The First Avenger focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

TODD’S WORD: With its mix of World War II nostalgia, Bam-Pow comic book sensibilities, underdog determination and red-white-and-blue battle scenes, Captain America: The First Avenger is the best Marvel superhero flick since the first Iron Man.

JONATHAN’S WORD: I wholeheartedly agree. Captain America was fun, inspiring, and tugged at your heartstrings just enough to not scare away the manly-man.

TODD’S WORD: While Iron Man takes place in the here and now, Captain America takes us to the there and then – the 1940s to be exact. The cell phones, reality TV stars, and cynicism have been replaced with national pride and high morals. I loved it.

JONATHAN’S WORD: It was a breath of fresh air, not just because of the times, but because the film offered likable characters with actual values. Sad that these elements are so rare in films today.

TODD’S WORD: Director Johnston clearly has a gift for balancing great visual effects and a great story. The Red Skull looks AMAZING, the 3D effects are AMAZING and the fight scenes are AMAZING. Put that together with a faithful retelling of Captain America’s origin story and you have a real winner.

JONATHAN’S WORD: I agree. Captain America is the whole package.

TODD’S WORD: Let’s talk cast…what did you think?

JONATHAN’S WORD: The cast was, to quote you, “amazing.” Chris Evans was likable and real. Add Hugo Weaving as the bad guy once again (he was amazing as Agent Smith in The Matrix) and sprinkle in Tommy Lee Jones…it would be hard to mess this film up (although I’m sure Joel Schumacher could. i.e. Batman Forever)

TODD’S WORD: I agree, when I first heard Chris Evans was playing Captain America I was first relieved (rumor had it that Matthew McConaughey was up for the role – and we all know how I feel about him). Then I was a little confused – Evans also played the Human Torch in Fantastic 4, and while there are no plans for a Fantastic 4/Avengers movie…that just wouldn’t work now.

JONATHAN’S WORD: I had the same thought about Evans’ roles. I don’t think most people are as nerdy as us to think about such things.

TODD’S WORD: Maybe you are right…I’m so thankful the NFL Lock-Out is over. I’m so ready for some football!!

Ok back to the review…I think Evans was a great choice. He’s funny, likable, and believable.

JONATHAN’S WORD: My favorite aspect of the film was the focus on personal character. At the beginning of the film we see Steve, the short and scrawny lead character, repeatedly trying to apply to become a soldier and support his country. As we get to know his character, we discover him to be brave and wholesome.

The professor in charge of the Captain America project, Dr. Erskine, recognizes the internal strength of Steve locked in a scrawny, weak, body. Dr. Erskine cared more about internal character than outside strength.

In one scene, Dr. Erskine was talking with Captain America and he told him, “Promise me that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier but a perfect man.” It was really amazing to see these kinds of values on the big screen. I was waiting for someone to quote I Samuel 16:7, “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

This is a great film to discuss with our kids after the movie over ice cream. I encourage you all to use the small group questions we provide below to do that.

TODD’S WORD: I agree. It was entertaining, yet deep. I loved every minute of Captain America – it’s Worth Buying for me.

JONATHAN’S WORD: I agree. And it’s a film you can bring the whole family to. It was such a sharp contrast to the recent Transformers III. Transformers III has a spoiled brat for a hero and is sprinkled with inappropriate attitudes and humor. Captain America has a role model your kids can actually look up to and the film has nothing objectionable in it at all. Frankly, I was surprised at the PG-13 rating. I’m guessing it was just because of some of the violence…a few bloody scenes. And Red Skull would definitely be frightening to some young children. But personally, I would take my kids to see it, even if they were still in elementary school.

Yeah. See Jonathan’s comments in the paragraph above. This is a good one for all ages, but use discretion with younger children that might be frightened easily. Captain America is a highly moral character with plenty of good attributes.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

Q: What’s the message/theme of this movie?
A: Internal character is more important that external qualities.

At first look, Steve Rogers is the last person you might pick to be the new super solider. He’s small, he’s weak and he’s been beat up more times than he wants to remember.

  • So why is Dr. Erskine convinced he is the perfect candidate?
  • What qualities did Dr. Erskine see in Steve?

Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
A: God is way more interested in who we are inside than our outward appearance.

Do you remember the night before Steve became “Captain America,” Dr. Erskine told him, “Promise me that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier but a perfect man.” What did he mean by that?

In 1 Samuel 16:7, the prophet Samuel was looking for a new king of Israel. After looking at several very big and strong choices, the Lord told Samuel:
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

  • What criteria did God use for choosing his king?
  • What criteria do you think is more important (how a person looks or how a person lives)?

Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?
A: Well we may not be selected to be a Super Solider or the next King of Israel, but we can and should live our lives with character…because God is looking at our heart.
  • So what do you think that looks like in your life?
  • What is one thing we can do this week to live with character?


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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