Captain America: The First Avenger (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

And here we go again. I’m sure it’s the time of year, but it seems that every week I’m writing about a new super hero movie that’s jettisoned its way to Blu-ray. Up this week is Captain America, a movie which already had a full-length movie dedicated to its stars and stripes hero, but admittedly it wasn’t a very good one. You see, next summer will see the release of The Avengers which is somewhat of an all-star version of all these movies that we’ve been privy to over the last few years. The Avengers consists of The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye (the only star not to have his own movie). So, it’s mainly just Marvel covering their bases to get these movies out so we’ll be able to more readily identify with these heroes come May 2012. Oh, and money. They need to make a little more cash to boot. My sarcasm and backhanded comments aside, I really do enjoy these super hero movies as they’re very well-made and I find them entertaining. As a former reader of comic books, it’s exciting for me to see these stories hit the screen. But this is it. Captain America – Steve Rogers himself. What’s to be expected?

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is the epitome of a 95-pound weakling. Through the magic of CGI, Evans’ body was used and made to look like he was half the size of his normal physique. The USA is in the midst of World War II and Steve wants to enlist in the Army. But his size and numerous physical ailments make that just a pipe dream. On his fifth try he catches the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) and is subsequently selected to undergo a super-secret process. Rogers has a procedure that literally inflates him to a 6’4” man of steel and a metabolism that rivals Wolverine. Rogers is used as a poster child for the U.S. Army and, while not exactly he had in mind, is still doing his part for the cause. This all changes when Rogers gets personally involved and recruits a team to help defeat the evil agents of HYDRA. What’s HYDRA, you ask? It’s a super elite group of soldiers under the leadership of the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) who’s also benefitted from the same sort of “experiment” that gave Rogers his super powers. This begs the question: can Captain America defeat HYDRA and thus shift the balance of power for the USA or will the evil forces of HYDRA come out on top?

While some super hero movies are a bit hit and miss, I’ve found that the Marvel adaptations are among the best. In fact, for the exception of “The Incredible Hulk” I’ve found these to be some of the best. I’m now a big fan of “Iron Man” and I enjoyed “Thor” as well. “Captain America” was very well-received this summer and while not shattering box-office records, it did manage to make a profit (how many movies can actually say that). Couple this with the natural segue into next summer’s “The Avengers” and, well, it’s a no-brainer to say that the stage is set. Evans is great in his role as Steve Rogers, embodying the natural look and charisma that the comic book hero epitomized. Also turning in great performances is the always-reliable Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips and Hugo “Agent Smith” Weaving as the Red Skull. If “Captain America” is any indication of what’s in store for our heroes, then I wait with bated breath.

Video: How does it look?

Let’s be real for a second, can we? If “Captain America” looked anything less than stellar, then some heads would be rolling at Paramount. Thankfully this delivers and the 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is indicative of what we’ve come to expect from a new to Blu-ray film. The overall color palette used is actually a bit on the dull side, but this doesn’t mean that the transfer isn’t as lively as we’d like. Quite the contrary, actually. Though browns tend to dominate early on, we do move on and see some very well-defined interior scenes. Detail is amazing, as expected, as we can make out the little nuances in the laser beams used by the HYDRA forces. The overall look and feel of the film is really hard to fault. There are a few instances in which the colors seem a bit off and I wasn’t so totally blown away with this like I was with “Avatar” but that’s apples and oranges. It’s quite hard to fault any element of this movie and it’ll look beautiful on your HDTV.

Audio: How does it sound?

I’m a very visual person, but I have to admit that films just aren’t the same if they don’t have a robust soundtrack. “Captain America” has all the action we’d ever need and want from a film, so the included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is a perfect complement to how well the film looks on screen. This soundtrack pretty much has it all, from the opening sequence in the Arctic to the LFE induced battle sequences toward the middle and end of the film. Dialogue is very rich and strong. In fact, my only real complaint about the film is that while they did a very good job visually with Evans’ physique, his voice is still the same. Quite simply, it’s just too deep for a person of his stature. That’s being nitpicky, though. All of your speakers will get a workout here, so don’t worry. “Captain America” delivers on all the technical levels so if you had any doubts that this wouldn’t live up to some of the other super hero movies – it does.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I’m sure this would be a hot seller even if there weren’t any supplements included, but this is the last thing we’ll have to hold onto until next summer’s “The Avengers.” We start off with an audio commentary by director Joe Johnston and some of his technical staff. This is more of a technical track that I rather liked, though I can see where some will find it a bit on the mundane side. Next up are the featurettes and we continue with the “Marvel One Shot’s” that have appeared on some other Blu-ray’s. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer” sees our S.H.I.E.L.D. agent discussing a robbery at a grocery story. “Outfitting a Hero” shows the costume design of Captain America’s suit and some of the other dated outfits used in the film. “Howling Commandos” focuses on Cap’s entourage and some of the faces in that crowd. “Heightened Technology” shows us some of the rather odd combination of weapons used that really shouldn’t have been present in the 1940’s. “The Transformation” was perhaps the most interesting for me as it showed what it took to make actor Chris Evans “shrink” into the person who was at the beginning of the movie. “Captain America’s Origin” is just that, we see the history of the character in the comic books. Those clamoring for “The Avengers” will like “The Assembly Begins” as we look forward to what will be a major money-maker next summer. There are also four deleted scenes as well as a few trailers. This also has a DVD of the movie and a digital copy for your portable device.

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