authors, brian jacques, c.s. lewis, captain america, captain america: the first avenger, characters, confusing nonsense, cressida cowell, editor, how to train your dragon, marvel superheroes, movie reviews, movies, nazi germany, rambling musings, redwall, science, science fiction, small rants, star wars, story dynamics, theoretic science, world war II, writer, writing
Hello, dear readers, and sorry about the absence. I really shouldn’t have an excuse and if I do have one, it’s 1) college, 2) rough transfers, and 3) poor time management. So, really my fault this time, and I hope you enjoy the post.
Now, on to the point! I’ve probably told everyone about how I saw Captain America: The First Avenger on Sunday and absolutely loved it. I’ll probably review it once I have the chance to see it twice (I make it a rule not to review anything until the second watching, for obvious reasons; not that the second watch often changes my initial opinion), but for now I’m making a list of reasons why I loved it and why you should go see it if you haven’t yet. 😉 So, without further ado (and in no particular order):
- Because underdogs. Everyone cheers for an underdog in a story, though it’s sometimes different in real life (because people in real life want to be on the winning side. Why else would Italy change sides halfway through WWII?) But more than just having an underdog-becomes-awesome story, The First Avenger also gives us a few reasons why it’s an underdog story. Because, as the nice scientist whose name I can’t remember states, a weak man appreciates what strength can do and, if his heart is in the right place, he won’t misuse it.
- It has a good portrayal of hero vs. villain. Rather than having all Germans be the bad guys, it is a German scientist who didn’t agree with Hitler (they don’t mention anything about him being Jewish, which in my opinion adds to the character dynamic) and fled the country who first sees something in the young Steven Rogers. Also, to be historically accurate, there were cowardly followers and Nazis who were the spawn of darkness (because. They were.) If this movie lacked anything, it was the nice Goring brother. 😛 (Yes, Herman Goring had a brother who could not agree less with his philosophy! Look it up! 😉 )
- Patriotism. And what’s more, a balanced portrayal of patriotism vs. nationalism. The Nazis were not patriotic. They were nationalistic. And the guys who repeatedly talk about killing Nazis? They’re nationalistic, too. Also ethnocentrist, but that’s occasionally justified. Steve just wants to get out there and fight for his country. And he’s not just fighting for his country, but he’s fighting for an ideal, which is basically what patriotism is and why patriotism is a Christian virtue. There have always been Americans who were also America-haters out there, but Steve puts these guys to shame. He’s not just fighting for his country. He’s fighting so that Nazi Germany can’t enslave more places (which is also technically ethnocentric, but this is one of ethnocentrism’s proper places, since the Nazi “ideal” was wholly evil.) He’s fighting for those back home. He’s fighting for those who can’t fight, too–especially since, at first, he was one of those.
- This brings me to reason #4. Here we have a guy in the public spotlight after becoming a folk hero, being used as an advertising gimmick. Basically, he has attention, but he doesn’t want it. We know that he really hates this and only goes along with it because it’s for the war effort. He really wants to be over there with the soldiers who are fighting and dying. He’s a symbol, and he never particularly wanted to be one. He’s also bad at keeping up the troops’ morale (when he’s not on the field). Yet, when he gets the chance to fight, he’s not disobeying the people higher up until his friend’s life is at stake.
- This movie is pretty darn funny! It’s great to watch, has humor, and can make you cry in places. It’s pretty well-balanced, in my opinion.
- The protagonist feels pretty helpless around girls. 😛 I think it’s charming, and pretty funny, but it does lead to some awkward moments. Basically what I’m trying to say here is he’s not a flirt, which in my opinion is the bane of the new Spiderman movies.
- Steve is really against violence. This is made, in my opinion, pretty clear when he makes the distinction between fighting for his country and killing Nazis. Not only is he against violence, but he also understands that sometimes–sometimes–violence is the only way to protect yourself, your friends, and your country. Also, in this occasion, he’s protecting others around the world from being overrun by Nazi Germany. (I believe C.S. Lewis made the point why he wasn’t a pacifist, and that’s what I’m talking about here.)
- Last, but certainly not least, he has a shield. No, I’m not going to rave about superhero weaponry… okay. Maybe a little bit. Because you’ve got to admit, that buckler of his is pretty darn cool. It operates on a similar principle to a bulletproof vest, for goodness’ sake! Anyway, though a shield can be used as a weapon (thank you, Roughnut and Toughnut, for that marvelous exhibition), it’s primarily a defensive one. You use it to keep arrows, pikes, lances, and swords (and in this case, bullets and knives) from hitting you. Though it can be thrown like a discus, the edges aren’t sharp like the edges of Racketty Tam MacBurl’s buckler, so it’s mainly used to stun rather than to kill. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi choosing to use Soresu rather than Ataru later in life, Captain America’s fighting style and weaponry are the ultimate statement of his life philosophy. Be ready to defend yourself when necessary; do not attack when not provoked. As Obi-Wan puts it, “There are alternatives to fighting.”
(More about the shield. Apparently, rather than hardening up to absorb impacts, thus spreading the impact around a larger area, like a bulletproof vest or liquid armor do, vibranium actually absorbs the kinetic energy of anything coming at it, keeping shock waves running through the shield virtually nil. For instance, if the shield were somehow merely hard enough to stop bullets and other objects at high velocity from penetrating it, the vibrations throughout the shield would be enough to actually break the bones in Cap’s arm and hand. However, since vibranium actually absorbs those shock waves, this is not a problem at all. This is one incidence in which I will not question Marvel pseudo-science, because though this has not theoretically been proven possible yet, it pushes the boundaries and is innovative, like good science fiction should be. I will, however, question the portrayal–if vibranium really absorbs all the kinetic energy, then why do things make noise when they hit it? And why does Steve sometimes stagger backward upon an impact? I know this is to make it look realistic in the film, but it does call the physics into question a little bit, doesn’t it?!)
The one thing that I did not particularly care for was the wording that the scientist uses to describe what happens to the personalities of those who receive the serum he created. Though I suppose we could attribute it to English being (probably) his second language. 😛 I don’t think the serum actually changes someone’s personality, per se. It merely underscores, magnifies, or works on what is already there. It gives a good man the opportunity to do great things, and gives a bad man the power to do worse evil. I don’t think it changes people’s personalities. In my experience, most of the time it’s only time and circumstances to do that, and with the serum, time is a factor that doesn’t really play in, since the transformation is relatively quick.
So there you have it, a quick critique and a short post on theoretic science all in one. ;-P
That much said, go watch the movie! 😛