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Captain America Reviewed - Part Filmed In Manc And The 'Pool

Jonathan Schofield thinks Marvel Comics should give it a rest for a while - by law

Written by . Published on August 2nd 2011.

Captain America Reviewed - Part Filmed In Manc And The 'Pool

HOW many more Marvel and DC Comics are there to wade through?

How many more loser turned hero characters are there hidden in the shallow pages of their graphic novels or comics for movie companies to get Tommy Lee Jones to act in?

Captain America makes even the most pointless Bond movies of the Roger Moore era look like timeless classics.

If our lovely digital age hadn't made special effects so easy, then possibly we'd have been saved the endless blither of ridiculous Marvel comic offshoots.

But it did make it easy, so here we are, drowning in a sea of films with multiple explosions and the emotional pull of a deflated hen-party balloon in a wet Sunday morning gutter.

Captain America is more of the same, more ploughing of the barren Marvel comic furrow, all made worse by terrible casting for the main character, and a plot that so closely resembles Raiders of the Lost Ark, it should be given an Oscar for cheekiness. 

'Our hero' gives a performance of pure timber. But the big problem is that he seems so completely un-tough that selling marshmallows might be deemed unreasonably macho for him – and this after the serum that boosts his puny torso Charles Atlas-like into something resembling that of a life-size Action Man.

Skip America’s folksy name in the film, away from the heroics, is Steve Rogers, which could be the first words of a very rude sentence. In his case the third word would be ‘sheep’.

Roger’s real name off-set is Chris Evans. This is gratifying, because it marries him with a ginger-haired DJ turned One Show presenter who is in every way the utter antithesis of a superhero, unless Marvel has invented a superhero called Colonel Smug.

Atwell breaks the news to Chris Evans that he shares a name with a One Show presenterAtwell tells Evans he shares a name with a One Show presenter

Meanwhile the film has the big stars acting by numbers, as though not sure which superhero film they’re in, just knowing that it’s worth several more trips to Cannes and a third home in the Hamptons. So we have the aforesaid Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L Jackson, Stanley Tucci, Richard Armitage and infinitum.

Aside from Tucci - who acts with at least a memory of the verve that made him respected - they’re all piss-poor.  

Hugo Weaving, Nasty Nazi, wonders which rip off of Raiders of the Lost Ark this isHugo Weaving, Nasty Nazi, wonders which Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off he's in

Still there’s one character you can’t keep your eyes off.

And surprise, surprise, it's a woman.

According to the law of Marvel, women are a tea and biscuits mumsy interruption in a teenager’s Call of Duty blow ‘em up moment. Or maybe they flash past, all thighs and breasts, for a snog with the hero at the end.

But here we have Hayley Atwell, with her cool English appeal. Folks she should be the superhero. She bosses the screen in ways that Steve ‘DJ Chris Evans’ Rogers doesn’t approach with his drippy features and his ridiculous shield - the worst boy racer’s hubcap ever.

As soon as Atwell came on the screen I regretted not going to watch the movie in 3D. That pale skin, those scarlet lips, those British woollen service uniforms from the 1940s, that limpid enunciation, the clear, calm, brainpower, the attempt to act....thank God Captain America keeps being late for her. He doesn't deserve Atwell. The film should be called Queen Britannia, not Captain America. 

Manchester also stars in the film as the Big Apple – a large slice of the film was acted out on Dale Street in the city. Liverpool gets in the picture with a brief dockland chase. The north west makes for a convincing Brooklyn, but that’s natural, given that New York nicked the cotton warehouse and dock building techniques of those cities to help form its own architecture.

Brooklyn In Manchester, Thanks To Flickr's Fly-Sycamore                         Brooklyn In Manchester, Thanks To Flickr's Fly-Sycamore

As for the film, it makes even the most pointless Bond movies of the Roger Moore era look like timeless classics. 

But it does the graphic novel (or comic) it came from, justice.

It proves that despite what the apologists of graphic novels, comics and manga say, 90 per cent of the time they are works for people who can’t be arsed reading a proper book because it would tax their brains with bigger more complex narratives than ones which depend upon violence and fantastical powers to chug things along.

While some works in the genre might try to dig deeper, this film is a comic for teenagers peddled to adults. Marvel knows even the most grown-up of us like to revert back to the acne-years from time to time, but the movie output from these thin stories is getting ridiculous. The company should take five or six years off, give us a rest. 

Rating 3/10 

Captain America is on general release.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

Captain America And The Stolen Boy Racer Hubcap                                          Captain America And The Stolen Boy Racer Hubcap

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46 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

Hilarious. Middling but faithful adaptation of a 70 year old comic book gets a 1 out of 10. Clearly the reviewer fancies himself as a serious connoisseur of art films. Except the review is nothing but insults, and the one attempt at positive comment is an objectifying, almost ejaculatory, description of Hayley Atwell. Her performance might not win her an Oscar, but she didn't do anything do deserve being reduced to a bit of crumpet for a "wish I watched her in 3D, know what I mean?" joke.

If that's the level you're operating at, I'm guessing the whole review slagging off WWII comics is trying to compensate for something.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Dear Anon, one out of ten is a bit mean. Raised it to three in recognition of some of the production qualities, set design and so on. JS

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

Why so serious?

Allison BrandesAugust 2nd 2011.

The movie isn't based on a graphic novel.

AnoAugust 2nd 2011.

Allison, expand maybe. Isn't it based on a comic? And if so what is the difference between a comic and a graphic novel?

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

Hahaha, who wrote this review?? Have you ever read a comic, researched the field or even for that matter read a graphic novel see as the difference appears to be lost on you (and that doesn't include simply watching 300) - Stan Lee's trademark appearance in this movie was, for me, one of his best, and it doesn't get a mention. As for people who read graphic novels "can't be arsed to read a book" - that is a ridiculous thing to say, you're an idiot.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

A completely embarassing review. While the film may not be up to standard, Mr Schofield, you have shown an incredible amount of imaturity, disrepect and lack of taste. If you think we are that dumb to accept everything you have to say, think again.

Jeff AlbertsonAugust 2nd 2011.

Wikipedia: 'A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art in either an experimental design or in a traditional comics format. The term is employed in a broad manner, encompassing non-fiction works and thematically linked short stories as well as fictional stories across a number of genres.

'Graphic novels are typically bound in longer and more durable formats than familiar comic magazines, using the same materials and methods as printed books, and they are generally sold in bookstores and speciality comic book shops rather than at newsstands. Such books have gained increasing acceptance as desirable materials for libraries which once ignored comic books.'

So then big comics?

EdAugust 2nd 2011.

It appears that you may have gone to watch the wrong film if you are surprised that a movie blockbuster adaptation of a mainstream superhero classic would be anything other than middle of the road. Whilst I wouldn't agree with the casting of Chris Evans in the title role I would imagine that any actor might struggle with a character who has always been fairly two dimensional (no pun intended) within the comics.

Films of this genre generally do what they 'say on the tin' and it's a bit unfair to knock the film for it.

p.s. the difference generally between a 'graphic novel' and a 'comic' is that a graphic novel generally encapsulates an entire story and is often a medium used for darker subject matter with existing characters aimed at a more mature audience (i.e. Arkham Asylum, Killing Joke or Watchmen). Comics are generally serialised stories aimed at a more mainstream audience. Hope this helps

TrinnyAugust 2nd 2011.

I think the writer's complaining about the sheer number of these films coming out, the endless super-hero thing. What about a bit of plot driven, effects free, celluloid?

Alison HookAugust 2nd 2011.

I reckon the super-hero obsession reflects the decline in religious observance. We've lost God so we seek other Gods. And we worship them with special effects. It's tiresome, why can't we have more movies that are intelligent and thought-provoking?

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

Jonathan Schofield has been writing for long enough to know when he's turning in a piece of hackery, so why did this childish, sub-student press standard review get printed?

No doubt Schofield will take the negative comments here as the mobilisation of a bunch of comic book nerds who are aggrieved by his review. I read comic books myself – not because I'm too lazy to read a proper book, but because it's a unique media that tells stories in a way that can't be replicated elsewhere. The last graphic novel I read was a biography of Kiki De Montparnasse, the artist and muse. Not too many explosions in that. It doesn't bother me if Schofield doesn't like or understand comics and comic fans; I'm merely affronted that he's publishing material like this bumfluff review, presumably penned for people who are 'too lazy' to read a newspaper.

Even as a comic fan, I would say that Captain America is one of the less interesting and least relevant characters in Marvel's stable. He's an anachronism from the '40s. While I would agree that the film was pretty poor, it did at least attempt to show Cap as a frustrated product of the US propoganda machine, not as a straight-up, patriotic super soldier. The performances were generally OK and Atwell was very good, whether you paid extra to ogle her chest in 3D or not. And yes, it did resemble Raiders Of The Lost Ark. If Schofield had done a minimal amount of research he'd have discovered that director Joe Johnson has spoken extensively about modelling the film on Raiders. At least it's not a remake, like every single one of the films in the trailers preceding it.

Come on Schofield, you're better than this.

Jonathan SchofieldAugust 2nd 2011.

Last film I really enjoyed was 'Up in the Air' with George Clooney. Not one bang, not one superhero. Nobody got murdered.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
EdAugust 2nd 2011.

I would query why you thought it appropriate to write a review on a genre you apparently aren't well versed in? There are literally hundreds of movies released each year so it may be wiser to stick to genres that you are more familiar with.

p.s. I am not a 'comic nerd' etc. and have a wide taste in films, literature and theatre however it would appear that you have missed the point that different films appeal to different audiences and see no harm in the 'summer blockbuster'.

Jonathan Schofield - editorAugust 2nd 2011.

Ed. As a critic we're supposed to be critical. That can be positive or negative. However to suggest people should only write about what they like is missing the point of criticism utterly, although I can see why film companies, theatres, restaurants and so on might want that.

As for the your first point, well, nobody who still draws breath can be anything but well-versed in Super-hero movies, I read the comics when I was a kid. They were fluff and fillers even then.

Finally as I writer and editor I write what I feel moved to write about.

EdAugust 3rd 2011.

My apologies for confusing your work for a 'film review' rather than the analytical 'film criticism' you clearly intended.

I may have been led down the wrong path by the labelling of your analysis as a mere 'review' in the Headline, or alternately by the apparent lack of criticism of the movie itself within the piece or even your apparent lack of knowledge of the genre and its sources (though from your response I take it this was meant as a subtle, clever and deliberate ploy to remove yourself from the ranks of the comic reading fraternity).

My apologies again for confusing your analytical article with a mere film review and I can completely take on board the facts, now that you have explained it, that show how well researched this piece was, complete with statistics, technical terms and modern references.

I can completely see how your article stacks up and compares more than favourably with the work of other online film critics such as Maryann Johanson (who refers to herself as a mere 'reviewer' of films despite being a member of the Online Film Critics Society http://www.ofcs.org)...

"At a time when America is at war on multiple fronts against not definable enemies but against nebulous notions -- “terror”; “drugs” -- wars that have no endpoint in sight, wars whose endpoints aren’t even pinpointable, it’s almost comforting to look back at a time when a sense of purpose was palpable, one’s duty was clear, and the objective was obvious. It makes even more sense as that time -- in this case, World War II -- begins to move out of living memory for the vast majority of people living with the current wars. Which means the complications and the shades of gray of that time are easier to discount in the face of the appealing black-and-whiteness of it."

I can see how your analysis, which comes in paragraph 17 (4 paragraphs from the end) does away with the complicated process of actually analysing the film...

"As for the film, it makes even the most pointless Bond movies of the Roger Moore era look like timeless classics."

Again my sincerest apologies for my earlier error in thinking that you were not a 'critic'. I just feel that whilst I may take a decent enough stab at 'reviewing' a film, even if I thought it was terrible, I do not think I would publish the same without first trying my utmost to ensure that I could justify and support my position.

I think you may have, inadvertently, given the impression that you were not fully versed in the genre by some of your comments and references.

Some people might suggest that the purpose of a 'review' would be to let the audience gain some insight into whether the film is particularly notable within its genre. Clearly this would not apply with regards to your 'criticism'.

I'm pretty sure, though I wouldn't quote any statistics, that the majority of people who would be interested in watching Captain America know that the priority is going to be on a specific type of entertainment and will not be expecting Oscar winning performances or intricate story lines dealing with the weightier matters of the human condition.

However I fully acknowledge that I am neither critic nor reviewer so I shall of course defer to your position though I reserve the right to humbly disagree with your analysis and criticism.

All joking aside, no offence is meant in this reply and I do think that your review has, if nothing else, stirred up a mostly healthy debate for people to while away the lunch hour.

AnonAugust 2nd 2011.

To be fair, he does say 90% of the time, not that everyone of the graphic novel species is crap.

Danielle KaplanAugust 2nd 2011.

The Asterix series was great comic book fun. As for graphic novels, are we saying they're just sort of storyboards from films printed down?

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

What a horrenously biased anti-comic review. It's as if some snobby mid-teen child was given something he didn't want to do, so set about ripping it apart. And what's with the sexist and xenophobic undercurrent?

Sack this guy.

MCR Cuture VultureAugust 2nd 2011.

The best thing about this movie and Marvel Comics is the opportunity given to American artist Tyler Stout to do his fantastic screenprint movie poster done for the San Diego Comic Convention special screening to launch Tge films a couple of weeks back in the States. Mondo, the boutique poster specialist for Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Texas had three contemporary artists to produce screenprints for the film (Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Tyler Stout - the latter's my favourite).

These are not the Hollywood produced movie posters but limited edition art posters. For those not familiar with Tyler, check the poster out here:

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

So, apparently you can't ask for a guy to be sacked on here? My last comment disappered.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

Terribly biased review.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

Utter tosh. The review that is - not the film. The film is... fine (probs a 6.5/7 out of 10)

Captain AmericaAugust 2nd 2011.

OK Schofield, that's it - your number's up (even if you are right).

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

... more comments deleted. I guess you're not allowed to have an opinion around here if you're name isn't Schofield.

Jonathan Schofield - editor (and writer of the review)August 2nd 2011.

Who's deleted a comment? That's not going to happen unless you've been personally abusive, or vile in unspeakable ways. I don't allow deletions otherwise. So don't be so angry dear ranter.

EDITORIALAugust 2nd 2011.

It only needs to be said once, Anonymous.

Paul Glaisher-HernandezAugust 2nd 2011.

"According to the law of Marvel, women are a tea and biscuits mumsy interruption in a teenager’s Call of Duty blow ‘em up moment. Or maybe they flash past, all thighs and breasts, for a snog with the hero at the end." - I think Ms Paltrow and Ms Portman might think differently!

Based on this comment I doubt Mr Schofield has even seen a single other Marvel movie, and has gone to see Captain America because of it's tenuous link to the city of Manchester. Talk about flag waving!

The film certainly is flawed, but I would say the first hour is exquisitely made for this particular genre, and Chris Evans nailed the character as written in the comics.

As another poster said, at least Marvel aren't remaking/rebooting previous movies, unlike the rest of Hollywood at the moment (even sweetheart David Fincher couldn't resist making The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Furthermore, Marvel should be praised for their ambition in making 5 interleaving movies, the threads of which will culminate in next years' Avengers.

Cynical marketing? You bet. A fresh and unique approach to the comic book movie genre? Absolutely.

Paul Glaisher-HernandezAugust 2nd 2011.

Oh and the plot of Captain America was written four decades before Mr Lucas and mr Spielberg decided to rip it off for themselves.

Stuart ThompsonAugust 2nd 2011.

Another link to follow - along with the others: www.guardian.co.uk/…/internet-anonymity-trolling-tim-adams…

Stephen NewtonAugust 2nd 2011.

Those *proper* reviews (both 3/5) aren't exactly glowing either, just more restrained and a little referential. It's an okay, but lazy, popcorn film that doesn't try to do anything original. (But it is fun to see the same stretch of Dale Street whiz past over and over on one car journey, like they got picked up by a dodgy cabbie intent on extending their journey.)

Worth mentioning that the 3D adds nothing and that in the US (don't know about over here), 2D is easily outdoing 3D at the box office (and not for the first time). Looks like the 3D fad is over.

HHHHAugust 2nd 2011.

Superheroes, superheroes and more superheroes. Yawn. And do you reckon when they have done that filming tying up all the loose ends then they'll stop doing Marvel movies? Nah.

H SimpsonAugust 2nd 2011.

Schofield, watch out. You're going to be murdered by Comic Book Guy for blasphemy against the Holy Religion of Graphic Noveldom. You are a heretic expressing a contrary opinion and contrary opinions are not allowed.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2011.

OMG!!! Jonathon whatever your name is - you really have no clue. Well and truly.

I was sent this link to your "review" (can we call it that, really? Given you don't actually review the film) by a friend and initially thought it was a joke. Take a cue from the reviewers at the Financial Times. They know how to really talk about a film, and they don't need to ramble on for ages about nothing in particular to do so.

And lastly: WOT IS DIS!

Captain AmericaAugust 2nd 2011.

I hate anonymous people! Post under your own name or Captain America will force feed you a supersize burger and Freedom Fries.

SmittyAugust 2nd 2011.

Think you're wrong about comics Jonathan, particularly Marvel ones. Stan Lee has a gift of making the underdog, by which I mean the reader, feel like he (or she) matters.

The adaptations have been a mixed bunch... First Spidey, great. The rest, hmmm. Iron Man, yay! Iron Man 2, hmmm. Thought Branagh did a brilliant job with Thor.

Also, your hope that Marvel will give it a rest, well you're out of luck there. We've got The Avengers, Iron Man 3, The Amazing Spider Man, Thor 2 and probably The Avengers 2 to look forward to over the coming years. Yay!

And let's not forget DC Comics. The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel are both coming out in the next 12 months. And they're talking about an almost immediate new take on Batman to follow the last of the Dark Knight trilogy.

I'd suggest you stick to the Cornerhouse for the next little while if you want to avoid them!

On graphic novels, again, think you're wrong on that one. if you've not read Watchmen, go out - now - and get it. It's one of the finest pieces of modern literature available. Smart, funny and tragic with big ideas. There's a particular chapter of Watchmen that made me cry. The only other books that can do that to me are Alexander McCall Smith's No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

Watchmen is the very, very best, but V for Vendetta is pretty damn good as well and Kick Ass is fun.

Note: I also watch arty films and read complicated books. I have read all of Joyce's Ulysses

Simon WilsonAugust 3rd 2011.

Why do adults who read graphic novels only ever do it in the quiet of their own homes. I never see anyone reading one on the bus or tram or train but I see hundreds reading novels? And Schofield does say 90% of graphic novels are ridiculous not all of them, maybe Watchmen was in the other ten per cent. Mind the film is tosh.

HultonAugust 3rd 2011.

Well I am sorry, but I really enjoyed it. As somebody who grew up reading all the comics from this and the other side of the pond, this in my eyes was a good conversion to a movie, and fits in with the Marvel world building up to the Avengers movie next year. Yes its a no-brainer, but you shouldn't go to see it expecting Oscar performances!

HultonAugust 3rd 2011.

Oh and Captain America isn't a graphic novel, it has always been a pure comic book, a la The Beano or The Dandy.

AnonymousAugust 3rd 2011.

Jonathan, perhaps you would like to peruse Maus - a graphic novel that was awarded a small accolade you may have heard of, the Pulitzer Prize.

AnonymousAugust 3rd 2011.

"...[comics] are works for people who can’t be arsed reading a proper book because it would tax their brains"

I'll take that as the holier than thou insult it was obviously meant to be... try not to feel quite so superior Jonathan, especially as you haven't grasped the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book.

Robert PAugust 5th 2011.

An overly harsh review with nothing to substantiate the criticism other than immature musings.

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