Captain America: The First Avenger

   Director: Joe Johnston, Marvel Entertainment, Rated M, 124 mins

One of Marvel Comics’ greatest heroes is finally brought to life on the big screen and is sure to be a hit with both moviegoers and superhero fans alike due to an absorbing storyline and great characterisations including plenty of fast-paced action sequences.
   Like Iron Man, director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman) has based his movie Captain America on a sound script from renowned screenplay writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (The Chronicles of Narnia Trilogy).
   As the comic has been around for some 70 years, Johnston sets his movie during the Second World War and begins his story from that era - introducing a rather skinny Steve Rogers (Fantastic Four’s Chris Evans) who is desperate to join the army but is constantly rejected - that is until he comes to the attention of military scientist Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci - Julie and Julia).
Captain America: The First Avenger
   Against the wishes of the cantankerous Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones - Men in Black) Erskine uses Rogers in a scientific experiment designed to transform him into a super soldier.
   Emerging from the experiment as a tall, muscle-bound, genetically transformed super soldier, Rogers is initially misused as a propaganda symbol to promote American ideals, taking on the title of “Captain America” with the American colours emblazoned on his circular shield.
   As Captain America he is aided by weapons designer Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper - Tamara Drewe) whose son Tony later becomes Iron Man, and the feisty military officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell - The Duchess) who becomes Rogers’ love interest.
   He soon gets his chance to show his true fighting skills by rescuing a large number of American soldiers before getting the opportunity to combat the evil Nazi Johann Schmidt (Aussie actor Hugo Weaving - The Wolfman) head of a secret Nazi operation named HYDRA.
   Schmidt has also acquired some special powers from a glowing, magical cube that reveals him as Red Skull.
   Besides the settings and a stirring musical score, Johnston has transformed this latest superhero into a believable ‘Captain America’ due in large part to the performance of Evans and a wonderful cast, especially Weaving’s brilliant portrayal of Red Skull not to mention that of Jones as the cranky Colonel Phillips.
   In effect Johnston has not gone overboard with his Americanisation of his movie but instead presented a thoroughly enjoyable romantic drama with an iconic superhero who like Superman has become a national identity and who fights for truth, justice and the American way!
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamp

Larry Crowne

   Director: Tom Hanks, Universal Pictures, Rated M, 98 mins

Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts team-up again in this pleasing romantic comedy (having previously starred together in Charlie Wilson’s War) about an amiable supermarket employee, Larry Crowne (Hanks), who suddenly finds himself being retrenched due to his lack of tertiary qualifications after being named “Employee of the Month” on nine consecutive occasions.
   Returning to his home, the unemployed Larry is convinced by his slick neighbour Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) - who has a constant garage sale on his front lawn - to attend the local college in addition to purchasing from him a petrol saving scooter.
Larry Crowne
   Larry enrols in two classes - economics taught by the amusing professor Matsutani (George Takei) and verbal communication that strict English educator Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) teaches to a small group of younger students.
   One such student, Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), takes a shine to Larry and convinces him to change his appearance (and wardrobe) so that he comes over more “cool” to his classmates.
   Mercedes then dumps her porno infatuated husband Dean (Bryan Cranston) and in her intoxicated state creates some sparks of romance to develop between herself and the likeable Larry.
   Besides taking on the lead role Hanks also directed and collaborated with actress Nia Vardalos (My Life in Ruins) to write the screenplay which appears somewhat underdeveloped.
   Even with a straight-forward storyline, the scenes between Hanks and Roberts are generally entertaining despite the romanticism between them being quite superficial.   Nevertheless there is still much to enjoy from this light-hearted comedy that has Hanks and Roberts playing off each other with a particular highlight being the hilarious performance of Star Trek’s George Takei as the witty economics professor.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamp

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