Neil Fox on film (27.07.2011)

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Captain America: The First Avenger

The summer of superheroes continues with sequels, prequels and set ups for the eagerly anticipated Avengers movie from Joss Whedon. As the title suggests, it all starts here with Chris Evans taking on the role of the first avenger, ahead of Hulk, Iron Man, Thor et al.

The film, directed by Joe Johnstone, is a classic romp, a boys’ own take on superhero movies and as a result is a lot of fun – if you can move beyond the strange CGI and tenuousness that is.

The fact that the film is set during the Second World War poses problems from a franchise point of view but by celebrating ridiculousness it just about gets away with it.

The story centres on a young man too weak for military service physically, but with a heart and will the size of Texas, who is pulled into a top secret military project and turned into Captain America, defender of the American Dream and way of life.

Deemed too expensive, the project is used as a PR exercise until a Nazi plot led by the villainous Red Skull calls him and his team into action. It’s a classic story and Johnstone knows how to create a sense of nostalgia and timelessness. Evans is OK as Steve Rogers/America but not great, and signs are he will struggle against some big hitters in the Avengers movie, but for now, this is a decent, enjoyable slice of hokum.

Zookeeper

I know it’s not right, but I always end up comparing recent releases and this comedy is squarely pitted against Horrible Bosses, and as a result, comes up very short.

Kevin James went from King of Queens on TV into movies with a bang, in the irrepressible Hitch with Will Smith but fortunes have waned since and this is, well, it’s Eddie Murphy territory.

He is the titular zookeeper who falls in love with Rosario Dawson and enlists the help of his animals to help him win her over.

Yeah, it is as bad as that sounds. And even without the wonderful Horrible Bosses around this is a risible carcass of a film.

Arrietty

With Cars 2 proving a damp squib creatively a wonderful alternative for kids’ summer holiday rainy days is the latest from Japan’s Studio Ghibli who brought the world Spirited Away and Ponyo. Their latest is a re-imagining of The Borrowers as a tiny girl is discovered by the boy whose family live in the house they ‘borrow’ from.

Adventure and friendship ensues with craft, guile, emotion and wonder. I never really appreciated the work of Studio Ghibli, but slowly they are winning me over with their glorious animation and heart. Be warned Pixar, more like Cars 2 and your crown will slip permanently with these guys in the wings, ready.

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