Take away the (frankly lame) 3-D and a few CGI bells and whistles, and Captain America: The First Avenger feels like the kind of movie a little tyke might’ve sprung 10 cents for in 1945 and caught as part of a double-feature matinee.
And that’s exactly what director Joe Johnston is going for.
This is an old-fashioned movie, set during WWII and based on the popular Marvel comic book, with a 98 pound weakling named Steve (even the name Steve feels so charmingly square, doesn’t it?) who just wants to fight bullies (read: Nazis) overseas. He keeps trying to enlist, but gets rejected because he’s too frail.
But a German scientist (Stanley Tucci), with loyalties to the Allies, recognizes Steve’s true strength (of character, that is) and recruits him for a secret project: He’s going to turn into a Steve a super soldier.
So Steve goes into this sci-fi-ish looking metal chamber, surrounded by men in white lab coats, and emerges looking like, well, Chris Evans. The CGI here is great—for the film’s first half hour, they managed to plausibly shrink the buff Evans into a cute wimp (using a body double whose face is replaced by Evans’—Winklevoss-twin-style). Steve’s newly rippled...