Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Captain America: The First Avenger is Good Old-Fashioned Fun

Plus, Friends with Benefits' stars have great chemistry.

by | July 21, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a shield-wielding superhero (Captain America: The First Avenger, starring Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell) and a commitment-free couple (Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis). What do the critics have to say?

Captain America: The First Avenger


Good ol’ Captain America. He’s one of Marvel’s oldest heroes. But how does he fare in the 21st Century? Not badly at all, say critics; if Captain America: The First Avenger is a cut below Marvel’s other 2011 blockbusters (Thor and X-Men: First Class, both Certified Fresh), it’s still a rousing, proudly old-fashioned superhero flick with tons of visual flash and an exceptional lead performance from Chris Evans. Steve Rogers (Evans) is a super patriotic lad who’s rejected by the draft board as physically unable to serve. However, he’s enlisted by an expat scientist who’s working on an experiment to create super soldiers, and soon, he’s battling HYDRA, a terrorist organization led by a former Nazi called Red Skull. The pundits say Captain America is a scrappy crowd pleaser that compensates for its lack of originality with strong acting and sense of innocent nostalgia that’s refreshing in our irony-soaked era. (Check out Marvel Movie Madness, in which the RT staff memebers share our thoughts on all of the Marvel movie.)

Friends with Benefits


Will Gluck scored big with Easy A, a teen comedy that brought smarts and freshness to a shopworn subgenre. Can he do the same with a grown up romantic comedy? It appears the answer is “for the most part;” critics say Friends With Benefits has moments of sharp humor and a pair of attractive, lively leads, but too often it veers into predictable territory. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis star as, yes, friends with benefits: two busy, career-driven pals who agree to share physical intimacy while avoiding the potentially painful trappings of a committed relationship. But what if one starts to actually fall for the other? The pundits say Friends With Benefits gets a major boost from the stars’ easy chemistry and often witty banter, but the movie never fully avoids the clichés it’s attempting to skewer. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Woody Harrelson’s best-reviewed films.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Life in a Day, a synthesis of YouTube videos uploaded by users around the globe in a single day, is at 100 percent.
  • The Woman With The 5 Elephants, a doc about the life and times of a great Russian literature translator, is at 100 percent.
  • World on a Wire, Rainer Werner Fassbinder‘s newly rediscovered 1973 dystopian sci-fi epic, is at 100 percent.
  • Fire in Babylon, a doc about the glory days of West Indian cricket squads in the post-colonial 1970s, is at 89 percent.
  • The Myth Of The American Sleepover, an indie coming-of-age dramedy about a group of teens’ late summer exploits before the beginning of a new school year, is at 83 percent.
  • Sarah’s Key, starring Kristin Scott Thomas in a drama about a journalist who uncovers a dark secret about a family dispossessed by the Nazis, is at 74 percent.
  • Another Earth, an indie sci-fi romance about a pair of damaged souls who attempt to start anew on an exact replica of our planet, is at 64 percent.
  • A Little Help, starring Jenna Fischer and Chris O’Donnell in a dramedy about a suburban woman who suffers a mental breakdown after 9/11, is at 39 percent.

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