This is it, the final Marvel Studios film made to set up The Avengers. How does it compare to the others, while it isn't as good as Iron Man, it manages to reach the same factor of pure entertainment and fun of Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, mostly due to one thing. Joe Johnston gets this type of film.
The closest comparison that I can find for this film is Raiders of the Lost Ark (which I watched on the big screen last weekend). Think about it, larger than life heroes, epic adventures in foreign lands, Nazi mad scientists and extremely nasty death scenes.
The best part of the film is the acting by a long shot and continues the run of Marvel studios for hiring fantastic actors/actresses e.g. Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany in Iron Man, Edward Norton and Liv Tyler in The Incredible Hulk and Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgard in Thor. This is continued in Captain America with the casting of Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, future dwarf Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving and Dobby himself, Toby Jones. The cast all do their respective jobs well but Chris Evans and Tommy Lee Jones are easily the standouts. Evans brings the vulnerability and nervousness of Steve Rogers through the performance in his face in the New York scenes whilst also bringing the valid physical presence required for the character after he undergoes the super soldier procedure. Tommy Lee Jones is easily the standout as Colonel Phillips and every time that he is on screen brings in instant comedy gold and some of the best lines in the film. In terms of the villains, Hugo Weaving is suitably menacing and sinister as Red Skull but the most complex of the villains is Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Red Skull's right hand man. Jones brings in the feeling that he doesn't want to serve Red Skull under his own free will and he is only does what he does so that he can be spared from the wrath of Red Skull when Captain America starts to destroy HYDRA. Plus, the two Jones' have easily the best scene in the film together, showcasing the talents in the writing and acting in the film.
The action in the film is brilliant, shot so that you can see everything that is going on and the weaponry that HYDRA uses is a credible threat seeing as World War 2 allied troops don't know how to fight against disintegration rays. One note about the weapons though, the Ghostbusters called and have asked for their proton packs back. The shield is a very effective weapon and provides both great fight scenes and geek outs (the shield is made out of Vibranium) and the big action setpieces are suitably over the top and awesome in their own right.
There are a few problems with the film though. Toby Jones and Stanley Tucci aren't in the film long enough and the film feels like an extended trailer for The Avengers, especially with the ending scene. This fault reminds me of Iron Man 2 as the film overall is really good and entertaining, but if you don't know about The Avengers and deeper areas of Marvel continuity then you will be lost for some key portions of the film.
Overall though, Captain America is still a really fun time at the cinema, reminding you of the fun that films like Raiders of the Lost Ark can bring to a film mixing into it a great cast and some brilliant action and this has only heightened my anticipation of The Avengers next year.
My Rating: 4/5
P.S. Stay through the credits, once again.