Bleeds red, white and blue.
There's not much you can really critique about this film. It's exactly what you expect it to be. The First Avenger is a solid, if not fairly unoriginal blockbuster that's perfectly targeted to summer audiences.
Chris Evans plays the iconic Steve Rogers, a down-on-his luck, scrawny fellow living in New York during the Second World War who just wants to follow in his dad's footsteps of becoming an army soldier. He gets rejected over and over until finally, a German scientist (who escaped Hitler's reign) gives him the chance of participating in an experiment to create super soldiers to fight the Nazis. Obviously, he does it and becomes the beefy, uncommonly strong Captain America and eventually gets to go on real missions to save thousands of innocent lives.
It's about as American as you can get. The vintage, sepia-tinted landscape is beautifully time-period appropriate and the costumes would make anyone wish they could transported back to the 1940s when men actually bothered to get dressed up in the morning. The cast is quite good. Chris Evans plays the Captain with the right amount of gusto and patriotism and Hayley Atwell is cute and effectively snarky as his love interest/British spy counterpart. Tommy Lee Jones gets to use his signature growl as Captain America's colonel in charge and the film's main villain offers audiences the best performance of the film by the deliciously evil Hugo Weaving. Other small performances are fun and keeping with the era such as Stanley Tucci's as the German doctor who does the experiment on Steve Rogers and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark who's in charge of weapons for the U.S. Army. And yes, he is supposed to be the obvious connection between Captain America and the rest of the Avengers.
Here's the problem: nothing is new. The action sequences are well thought out and fun to watch sure, but the main fact is that there's nothing different about them. We've seen it all before in every other superhero/comic book film. Director Joe Johnston has played it safe with this film, possibly because his last film (The Wolfman) was such a bomb. But considering this is the same man who directed the child's dream Jumanji and the criminally overlooked October Sky, I was expecting and hoping for more.
It's not a bad way to spend an evening but if you're looking for The Dark Knight's grittiness or Spiderman 2's color and style, you're out of luck. Watch it only if you want popcorn-flick fun with very little thinking. And stay after the credits for a new Avengers sneak peek.