I've read reviews all over the map for this film. Some people thought it was the best Pre-Avengers film. Some thought the worst. Most are, like the inside of a tauntaun, relatively Luke-warm (thanks, Kai!). But where do I fall in? We meet Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a scrawny lad from Brooklyn who simply wants to join the Army and do his duty for his country, like his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Shaw). But when Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) chooses him for a top secret project, he meets Colonel Philips (Tommy Lee Jones), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). He becomes a super soldier, but also learns he's not the only one. There was a Nazi named Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), whose procedure didn't go as planned, and now he's looking to walk the Earth as a god, forming his own faction, and working with another scientist named Dr. Zola (Toby Jones) to build the weapons necessary for his takeover. He runs Hydra now under the moniker Red Skull.
This has been compared to Thor quite a bit seeing they are the last two Pre-Avengers films and they came out pretty close to each other. This is what I'll say about the two: There's a pretty strong connection between them, as the McGuffin of this film is taken straight from the mythology of Thor. However, if I were to compare the entertainment value of both... I'd say Thor wins.
Captain America's worst problem can be summed up in one word: boring. The character himself isn't all that interesting. He's kinda like if Superman were human... except Superman seems more human. Steve Rogers is almost too perfect, and despite Red Skull's claims that he does have weaknesses, you don't see them. He's super fast, super strong, has a great body and personality, can heal at super speeds. He can't even worry about drinking and driving as he can't get drunk (though some may see this as a fault--that's really the only one played up in the film). He even takes (SPOILERS) waking up 70 years in the future relatively well.
And then there's the film itself. If you're to formulate the superhero origin story films, I'd say they're typically 20 minutes 'beginnings', 20 minutes 'origin', and about an hour in full costume and what have you. This movie is about an hour and 45 minutes, and it's not until about the last 30 that he even gets his official costume and shield. And they spend way too long in the "joke" costume, which was funny at first but did get old after a while. They even go into the first major action set piece in this costume. Imagine if Spider-Man had first faced off against the Green Goblin in his wrestling uniform. So yeah, there's definitely a pacing and/or story issue. I think I looked at my watch at least 3-4 times throughout the film.
Otherwise... it's actually not as bad as I've made it sound. The acting is good. Chris Evans does quite well with what he's given. If I were to say any actor stole the show, it would be Hugo Weaving, but honestly not until you see him entirely as Red Skull, which isn't until the second half of the movie. The makeup and whatnot looks good, and he actually seems more menacing like this than with his actual face.
The action was probably the best thing about the movie. While none of it was particularly OMG WOW, it kept my attention. The train sequence was, I think, the best full action scene in the film, though the short zero-gravity fight near the end was really cool (despite its Inception-esque feel). They also did a good job making the shield come back to him more naturally as if it bounced rather than acted like a full-on boomerang (returning weapons--another Thor connection!). Though I'm not hugely knowledgable on Captain America lore... isn't his shield supposed to be made of adamantium, not "vibranium" or whatever. Or did I get that wrong?
Anyway, I just wish the movie didn't take itself so seriously. There are maybe less than 5 jokes in the whole movie (or at least good jokes), but the rest is so serious in an uber-patriotic way that part of you is waiting for Spider-Man to land in front of Captain America posing in the wind. And the actual cheesy section (with the joke costume) goes on too long for it to stay humorous. I don't think it's the worst of the Pre-Avengers films, but it's not the best, either. I'd say it's somewhere in the middle. I guess you could fit me in with the other tauntaun's.
(P.S. I also wanted to add that this film looks very nice, as well. The cinematography is pretty dang good, so that's another plus.)
(P.P.S. I almost forgot! I think they destroyed a bit of continuity with the other Pre-Avengers flicks. Isn't there a hidden shot of Captain America's shield under the ice in one of the movies (I think Incredible Hulk)? That takes away from what actually happens according to this film.)