Captain America: The First Avenger

(Image credit: Jay Maidment)

Chris Evans goes from duff to buff to play Marvel's star-spangled superhero...

A special serum turns a 90lb weakling into a brawny hunk in this pumped-up action movie featuring Marvel Comics' red-white-and-blue superhero Captain America. Chris Evans' Steve Rogers is a plucky but puny youngster from Brooklyn who gets turned into a strapping super-soldier during World War Two by scientist Stanley Tucci's experimental serum.

Dubbed Captain America, Steve is consigned to morale-boosting propaganda tours, but when his best friend gets captured at the front, he joins the fray, armed with his trademark shield. With its lovingly rendered period settings and costumes, Captain America has a delightfully nostalgic feel but the special effects are right up to date - especially nifty is the way they make Evans seem scrawny as the pre-transformation Steve.

Hayley Atwell shines as his British-agent love interest, while Hugo Weaving makes the most of his megalomaniac-Nazi villain role. At its best, Captain America has some of the same rollicking Saturday-matinee spirit as Raiders of the Lost Ark, even if it can't quite match the earlier film's pace and panache.