Later will come the deeper analysis, the introspection and the critical thinking necessary to judge a work of fiction with any degree of impartiality. For the moment, I trust you will indulge me as I completely lose what little hold I have over my self-control and urge you to see this film immediately. It is easily the best film Marvel Studios has produced, and (in my humblest of opinions)the best film of Summer 2011. There. I said it. The gauntlet has been thrown to the ground.
Now this may be my post-viewing enthusiasm bubbling forth, and perhaps subsequent viewing will cool my feelings toward the piece. I freely admit I'm a Golden Age/Pulp nerd; set something in the 1930s-40s, throw in some weird science, a diabolical arch-fiend out to take over the world and a stalwart hero to oppose him and I'm in like Flynn. But this movie not only met my expectations, it exceeded them. Joe Johnston and his team have done what I never would've dreamed possible: they have created a film that is a tonal and character 180 degrees from the pinnacle of contemporary superhero movies (Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight) while still managing to make it a complete and total equal in terms of entertainment.
I may need a good night's sleep to mull this over on (it's about 3:15 in the morning as I type these words and the mixture of fatigue and giddiness could be coloring my perceptions) but I encourage you, nay, implore you to seek this film out. It's just plain fun in a way that I think most cinematic blockbusters rolled off the assembly line just aren't anymore. The good guys were true blue, the bad guys delightfully nasty, the good fight was fought, and a hero came into his own. My usual tag of 'recommended' seems pale and inadequate. See this movie and let me know what you think. Me? I loved it. It's easily my favorite Marvel movie of all time, and stands shoulder to shoulder with Sky Captain And The World of Tomorrow, The Phantom, and the Fleischer Superman cartoons as a vision of old school heroism and adventure.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to collapse into a satisfied but exhausted heap.
Ps. Staying until after the credits would be very, very wise. Have a bucket handy to collect your face after it's melted off.