by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Matt Salinger as CAPTAIN AMERICA
Ronny Cox as PRESIDENT KIMBALL
Ned Beatty as SAM KOLAWETZ
Darren McGavin as GENERAL FLEMING
Michael Nouri as LT. COL. LOUIS
Melinda Dillon as MRS. ROGERS
Kim Gillingham as SHARON
Scott Paulin as RED SKULL
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Back in 1941, the American military created a super-soldier to defend the world against the Nazi threat, and in particular the villainous Red Skull (Scott Paulin). This soldier, known as Captain America (Matt Salinger), gets frozen in suspended animation after saving the white house from a missile attack. He is revived in the early 90s where he must save Preside Tom Kimball (Ronny Cox) from being kidnapped by the even more powerful Red Skull.
WHAT I LIKED
Like “Troll 2,” I remember seeing this movie on DVD back in the 90s before it became chic to like it in an ironic fashion. Of course, this was back in a time before superhero movie came into quality with films like “The X-Men,” “Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight.” When “Captain America” was made, it was on the heels of Tim Burton’s “Batman,” which was a blockbuster but still had all the foibles of 80s silliness, including campy writing an a still incomprehensible Prince soundtrack.
So looking back on “Captain America,” I have to frame it in the right context. And that context, ironically enough, is the ironic love for 80s and 90s cheese.
Much like the contemporary “Flash” television series, “Captain America” was made when superhero properties were low budget. It falls into the realm of the Roger Corman produced “The Fantastic Four” film, and to a small degree it works. In particular, the opening of the film, which takes place in the 40s, is the best part, offering a standard origin story but enjoyable nonetheless.
I know this movie was released by MGM in an attempt to capitalize on the 2011 “Captain America: The First Avenger” film, and that’s purely profit driven. But I applaud the rescan of this on a more stable format like DVD... even if it is at a 4:3 aspect ratio with plenty of analog video artifacts in the picture.
Oh, and it’s a neat little “Deliverance” reunion with Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty showing up on screen together again.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
For as charming as a piece of 90s nostalgia this movie is, as a whole it’s not that good. Captain America is a bit of a wimp... even after he goes through his Captain America-ing process. In fact, I remember laughing at the climax of the film years ago with my family when Cap needs help from the malnourished and recently kidnapped President to beat up the bad guys.
The movie really breaks down in the middle when it charges ahead in full 90s regalia. There’s goofy, baggy fashion sense and even a 90s pop music montage that seems horribly out of place even in an ironic context. In the end, “Captain America” is a curious piece of cinematic history, but it’s hardly a historic gem.
Like other studios’ archive features, there’s no bonus material to talk of, aside from the original theatrical trailer.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People curious about the lost installment of Captain America and those who ironically love bad 90s cinema.