Captain America
MGM Limited Edition Collection // Unrated // $19.99 // August 23, 2011
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 6, 2011
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Graphical Version
The Movie:
If you're like me, you see the need for more movies where the President of the United States gets into fist fights, and also spend a lot of time wishing that superhero movies would have the protagonist pounding on a 70+ year old villain.  That'd be cool!  Well now you're prayers have been answered with the 1990 film Captain America a so-bad-it's-good flick that you have to see to believe.

In 1943 the US is in the middle of WWII and an Italian immigrant, Dr. Maria Vaselli has invented a process of increasing a person's intelligence and athletic ability.  The US Army tries it out on a volunteer, Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger, son of the author J. D. Salinger), and he gains tremendous strength (but acts as dumb as a box of rocks through most of the film).  A Nazi spy however jumps out of the background and kills Vaselli before the newly super-powered Rogers can save her.  Killing the spy and taking three bullets to the chest in the process, Rogers holds the doctor in his arms as she dies.
A couple of weeks later, before Rogers has even been discharged from the hospital, he's sent on his first mission as Captain America!  The Red Skull is a Nazi who underwent an earlier version of Dr. Vaselli's treatment and he has invented a rocket that can reach the shores of the US.  Cap is dropped behind enemy lines and, with the help of some resistance fighters, storms the castle housing the missile.  There he comes face-to-face with Red Skull and... gets his ass kicked.  I guess the US Army should have trained Captain America in hand-to-hand combat before they sent him off to war. 

In any case the Captain gets strapped to a rocket and shot off to America where the missile (a cruise missile too, no cheap ballistic stuff for red Skull) is supposed to destroy the White House.  Captain America may not be able to fight very well, but he doesn't give up and as the rocket is in sight of the White House he kicks it and sends it off course to... Alaska.  Apparently Red Skull put way, way, too much fuel in this puppy since it was able to cross an entire continent after missing its target.  In the cold wasteland it crashes burying the hero for 50 years.
Cut to 1990.  Apparently even with the evil workings of Red Skull the Allies win WWII (which makes the whole Captain America project another waste of taxpayers money... but I digress).  A group of scientists working in Alaska come across a man buried in the ice and, instead of chipping him out, bring the whole block of ice to their tent.  Still frozen solid, Captain America burst forth from the frozen water.  As the scientists look on, amazed, he walks out into the tundra and disappears. 
Actually he starts walking to LA.  He gets as far as Canada before he steals a car, then hitches a ride when it runs out of gas.  Once there goes to his old sweet-heart's home where he's surprised to see that she's aged (and has a hot daughter).

Red Skull... during WWII
... and after plastic surgery.

Meanwhile the Red Skull is still in business.  He's had plastic surgery (but he still looks horrifically mutilated) and is the head of an international criminal network.  When a disgruntled US Army General comes to him with a plan to kill the President of the US, Red Skull has a better idea!  It's too expensive and time consuming to kill a president, but apparently it's easy to kidnap one.  So he sets in motion a plan to snatch the President and implant him with a computer chip that will allow Red Skull to control his every thought!
So it's up to Captain America and his old girlfriend's hot daughter to search out Red Skull's location, storm his castle, and free the President of the United States!
As I said in the intro, this movie is so bad it is fun to watch.  In this film Captain America gets sucker-punched and knocked down by a girl, gets on a bicycle to flee from attackers and drives it into a lake, kills a disarmed man, and scamper away from scary punk rockers.  Not only that, but the dialog is horrifically tortured.  When Captain America rescues the President and tells him to go hid in a cave until the coast is clear the President replies "Are you kidding? I'm not bailing out on Captain America!  Let's go!"  Then the pair storm the castle where the President gets shot in the shoulder and then beats the crap out of a trained guard.   Of course Red Skull is now over 70 years old, but Captain America still has a hard time beating him.  When is this guy gonna learn how to fight? 

That's a good place to keep a piano.

The acting is pretty bad across the board.  Salinger is extremely wooden in his delivery and brings nothing to the roll.  It's amazing how little screen chemistry he has.  Ronny Cox plays the President with way too much vim and vigor.  He tries to make him more of a secret agent than the leader of the free world.
The DVD:

Made in 1990 in the wake of the Batman (1989) craze, Captain America was a low-budget film that was intended for theatrical release.  It didn't get one in the US and was only seen in limited release overseas.  It was cropped to 4:3 and released on VHS in the states in 1992 however and that is what is on this DVD-R.
The stereo soundtrack wasn't bad, just disappointing.  There wasn't much in the way of separation and I was expecting a more dynamic mix from a film from 1990.  On the plus side there wasn't any background noise and the dialog was easy to hear.
The full frame image (see note above) was much less than I was expecting.  I've seen Warner Archive films from the 30's and 40's that look better.  The image was very soft and so dark in places that you couldn't see what was going on.  (Take the fight sequence below.  There are two people in the image, believe it or not.)  There was a fair amount of dirt on the print too.  It wasn't a horrible print, but don't go in expecting much.

There is also a trailer for the movie.
Final Thoughts:
From Captain America's shield coming back to him as if by magic... expect when the plot requires it to just fall to the ground to Captain America's lack of pugilistic skill, this movie is filled with odd moments that will cause fits of laughter in bad film aficionados.  For those people, and those people only, this disc is recommended. 

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