Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #22 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. Now in recent times we’ve all seen Captain America: The First Avenger and Winter Soldier, and are probably all hyped for Civil War next year right? However what a lot of y’all probably don’t know is that there was an old film that preceded the MCU version a few decades back, I am of course talking about Captain America (1990).
Okay so this isn’t film Captain America film as there were two TV films that preceded it, but since this is a little more popular for being truly bad I decided to pick this one to review. I’ve seen clips online and in trailers and man, I was afraid and horrified at what I saw and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle it all, but for you lot, I’ll walk through fire… In the world of film of course haha.
The story can be summed up as the following:
“Steve Rogers becomes Captain America during World War II to battle the Red Skull, then being frozen in ice for many years, he is subsequently being revived to save the President of the United States from a crime family that dislikes his environmentalist policies.”
This film, I mean wow. To quote the Angry Video Game Nerd, “What in the unholy name of ass is this fuckness?” The story is an insult to the comic books but also as a piece of film in general. I’ve never seen too many good direct-to-video films and this is one of those films that demonstrate why that is. Trying to craft a superhero story of this magnitude into a film that really doesn’t have the budget or talent to pull it off is just a bad idea. Straight from the beginning around 6 minutes into the film it had already done goofed by changing the origins of the source material heavily, but even if I’m looking at this film objectively it does a lot without giving context as to why it’s happening. This whole film felt like a made-for-TV production with dialogue, cheesy moments, implied/off-screen violence and lack of in-your-face charisma that comes with regular superhero adventures. Also for a film that’s called Captain America, there doesn’t feel like there’s that much of a focus on him, I mean sure for the film I understand why he couldn’t be the center of attention, but if you’re gonna be like Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and use the character to serve the narrative rather than make them the focus then you have to do better than what we got in this film, here it was just lazy and inconsistent. The film also moves super quick not allowing you to take in the story or enjoy certain character moments, not that you’d want to know much about this film as it heartbreaking generic, plain and has no redeeming factors at all. Oh actually scratch that, there are certain moments where the ridiculous nature of the film can be pretty funny. After a while I gave up on the story as the lack of common sense and political stuff was turning my mind to mush.
Now let’s talk about the cast. have to that they vary from being mildly entertaining to being totally tragic and painful to watch. Firstly there’s Matt Salinger as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Salinger does what he can with the role but he’s not very good. This character is not very likeable, in fact he’s a bit of douche to the people that try to help him, he also doesn’t have any sense of charisma or much personality at all. Scott Paulin is a little better as Tadzio de Santis/Red Skull but not by much. This character is a cliché villain but doesn’t have any of the panache, intelligence of badassery of a good bad guy, plus Paulin really hams up the role to the point where you can’t take him seriously at all. And then there’s Kim Gillingham as Bernice Stewart and Sharon. Gillingham wasn’t that interesting as Bernice, but did a better job as Sharon because she was a little livelier. Ronny Cox as President Tom Kimball was alright but really cheesy and Ned Beatty as Sam Kolawetz was fine, together Cox and Beatty had the most believable relationship in the whole film. And lastly Francesca Neri is beautiful but also forgettable as Valentina de Santis.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is okay but nothing fantastic. I will say that the lack of violence was jarring considering what happens in this film, also who shot the action scenes? I want to know because they were lame! There was no decent fight choreography, no style or flair to the chase sequences, gun fights or hand-to-hand combat. The framing and editing of certain sequences was awful and who thought it’d be smart to film a fight scene in a dimly lit basement? You could barely see anything! Oh and who did the make-up for Red Skull? That was a terrible job, his red-faces look was awful and his second look made him look like a botched version of Azazel from X-Men: First Class. As for the soundtrack by Barry Goldberg it was terrible. It was so cheesy and unremarkable, and I have to ask whose idea was it to have those knock off versions of popular songs in the film? I distinctly heard two instrumentals that sounded like “Girls on Film” by Duran Duran and “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson and it was so bad.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? While my knowledge of Captain America comics isn’t at Spider-Man heights, I know the basics. What this film did get right was the concept of Project Rebirth, using a machine to make Steve Rogers stronger, Captain America’s uniform and powers are sort of done justice and Red Skull initially looks like the comics. Oh and Berni’s daughter’s name is Sharon so I guess that’s a reference to Sharon Carter? But as for everything is, they done fucked it up. For some reason Red Skull and his daughter are of italian heritage and not German, Dr. Abraham Erskine is replaced Dr. Maria Vaselli and Bernice Stewart is his main love interest instead of Pegg Carter. And there’s all the stuff that’s missing or not mentioned like:
- Where’s Bucky?
- What happened to Hydra?
- No Nick Fury and/or Howling Commandos?
- No one mentions the levels of super strength that Red Skull and Captain America have
- No one mentions the strength or attributes of Cap’s shield and whether isn’t made of Vibranium or not
So to conclude Captain America is a tragedy of a film. As a regular film its boring, ridiculous and unintentionally funny, but as an adaptation of the source material it is so much worse. It should have been mentioned that it was “very loosely based on the comics” because besides some of the basic elements, the filmmakers just shat on everything else. I would never recommend this to anyone, but if you’re curious to know what happened before Marvel Studios gave us the proper Captain America, check it out… While you’re drunk!
Rating: 2/10 (only gets points because it made me laugh)
That’s 22 reviews done, only 8 more to go. So have you seen Captain America and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!