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Captain America/Captain America II: Death Too Soon

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    Ian Jane
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  • Captain America/Captain America II: Death Too Soon



    Released by: Shout! Factory

    Released on: October 18, 2011

    Director: Rod Holcomb

    Cast: Reb Brown, Christopher Lee

    Year: 1979

    Purchase From Amazon


    The Movies:


    When The Incredible Hulk proved a hit on TV, it stood to reason that other Marvel Comics properties would hit the boob tube shortly thereafter. And thus was born a pair of made for TV movies following the exploits of Captain America which were intended to generate interest in a TV series that never wound up happening. Well with the recent big budget Hollywood blockbuster version of Captain America's story having done well in theaters and arriving on home video soon, everything old is new again and hot on the heels of MGM's release of Albert Pyun's Captain America comes Shout! Factory's double feature containing the two seventies TV movies. Here's a look:


    CAPTAIN AMERICA:


    When the first film begins, Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) has just gotten out of the Marines and is content to drive up and down the California coast in his mellow ride, a pimped out van. He heads to his buddy's surf shop to collect his mail and finds out that an old friend of his late father has been trying to contact him. He heads to a secret lab to meet up with Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman) who tries to convince him to let him inject him with a top secret serum called FLAG that was based on his father's genes. Since Steve is his dad's only son, they need him to finish their research. Steve, however, doesn't want another government gig, even though he admits that the last one made him feel pretty good inside. Nope, Steve wants to drive around in his van and sketch landscape portraits in charcoal - that is, until he gets his ass kicked by some no good punks looking for a piece of film they think he has a lead on. Beaten within an inch of his life, the only way to save Steve is to inject him with FLAG.


    Once he recovers, he's got super strength and super agility and super hearing and if that weren't enough, Mills and his foxy assistant Dr. Wendy Day (Heather Menzies-Urich) were kind enough to pimp out a motorcycle for him and sew him up a red white and blue uniform complete with a semi-transparent plastic Frisbee shield which we're told is also a deadly weapon (though we never see him use it). Steve drives around on his motorbike and finally starts to accept his fate, and it's just in time too as a bad guy (Steve Forrest) is about to blow up Los Angeles with a nuclear bomb and Steve, as Captain America, is the only guy who can stop him.


    Possibly the slowest superhero movie ever, Captain America spends about an hour or so with a lot of scenes of Steve riding around on a motorbike and driving around in a van talking to people before actually getting to the action. This would be fine if the character development meant something but it doesn't, nobody is any closer to feeling like a truly fleshed out character by the one hour mark than they are in the first five minutes. This hurts the movie in a pretty big way, which is a shame as once Steve Rogers puts on his spandex tights and starts actually going after the bad guys the movie can be some good corny fun. In between we get a decent scene in a meat locker where a pre-Captain America Steve throws some meat at a couple of dudes and a scene where he macks a chick on the beach, but that's about it. You've got to love, however, how the filmmakers cashed in on the Evel Knievel craze that was sweeping the country in the late seventies by reinventing Captain America's costume to look like Evel's and by having him jump off of random ramps that are placed in spots where there should never be a random ramp placed. Oh and towards the end of the movie Cap is wily enough to take down some bad guys by squirting oil onto the ground, which of course causes them to slip and slide right into justice's mighty grip.


    As far as the acting goes, Reb Brown is a little too relaxed and Zen in the role but he does at least look the part. He's a big guy and in good shape so once he puts on the tights you could see him easily beating up a few of the toughs he takes on. Thankfully the part doesn't ask him to actually emote, as that appears to be beyond his range here but he gives Rogers a sort of weird surfer dude attitude and he makes for the most unpatriotic Captain America you can imagine. Really, he just wants to hang out in his van and draw waves, he doesn't want to stop bad guys, but this fate is basically forced upon him and at that point he just sort of gives up and accepts his fate. What a goofy movie - and why is the sound track so reminiscent of Ortolani's work on Cannibal Holocaust?


    CAPTAIN AMERICA II: DEATH TOO SOON:


    The sequel, made the same year, once again casts Reb Brown in the lead role. This time around, Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman again) is trying to track down an old scientist friend of his who has mysteriously disappeared. Word around town is that a terrorist named Miguel (Christopher Lee) has abducted the poor guy and that he's basically extorting from him his secret formula to advance the aging process in humans. So, not very surprisingly, Mills recruits Steve Rogers' help and before you know it he's put on the spandex tights and is zipping around on his motorcycle and/or super van looking for the missing scientist. He follows some clues and winds up on an unfriendly part of a small town - one thing leads to another and dastardly Miguel is threatening to expose the secret aging serum on the poor citizens of Portland, Oregon unless the President Of The United States agrees to give him a whole lot of money - but when the President decides he doesn't negotiate with terrorists, it all falls on Cap's lap.


    This one suffers from a lot of the same problems as the first movie - Cap spends a lot of time driving and drawing things instead of solving mysteries and fighting crime. It's pretty awesome to see Christopher Lee show up as the bad guy and he hams it up rather well here and if he's not the most convincing 'guy named Miguel' you've ever seen, at least he looks cool with a machine gun. This probably isn't a high point in his career, but he's the best part of the movie.


    Well, almost the best part.


    The REAL best part is when Captain America is cruising along on his bike to get the bad guys and then somehow manages to have it transform into a hang-glider. The movie also gets bonus points for showing us how Captain America is at timing things with a digital watch, for showing us how patient he is while sketching people in the park, and for showing us just how easy it is to outrun a superhero on a super-powered motorcycle with a plain old station wagon. Oh, and at least Cap uses his shield this time around, and he's also nice to old ladies and kitty cats.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Both films look like the late 70s made for TV movies that they are, so they fullframe presentation here is completely fine. In terms of image quality, well, there doesn't appear to be any serious restoration done so expect some mild print damage throughout each movie. Colors are generally okay if a little bit on the flat side sometimes, while black levels are acceptable but unremarkable. The movies are both perfectly watchable, but they don't look particularly amazing or anything and they're interlaced as well, which is kind of annoying.


    It's Dolby Digital Mono, in English, across the board here, there are no subtitles or alternate language tracks provided. Quality is on par with the video in that it's okay, but nothing to write home about. Some minor hiss is present and the odd pop works its way into the mixes now and then, but not to the point where it's obnoxious. For the most part the audio is fine.


    Extras? Not a single one, outside of a static menu.


    The Final Word:


    Neither one of these movies are good, in fact, neither even really qualify as 'so bad it's good' but there is some fun to be had in sporadic bursts. When Captain America actually does something, the movies pick up - it's just a shame that it takes so long for that to actually happen. Regardless, the movies are out for those who want them - the movies could have looked and sounded better than they do here and some extras would have been nice, but that didn't happen.
























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