Directed by Albert Pyun
Starring Matt Salinger, Ned Beatty
The major studios are all beginning to offer less popular vault titles as “print on demand” releases. Basically these DVD’s are only printed when the title is actually ordered. If you’ve ever used Café Press then you are very familiar with this system. The Captain America 1992 television movie is now available via print on demand. Probably the easiest way to get it is via Amazon. It’s honestly a little odd that this film wouldn’t be hitting DVD and blu-ray in brick and mortar outlets to draft off the new Captain America movie a little. Sure, it would have to be precisely marketed in order to keep consumers from getting confused, but it can be done, and similar situations have been successful in the past.
Ok so this film, I use the term loosely, was originally intended for a theatrical release to coincide with Cap’s 50th anniversary in comics back in 1990. For some reason, I can’t figure out what that might be, the film only hit theaters internationally and it was dropped on cable here in 1992. The mysterious reason the film never hit theaters domestically may become apparent as this review progresses. This film was produced by Menahem Golan one of the men behind some low budget classic 80’s testosterone fests such as The Delta Force, Cobra, and the currently being remade Bloodsport. At first blush he seems the perfect producer for a Captain America movie right? This man’s previous films were classic good versus evil super patriotic action films that made great use of almost no budget. He made names for actors such as Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damm, Sho Kosugi, Charles Bronson,and even to a degree Sylvester Stallone. Unfortunately for every great movie he produced (Death Wish, Revenge of the Ninja, Life Force, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) there was a string of missteps (Over the Top, Invasion USA, Breakin’) and a bevy of glorious disasters (Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo, Masters of the Universe, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace). Did you notice that a couple of the glorious disasters were comic book movies? That sort of history doesn’t bode well for a low budget Captain America movie does it?
Director Alpert Pyun worked with Golan on Cyborg, one of his more successful, if campy, films. So we would assume that these two obviously had some sort of repartee during the making of Captain America. Well Pyun’s directorial debut was a bad but fun movie called The Sword and the Sorcerer but the man also brought us the “classic” Vicious Lips. They seem like the perfect duo to bring us the epic Captain America film we deserve right? Well maybe not because we didn’t get that movie until 20 years later.
On the positive side the story of the star spangled hero is taken almost directly from the comic books in this film. A scientist attempts to create a super soldier in Germany only to botch the project and instead create the super villain the Red Skull. The scientist finds success in the United States with Steve Rogers just in time for the new super soldier to kick ass in WWII. After a fight with the Red Skull Cap, Captain America ends up frozen only to be thawed in the early 90’s to do battle with the Skull’s daughter. Now for the negatives, well the negatives are really everything else about the film. The special fx are truly laughable. In fact the special fx may offer an entertaining way to watch the movie if you enjoy laughing at terrible mistakes because this movie and it’s special fx are definitely that: a terrible mistake. When I saw Cap’s shield I wanted to take it from him and flip it upside down and put some drinks on it because it looks more like a plastic serving tray than a weapon. Cap’s body suit is also hilarious because the muscles actually stop at his abdomen. I guess the budget didn’t allow for additional muscles.
Ok, so bad special fx can be looked over in favor of a really great story. The problem here is the film just seems to latch on to the high points of Cap’s story and stitch them together with wooden character development and connect the dots storytelling. There are absolutely no surprises in this film at all. It’s almost like the writers and director of the film turned the first Captain America comic book into one of those old fashioned flip books and pointed a camera at it. The one cool scene, the fight between the Red Skull and Cap early in the movie is chopped off at the knees just like Cap’s muscles.
Captain America is just a bad movie period. It is however inadvertently funny at times and laughably bad at others making it a sad type of entertaining, at least for true Cap fans. It is entertaining nonetheless so it gets points for that.
The video presentation here is really rough. It’s full frame and so covered in dust and scratches in a few places that it looks like the film was rubbed with sand paper. It’s not that bad throughout but I’d never actually call it good at any point. Colors are generally washed out and black levels are really more gray.
The audio is presented in Dolby 2.0 so there’s no surround sound treatment here but the dialogue is audible throughout. There’s also no dynamic range and no low end for action scenes. This is as basic as it gets but it’s passable.
The single DVD is presented in a standard amaray case with cover art that’s so low rent your friends may think you bought a bootleg. In fact I’ve seen a couple of bootleg covers that had more thought put into them. For extras there’s just a trailer and we’re lucky we got that.
Ok yes Captain America is a bad movie but it still feels like it had more heart behind it than this past summer’s Green Lantern effort. These were grindhouse filmmakers trying to make a comic book movie with no money and well, no talent. Somehow there’s just something great in that. This one goes on the shelf beside the bootleg of Roger Corman’s never released Fantastic Four movie.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10
The Movie 4/10
The Video 3/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average)4/10