Captain America Reviews
Not overly entertaining and surprising how much Steve Rogers just does stuff without his costume.
The Red Skull looked okay for the few minutes he was actually the Red Skull, the rest of the movie he looked like Jigsaw from the Punisher series. I have seen this movie a few times, and though it isn't the best movie in the world it's still fun watch under the so bad it's good category.
In this PG-13-rated adventure (available on DVD and Blu Ray), Captain America (Salinger) gets freed from the ice after being frozen for decades, just in time to renew his battle against arch-criminal, The Red Skull.
A veteran of directing cheap-o martial arts flicks, Albert Pyun pulls no punches...rather, he pulls focus on the punches because the actors (like their characters apparently) also have no battle training. However, his inexperience with actors ultimately does him in (as if the lack of a budget didn't). Matt Salinger (son of Catcher in the Rye author J.D.) tries his damnedest but simply lacks the charisma of, say, Chris Evans. Everybody else, including Ronny Cox as the president, Ned Beatty as a reporter, and Darren McGavin as a corrupt general, overact without a sensible script or adequate direction to reign them in. Still, watching Cap make sense out of VHS tapes while backed by a brooding '80s synth soundtrack makes for some solid laughs--not the intended kind either. Nothing tops the 'whoosh' his shield makes in flight, however. They may not have had the funding for proper special effects but somehow crafted a noise that rivals the Six Million Dollar Man's mechanic jump in the Camp Sound Effects Hall of Fame.
Bottom line: American Idiot
Captain America is a film nobody has heard of which is extremely surprising when considering the fact that he is one of the largest box-office draws in the contemporary age. But it takes only a matter of seconds before viewers instantly realize why. When the name Menahem Golan comes across the screen, the fate of Captain America is instantly sealed.
Menahem Golan is one of the founders of Cannon Films, the company notorious for creating countless low-budget action films throughout the 1980's which maintains a cult following. However, whenever they attempted to produce superhero films it never turned out well. Attempts to make a Spider-Man film were among the reasons the company went into financial demise while their production Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) pulled a dead franchise out of the ground and beat it with some of the worst excuse for special effects known to man. This is actually loosely referenced in one of the lines of dialogue "He may not be Superman but he'll be a living symbol of what this country stands for." That's some out-of-place meta-humour for you. Captain America is a chance for Menahem Golan to make another superhero film but not have to rely on a pre-established film series to bolster the status of his production. As a result, Captain America does not come off as being of the same poor quality. But nevertheless, Captain America remains an awful standalone production.
Betraying its title, Captain America is set mostly in Italy. There is no big-scale story about America's war with fascism, it is merely an excuse to shoot the production in Yugoslavia and attempt to weave in plot points about the roots of Nazism in Italy as a means of getting away with it. The film opens in pre-war Italy and then rushes Steve Rogers through a transition into Captain America. After a scene where Matt Salinger sits in a chair pretending to have a half-assed seizure while flashing lights, sparks and stock sound effects stolen from the Star Wars universe play out, he rushes to battle Red Skull. Almost as if it is for comic relief, he instantly loses the fight and ends up crashing a rocket into Alaska before becoming frozen for 50 years and ending up in the future. He then goes through a melodramatic montage of coming to terms with all the time he has lost against the backdrop of a country song before going back to fight the still-alive Red Skull. We are expected to believe Red Skull has led a crime-family responsible for murdering major American figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedy Brothers. The shoddy script for the film states this as happening without ever showing it because that's the cheaper option, but it just ends up lost in a crowd with all the other poor dialogue of the film. The script in Captain America is packed with the same generic sentimentalities and pretentious melodrama of any production by Cannon Films stupid enough to take itself too seriously. The entire film attempts to recapture the 80's glory in the context of a 1990's superhero film, but since Menahem Golan has gone beyond Cannon Films by this point he should accept that the past is the past. Since he doesn't, it's the viewers who are left to suffer.
But it's hardly worth complaining too much about the script when the major fault lies in the $10 million budget. Superhero films need to be shot on-location as a means of capturing a large-scale spectacle. Succumbing to looking cheaper than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, most of Captain America is captured on generic sets or over in Yugoslavia. There are occasional shots of stock footage pretending to be elsewhere, but it is never enough to be the slightest bit convincing. The scenery is ridiculously generic and never befitting to the narrative.
Perhaps the cheapest moment in the film is the moment where Steve Rogers jumps from a plane oscillates between stock footage of a plane and extreme close-ups used to disguise the obvious fact that it is shot on a set and apparently the producers couldn't even afford a green screen.
The first sign of the film's "special" effects comes into play during the opening when the film shows a rat which has been the subject of experimental testing for Fascist Italy. The Claymation movements of the rat are very stiff and its design looks like a primary school art project. When it comes time to present the Red Skull to audiences, the rubber mask moves around the face of the actor without ever staying in place. This makes the artificiality of the mask even worse than the design of the rat.
Even the costumes in the film are poor. The Captain America costume looks as if the paint has barely finished drying on it. The material appears to be made out of latex clothing and kitchen gloves with touches of acrylic paint. There is nothing super about it, nothing that screams captain. Yet even worse is the fact that he hardly wears it enough, so there is rarely any iconography to signal that the film is about Captain America.
The action scenes in Captain America are also senseless. While the film should be catered to a wide market and appeal to children, the film has many violent moments of bleak murder that do not hide the blood. The PG action comes into play when Captain America is running through the woods with a series of long-shots that lack the iconic athleticism of the superhero. His main method of fighting is short scenes of cheap fight-choreography and throwing his shoddily constructed shield into the heads of enemies. The latter is hilarious because of the way the shots are structured. He throws the shield in one shot, it travels in another and then hits his enemies in a close-up shot at an extremely slow pace as not to injure the cast. Then it returns to him, either the same way it travelled or with the poor visual effects. Yet there aren't even enough of these to make Captain America a good unintentional comedy.
Of course, the cast face the same result. Arguably Matt Salinger's most notorious role outside of Captain America was in Revenge of the Nerds where his supporting effort was small enough to not push the limits on him yet well-acted enough entertain. Matt Salinger's acting limitations are challenged by the abundance of melodrama in the story where he repeatedly delivers his lines in a tone of voice below monotonous and doesn't change his facial expressions, almost as if he is physically incapable of doing so. Captain America is meant to be able to win any fight, but he is ultimately defeated by the mediocre screenplay and actor.
And Scott Paulin is just a pathetic excuse for a villain, delivering an accent of such blunt artificiality that almost seems like it's trying to be funny.
Trusting the high-profile name of Captain America to filmmakers such as Albert Pyun and Menahem Golan is a mistake from the beginning, and the resulting production values, screenplay and action sequences lack the B-movie flair to even render the film so bad it's good.