DVD Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA

Fox Home Entertainment
Release date: Aug 23, 2011
MSRP: $19.95
Stars: Matt Salinger, Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, Michael Nouri, Scott Paulin, Kim Gillingham.
Written by Stephen Tolkin and Lawrence J. Block, based on characters created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Directed by Albert Pyun
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes

In this adaptation of Marvel’s Captain America, our hero is made superpowerful by Dr. Maria Vaselli, to rectify what she calls “her mistake”, Cap’s Nazi counterpart, the Red Skull. They battle each other in the 1940s, and, though Cap is able to save America from a giant missile, he crash-lands in Alaska and is frozen for fifty years.

Awakening in 1993, Cap is sought out by lifelong friends Sam Kolawetz (Ned Beatty) and Thomas Kimball (Ronny Cox), the newly-elected U.S. president. Meanwhile, the Red Skull has survived all these years, and offers his services to an international conspiracy intent on overthrowing President Kimball.

I first caught this movie on cable. It premiered in the U.K., performed poorly at the box office, and was only released in the U.S. on video in 1992. The production was plagued and ran out of money, but I found it a vast improvement over the two 1979 TV movies starring Reb Brown (though I liked those, too, at age five). The costumes were more like the comics than those of the 1979 movies, but Cap’s origin, along with the Red Skull’s, still deviated from the comics, probably for budget reasons.

As part of the plot, Cap returns to his girlfriend’s house to find, of course, she’s aged fifty years and has a daughter (i.e. same actress without age makeup) who becomes Cap’s sidekick for much of the movie. Matt (son of J.D.) Salinger does a fine job portraying Cap’s old fashioned goodness, and I did buy into the climactic fight scenes, but after that, the action just freezes and the credits roll.

To sum things up, this a mediocre version of Captain America, better than the TV movies, but probably nowhere near as good as the recently released Captain America: The First Avenger. If you’re a devoted fan of this movie, you may want to seek out the director’s cut which began screening at film festivals earlier this month. It reportedly includes 13 minutes of additional footage. The DVD I reviewed was fullscreen with no features, not even scene selection.

–Gerald So