Friday, May 6, 2016

Captain America (1979)

You know...  I don't think the skeevy guy with the folding table and all the medallions and the chest hair with the white DVD boxes with "Captain America Good Action Yeah" written in Sharpie on it was telling the truth when I asked him if this was the new Captain America: Civil War movie I've heard so much about lately.

The late 70s really did give it an honest go by trying to adapt comic book heroes in a grown-up way.  On TV, you had Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. On the big screen you had none other than Superman just flat out killin' it.  There were some duds like Isis and Shazam, but the successful stuff kinda outshined the bad.

However, Marvel Comics wasn't quite happy enough with having their big green guy being their only adapted character in live action TV shows.  After all, they had a whole line of successful and note-worthy characters to try out.  They attempted to try a Spider-Man series and pretty much failed big time.  They also attempted Captain America, which is the focus of today's B-Movie Enema.

Just guess how this Captain America show did in terms of success.

Now, I'm a big Captain America fan.  In fact, while I'm writing this, I'm wearing a Captain America shirt and Avengers pajama pants that have Captain America on there several times within the pattern of the pants.  I also have thousands of comic books in my possession and many of them feature good ol' Cap in some way.  Suffice it to say, I know a thing or two about the Star-Spangled Avenger.  But what does the back of the DVD box I have say about this movie?

"When former Marine Steve Rogers is in an accident, his only hope for recovery is an injection of the FLAG superserum - created years ago by his own father - which enhances each of his senses, as well as gives him great strength and fast reflexes.  And to help him bring his attackers to justice, a government agency outfits him with a motorcycle and powerful shield, then turns the newly formed Captain America loose on the nation's enemies.  Stars Reb Brown and Len Birman."

Finally!  A faithful origin story for Captain America!  Wait, what's this?  Oh son of a fuck...  Reb Brown.
One thing I can say - even though everything is utterly wrong about this out of the gate, at least this is a Shout Factory release I have.  If nothing else, the DVD set containing both this and the sequel had a little care put into it.

Not a great sign when the star's name is showing in a fucked
up shot.
Right out the gate...  Some sappy bullshit music plays while Cap's comic book logo is proudly tossed up onto the screen. It's like they are fucking proud of this shit.  The music is indicative of that easy goin' music after someone struggled their entire existence to finally be proud of their achievement and we're now just gliding over a pleasant California countryside following a van along this highway.  Well, it's too fucking bad they weren't proud enough of their achievement to keep parts of the helicopter used to film this opening scene from appearing in the goddamn shot!

So anyway, this meathead in this totally bitchin' 70s van we're following is Reb Brown - also known as Yor, The Hunter from the Future, also known as David Ryder from Space Mutiny, also known as Big McLargehuge, also known as Punt Speedchunk, but in this, he's definitely also known as Steve Rogers.  So while he's picking up his mail from a buddy, a nefarious looking guy is spying on them.  One of the letters prompts him to call this guy and say he's going to meet up with him.  There's a lot of concern, but we're not told anything.  Therefore, I kinda consider it un-noteworthy.

Steve leaves and the guy who spied on him follows.  But I'm not sure if he's really following because he passes Steve.  He has another guy who is posing as a road worker who detours Steve.  On the detour road is a tanker that is also working for the bad guy and he drops his load of oil all over the road.  In a real sexy fashion.  Just black goo all over that sexy curvy road.  Anyway, where was I at?  Oh yeah, so the oil causes Steve to fly off the road and off the side of the mountain all classic 70s style.  But it's only like 15 feet that he falls off so he gets out and just looks a little roughed up.  But his van and motorcycle he had with him was all fucked up.

The face of a man who "gets it".
Steve still gets to this lab where he meets a scientist man, Dr. Mills, who knew Steve's dad.  When asked about it, the chunkhead has no idea what his father worked on.  When Mills tells him about this super steroid, he still just kinda responds like "Uh...  Umm...  Doy?"  So Mills shows off these rats doing real awesome shit - lifting weights and running super fast and stuff.  But they aren't healthy.  The rats' bodies are rejecting the serum.  Turns out that Steve Rogers is the only guy who can be successful in accepting the steroid.  So they want to run some tests on Steve and to make sure.  They even told him about how his father tested it on himself and it worked super great on him.  So...  It has to be super great for Steve too?

Anyway, so they are telling him about how great his dad was and how the serum did wonders and how it could do wonders again and Steve just stares kinda at them vacantly.

But Steve turns them down for their testing on him because he just wants to get out of the military life, man.  He just wants to ride across this big beautiful country, brother.  He wants to try and get some of it down on canvas too, guy.  He doesn't want to be no stooge for the government no more.

After finding his friend, Jeff (I know his name because for a solid minute "Jeff" is the only dialog heard and it is said like four dozen times), hurt and on the floor in a ransacked study, he still doesn't want to become a superhero.  Meanwhile, some bad guys are talking about messing up Jeff and killing him, but they don't have some film they are looking for.  They are disappointed that Rogers showed up because their oh-so-great plan of dumping a load all over that sexy, sexy road didn't work out oh-so-well.

"I'm going to tell you your pops died, but I'm going to hold your
arms as if I'm going to kiss you like a man. Then I will also
continue to touch you awkwardly when you turn around to
cry."
So I guess the bad guys are needing that film that Jeff had because they want to build a neutron bomb.  They will do a bunch of bad guy stuff to get it.  Mills, who is not only in charge of the FLAG superserum business, but also whatever Jeff was working on for the government.  They grill Steve about what he saw.  They realize the bad guys took a camera and a desk calendar.  Steve consoles Jeff's hot daughter by kinda touching her a little too much.  They ship the daughter off to the hospital because that's what you do with crying womenfolk - particularly back in the 70s.

When Steve finds out that his pal was working on the neutron bomb and that it is not too good that there was a camera that was stolen, he tells Mills he can't believe Jeff was a traitor.  There's no possible way the camera was used for selling secrets and there's no way he would have told the bad guys what was up.  Speaking of the bad guys, they ask Steve to meet them to tell him more about who killed Jeff and why.  Guess what?  They meet and immediately reveal they want info from Steve about the filmstrip that went missing.  Steve hightails it out of there on his rad motorbike with the bad guys following.

I'm gonna be honest, this chase, for the most part, is a bunch of headlights and tail lights until Steve flies off what has to be the same cliff he fell off earlier.  His bike blows up and Steve is taken to the hospital where he is not given a good outlook on survival.  Good thing it's Mills working on him because he pumps him full of FLAG!

BOOM! Captain America, bitches!

While recovering, Steve tells Mills about being run off the road the first time.  Mills wishes he heard that earlier, but decides to tell Steve about using the FLAG serum to save his life before telling him any of that other stuff about the people mad at Steve.  Steve, literally, asks Mills, "Why are people mad at me?"  You know, like how a guy like Captain America would ask all the time when someone is chasing him down for info about a filmstrip.  Steve decides that now he is awake again and can make the choice for himself, he doesn't want to do any testing and see what FLAG might have done to him.  When it's clear his recuperative powers are kicking him, he's been cleared to leave the hospital.

Before leaving the hospital, he is taken hostage by the bad guys who, again, ask him about the film.  He's taken to a meat packing warehouse where he uses his fancy new strength powers to break free from his binds, and works the bad guys over by pushing big sides of beef to knock the bad guys out.  He then hangs them on hooks and gets them arrested.

"Hey, Steve...  Mind if we hardly follow this at all on
account it looks shitty?"
Steve meets with Mills again and says he now wants to be that superhero because if he's not careful, his powers can hurt people.  After learning about his dad being called Captain America after he got his powers, Mills offers Steve a job that only the two of them, Mills' assistant, Wendy, and the President of the United States would know about.  So, basically, be a superhero government stooge and beat bad guys up.  Steve says he'll think about it and gives Mills a drawing of his idea of what his Captain America would look like.  It's a damn good thing they are able to follow the sketches so well when they finally give Steve his superhero uniform...

By the way...  We're 50 minutes in and we've hardly heard the name Captain America.  We've seen a drawing of Captain America-ish.  We've seen Steve Rogers beat guys up.  However, we've not yet actually seen Captain America or even have Steve WANTING to be a hero.  You know how long it took Chris Evans to get in a costume or generally want to be a hero?  NOT THIS FUCKING LONG!

Anyway, Steve makes some moves on Wendy (Mills' assistant) who is looking pretty foxy in a bathing suit and not in her normal nerd scientist frump dump of an outfit.  They are still being obviously followed and spied on.  Mills takes Steve to show him his newly tricked out van that looks like his old van but has a sweet ass motorcycle that is all kinds of red, white, and blue.  Cuz...  'MERICA!  It also has a cheap plastic shield that when thrown just glides slowly and avoidably toward a target before coming back just as slowly.  But enough about that dumb shield, let's take that jet rocketed motorcycle for a ride!

Which takes the next 25 minutes of screen time.

I will give it to the bad guys, though.  While he's testing out his sweet bike, they fly over him with a helicopter and try to shoot him.  This was, I thought, a goddamn government testing ground or something because they had to pass through some guarded area.  Seriously, what the fuck?  How does a bad guy's helicopter just get into this airspace without meeting some resistance?!?  Hell, I would think if it doesn't have olive green paint with a white star and some military markings from the U.S., I wouldn't think anything was just gonna show up around this area.  Our military was not having a banner day that day.  Cap beats them because it's not just his strength and speed that has been enhanced by his sight and hearing too.  So he's technically Captain Daredevil.

So, Jeff (remember, the guy who died earlier?) has this daughter.  She's talking to one of the bad guys who is trying to sweet talk the location of the film out of her.  He's trying to get some info out of her.  Thanks to her telling some stupid stories about a game they would play and how they would go fishing, the bad guy finds the missing film.  When Wendy comes over, the jig is up and the bad guy reveals himself as just that!  The bad guys tell Mills and Steve that they have to do nothing or else Wendy and Jeff's daughter will be killed.  They finish their neutron bomb and set it to detonate.

Steve and Mills figure out that the bad guy is Lou Brackett who knew Jeff.  So they know that Brackett is at the Andreas Oil Company.  Mills goes over to a file cabinet and pulls out Steve's new costume for Captain America.  As Mills puts it, the name was given to Steve's father as a joke by the bad guys who killed him.  So why not have Steve wear the name proudly and, "Ram Captain America down their throats!"  Steve sneaks around the oil company grounds looking for the perfect way to make them deep throat his Captain America.  And the best symbolism for what I just typed happens as if it answered my own quizzical wondering if he's literally going to make them deep throat his American cock:

AMERICA Unh.... Fuck... Yyyyyeah....
The whole point of him finally breaking out the costume and taking his bike into the grounds was to sneak in for the sake of Jeff's daughter and Wendy, but 30 seconds after getting off his bike, some dumb security guard finds him and alerts everyone else.  Good job, Captain American't.  But he defeats the dumb security guards by spraying oil around on the ground and causing them to slip on it.  Cap is able to get the scientist guy who built the bomb to A) tell him where the girls are (something NO ONE has ever been able to tell me) and B) where to get Brackett's secret shit.  He's told that it's too late to stop Brackett because "at noon they all die".

"You want some of me rammed down your throat?"
Based on the scientist saying Brackett "pulled out" (fuckin' Captain America's cock didn't pull out of that oil company... just sayin'), Wendy, Cap, and Mills figure out that they are looking for a truck and the bad guys' plan is to kill a bunch of people with the bomb and take over a billion dollars in gold.   Mills flies Cap to where they believe the truck they are looking for could be found.  When asked if he sees anything, Steve answers that he hasn't despite you clearly being able to see that they have passed trucks on the road below them.  Whatever.  They decide they wouldn't take this road because it would have a weigh station, so they head for the old road between Los Angeles and Phoenix.  

This intense search lasts about 45 minutes before Cap finally sees a truck that has Andreas Oil on it because he has super vision and stuff.  Mills drops Cap off in a pretty rocky part of the desert, which I'm guess is going to be pretty rough even for Cap's super bike, but, again, whatever.  This movie has just done whatever the fuck it wanted for like four hours now and I'm just sitting here taking it like a bored hooker who got a little extra for the movie to do weird shit to uncomfortable parts of my body.

"Tee hee...  I almost set off a neutron bomb.
Tee hee...  But I stopped it."
So, Cap uses his super bike to catch up to the truck, and climbs on by kicking his bike off to the side - which also had his fucking shield on it.  These guys probably have guns.  Guns that shoot through fleshy bits of your body, but will have their bullets bounce off that fucking shield.  Whatever, just call Mills to pick up your bike or something.  Cap causes problems for Brackett inside the trailer by breaking off one of the exhaust pipes to have it fill the trailer with fumes, but when it cuts back to the wide shot of the two guys in the truck's cab, it looks like the exhaust pipe is doing just fine in its original position.

Cap radios to Mills saying that it looks like the switch for the bomb is rigged up to the pulse of Brackett, the guy Steve just poisoned with exhaust.  However, if Brackett dies, the bomb goes off, and they just determined he's not doing so hot - like he might die.  Holy fuck...  Captain America, on his first mission after saving a couple broads, used exhaust fumes to make a truck pull over, but it also nearly caused a complete meltdown on that fuckin' neutron bomb.  Jesus, Cap...  Stop thinking like Roll Fizzlebeef and start thinking like a goddamn hero.

So after proclaiming they rammed Captain America down some bad guys' throats to a nice little giggle from everyone in the room, Steve says he wants to be Captain America and do it just like his father did it in every way, so he gets new duds that look right and not some dumb knockoff outfit, and he shakes Mills' hand and...?

Credits.

While I sure as shit can't argue that this didn't at least try to do some stuff that Captain America would do (like stopping a neutron bomb explosion), there's practically little else here that resembles what most people know about Captain America. Even the wildest of guesses by someone who has only ever heard of the character would not guess he's some guy who works for some government scientists and rides around on a motorcycle and wants to bang the nerdy scientist girl.  They played up a very deep reference to the Steve Rogers character - that he's an accomplished artist.  But what the hell for? 

I have a feeling it was to make him less of a jarhead dummy to the audience by making him more than just a regular old Marine who probably got back from Vietnam not too long ago.  He would probably have been accused of killing women and kids in the war, so let's make him an artist and someone who just wants to reconnect with America.

But let's cast a lunkhead that would look less like an artist and more like a killing machine for the army.

"We sure did cram a lot of me down people's throats, didn't we?"

There's not much more to say about this movie.  It's a TV movie and back then those were about 100 minutes, but this movie felt like it was 300 minutes.  It's got a bunch of science oriented people talking at Steve Rogers and him responding with a bunch of dull looks like he doesn't know what they are talking about and he's not sure how to remove himself from the conversation - even awkwardly.  This likely was trying to be the start of a series and that could have been interesting, but there should be no surprise why it didn't take off.

At least Iron Man showed up at the end to tease a television version of the Avengers...

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