Sunday, 21 April 2013

Review Month - Captain America 2 - Death Too Soon (1979).

Today I decided to review a movie.  Captain America 2. This is not the hotly anticipated Winter Soldier sequel but rather the second of two abandoned TV pilots from 1979 for a proposed TV series.

I recently got this along with the first movie from Amazon.  they have just been released on a R2 DVD in the UK and Europe.

Be warned this review may include self harming.

Captain America 2: Death Too Soon. (PG).

Released by 101 Films.

Reb Brown as Steve Rogers / Captain America.
Len Birman as Dr Simon Mills.
Connie Sellecca as Dr Wendy Day.
Christopher Lee as Miguel.

Directed by Ivan Nagy.
Written by Wilton Schiller and Patricia Payne.

Since this is the second pilot we don't get any origin. Steve Rogers is already Captain America and is travelling around sunny America in his Cap Van. This movie opens on the most terrible photo / credit montage that would seem cobbled together. The credits lead into an extended ariel shot of Cap's Van driving down the coast.  In fact the whole movie has never ending ariel shots of cars, bikes and van driving along roads (normally near the coast).

The movie lays out what Cap is about with a little intro storyline in a disco seaside town. In Discotown we see Steve has befriended a little old lady who he is drawing a portrait of on the beach. She tells him that the older people in the town get robbed every time they pick up their pension. Steve tells her to pick up her pension straightaway. She does this and gets robbed (hang on Steve got her robbed?!) Cue Cap and his Cap Cycle chasing down Disco robbers and winning a running race against a beach buggy.

The script and editing literally face fuck you with terribleness! It's like nobody says cut! We get cameras that zoom in on locations and then zoom out - and they then zoom in again!

It was about this time that I looked up the Director Ivan Nagy. A seemingly jobbing director his other credits include the following 'Trailer Trash Teri.' 'All Nude Athena.' 'Sara St James.' 'Intimate Encounters.' and 'All American Pin-Up.' You would think he understood the concept of the close up!!

Much has been said of Reb Brown as Cap. I have to admit that he isn't great. (But actually not the worst.) I presume that this would have been his big break if the series was picked up by a network but that was not to be. His other movies are scattered over four decades and include 'Howling 2.' 'Uncommon Valor.' and 'The Sword and the Sorceror.' At least he looks the part in civvies.  The costume just didn't work and the bike helmet just looked like it was unbalancing him during his Cap scenes.

Steve is working for a lab that send him on missions. The head of the lab is a Dr Simon Mills who is played by TV regular Len Birman. Mr Birman could quite possibly be the inspiration for 'Blue Steel' pouting. He pauses painfully before each line and acts like he is modelling for a 1970s catalogue. I have to be honest that every time he speaks he really annoys me.

The third member of Cap's team is Dr Wendy May played by Connie Sellecca. She plays a sexy research scientist who helps to solve the plot's ageing gas by testing it on herself (whilst on a flight ?). She also loves a pause and a cheesey smile. During the movie she smiles at babies and cougars of all ages (not that type). She was also on another superhero series 'The Greatest American Hero.'

Back to the plot. Christopher Lee is the villain called Miguel who is also a notorious Terrorist who is posing as the Governor of a prison (seriously) as he thinks that nobody would suspect him there (recognise him maybe??) He has a gas that ages people 38 days for every hour (a figure that everyone repeats throughout the script). He intends to blackmail the country and has a small town under his control. He then gets his henchman to spray Portland, Oregon from a stunt plane with the gas (whilst sky writing 'SMILE'). Strangely the stunt plane is decked out in Red, White and Blue. It's like someone got the plane for Cap to use then realised they didn't have time to repaint it.

Cap heads off in his van and ends up in the aforementioned scared town. He spots a dodgy vet who doesn't understand cat's bones (?) and gets in a lot of fights with some local rough houses who turn out to be in the employ of Lee. Steve tries to seemingly chat a young boy up by showing him his pet cat. He then befriends a farming family of a widow and her son and it turns out that the towns people are hiding the secret of the ageing gas in return for daily imunisations. 

Steve Rogers - 'Whats the hecks going on in this town?'

Me - 'What the fuck is going on in this movie?'

Er. Cap gets to go on his Cap Cycle and then seemingly for no real reason jumps it off a dam whilst being chased. They spot the bike floating off. It's OK, the bike shows up later in good condition and he does some gliding stuff with it (it has a hidden glider - cue more ariel shots).

We get some more fighting. It was at this point that I realised what this script really was. The writer (Wilton Schiller) had written quite a few Six Million Dollar Man episodes and this Cap story is basically a Steve Austin story with added costume and bike action. At a couple of points the soundtrack even does Bionic Man noises when Cap jumps.

I hit the hour point and feel like stopping it. Fight it, fight it.

There is a prison gunfight and Lee escapes after Cap figures out his plans from reading a white board in his prison lab.

Cap chases Miguel / Lee down in a small wood that looks like it is probably at the back of an industrial estate in Stevenage. They have a gunfight thing and Lee get's a full face of the poison. He ages quickly (actually done pretty well and Lee does some Hammer Horror acting which cheered the movie right up).

He dies and Steve and Dr Simon Mills spray the antidote over Portland from a helicopter. Steve returns to the farm. Does a portrait of a lady whilst she rides a horse about a lot and gives her son a puppy (seriously).

The movie is typical 1970s TV and has some fun moments. But I can see why it didn't get picked up for a series.

Hmm. What next? Man-Thing the movie maybe?


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