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June-ing the Cult: Silver Emulsion and 3 Dev Adam

3 Dev Adam aka 3 Giant Men 1973

We’re halfway through this trip across a handful of cult superhero movies thanks to several of my cult blogging friends. Throughout the month of June, I’ve asked several bloggers that I know who often tackle their own fair share of obscure and cult films and asked them to each choose a superhero movie for me to check out and review. Thanks to Will from Silver Emulsion for picking today’s movie, if you go visit his site make sure to check out his thoughts on every Superman movie made, including many foreign knock-offs, including Turkish Superman.

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Filmwhys #55 Battle Royale and Captain America 2: Death Too Soon

Episode #55 of the Why Haven’t You Seen This Film Podcast where my guests are Jeff and Chris from the Really Awful Movies Podcast who ask me why I hadn’t seen Battle Royale, a violent Asian film that draws a lot of parallels to the Hunger Games except that it came out ten years earlier and was banned due to the violence. And in return, I ask them why they hadn’t seen Captain America 2: Death Too Soon, the 1979 TV movie that had very little to do with the actual comic book, but had Christopher Lee in it.
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Captain America 2: Death Too Soon

Captain America 2: Death Too Soon 1979

I imagine the thought process at CBS or whatever studio financed the two Captain America films was that the first one would be so popular that people would be clamoring for a sequel and so it went into production before the first one aired. And however the ratings were for the first one, it was essentially either too late or the ratings had enough merit to continue the production. There’s even an unlikely chance that these films were produced back to back but the true details are a little bit too far buried than my ten minutes of internet research will allow. It is interesting to note that this film was aired as essentially a two part mini-series, airing the first hour – counting commercials one night, and the second hour the next. And similar to the first Captain America, that is honestly one of the most interesting things about the entire film next to the fact that the villain was played by none other than the late, great Christopher Lee.
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Captain America

Captain America 1979

There are only a small handful of Marvel movies that I have yet to watch, and they all happen to fall within the realm of the dark days of Marvel in the late 70’s when they first started shopping their properties around to other live action studios in order to make TV shows and TV movies. One of the first ones was the famous Incredible Hulk TV show with Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk and Bill Bixby as David Banner, and just one year after that came out, there was this attempt at turning Captain America into a similar television property just one year after a full slate of superhero television properties like the Six Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and the Incredible Hulk. It started out with this introductory TV movie which aired in January and followed with a sequel that aired in two parts in November. Even though it’s called Captain America it barely resembled anything close to the Marvel comic, and changed nearly everything about his origin in order to help fit within a limited television budget. Not only that, but it barely made for an interesting TV movie regardless.
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Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United

Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United

It seems like it happens quite often when a straight to home video release catches me unaware until it is actually released as is the case with this movie which is a pseudo-sequel to Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United from last year. It has the same kinda cell shaded CGI animation style and the same voice actors for Iron Man and Hulk, though it doesn’t quite feel as young skewed as the previous attempt, it’s not too deep either. And similar to Iron Man and Hulk, I didn’t really connect with this movie aside from a couple fights and a couple laughs, it was too simple, too silly, and didn’t really feel connected with anything. Even my daughter Jena didn’t give this one a whole lot of interest. It’s interesting that while Marvel is dominating the box office, and has quite a few TV shows out there, but its home video animated movies are severely lacking.
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014

This year is reminding myself of how much different the superhero movie schedule is compared to last year when there were about a dozen movies packed between the end of May and the middle of August, while this year has the movies much more spread out closer to one every month with Captain America kicking off the more traditional superhero fare as early as April (as opposed to the few comic book movies like 300 & I, Frankenstein and the few movies with a less direct superhero connection like Robocop and the Lego Movie) and yet this is also more of a far cry from a traditional superhero plot and instead feels much more like a conspiracy thriller along the lines of a dozen or so great movies whose names I can’t recall at the moment. There’s also a bit more of Captain America adjusting to life in the 21st century which I have been wanting to see ever since the first movie. In short, I loved every minute of it. Also, as a warning, I don’t always tread lightly around spoilers, though most of the spoilers I already knew or assumed before seeing the movie.
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Superhero Shorts: Forrest Fire Films

Welcome back once again to another edition of Superhero Shorts where I feature a superhero themed short film and ask a few brief questions with the filmmaker. Today I’m talking with Forrest Whaley from Forrest Fire Films who is probably best known for his many stop motion Lego animated videos featuring several different superheroes with a Robot Chicken level of violence, language, and humor, and he has also done the animated viral video the Duck Song and its various sequels. As usual, you can watch one of his films below, or you can visit his YouTube channel to see many more videos from him.
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The Avengers

The Avengers 2012

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen and read a dozen reviews of The Avengers already. This is one of them. I probably won’t say anything you haven’t already heard before but at least I’ve watched over 40 superhero movies already this year so while I may not be an expert, I may see things at a slightly different angle having seen so many similar movies. But let me just cut to the point here, it was awesome. It was better than any of the Marvel lead ups and while it may not have taken the top spot for my favorite superhero movie of all time, it’s definitely made it into the top 10. But first let me do a quick rundown in case you haven’t actually seen the Avengers yet and would rather pick one or two out of the five lead-in movies to watch first to prepare. If you want more information about the Tesseract, the big blue macguffin that everyone is after then watch Captain America to see what it’s capable of. If you want to learn more about the main villain of the movie, watch Thor to learn why he’s doing what he’s doing, and you also get a hint of the aliens in the universe even if it’s not the exact same ones. If you want to see more from S.H.I.E.L.D., watch Iron Man 2 to see how they began preparing for the Avengers Initiative and a hint of what Black Widow is capable of.

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Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America 2011

Ahh, my first chance to watch one of the recent crop of Marvel Studios movies and I kick it off with Captain America: The First Avenger, having just watched the 1990 Captain America movie a few days earlier. I was actually a little surprised at how many similarities the two movies had, although I suppose it’s very possible that the similarities are the ones taken directly from the comic book origins. As I mentioned in the last post I’m not very familiar with Captain America, I’ve only seen him in now a couple movies. But the origin is pretty much the same, the only difference is in this movie they used special effects to make the jump between scrawny Steve Rogers to buff Captain America that much more effective. I’m reminded of the scene in the first Spiderman movie with Tobey Maguire, except I believe they didn’t use special effects for that scene, they just shot skinny Tobey at the beginning of the shoot before he started his training and buff Tobey at the end of the shoot where he bulked up naturally. In this movie they have Chris Evans’ face on a short 90 pound wimpy looking kid. My wife was horribly distracted by this, in her words “they put his face on a midget”. I wasn’t put off by it and I thought the special effects for this were excellent and didn’t fall into the uncanny valley.

As far as the similarities to the Cap origin I just watched, there’s the same “It’s Alive” chamber moment of transformation along with sparks going everywhere and the Nazi spy killing the German doctor who created the procedure. The Red Skull was once again the initial recipient of the super soldier serum with some pretty harsh side effects, although in this version he was already a megalomaniac who wanted the procedure done on his own terms and damn the consequences. And of course there’s also the being frozen for a few dozen years, but in this movie it’s only barely touched upon in the beginning of the movie and used at the end as basically a trailer for the Avengers movie coming out later this year. Nearly this entire movie takes place during WWII instead of during the present. I was looking forward to seeing how this Captain America adjusted to the present day, but instead that will have to wait until the Avengers. And I just recently read a news story that confirms this theory that Captain America will be the main focus of the new Avengers movie.

The one subplot in this movie that was new to me was the fact that the Captain America image was created as war propaganda to help sell war bonds. I thought this was a fun sidestory, but I also thought it could have been cut down a bit. It doesn’t make as much sense to me that they would waste someone with his abilities in the publicity racket instead of immediately putting him on the front lines. I know that his picture was in the paper, but I felt that at that period in time he could have done a few events, then they could have easily switched to a look-a-like while sending the real Cap to do some actual fighting.

The Red Skull was the villain in this movie and he’s essentially super-Hitler with no face. He was the leader of his own sub-organization called Hydra, with their own super-goofy salute which they thankfully only used once maybe twice, and his goal was to take over the entire world. The other main thing that bugged me a little about this movie was the high-tech excuse for PG-13. That is, instead of using real guns, The Red Skull found this magic cube that let him create magic guns that disintegrated people instead of putting bloody holes in them. I know why this was done: it let them get away with killing a bunch of people by disintegration because that’s sci-fi violence instead of bloody violence. I would have rather seen non-blood violence using real guns rather than blue-flashy exploding guns. It also let them not use Nazi paraphernalia and instead have high-tech faceless soldiers that the audience can then dehumanize so it’s ok if they die by the dozens.

There is one other thing that I knew about Captain America that wasn’t covered in any of the movies that I’ve watched: Captain America’s sidekick Bucky is one of the few comic book deaths that haven’t been resurrected in some way… at least for a very very long time. So when they revealed that Steve’s friend’s name was Bucky I knew that he was going to die in this movie. And that scene as an action scene was pretty good. As a death scene, it was pretty cliche. There were a couple other cliche comic book movie moments but they were thankfully few and brief. There was the slow motion jumping over an explosion shot, and the girl who wistfully looks up into the sky as the Hero flies away to great peril.

I really liked the costume design in this movie as well. Both the propaganda ready original costume and the combat ready revamped costume worked well for what their purposes were and the shield looked and was used pretty well and fairly convincingly. My side character of this movie was Mr. Stark. He didn’t have a lot of screen presence but he was used enough and his name was used just enough to really catch my interest in him and made me wish there was more of him. Not enough there for his own spin-off movie, but I would love it if they used another Marvel hero from this era that featured him as a side character again. He’s obviously similar to Iron Man‘s Tony Stark, but different enough to be an interesting character. I’m curious how popular he is to other fans of the movie, as I haven’t read hardly anything about this movie outside of Twitter comments and other similar comments from people who liked the movie. And I really liked the movie, my complaints that I’ve mentioned in this blog are all pretty minor. While I was watching the movie I was hooked through and through, it’s not flawless, but it’s an excellent movie for sure. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

Captain America

Captain America 1990

It’s Monday night, and even though I’m already headlong into this project it’s January 2nd and I’m ready to get started on the first movie of the year. I had someone suggest to me to watch the old Captain America movie so I looked it up. It was on my list, but I didn’t really know anything about it and honestly, I don’t even know that much about Captain America. I know the basics, he was created in World War II through America’s Super Soldier program to fight Nazis and he was frozen for a while somehow. I’ve seen him in the Marvel Animated DVD Ultimate Avengers, but that’s about it. And of course I know about the new movie that came out last year with Chris Evans but I haven’t gotten around to watching it. That’s another reason why I agreed with the suggestion to watch the old Cap, this gives me a chance to finally watch the new Cap in a few days or so. But this isn’t the new Cap, it’s the old Cap. And it’s not the old cheesy motorcycle helmet Cap that I originally thought it was. Those DVDs came out recently to cash in on the new movie and I’ve seen them in Wal-Mart, but this movie hasn’t seemed to have made a comeback. If you’ve checked out my list for this year, you might know that I’m limiting the movies I’m watching for the moment to theatrically released movies, and those Motorcycle helmet ones were either direct to video or made for TV. This one was actually released in theaters.

Mostly because I had never heard of it, and it’s one of those barely spoken of things, I was expecting a train wreck of a movie. And this just plain isn’t it. Yes the costume looks pretty bad, the action scenes are extremely low budget and badly edited to try and cope with that fact, and there are some implausibilities. But honestly that’s a minor part of the movie and the rest of it was pretty interesting and kept me hooked. That is until it throws me a hunk of major cheese, I have a great laugh at it, but then I’m back in the movie. It starts off confusing enough in Nazi Germany where some soldiers come in, take a smart kid, and kill his entire family while making him watch. They show off a smart, strong, stop motion or animatronic rat that doesn’t have any skin for some reason and appear to do the same thing to the kid. One of the German scientists is horrified by some part of it and runs off. 7 years later, that same scientist is working for the Americans to use the same process to some unsuspecting American schlub, though somehow she worked the whole creepy skinless kink out of the process.

They really skim over the whole Steve Rogers part of the origin, he’s in love with some girl named Bernie of all things, has an “it’s alive” moment and immediately saves the day from a Nazi spy trying to take down the whole operation, killing the ex-nazi scientist and wounding Steve. But the super serum works quickly and Steve is ready to go after the one behind it all or something like that. There’s a quick exposition explaining the fire-proof tacky suit and shield. Sorry, they don’t explain the shield, they just ask Steve if he got enough practice with it. Why would anyone practice with a shield? That doesn’t make any sense… unless you already know about Captain America, and if you do then they shouldn’t need to explain the suit either. He didn’t even spend a whole lot of time in the suit. He wears it in the first fight scene with the Red Skull, and then not really until the final fight scene. Which I didn’t have a problem with since the costume didn’t look all that great. I couldn’t believe they got straight to the fight between the main villain and the hero so soon. I mean, it was badly edited and Cap ends up strapped to a rocket and makes the Red Skull cut his own hand off with a little switchblade by moving slightly to the left. But the Red Skull did look pretty wicked. Even Bernie later on had some pretty passable old age makeup.

It’s pretty easy to talk about the silly things in this movie: kicking the rocket to avoid the white house at the last moment and ending up in Alaska instead? The boy taking photos of the white house at night capturing said rocket and then growing up to be the President? The President joining in at the end and taking out hired thugs with one punch? But aside from all that, the characters were very well played and I was really interested in them. Steve Rogers was a great character, he was pretty smart, cared about the people who were helping him, and resourceful. I loved the joke where he said he felt sick and used it as an excuse to steal the car, twice. I thought the relationship between him and Bernie’s daughter was well done and she played a pretty good role as well. And the Red Skull just had some major presence. I can’t speak for his accent but he chewed major scenery in every scene he was in, and I mean that in a good way.

I haven’t mentioned Jena much in this review because once again, she was MIA for a lot of it and talking up a storm about random things while she was there. She was there for the beginning and she reacted to the first bit of movie violence that we’ve seen so far and I briefly commented on in an earlier blog. Captain America gets shot up during his first moments as a super soldier and Jena asks “did his shirt die?” since it had a lot of movie blood on it. And of course he was pretty much better in the next scene so she was ok with it. Shortly afterward she went off and started playing with her toys instead. If you can find this movie anywhere and can overlook a little cheese/low budget effects I would recommend checking this movie out. Until next time this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.