Captain America II: Death Too Soon


Synopsis: Captain America returns to carry on the legacy of his father and defend the country – this time, however, he faces off against the terrorist known only as Miguel and the threat of a chemical agent that rapidly ages those who come into contact with it.

Captain America II: Death Too Soon 6.5

After watching the original TV movie, I deplored its lack of Captain America-ness; the hero only showed up twice (and for poorly developed sequences at that!).

Well, I asked for it. And I got it good.

And by “good”, I mean “bad”: the action sequences in this sequel are so poorly conceived as to be unentertaining, if not cringe-worthy.

Firstly, there’s that plexiglass shield: not only does it wobble in action, but it can’t be thrown convincingly. There’s this one scene when Cap tosses his shield away from his target (apparently, this version of Captain America doesn’t even TRY to hit head on!) and it boomerangs back and knocks the villain out. It’s probably the lamest shield action EVER filmed! It’s weaker than a half-hearted frisbee toss and the travelling shield looks like a B-movie UFO. Eegad!

Secondly, Captain America’s scenes mostly involve driving around on his cheesy-looking (it was probably cool once 😉 motorcycle, either chasing or being chased. Since there is absolutely NO pacing in these scenes, it’s dreadfully boring to watch. The editing is limited to 30 second cuts that drag on and on and on endlessly, backed by uninspiring and ill-fitting music. I actually nodded off at one point, and, after scanning back to check, confirmed that I didn’t miss a thing.

Also, the baddies that Steve Rogers and Captain America encounter are pretty lame. They want to beat the crap out of him either out of mindless xenophobia or just because they can. Oh, sure, there are also the main badguy’s lackeys who are out to get him because he’s foiling their plans, but that’s par for the course. The rest of the meanies were slathered on for excitement, but are too ridiculous to warrant any emotional investment.

At least there’s Christoper Lee as our lead villain. I’ve never seen him this terrible (and I’ve seen a few Lee hammy performances in my time!), but even at his worst, he’s enjoyable – it’s still Christopher Lee, after all! I hate to say that he was sleeping at the wheel, here, but he quite literally was – there’s this lame scene towards the end when Captain America chases Lee’s car with a hang-glider. Really. And Lee just looks bored and confused. This is what leads to our climax. Oh joy, oh bliss.

And now for the $128,000 questions:

-How is it that everyone knows Captain America by name (“Oh, look there’s Captain America!”)? Um… he hasn’t done anything noteworthy yet. At this point in our two-part story, I’m sure he doesn’t even recognize himself in the mirror!

-Speaking of which, why is it that no one can guess that Steve Rogers is Cap? Rogers drives up with his van, see? Then Captain America rockets out dramatically (with smoke and everything!) from the back of that same van, see? Which supposes that he has to return to the van and drive off as Steve Rogers, see? And yet no one puts the two together! What gives? Is it a ‘70s thing? Did disco dull people’s capacity to clue in to the obvious?

-What’s with Captain America’s helmet? He’s obviously wearing a mask underneath, so why is he fighting with a frickin’ motorcycle helmet on? Is this no-good goodie-two-shoes taking bike safety to the Nth degree for this family-friendly fare? Or is he one of those challenged people who falls down all the time and has to protect his head, lest he brain himself to death? It’s like wearing a baseball cap at the dinner table; it’s just not done!

-Why does Captain America have such a wimpy voice? I can understand why 6 foot 4 “weakling” Steve Rogers sounds like he had his testicles processed through a thrash compactor, but Captain America should have a commanding voice – the kind of thing that would make him a leader of men, that would compel them to die for him, that would give even The Fonz a man-crush. This Cap sounds like a teenager trapped in a meat suit (must be all the steroids).

Anyway… all in all in all, you get what you pay for: it’s a made-for-TV comic book adaptation, with a script to match, cobbled together on a small budget before the CGI era. It’s not great, but it’s very representative of the period, as far as I’m concerned. So, if you’re a fan of The A-Team, Knight Rider, Six Million Dollar Man, ChiPs, …etc., then you just might enjoy it. But adjust your expectations accordingly.

What do you think?

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