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Captain America: Collector’s Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 26, 2013 by  



The 1990 “Captain America” film gets its Blu-ray release and for those who enjoyed this film will want to upgrade to the Blu-ray release for better picture quality, a lossless soundtrack but also seeing the all-new featurette with director Albert Pyun and actor Matt Salinger giving us details of what happened during the making of the film and how the film suffered because of it. The Blu-ray version of “Captain America: Collector’s Edition” is much better than the 2011 DVD release!

Images courtesy of © 1992 Orion Pictures Corporation. 2013 Metro Goldwyn Mayer. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Captain America: Collector’s Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1990

DURATION: 97 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

COMPANY: MGM/Marvel

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Directed by Albert Pyun

Characters by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Story by Stephen Tolkin, Lawrence Block

Screenplay by Stephen Tolkin

Produced by Menahem Golan

Executive Producer: Joseph Calamari, Stan Lee

Associate Producer: Stephen Tolkin

Line Producer: Tom Karnowski

Music by Barry Goldberg

Cinematography by Philip Alan Waters

Edited by Jon Poll

Casting by Ann Bell, Teri Blythe

Production Design by Douglas H. Leonard

Art Direction by Ivo Husnjak

Costume Design by Heidi Kaczenski

Starring:

Matt Salinger as Steve Rogers/Captain America

Ronny Cox as Tom Kimball

Ned Beatty as Sam Kolawetz

Darren McGavin as General Fleming

Michael Nouri as Lt. Colonel Louis

Scott Paulin as Red Skull/Army Doctor

Kim Gillingham as Bernice Stewart/Sharon

Melinda Dillon as Mrs. Rogers

Bill Mummy as Young General Fleming

Francesca Neri as Valentina de Santis

Carla Cassola as Dr. Maria Vaselli

Massimilio Massimi as Tadzio de Santis

Wayde Preston as Jack

In World War II, America needed a hero. This hero was Captain America. During WWII one brave soldier, Steve Rogers, underwent experiments that effectively turn him into a super-soldier known as Captain America! Not all was well however, and during Captain America’s attempt to thwart German Nazi soldiers, ‘Red Skull,’ a new nemesis, freezes Captain America until he emerges in 1990, only to find that Red Skull has changed his identity and has plans to kidnap the President of the United States!

It was 1990 and  for many of us who were collecting comic books, the ’90s was a decade of the re-emergence of comic book collecting, interest in the superheroes from years past and for many superhero films, before they were the big budget summer blockbusters as they are today, they were independent films.

In 1989, there was “The Punisher” and the following year, there was “Captain America” (to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Captain America) which was released in several countries outside of the U.S. but in America, it went direct-to-video.

And I can easily remember going to the video store, highly anticipating this film (and also the “Fantastic Four” film that came out in 1994) and thinking, it has to be way better than the ’70s “Captain America” films right?

Well, with the release of “Captain America: The First Avenger” in theaters, sure enough, we have “Captain America”, the 1990 film released on Blu-ray via a Collector’s Edition release.

The film is directed by Albert Pyun (“The Sword and the Sorcerer”, “Cyborg”, “Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor”) and is written by Stephen Tolkin (who would later become the co-executive producer of “Brothers & Sisters”, “Legend of the Seeker”, “Summerland”) and Lawrence Block.

The film begins in fascist Italy where a boy is kidnapped and his family murdered.  The boy is then subjected to an experimental project to create a supersoldier for the fascist.  Dr. Vaselli (played by Carla Cassola), who created the project is shocked to see how far the Nazi’s and fascist Italian soldiers would go into creating their supersoldier and flees to the United States to help the American military develop their own super soldier.

Fast forward many years later, the American government chooses Steve Rogers (played by Matt Salinger, “Under the Tuscan Sun”, “What Dreams May Come”), a loyal American who was excluded from the draft due to him having polio, to become their superhero.

Dr. Vaselli transforms Steve to a strong superhero but before they can create more, a Nazi spy shoots Dr. Vaselli, killing her.    Rogers who now goes by the name of Captain America must stop a missile aimed at the White House and stop the fascist supersoldier, the Red Skull.

While Captain America manages to get to the compound, he is beaten by the Red Skull, tied up on the missile and launched towards the White House.  But before the missile hits, a young boy named Thomas Kimball is taking pictures of the White House and before he and the White House are hit by the missile, Captain America manages to kick the missile which goes haywire and flies towards Alaska where it crashes and Captain America is frozen.

Fast forward to 1990, and the young boy Thomas has grown up to become the President of the United States.  And for the 1993 campaign, he is pushing for pro-environmental legislation which angers the military-industrial complex, which goes out and holds a secret conference with the Red Skull in Italy.  The Red Skull has a daughter (an assassin) and is a leader of one of the largest crime family and are responsible for the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and now, he has Thomas Kimball in his sight.

One day, researchers in Alaska discover a frozen Captain America who awakens and thinks he is living in 1940.  Disoriented from the time change, Steve Rogers can’t believe he has been out for so many years and when he goes to visit his girlfriend from World War II, Bernice (played by Kim Gillingham), he finds out that time has changed so much where she is now an older woman and he is still a young man.  Her daughter Sharon (played by Kim Gillingham) tries to show him what has happened in the world since he was frozen but the Nazi’s are tipped off that Captain America is back.

When the Red Skull’s daughter go to Bernice’s home to find out where he is, Bernice refuses to give his location and she is killed. And as for the President of the United States, he is kidnapped.

Now Steve along with Sharon are determined to infiltrate the Red Skull’s underground base to get their revenge but also rescue the President.

VIDEO:

Captain America” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1).  In my original DVD review, I wrote about how the video was nothing to write home about because it was a low budget film from the early ’90s.  But watching it on Blu-ray, I’m amazed of how much better the Blu-ray looks versus any video version I have seen in the past.  Even the outdoor scenes look a lot better.  Granted, there is that hint of softness but still, the film looks so much better on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Captain America” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Dialogue is crystal clear including the 1990 synth music.  A front-channel driven lossless soundtrack but definitely better than its previously released DVD version.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Captain America” comes with the following special features:

  • Looking Back at Captain America – (20:05) A fascinating interview with Director Albert Pyun and actor Matt Salinger of how budget cuts and a very short schedule made the film different from the Tolkin script.  For Pyun, he wanted to make a Captain America film in the spirit of the comic books but the producers and studio wanted a Clark Kent/Superman style storyline.  Salinger talks about the difficult of wearing the latex suit during the humid hot summer and his thoughts on the film and how much the film deviated from the script due to the small budget and shortened schedule.

In my original review, I wrote that “Captain America” is a bad film.  But the fact was that director Albert Pyun was put in a situation where they didn’t have any budget to execute any major action scenes and with a shortened schedule and being told that their would be followup shooting after shooting in Yugoslavia…it just didn’t happen.  In fact, Pyun was so disappointed that he didn’t want to see the final cut of the film after it was all done.  The entertaining script that Stephen Tolkin had originally written was turned to something else by the studio who wanted to emphasize a different Captain America, while Pyun was dedicated to featuring the Steve Rogers/Captain America that he grew up reading in the comic books.

With that being said, if you watch a lot of the older Marvel films, definitely don’t watch these with the highest of expectations because they are quite cheesy.

But I’m going to be truthful, during this time, like many other comic book collectors, obtaining these superhero films was not easy.  I can remember friends trying to get this film and the “Fantastic Four” film from conventions and they were in the nastiest conditions.  For me, I found a rental copy from a video store and watched it with a few friends.

Yes, it was cheesy and definitely not so faithful to the comic books and while it was a cheesy adaptation, somehow many of us back then wanted these films not so much because they were bad films but because they were superhero films.  A step-up from the old ’70s films and of course, it’s one thing to say how much this film sucks compared to “Captain America: The First Avenger”, these films didn’t have the greatest budget and the superhero films from Marvel were not in the same position as their rival DC, which was doing well with the big budget Michael Keaton “Batman” films.

But at that time, Captain America fans or Marvel fans wanted to grab a copy of these films because we were collectors.

But watching in today, in 2013 and seeing how times have changed where both Marvel and DC are now making the big-budget blockbuster superhero films, these older films… they are no doubt, forgotten films that are now looked at as just slightly better than the ’70s films but that’s not saying much.  Watching it today, it’s just a bad film, bad adaptation, bad music (you have to enjoy how they try to redo popular songs in a different arrangement ala Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film”) but still, I’m sure there are Captain America fans who still want to own a copy of this Blu-ray as their original VHS probably is unwatchable by now.

With this Blu-ray release, there are a few things that Shout! Factory has done that makes this release much better than the 2011 DVD release and it’s the fact that the film is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is so much better than the original DVD and because of many outdoor scenes that the film was shot, colors are so much better and the film doesn’t look 1990.  I was surprised by how much better this film looks in HD versus its 2011 DVD counterpart.  So you get the 1080p High Definition and a lossless 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack.

But possibly the biggest addition which I wanted to see in the first DVD release was a special feature with director Albert Pyun and star Matt Salinger and this is where Shout! Factory has delivered.  Not only do you get a cool 20-minute featurette, both men really go into detail of the problems they ran into shooting this film, but both emphasizing how they had only so much they can work with, because of the very small budget and shortened schedule.

And what happened after the film was done and what happened to the shield and the latex suit!  Those questions are answered in this Blu-ray release!

So, while the 2011 DVD should appease fans, this Blu-ray release for 2013 is so much better! And the even better news is that this Blu-ray release is still budget priced at $11.  I

While I can’t recommend this film to the masses, especially those who are so used to today’s Marvel films, I’m sure there are Marvel/Captain America fans who may have some fondness in their hearts or for memorabilia sake to watch this film all over again and will want this Blu-ray release.  This was how Marvel films were back in the 1990’s, they were not the big money making machine summer blockbuster films they are now.

For nostalgic Marvel/Captain America fans, if you enjoyed the film, it is definitely worth upgrading your VHS or DVD version to this 2013 Blu-ray release of “Captain America: Collector’s Edition”.






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