Classic Film Review: Captain America (1990)

Marvel vs. DC:

Captain America, 1990

Directed by: Albert Pyun

Starring: Matt Salinger, Ronny Cox, Scott Paulin, Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, Francesca Neri, Michael Nouri


In the 1930’s a German scientist performs an experiment on a small boy, which turns him into the villainous Red Skull (Scott Paulin). To fight back, the USA (now using the same lead scientist from the Germans after she switched sides) perform their own version of the experiment on a willing Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger), turning him into Captain America. The two fight and Captain America ends up frozen in Alaska until the 70’s where he’s found and de-thawed, only to realise the villainous Red Skull is still at large (now without the red face), and plans to kidnap and use brain control on President Kimball (Ronny Cox). Marvel films were struggling to get going. Howard the Duck was poorly received and The Punisher was more average than anything.

This film is the 170th film I’ve reviewed since starting this website, and in a lot of films I’ve praised the sounds inside them, even terrible films can have a decent soundtrack. And never, before now, have I criticised the sound choices. Captain America has a terrible soundtrack. The songs are awful, they don’t convey the emotions of the film and they make it sound like a generic soap opera. And the plot progresses as f it were a soap opera, too, with Steve Rogers returning home to his old girlfriend’s house, only to see she’s older now, and ends up befriending her daughter. There’s a sub-plot about the president who saw Captain America as a child and wanted to meet him again as he keeps his picture (he managed to snap a picture when Captain America was tied to a rocket) in his wallet. It’s all very casual, and funny-sounding, and relaxed. And the relaxed comment really, really annoyed me at one point because they’re having a going-away party for Steve before he has the experiment but everything seems so tranquil and colourful and wonderful. There’s a war going on, it’s 1943, but you wouldn’t know that looking at everything, with many young men still at home and a girl confused about how she’ll cope not being with Steve every day despite loads of young men having gone to war so it’s more strange how Steve hasn’t gone already. It’s just bad.

It’s also miscast. I don’t like Captain America: The First Avenger (I don’t really like the character) but Chris Evans is a perfect choice for the role: he looks fit, he looks good, he’s of a decent age. Matt Salinger is none of those things; coming across as an out-of-shape, ageing man with a shield that can be thrown in weird ways and then pirouettes and all-sorts in the air. Everyone else is poor at best, with no emotion shown for things that have happened in the past (Bernie’s (Kim Gillingham) death is forgotten about pretty easily from the one-time love of her life and her daughter) and some terrible expressions on the faces of fighters (although it’s hard to see with all the quick-cuts that happen; the laziest form of editing).

If its poor acting, terrible plot, horrific soundtrack, boring pace and lack of interesting characters doesn’t appeal to you, then you clearly have more sense than anyone involved in this film.


Plot: *             Acting: *         Writing: *       Presentation: *

Overall Rating: *

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