Friday, June 7, 2013

Bechtloff Movie Night: The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)

The idea of a golden age super hero being the victim of 50's era McCarthyism is nothing new in comics, but I had never heard of a super hero movie tackling that until I heard about this movie. Captain Invincible was the world's greatest super hero during World War II, but ended up labeled a communist sympathizer and disappeared from the public eye in disgust. He spent decades hiding in Australia as a drunken bum but was coaxed into returning to take on his old enemy Mr. Midnight. Sounding interesting so far right? But then everyone starts singing and this movie goes off the rails in a big way.

The synopsis says "It's a comedy...it's a fantasy...it's a musical...it's an action adventure." What it is is a movie that's tone is so inconsistent it borders on schizophrenic. The first time this movie breaks out into song the President is meeting with advisers and starts singing the word "bullshit" over and over again. Just that one word. This is pretty far into the movie and had I not known it was sorta a musical I would have thought I was having a stroke it was such a jarring shift in tone. But even if you took out the musical numbers that are beyond out of place you would still have a movie that didn't know what it wanted to be. It's primarily a comedy, but it can't decide what type. There are times it let's the humor flow naturally from the absurdities of the super hero and super villain cliches and there are times the humor is complete random silliness that would be more at home in a movie like Airplane or Naked Gun.

And it's a damn shame because there are some really great parts about this movie. The first 10 minutes or so where we see Captain Invincible in action during WW2 and then the red scare witch hunt was great. I love when Cap's lawyer is reading off some of the charges against him. Impersonating a military officer (because he calls himself Captain), flying without a pilots license, and wearing his underwear outside his clothes. This could have been a fantastic movie, but it gets pulled in so many directions at once that it really comes apart and is hard to get through by the end of it all.

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