After the network’s first attempt at a Captain America movie failed at getting a series off the ground they headed right back to the drawing board for another go, and thus, later that very same year, they took another swing at the bat. It also failed.
This installment begins with what clearly would have been the show’s opening if it had been picked up for a series run as it’s basically a credit montage with lots of shots from the first TV movie, and even more endless footage of Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) driving the same coast road in his “awesome” van, but after the opening credits finish we find Rogers sketching an elderly woman.
This is where we get our first bit of action as Steve saves her from getting hit by a Frisbee, now, I’m not saying this isn’t something Captain America would do, because he totally would, but maybe we could focus on something with a bit more heroism and bite.
It is from this sweet old lady that Steve learns a group of muggers has been preying on the elderly, waiting for them to cash their pension check and then snatching it away from them. This simply won’t do so Steve tells her to go ahead and cash her check and not to worry, and sure enough, the poor woman is immediately targeted by the local street gang, but the minute her purse is snatched Captain America leaps into action, bursting out of the back of his van on his Super-Bike as he races after the purse snatcher.
The mugger decides to pull a knife on Captain America because in this universe nobodies heard of Captain America, and Cap throws his shield at the mugger but it misses and flies over the guy’s head (Note: once again the shield is a silly transparent Plexiglas thing that doubles as his bike’s windscreen), but it then wobbles slowly through the air before circling back to nudge the mugger in the back rendering him unconscious.
The action scene isn’t over yet as the mugger’s partner flees the scene in his dune buggy forcing Cap to chase after it on foot, because, either he forgot he has a Super-Bike or he saw a sign that said, “No motorized vehicles on the beach” and of course he is not one to break the rules. Cap yanks the driver out of the dune buggy, without any seeming concern that the vehicle continues down the beach on its own where it could potentially run over poor hapless civilians, and he then tells the mugger “I want you to remember when you get out of jail pal! The old people in this town are my friends. And if I hear they’re having problems again, I’m comin’ after you! You got that?” He then demands to know the name of every member of the gang. Now, we never do find out what he did with those names but one can assume he sent them all sternly worded letters about the perils of a life of crime.
Finally, the actual plot of this movie gets into gear, with the kidnapping of Professor Ilson (Christopher Cary), who has been secretly working on a formula that speeds up aging. While being kidnapped, Ilson managed to write “MIGU” on a piece of glass with hydrochloric acid, these were obviously patient kidnappers who were kind enough to allow him time to do this, and it’s these letters that have Dr. Simon Mills (Len Birman), Dr. Wendy Day (Connie Sellecca) and Steve Rogers sure that the man responsible for the kidnapping is none other than “Miguel” a revolutionary/terrorist responsible for several kidnappings and murders of diplomats all over Europe.
We find that Professor Ilson is, in fact, being held by General Miguel (Christopher Lee), inside a prison where the poor man is forced to mass-produce his rapid aging formula and we learn that the Professor’s entire hometown has been gassed with the formula and all the residents will rapidly age if not given the cure. Quite the ingenious blackmail ploy, I must say. Miguel is pretending to be the warden so that he can work out of prison because “Who in the world would think of looking for the famous terrorist Miguel inside an American penitentiary?” Well, who can argue with that logic?
Our heroes realize that the only way Miguel can have Ilson working on this formula is if he has provided him with the necessary rare chemicals, so rare that they can only be obtained through smuggling, so Steve races to intercept a cargo being unloaded from a ship known for smuggling such items. Before you can sing the first few bars of his theme song, Captain America tears into the dockworkers like a Wal-Mart shopper on Boxing Day.
Cap easily renders all the dockworkers unconscious but what he doesn’t do is find out if these guys are just average Joes working the dock, reacting logically to some idiot in a red, white and blue costume smashing up the place, and I foretell that there will be several civil suits against Captain America in the near future.
Rogers decides to track the shipment and follows it to the sleepy town of Belleville, where he uses the cover of “Wandering Artist” to investigate the town, but before he can get much investigating done a group of local thugs try and scare him off, of course, good ole Steve doesn’t give up that easily and he takes his cat over to the local veterinarian where finds a large crowd lined up out front and it’s there that he meets Helen Moore (Katherine Justice) and her son Peter Moore (John Waldron) to which Rogers asks if the kid could show him around the local trails. The mom says they are too busy running the farm, which is not the reaction most mothers would probably have to some strange dude asking to go off in the woods with her son but Steve is handsome. Lucky for us, the rest of the film focuses mostly on his creepy stalking of the mom and not the kid.
His investigation stalls out because the townsfolk all clam up while he’s around, but he does find out from Dr. Mills that Miguel has contacted the White House and is demanding one billion dollars or he’ll release the rapid aging formula over a major American city. He claims that all people within its range will age 38 days per hour and he also provided a cougar cub dosed with the formula to prove just how effective his formula is.
The local toughs take another run at Steve but once again as these are just normal yahoos with no real chance against a super soldier and he is able to beat the ever-living crap out of them with little to no effort.
This lands him in a jail cell but he uses his super strength to bend the bars of the window and he escapes as Captain America, unfortunately, Miguel’s goons’ were ready for him and they chase him across a dam, where Cap’s only option is to drive off it into the raging waters below.
With Captain America out of the way, and the government refusing to deal with terrorists, Miguel is forced to carry out his threat and proceeds with his plan by skywriting the word “Smile” across the skies of Portland, with its vapour consisting of the rapid aging formula. Miguel’s henchwoman then goes on the radio to inform the citizens that they are all going to die of old age sooner than they expected, unless the government ponies up the money for the cure, “So call your local congressman!”
Rogers, of course, survived crashing down a two-hundred-foot dam of cascading water and retreats to the farm belonging to Helen Moore and her son and it’s here that he finds out the whole town has been blackmailed to keep quiet about what is going on, that they have all been dosed with the rapid aging drug and that they are getting a daily treatment at the veterinarian’s clinic only as long as they co-operate. With the aid of young Peter and some old fashion sleuthing they figure out that Miguel is hiding out at the nearby penitentiary and Captain America races into action!
Miguel orders that the biggest dogs in the prison be given a triple dose of the aging formula, which for some reason makes them super aggressive, and he sicks them on Captain America. Now, at no point in this movie has it been established that this formula does anything else but age you faster, nothing about increased aggression or strength is ever mentioned, which has me questioning Miguel’s plan as it would have pitted Captain America against dogs dying of old age. What a challenge!
Miguel escapes out the East Gate with the antidote and Captain America gives chase in the most awesome way possible, in his Super-Bike which transforms into a hang glider. Words alone cannot describe the majesty of this scene.
After an exciting hang glider vs guy in station wagon chase that reaches speeds of up to 55 mph!! Cap lands and tracks Miguel into the woods. “Too late General, I have your exact position now, you’re 20yrds north and 30yrds west of me.” Captain America informs Miguel of this because, apparently, Cap has some kind of Super-GPS power, as well as enhanced strength and reflexes.
Cap tries that ole shield trick, where he throws it passed the villains so that it can circle back around to hit them from behind, but it fails as Miguel easily ducks it.
“You didn’t expect to fool an old jungle fighter with a boomerang trick like that, did you?” Miguel laughs. The General then throws out that old chestnut that in “Any other circumstance we might have been friends.” Yes, Captain America and a world-renowned terrorist have so much in common, if it wasn’t for the killing of hundreds of innocent people they definitely would have hung out and gone to ball games together. Miguel tries to shoot Cap but that pesky shield gets in the way so he goes to plan “B” and tosses a bottle of the rapid aging formula at him. Cap throws his mighty shield, breaking the bottle, causing its contents to splash all over Miguel who proceeds to age very, very rapidly. This then gives us Captain America wrestling with a decrepit old man, another awesome challenge for our hero!
Cap shrugs him off and then watches in horror as General Miguel dies of old age right in front of him. To the film’s credit, the aging make-up is pretty darn good.
Simon and Steve outfit a helicopter with a crop-dusting sprayer and dose the city of Portland with the cure, but more importantly Steve returns to the town of Belleville to hook up with Peter and his mom.
This was CBS’s last attempt at getting a Captain America series off the ground, and anyone can clearly see why it failed, what with the onscreen heroics varying between bland and boring and a plot so poorly constructed it’s laughable, and Reb Brown was just terrible as the titular hero and even adding such great actors as Christopher Lee to proceedings couldn’t save this dog of a movie.
Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)
Reb Brown is back as Captain America but this time it’s Christopher Lee who has an evil plot centering around a rapid aging formula, but really most of the running time of this movie will be spent with Steve Rodgers hitting on a mom and her little boy. This is the second and last failed pilot attempt from CBS and really no surprise that it never made it to series.