Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979) Review

Rating: 1.5 Stars

The following review contains spoilers.

Overview:

The second and final movie in human sandbag Reb Brown’s Captain America series is here and I have to say it’s a marginal improvement over the first outing. It’s so much odder, and therefore significantly less boring. It opens with Steve Rogers hanging out in a beach town sketching a portrait of an old woman, who complains to him that a gang has been terrorizing the elderly of this community, mugging them when they cash their pension checks. Rogers encourages her to go ahead and cash her check, with the idea to use her as unwitting bait to track down the muggers. Once her purse is snatched, Rogers bursts out of his van on his Captain America-Cycle (he does this a lot) and gives chase. He takes out the first one—who appears to belong to a biker gang—but not before the purse is tossed to a confederate driving a dune buggy (this is a very sophisticated purse-snatching operation), to which Rogers gives chase on foot and quickly apprehends, returning the purse to the old woman.

Meanwhile, an international terrorist known only as Miguel has kidnapped a scientist who has been working on an anti-aging serum. Rogers is tasked with recovering the scientist, and so he goes to the port to track down a smuggled chemical Miguel would need for recreating this serum, and for some bizarre reason he beats the living crap out of all of the innocent dockworkers who seem to assume he’s a burglar. Anyway, he manages to locate the chemical, and hangs back to see who collects it, following them to a small town in Oregon. He’s not very good at it however, and he loses track of the chemical when they throw it out of the side of their vehicle to a waiting car (basically the identical maneuver done by the purse-snatching biker gang earlier).

Rogers decides to hang around the town and figure out what’s going on, so he sets up shop in the local park painting a picture of the pet cat he apparently brought with him on this mission. Some local toughs, employed by Miguel to keep outsiders away, go to rough him up and tell him to leave town. Rogers bluffs that he’s looking for a veterinarian for the cat, and they tell him the veterinarian is on vacation. Now before I say what happens next, please remember that this whole conversation about the veterinarian is just back-and-forth bluffing and posturing. So anyway Rogers goes straight to the veterinarian’s office (why?), and sees a line stretching literally down the block. He makes his way inside and tells the doctor his cat may have a broken “coleoptera” but the doctor says the cat’s foot seems fine. Rogers realizes then that the doctor is a fake, as coleoptera is a type of beetle and not a bone in a cat’s foot (seriously, why any of this?).

Anyway, to make a long story short, Miguel has possession of a rapid aging solution, and has used it on this entire town, making them all hostages, and forcing the kidnapped doctor to keep working or he will withhold the antidote from them. The veterinarian is distributing small doses of the antidote, which explains the long line. Rogers learns this from a local hot widow that he later makes out with, and whose son’s pet lamb (“Whitey”) was found to have died of old age, despite only being a few months old. She also helps Rogers track down Miguel’s base of operations, when she explains that the type of grass he found stuck to the veterinarian’s car tires is well-known to grow in the area southeast of town.

So Rogers goes down there to confront Miguel and acquire the antidote, but Miguel has already left (alone) with a trunk full of it. Rogers gives chase on his motorcycle, which he ramps off the prison wall so it can transform into a hang glider (!). Once he catches up to Miguel, they end up chasing each other around in the woods for a bit. Finally Miguel throws a bottle of the rapid aging serum at him, which Rogers deflects with his thrown shield, shattering it all onto Miguel, and despite the movie saying earlier you age like a few months an hour from this stuff, he instantly turns into a decrepit old corpse. Rogers gets the antidote, and distributes it to the people of Portland via leaking it like a mist out of a helicopter.

Best Parts:

This movie is very odd, and it keeps you at least interested to see what weird thing will happen next.

I liked Connie Sellecca’s Dr. Day uncomfortably “cuddling” a baby mountain lion that Miguel had sent the heroes to prove his aging serum worked, as well as all the follow-up scenes where we see a progressively older mountain lion growling in a cage. Like, why not a dog or something?

Speaking of Dr. Day, I didn’t get a chance to mention that she injects herself with a sample of the antidote to make sure it wouldn’t kill someone, then flies to Portland, finds identical twin babies just born who had been infected with the aging serum like everyone else there, and only injects one of them with the antidote to see if it actually works. A few hours later, you have a baby and a six-month-old and this is supposed to be, like, the good news.

Captain America actually throws his shield on more than one occasion, unlike the first film.

I didn’t mention that one of the thugs draws big black glasses on Rogers’ cat painting as part of the effort to bully him into leaving town.

Worst Parts:

Okay, so it’s less boring than the first one, but it’s still kind of boring.

Reb Brown is still a charisma vacuum. His Captain America is still a prick. Like in the course of evading attack by a gang of thugs, he literally destroys some random guy’s house just to trip them up. I already mentioned how he beats up all the dockworkers for no reason. And he always smiles as he does it. He’s a real a-hole.

I mean I guess what do you expect from this thing, but it’s jarring how much of the plot progression is based on absolutely nothing. In the same way that Rogers goes to investigate the veterinarian for no actual reason, most of the things that happen in this movie just happen and you don’t really know what’s driving them. It’s as if the story was written by small children just saying “and then”, “and then”, “and then”.

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