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Case Number 01639

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The Return Of Captain Invincible

Elite Entertainment // 1983 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 19th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

…Everything's going to be just great again!

Opening Statement

What if Superman were real? What if Batman actually prowled the city? And what if these guys ever fell on hard times, finding solace in city alleyways and potent booze? This is the outlandish premise of the Australian cult comedy/musical/adventure/fantasy The Return Of Captain Invincible. Starring Alan Arkin (Edward Scissorhands) as the most unusual of superheroes and Christopher Lee (Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring) as his devilish arch-nemesis Mr. Midnight, The Return Of Captain Invincible is one whacked-out movie. Directed by Philippe Mora (Howling III: The Marsupials) and featuring musical numbers by Rocky Horror Picture Show song scribe Richard O'Brien, The Return Of Captain Invincible soars onto DVD care of Elite Entertainment!

Facts of the Case

Back when men were men and women were cooks, Captain Invincible (Arkin) was the best at what he did: saving the earth from evildoers everywhere! Clad in a silver spandex outfit and topped with a swirling hairstyle, Captain Invincible saved the day on numerous occasions…that is, until he was brought before a McCarthy-ish United States panel and blacklisted for wearing a red cape (Communist!) and flying in U.S. airspace without a proper license!

Years later, the country is once again in dire trouble; the government's latest secret weapon has been stolen and only one man can retrieve it: CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE! There's only one minor problem—Captain Invincible is an alcoholic drinking away his days in Sydney, Australia. Located by beautiful policewoman Patti Patria (Kate Fitzpatrick, A World Apart), Captain Invincible must once again learn how to fly, use his amazing computer brain, and harness his magnetic powers to bring down Mr. Midnight (Lee) before he takes over the world!

With smashing adventure, kooky comedy and catchy musical numbers, Captain Invincible is back to raise America's spirits and prove that what the world needs now is a shining hero!

The Evidence

The Return Of Captain Invincible is an easy candidate for one of the strangest cult films I've ever seen. There have been stranger (Killer Klowns From Outer Space and the killer yogurt movie The Stuff come to mind), but those didn't include wacky theatrical numbers or Alan Arkin mumbling about patriotism while clad in silver looking pajamas.

The Return Of Captain Invincible is a hard movie to pigeon hole; it's a comedy, but it's also a fantasy. It's an action flick, but also a musical. It's got a message, yet includes jokes about giant peach pits and something called "Operation Canine Feces." In a nutshell, The Return Of Captain Invincible seems to have it all. Writers Steven E. Desouza and Andrew Gaty have crafted a screenplay that both deconstructs and glorifies the age old myth of superheroes (yes, they too are susceptible to the ill effects of vodka and cognac). Alan Arkin is one of those rare actors that elevates any movie he's in. This guy could star in a Bounty paper towel commercial and make it seem hysterical. Arkin's trademark mumbling and deadpan humor serve him well as the indomitable Captain Invincible; he's both superior yet humorously humble at the same time. As his arch nemesis Mr. Midnight, legendary Hammer Horror star Christopher Lee hams it up with evil bravado. Where else will you get the chance to see someone of Mr. Lee's stature and talent singing about the temptation of alcohol and world domination?

If this all sounds just a little too weird for a superhero movie, well, that's the point. The Return Of Captain Invincible wasn't meant to be taken as a serious action movie. The comedy and one-liners are often very broad and the songs usually off-beat and hysterical. Those who thought Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You was funny will think The Return Of Captain Invincible is even funnier; the last people you'd expect to belt out a tune are Christopher Lee and Alan Arkin (and for good reason…none of the actors featured in The Return Of Captain Invincible are very talented crooners). If you're looking for pristine special effects you'll be disappointed by The Return Of Captain Invincible's cheesy bluescreen shots and cheap explosions. However, the effects only height the movie's sense of the absurd—if you can't have a fake looking vulture eating a fake looking snake just for fun, what kind of mixed up world are we living in?

The Return Of Captain Invincible's only true downfall is that it's a bit uneven in spots. There are funny scenes, but the film as a whole doesn't always feel like it's on the same wavelength as the previous scenes. Maybe there's a reason why studios today don't produce comedies that feature singing super villains and dancing government agents. But don't let that sour you from seeing this movie—weirdness is a relative term, and in The Return Of Captain Invincible's case, it's a good one.

The Return Of Captain Invincible is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I'm not sure how this movie looked on VHS, though I'm guessing it was muddy, murky, and vastly sub-par. Elite seems to have put forth some effective work on this transfer, making sure that the color schemes and black levels all look even and strong. While the movie sports a small amount of grain and edge enhancement, the overall image looks great (especially considering the shoestring budget and age of the film). This is by no means a perfect looking picture, but fans of this cult comedy will be happy to see it in its original widescreen version looking better than ever.

Audio is presented in a newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. After hearing this track I think I can safely state that it's really a mixed bag—the musical numbers are a lot of fun with all speakers being utilized, yet other effects in the film seem somewhat out of place when thrown to the back speakers. This newly produced 5.1 track is better than anything else Elite might have done with the soundtrack, and for that I can't really complain. All aspects of the dialogue, effects and music are free of any excessive distortion or hiss. No alternate audio tracks or subtitles are available on this disc.

While fans will be thrilled to see The Return Of Captain Invincible sporting a new sound mix and anamorphic widescreen presentation, they're going to be sorely disappointed to find only a single anamorphic theatrical trailer as its supplemental feature.

Closing Statement

I've seen odder movies, but not many. The air in Australia must be pretty thin for them to make films like The Return Of Captain Invincible. Even so, it's great to know that there are movies out there with this kind of bizarre spirit. Elite has done a passable job of cleaning up the transfer and remixing the soundtrack, though the exclusion of any substantial extra features will drive some superhero wannabes to drink!

The Verdict

The Return Of Captain Invincible is free to go, 'cause you just can't lock up an American original! Into the blue!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 84
Extras: 25
Acting: 88
Story: 81
Judgment: 76

Perp Profile

Studio: Elite Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Genre:
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb








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