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Watched because shingles, and because magister noticed I had not seen it, and therefore lent me the DVD. It is a pastiche story about a washed-up super-hero, who was America's golden boy in the 1940s, but then fell foul of McCarthyism and ended up drinking meths in the gutter. When his arch-nemesis, Mr. Midnight, makes a re-appearance, steals a government-developed hypno-ray and uses it to gather all of New York's ethnic minorities into a new housing project so that he can blow them up, Captain Invincible has to be brought back into shape to save the day.

It's quite funny, and a perfectly acceptable way to spend an hour and a half, but I think there's a sort of cap on how funny feature-length pastiches can be - generally the joke tends to wear thin after a while, and this is no exception. There are hints also that the script aspired to being more bitingly satirical than it actually is, but that the ideas weren't followed through. This applies especially to the notion of the US government developing a hypno-ray, and Mr. Midnight's declared belief that the 'pure genetic Americans' will applaud his ethnic cleansing of New York and carry him into the White House as a result. Obviously both of those ideas are scathingly critical of America's government and its voting public (the film is Australian, BTW), but they aren't really worked through properly, so that the critique fizzles out rather than hitting home, and the eugenics project in particular just feels weirdly distasteful. In the end, the plot boils down to a standard good vs. evil story, with Captain Invincible saving the day and getting the girl.

Lee plays Mr. Midnight, of course, doing exactly what he normally does best in this sort of role - playing the villain with deadly serious professionalism, yet with a little twinkle in his eye that lets us know how much he is enjoying pushing the performance just as notch or two over the top. He also gets to sing, as the film is a musical comedy. On the whole, the songs aren't up to much, and have that quality of feeling like they are just interrupting the story which is the hall-mark of a weak musical. But Lee's turn close to the end in the alcoholic pun-based 'Name Your Poison' is justly famous, and this Youtube video (which also includes a minute or so of confrontational dialogue between Mr. Midnight and Captain Invincible) captures pretty much everything which is worth seeing about his part in this film:


In short, once you've seen that video, you can safely skip the rest of the movie.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
alexmc
Jan. 3rd, 2016 01:30 pm (UTC)
The vibe I get from that clip is "Rocky Horror Picture Show". Does that make sense if you have seen the rest of the movie?
strange_complex
Jan. 3rd, 2016 01:51 pm (UTC)
Well, that particular song happens to be by Richard O'Brien and Richard Hartley - i.e. the very people who wrote the music for Rocky Horror! So your instincts are well-tuned, there.

Christopher Lee's character is a bit Rocky Horror-ish throughout, with his general cartoon villainousness, but I wouldn't say the rest of the movie was hugely similar.
ms_siobhan
Jan. 4th, 2016 11:12 am (UTC)
That video is hysterical :-)

Hope you are feeling much less shingly today sweetie and returning to work isn't too daunting a prospect.

Will be in touch to arrange filmage.
strange_complex
Jan. 4th, 2016 11:24 am (UTC)
I'm in work today for the first time since getting ill, and mostly sitting here thinking 'Bleurgh, when can I go home?' But thankfully I will be able to work from home for the rest of the week so long as I get a reasonable amount of campus-based stuff done today.

Good good about films! I still have our lovely fizzy cocktail set waiting to be enjoyed, and am ready to enjoy it now, having taken my last anti-shingles tablet this morning.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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