The Return Of Captain Invincible

The Return Of Captain Invincible

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

How did the 20th century treat its heroes? Captain Invincible contributed bravely to the war effort, fighting off the Nazis with his superhuman powers. But during the Fifties he was suspected of having Communist sympathies and was forced into retirement. He's spent the intervening years gradually drinking himself to death in an Australian slum. He doesn't fight any more - he doesn't even fly. Still, when push comes to shove, he might be the only man who can save the world.

The Return Of Captain Invincible is a film with many flaws but it's also a film which many fans have fallen head over heels in love with, and it retains a cult following out of all proportion to its initial box office success. Key to this is a wonderful performance by Alan Arkin as the slovenly sometime saviour called out of retirement by plucky young police officer Patty (Kate Fitzpatrick) to investigate the sinister schemes of former arch-villain Mr. Midnight (brilliantly played by Christopher Lee). Arkin fully inhabits the role, never once falling prey to the self-consciousness which is the downfall of many a film of this type. So convincing is he as a human being that it becomes easy to believe a man can fly. He plays it absolutely straight even during episodes of outrageous slapstick. (The fight in the delicatessen is one of the all time classic comedy battles in film history.)

This film suffers from insufficient plot and from a reliance on musical numbers which have dated badly, though there are some great moments amongst them, especially the song on which Mr. Midnight attempts to lure our hero back to the bottle ("If you don't choose your poison / I'll have to get the boys in...") It's tacky as all hell but there's a genuine anarchic spirit present which enables it to get away with things that would destroy a lesser film. All else aside, it showcases two great actors facing off against one another at the peak of their comedic form, and all dedicated fans of the superhero genre are strongly advised to check it out.

Reviewed on: 13 Apr 2008
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Retired alcoholic Captain Invincible is called out of retirement to take on the sinister Mr. Midnight.
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Director: Philippe Mora

Writer: Andrew Gaty, Peter Smalley, Richard O'Brien

Starring: Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Kate Fitzpatrick, Bill Hunter, Michael Pate, David Argue, John Bluthal

Year: 1983

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Australia

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