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The Return of Captain Invincible

Return of Captain Invincible, The (Philippe Mora, 1983) aka Legend in Leotards; prod. Andrew Gaty for Seven Keys, wr. Andrew Gaty, Steven de Souza, dp Mike Molloy. design David Copping, ed. John Scott; Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Kate Fitzpatrick, Bill Hunter, Michael Pate, David Argue, John Bluthal, Chelsea Brown, Max Cullen, Arthur Dignam, Noel Ferrier, Hayes Gordon, Chris Haywood, Graham Kennedy, Gus Mercurio, Max Phipps, Alfred Sandor; comedy; Eastman colour, 35mm, 92 min.

Because I’d just watched The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012) I dug out Philippe Mora’s The Return of Captain Invincible (1983). I vaguely remembered it being pretty bad: it’s worse than I could recall. As with another of the four features Mora has directed in Australia, Howling III: The Marsupials (1987), it’s difficult to keep the film as a whole in mind—because there is no whole. There are so many things going in so many directions that it’s hard to say what is the point, or even what is supposed to be. I suppose Howling 3 is intended to be a parody of a horror film, but it seems to end up as an environmentalist tract. And Captain Invincible may be intended to be a musical parody of the superhero film (with a bit of Dr Strangelove thrown in) but it doesn’t end up being anything in particular. … Christopher Lee sings really well: who would have thought?

I might as well include Mad Dog Morgan (1976) here, as I haven’t seen the fourth film, Death of a Soldier (1986), tho I did buy a copy. What it seems to me to have in common with the other two is more, indeed conclusive evidence that directing actors is not Mora’s forte. Dennis Hopper should not have been cast as an Irish bushranger active in Australia. His character is not under his control, nor that of the director. If anything saves the film, it is the benign presence of the luminous David Gulpilil.

The film starts well ... But the good humour of the early scenes gives way to some fairly feeble suspense later on, and the film loses steam and ends on an extremely tame note. Several songs are no help at all. David Stratton: 79.

Garry Gillard | New: 29 January, 2013 | Now: 28 June, 2020