There are three main rules when it comes to spotting a failed pilot for a TV show.
1: You have at least two or three supporting characters given way more backstory than usual, often with skills the lead character doesn’t have, and most importantly of all they don’t die.
2: The villain of the piece will almost always “survive” in one form or another.
3: It’ll usually throw some irrelevant world-building detail in there too.
It doesn’t take a genius to spot these – which is why I did it – and it doesn’t mean the movie is going to be bad (the Western version of “Once A Thief” is fantastic, for example), but it’s fun to look out for. Click the “pilot that crashed” tag at the bottom of the page for our reviews of others in this sub-genre.
Although we’ve been spoiled by “The Ultimates” comic and the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Nick Fury being the bald, magnificent Samuel L Jackson, in the “original” Marvel comic line, still going (I assume), Nick Fury is a grizzled white fella, constantly chewing on a cigar. He did some stuff in WW2, then got some anti-ageing serum because they realised an otherwise non-superpowered chap would be dead as the proverbial doornail by the 21st century. For most of his existence in the comics, he’s been in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., which you may know about from the TV show currently boring us to tears, a group of mostly non-superpowered folks who help out the Avengers and deal with all manner of villains. Their base of operations is the Helicarrier, basically an enormous floating aircraft carrier.
I know this will sound weird in 2015, but David Hasselhoff was perfect casting for this. He’s a big, strong-looking guy, fits the part as written in the comics and understands camp. You don’t get to be the star of two of the biggest TV shows of all time, with some of the ludicrous storylines they trotted out, without having a bit of a sense of humour about your own career, and that’s what some shows based on comics need. They can’t all have the seriousness of a “Dark Knight”.
Which makes the script credit even more surprising. David Goyer wrote the Christopher Nolan Batman films, “Blade”, “Man of Steel”, “Dark City”, is attached to the upcoming “Metal Gear Solid” movie, and is now one of the biggest names in Hollywood – although we ought to bear in mind he got his start with Full Moon and wrote “Demonic Toys” too. It’s strange to see a man whose name is tied to the most serious superhero movies also behind this.
Nick Fury has been living in an abandoned mine for the last five years, since being kicked out of SHIELD for reasons unknown. Brilliantly, they don’t bother explaining why, they just need him back because HYDRA, the Yin to SHIELD’s Yang, are back. Fury killed Baron Von Strucker but his kids, Andrea (aka Viper) and Werner, storm a SHIELD base, steal his body and develop a super-destructive, Ebola-beating virus from his blood. So it’s them vs. Fury and SHIELD, and there’s kidnaps and fake robot versions of people and properly evil OTT villains and weasely pencil-pushing bosses who won’t just let Nick do his job, dammit!
Once you accept the over-the-top nature of it all is deliberate, there’s not a ton to hate about this movie – Hasselhoff knows how to do this, and Sandra Hess (“Viper”) has the rare distinction of being in two crashed pilots (this and “Beastmaster 3”). Hoff’s sidekick Lisa Rinna, US soap mainstay and last seen by us in 1993’s “Robot Wars”, behaves like she’s in a different sort of film, which is tricky, and every SHIELD agent apart from the main cast is terribly incompetent, but it’s small potatoes.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this film. The split assault at the end is really well handled, kudos to Goyer and director Rob Hardy for nailing the timing of it so well, there’s some fun banter too, and the villains understand their job is to cackle like maniacs about the murder of millions and play their parts to the hilt. Considering this film is only 2 years older than the first X-Men movie, it feels more like 20 (not that that’s a bad thing). Honestly, I’d rather watch this than any two episodes of the “Agents of SHIELD” TV show.
There’s one final thing, noticed by my friend Dave, that could make the movie very different. HYDRA send a perfect robot replica of the SHIELD director in to cause havoc and play a hologram message. Why don’t HYDRA just go into the legal robot business and make billions? Imagine the possibilities – decoys for politicians and celebrities, “adult” movie stars, scarecrows for very wealthy farmers…crime is a mug’s game, HYDRA!
Rating: thumbs up