[Review] Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD

If you have been following this blog for a while, you may recall my experience with comic books goes back to my childhood where I was introduced to many characters. One book in particular was an issue of Daredevil (vol. 1, #123) where I first met Nick Fury. In this issue, Foggy Nelson (Daredevil's friend) was kidnapped by HYDRA and was held in HYDRA's secret base beneath Shea Stadium in New York. Not only did Daredevil attempt to rescue Nelson, SHIELD was sent in, led by Nick Fury (as an aside, I didn't remember that Black Widow was also in this book, and so this was also my first introduction to Natasha Romanov).

I love Samuel L. Jackson as Fury, but his is not the Fury I remember from my childhood.  Not too long ago, I was flipping channels and saw this 1998 movie, and realized that David Hasselhoff was cast in the title role. This surprised me, but as I discovered it well into the movie, I didn't stay, as I wanted to watch it all the way from the beginning. And then I forgot about it. Until a couple of things happened. One, Marvel and ABC announced a weekly series based on the SHIELD presented in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Another was the debut of the WELCOME TO LEVEL 7 podcast, which reviewed the MCU movies and prepared listeners for the AGENTS OF SHIELD series. The last thing that reminded me of this movie was running across a DVD of NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD.  So, I tracked down an online version, and watched, fully anticipating to hate it.

But, I was surprised. I didn't hate it. Is it great cinema? Hardly. But it wasn't intended to be. Rather, it is cheesy, comic book fun from before we started insisting that things be grounded in reality.

NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD was intended to be a potential pilot for a weekly series, and as such anticipated the current AGENTS OF SHIELD series by a full seventeen years.  It starred David "Knightrider/Baywatch" Hasselhoff, and was written by David S. Goyer. Yes, that David S. Goyer. The same writer who worked on Christopher Nolan's DARK KNIGHT films and the recent MAN OF STEEL.
The story is a simple one, with a plot that could have been lifted straight from the comics. The daughter of a classic villain, Andrea von Strucker (Baron von Strucker's daughter, also known as Viper), is preparing to release the Death's Head virus over New York killing the population of the city and surrounding areas. Nick is pulled out of a forced "retirement" to deal with the threat because he is the only one willing to do what it takes.

There is a lot for fans to appreciate in this TV movie:
A Helicarrier!
LMDs! (and, following Chekov's Law, we do see it in action)

This is the eye patch rockin', cigar chompin', wise crackin' Nick Fury I remember from the old comic books at my aunt's house. This was before he looked like Samuel L. Jackson. While there were a few breakdowns in his portrayal, Hasselhoff nails the characterization I  remember from the comic book.

I didn't care for the way that the actress playing Viper (Sandra Hess) chewed the scenery. She comes off even cheesier than the Hoff. In fact, her characterization is so broad that I thought her accent was horrible. I later learned that she really is from Zurich, Switzerland.

Also, another character, Dr. Arnim Zola, feels horribly underwritten, as if the producers wanted to include him, but no one really understood how.

It's easy to see why it failed, but if it had been picked up, it would have been insanely expensive, so I can't imagine that it would have been successful.

Hasselhoff has recently slammed Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of the character in a way that really makes him appear bitter and petty.  As I mentioned, I thought he nailed the character as I remembered him, but that doesn't necessarily make him the definitive Nick Fury, as Hoff apparently believes.

In short, this is a cheesy, fun movie that Marvel fans can enjoy and compare with the new interpretations from the MCU.

 (Note: this review was originally featured on the SpiritBlade Underground podcast with Paeter Frandsen: http://spiritbladepodcast.blogspot.com/2014/02/episode-301-agricola-and-nick-fury.html?m=1)

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