Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
“I enjoyed ‘The Avengers’. I couldn’t do that kind of movie, though. Superheroes aren’t my deal.” — John Carpenter.
It’s a turd! It’s profane! It’s…another big-budget superhero movie. In the past twenty years, I’ve gone from eagerly wide-eyed to despondently fire-breathing in my recognition of superhero movies. From “Batman and Robin” through “Man of Steel”, they’ve been loud, brash, high on melodrama, low on heart, cannonballed with superfluous explosions, maimed by minimal characterization, and predominantly urinating-on-your-back-issues disrespectful to the origins of the players (no kidding that ‘do-over’ translates to ‘over-do’). Now, my expectations are so low, I don’t bother searching the lint-infested pockets of my corduroys for the pennies/inner strength to see the movies during their theatrical run. I’m very critical of the genre, because the comic book sagas of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Thor, and their brethren in battling the forces of evil have legitimately sustained my existence, which has been loaded with personal problems that might otherwise collude to drive a mortal soul into an afterlife, interior decoration by Tales From the Darkside. You kick my protectors in the titan’s sack, I get a little harsh.
I’m pleased as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out to admit that I’ve seen no fewer than four (horsemen) superhero-ish movies in the past month that I’ve truly enjoyed, healthy low-cal alternatives to the aforementioned choo-choo-train that thought it could and died on the rails. Part I offers two movies: Alter Egos and All Superheroes Must Die (Vs).
In Alter Egos,superheroes C-Thru and Fridge are trapped in a conspiracy orchestrated by their fellow heroes, trying to clean the toddler spew from the reputation of the superheroes in a world where they’re not exactly kosher anymore. Oh, and Fridge’s girl would rather boink the mask than the geek. Ay, caramba! You can forgive a pedestrian plotline when you populate a movie with sympathetic characters, and this movie gives tangible range to the players, without the corrosive cloy of overt moodiness and teeth-grinding iconoclasm prevalent in other features. They’re basic, you know what to expect, and they deliver with some additional perks that move everything along to an entertaining, structurally sensible climax. Joey Kern (C-Thru) always registers a smirk, as he is fondly recalled for his shotgun freak-out as College Boy #2 in Super Troopers. The man’s not Sir Laurence Olivier, but he is well-suited for the guidelines of the role. Danny Masterson’s one-dimensional failed-superhero-turned-cop is also amusing, a man who can turn invisible but for a few seconds. The uniforms of the heroes are appropriately low-budget, two color tones and a letter on the chest, giving the impression that the heroes, the prey and the predator, are joined by the same plight: fight or get ret-conned into supporting cast members on a SNL cast-off’s peripherally snickering, just-hold-the-space-for-5-minutes-until-we-can-get-back-Kelsey-Grammar sitcom (‘Happy Endings’, ‘The Michael Richards Show’, ‘Cleghorne’). At the end, I felt this movie was redemption for Mystery Men, which suffered from its own arrogance, not enough weird, and Christ, Ben Stiller was so damn annoying. William H. Macy had a shovel…and didn’t use it on him! March directly to burning crotchville, kids.
By the by, Alter Egos teased glances at a villain named Electric Death, portrayed by Sean Lennon. I hope we see a spin-off; this demon’s too visually petrifying to send to the crypt:
Next, we discuss the apocalypse-for-tights flick, All Superheroes Must Die, a movie you could sub-title James Remar Gets His Kicks Dragging Bloody Superfolk on Route 666.
Remar, still doing time as the buzz-cut Raiden of the interminably dreadful Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, has his own 80 Minutes of Redemption as the Joker-minus-the-make-up fiend Rickshaw, who has drugged and captivated the local super-powered types to play his Kamikaze Balloon Party Game of Revenge. This movie is about as downbeat as a superhero movie might plunge, loaded with pessimism and self-objurgation, done so charmlessly yet cavalierly that, being a card-carrying curmudgeon with infinite Anthrax/Megadeth on the mental turntable, fixed into cement my black-toothed grin. James Remar hasn’t had this much fun since his turn with the Warriors. Online criticism stentorianly rejects ASMD as under-cooked and excessively self-absorbed. Boo-hoo, what are we doing to our superheroes? Why must they scrape the barnacles from the hull to return to nirvana, even for just a couple o’ minutes?? Look at the movie from my perspective, kids: it’s James Remar. Albert Ganz! Let the wild razorback run! Furthermore, Uncle Sam hasn’t been this thrillkilly high-calorie Sasquatch-on-Five-Hour-Energy since Randy Quaid’s turn in Freaked:
If you hate, hate, hate superhero movies but you know you’ll never be able to gather the forces to your cause but you still really, really, really hate, hate, hate superhero movies, the energy-devouring antimatter rampage that is the composition of All Superheroes Must Die may be the Moby Dick to your Captain Ahab; you’ll harpoon the beast, witness its death rolls, feel the end of that rope tangled ’round your calf give a little tug, and know you’re getting dragged into the Deep Blue Say-No-Mores with your life-long adversary, content as a doomed bit of minnow can be, bound to the backside of legend…
C’mon, gang, don’t you want to watch a movie that’ll help you turn off the world AND drive you back into the live-in closet with your long white cardboard boxes of plastic-sheathed Shangri-La??
Added Not-So-Bonus: A joker may peer over your shoulder as you read this article, then state, “Oh, I got a movie you should see…it’s funny! It’s called Super Capers!! Hurry along now to your laptop and get it!” Turn quickly and force butt of palm into interloper’s pancake, send cartilage to brain. Super Capers is an embarassment. It wants to be camp, but it’s painfully forced. Not even a cameo from Adam West moves along this molasses.
Part II in three weeks!