I think that David Mazin sort of missed the whole point of the original Scream, eventually writing instalments 3 and 4 of the Scary Movie spoof franchise. He missed the point because the Scream is a superb take on the teenage horror genre at the time; it never really needed the spoof treatment. The money spinner that Hollywood is saw fit to pursue these movies though and all have raked in an inordinate amount of cash, so there's obviously a good market out there. However the more recent ones have fallen on stony ground; Meet the Spartans for instance was ridiculed from both critics and the cinema going public alike, so has the slap stick spoof seen its day?
Although Superhero Movie has an immense potential for ridiculing a popular genre, with a massive amount of back stories to concentrate on, this one really doesn't hit any mark.
Rick Riker's (Drake Bell) off on a school trip and whilst there is bitten by a genetically enhanced super dragonfly. Not before too long he finds he has remarkable superpowers, almost identical in nature to one Spider-Man, and he vows to use these powers for the good of mankind. He soon finds he has an arch enemy in the shape of “The Hourglass” (Christopher McDonald), a super villain whose demonic gift is to rob other people of their life force and in his quest to become immortal “The Hourglass” needs more and more souls to feed on.
The superhero genre has been with us in the media in one form or another for many a long year, in the early 1930s we could regard Buster Crabbe as the superhero Flash Gordon, saving the world from the evil of Ming the Merciless. Their current incarnations though stem from the pulp magazines of 'Detective Comics' and Batman, 1939, or 'Action Comics' and Superman, 1938. So the superheroes have been with us for just under 80 years and that's a lot of material from which to work from.
This feature though primarily looks at the recent surge in superheroes on the big screen and in particular the Spider-Man series specifically Spider-Man 1 & 2; it does touch upon other favourites... namely the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Batman, but really it's Spidey that he takes a good swing at here. On the whole it does its job well with some good references to the films in question; with some scenes almost a carbon copy of what we enjoyed a few years ago. On this level it works quite well with writer Mazin obviously knowing his stuff. The fault is that although the individual scenes may be set up correctly there's just not a great deal of laughs when the director shouts action.
Spoof films have been with us for nearly as long as the superhero genre, but really they came into their own with the Airplane franchise of the early 1980s and then producer David Zucker continued his career in that mould, now helping produce this latest instalment. It would be good though if he were to try his hand at some other ventures because these are now just becoming a little too stale for their own good.
I cannot really fault the production values because they are high enough for what they need to be, with some good use of special effects and decent enough CGI work. Equally I can't really fault the acting because again it's just hammed up nicely for what it needs to be with the actors submitting to a good amount of slap stick when needed. As mentioned Mazin knows his stuff so pushes the right buttons in the right area. I think though that these productions are just getting a little too well known, and whereas once they had some bite now they seem a little toothless, a little stagnant and certainly far too repetitive for their own good. Whilst watching this I found I had seen it all before, that I knew where the laughs were coming from and nothing really gave me any surprises.
True I had a little laugh here and there but in a feature running for just over 80 minutes I would have preferred a little more than just a few. For a film which sells itself on a gag every 15 seconds or so this has to be seen as a let down surely. The actors have a good enough time playing their parts with Drake Bell and Sara Paxton mirroring the Toby Maquire/Kirsten Dunst roles pretty well. Look out for Christopher MacDonald though going over the top as “The Hourglass”, and if you're going to spoof a super villain then over the top is the only way to play it. Brent Spinner has a short role as lab assistant but when he's on screen you think of little other than Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. An unknown (to me at any rate) Miles Fisher pops up as Tom Cruise, and I have to say that I enjoyed his performance the best and found it to be the funniest part of the movie; even his section in the deleted scenes is much better than the majority of the main feature, so give it a watch.
There's nothing much really wrong with Superhero Movie, it's just that there's not that much right with it either. More of the same and I get the feeling that the vast majority of the cinema going public have had enough of this and need something new. If the figures from the box office are correct then this still has some way to go to recoup its $35 million budget and hopefully it will do so now it's on disc. Those box office figures though seem to provide evidence to the fact that this genre is in need of a reboot, and quickly. These days it seems that it's no longer good enough to just steal whole scenes from other films and add a slap stick element to them, what is needed now is more inventive writing and whilst we were seeing glimpses of that in Scream unfortunately it hasn't continued to the mainstream.
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