The Meteor Man
The Meteor Man 1993
I watched this several days after Blankman, a movie that came out one year later with a couple cast members from In Living Color, and yet I liked this movie a lot more. I had seen this movie a long time ago and I remembered liking it, but judging from the general internet opinion I was expecting a complete disaster. But when I actually put it in to watch it again, I surprisingly enjoyed it. In my opinion there’s a heck of a lot more laughs in this movie than there ever was in Blankman. It still goes a little over the top into the cheese train, and it tries with varying degrees of success to inject a message into it. But at least it’s a lot more inspiring than whatever message you can take from Blankman.
Now I’ve gone into this month looking at Black superheroes, and most of them are just a typical comic book movie that happens to have someone black as the main superhero. This feels much more like a superhero movie made for a black audience. It has a ton of cast members that you can recognize from something or another. They may be famous for other things, but I recognized the mother from Family Matters, one of the women from 227, Benson, James Earl Jones, Cyprus Hill, Sinbad, and even an early appearance by Don Cheadle as one of the goofy blonde gang members. Even though he doesn’t say a word, Bill Cosby is the standout and every time he’s on screen he’s fantastically hysterical. But looking at it from the perspective of it being a black movie, it’s kind of odd that the head of all of the gangs is an old white guy. Even though he’s the bad guy, it’s just weird that the guy with the most power is still white. And the music is a real standout from a ton of popular acts which also have cameos throughout the movie. Unlike Blankman, I thought the music for this movie actually fit into the world of the movie much better, I think it helped that the music itself was a lot better too.
One of the first things to notice about this movie is how many superhero cliches are avoided in this movie. The main character played by Robert Townsend of the movie is not a typical heroic guy. He’s seen encouraging smaller kids to run and hide from bullies instead of standing up and fighting. He even hides in a dumpster to avoid gang members and stays there for several hours after they’re gone to make sure he’s safe. Not only that but when he gets his powers he would rather not use them, it takes the convincing of his parents and the rest of the community center to push him into cleaning up the neighborhood. A community that all know his “secret identity”. Even the gang members know his secret identity. And at the end, he loses all his powers and becomes a normal guy, which does kind of kill the idea of a sequel. Heck, even though he gains the ability to fly, he’s afraid of heights and spends most of the movie flying just a few feet off the ground.
The next thing to notice about this movie is the extremely odd assortment of powers given by the meteor. There’s the standards that pretty much just mimic Superman’s abilities of flight, invulnerability, super speed, x-ray vision, heat laser vision, and frost breath. But on top of that he has the abilities to absorb all the information of a book for thirty seconds, talk to dogs, heal injuries by touch, move objects with telekinesis, grow plants at an extraordinary rate and size, and control electronics. Some of the abilities are used for their comic effect, but most of them are used just to help sell one of the more dramatic elements of the plot. It would have been great if more of the abilities were used for comedy or even if just the sheer amount of abilities was used for comedy in some way.
The costume is something of a selling point of how bad this movie is and I just don’t agree with that. I think the costume is really great for what it is trying to convey. It’s set up as a costume that’s made by the guy’s mother in one of those familiar bad costume montages. The logo looks pretty great, but the costume looks like something that could have been made by an actual person. And not something that was made by a complete moron like in Blankman. There’s no way anyone outside of a professional costume designer could make Spiderman’s new costume by themselves. There’s also a great scene towards the end where they throw Meteor Man a thank you party where many of the members of the community are wearing those turned down bad costumes of his.
I’ve gone through a lot of what I liked about this movie, but it is far from perfect. While it is pretty funny throughout, it does have a few moments that are a little too unbelievable and also aren’t really played up for being funny. Like when Robert Townsend first sees two of his students snatching a purse, and when he goes to stop him, what seems like the entire Golden Lords gang comes out of the shadows and they have a frikkin tiger?! And once in a while when they shoehorn in a “message” which in places it comes off as heartfelt, but in others it feels a little too off, especially during the Cyprus Hill non Golden Lords gangfight. On top of that, some of the effects feel a little dated, but the movie isn’t really built around the effects and I didn’t think it took too much away from the movie because of it. I think the biggest problem really is the fact that the main antagonist of this movie, the Golden Lords gang, is really silly. There’s just something goofy about a bunch of black guys, and young black kids called “baby lords” with weird bleach blonde hair, and the leader uses a Slinky of all things to intimidate his victims. And I’m pretty sure I mentioned the tiger. Seriously, they have a frikkin tiger with them and it just makes no sense to me.
All in all, it was a lot of fun to revisit this movie. I enjoyed it a lot, it was fun seeing all the actors that I recognized and if you’re a fan of sitcoms and/or rap artists around this era it’s great to catch all the cameos. If you’re looking for a serious superhero movie, look somewhere else. But this movie has a whole lot of funny moments and when it works, the dramatic moments can surprisingly hit home. I just wish they could have been a bit more consistent on that front. The Meteor Man is definitely worth a look. Next up for me is one I haven’t seen before but I imagine will be neck and neck between Catwoman for worst movie of the month, check out my review of Steel on Thursday. Until next time this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.