Zoom: Academy of Superheroes
Zoom: Academy of Superheroes 2006
I bought this movie a little while ago when I found it on clearance at a half price bookstore for two bucks. When I watched it a few years ago, I saw it right around the same time as I saw Sky High which I will be reviewing on Thursday. Sky High came out a year earlier than this one, but they’re both very similar movies. When I watched them the first time around, I enjoyed this movie better, simply enough, it made me laugh more. And it still makes me laugh just as much. But when I watched it this time, I did notice some pretty glaring problems with the plot, but as long as I was laughing, I didn’t care as much. I rewatched Sky High just a couple days later and it didn’t make me laugh nearly as much, but it did have a much better story, and almost all the characters were more well developed, but I’ll talk about that more in my full review on Thursday. Jena watched this movie with us, but she never really had much to say about it, she stayed with it through the entire movie, but when it was over, she was ready to move on to the next thing.
Zoom is a retired teenage superhero who led a government sponsored team of superheroes twenty years ago that was broken apart when they used Gamma 13 treatments to heighten their powers. The treatments made Concussion go rogue and kill the entire squad except for Zoom, who sent him away in a dimensional vortex… I guess. The movie wasn’t really that clear on how he was defeated, but now the dimensional vortex is on its way back and they need to recruit a new team of superpowered kids to defeat him once again. Don’t ask me why they need kids, or how they found these kids, because I have no idea. It’s weird because they show the discovery process with all four of the kids that will become the new Zenith Squad, and then it’s followed with a redundant interview style selection that comes up with the exact same four kids. Personally, I liked the interview style scene better and thought the introduction scenes could have been cut. It’s also very similar to Sky High’s hero placement scene. Anyway, it follows with the kid’s training followed by the final showdown with Concussion when he returns.
But while the plot is pretty basic, it’s the comedy that’s front and center in this movie, for me personally at least. The problem with comedy, is it often comes down to taste, fortunately for me, the comedy ended up fitting right in with my tastes. There’s a lot of slapstick humor, especially with Courtney Cox’s scientist character falling down a lot, and the little 6 year old super strong girl Cindy throwing or breaking very heavy things. I especially liked the little visual humor that I recognize all too well having a 5 year old girl myself, where Cindy is constantly wearing a dress up outfit like a princess or a ballerina or a poodle or something else just like it. I also enjoyed Tim Allen’s personality as a reluctant teacher, Home Improvement was a favorite show of mine and my father’s when I was younger and I just plain like his style of humor in this movie. The other high point for me was Chevy Chase, some people may view his humor as sophomoric and childish, but Chevy just makes me laugh anytime I see him in this movie.
Let’s move on to who should be the stars of the movie, the four kids. There’s Dylan who can become invisible and becomes the de facto leader of the team. Later on, he also gains the ability to “mind ride” or have an out of body experience and can see what’s going on in other parts of the area. He’s pretty vanilla in this movie when he’s showing his disinterest in the training or when he’s making googoo eyes at Summer. Summer is the other teenager who has telekinetic powers, telepathic powers, and technopathic powers. In other words, she can move stuff with her mind, read other people’s minds, and can understand electronics with her mind. She’s kind of the powerhouse of the team even though she’s pretty underutilized in any sort of training or battles. Tucker is the funny fat kid of the team, and pretty much all the jokes centered around him are about his eating or being fat. Even his power accentuates his bulk as he is able to increase the size of any part of his body to extremes. He’s never really utilized beyond the jokes, and while Spencer Breslin is a little overweight for his age, he’s constantly wearing a very unconvincing shirt that seems like it’s just lined with foam to make him look even fatter, but to me it just makes him look like he’s wearing a bulky shirt. Finally, there’s Cindy, the youngest of the team with super strength. I pretty much already talked about what I liked about her with her various costume changes, and she feels like the strongest character when they’re playing off the dynamic of being a regular 6 year old girl who happens to have this enormous strength.
For me, it was the adult characters which made the movie enjoyable. I already mentioned Chevy Chase and Courtney Cox and their physical humor which always got a laugh out of me, even though one of the scenes with Chevy in the outdoor simulator was there solely for the purposes of letting Chevy do some physical comedy. Rip Torn as the grumpy totalitarian head of the program was pretty great as well, coming in with a great assortment of insults and the right amount of blowhard. Another favorite little scene of mine is when Zoom gets his powers back and he’s racing across the desert and trips at super speed. There may not be a lot of substance in this movie, and there’s a lot of incredulity with some of the explanations of the way things work, but if you go into it with the right mindset, it’s a lot of fun with some good laughs. As I said before, I’ll be taking a look at Sky High to see how it holds up to my memory on Thursday, until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.