The Photon Effect
The Photon Effect 2010
With only a couple weeks left to go, I finally reached my goal to watch and review 100 superhero movies in 2012. Not only that, but this is what I feel as the perfect movie to be number 100. When I started this site, I had planned to only write reviews. But as the site evolved and grew I added other elements, blog posts, polls, blogger interviews, and most importantly short film reviews and interviews. I remember when I first decided to add Superhero Shorts to this site, I was listening to one of Kevin Smith’s podcasts and heard about a guy who made a fan film based on the fictional origin of that podcast. I thought it was a fun little short, and since he’s just a regular guy I figured he would be easy to get a hold of, so I asked him for an interview. He agreed, and Babble-On Begins became the first edition of Superhero Shorts. Since then, I’ve talked to many fan filmmakers as well as a few who have made a name for themselves. One of the earlier fan filmmakers I contacted was Dan Poole who made a short film called The Green Goblin’s Last Stand. Several months later, I got a reply saying that he didn’t even realize that he had made the e-mail account I had sent my inquiry to, and that most of his time was spent working on the Photon Effect. So I checked out the site, thought the trailer was pretty sweet and said that I’d still be interested in interviewing him, but would like to also watch the Photon Effect so I could talk about that experience as well. So be on the look out for my next edition of Superhero Shorts in the near future.
The Photon Effect is an independent film that’s currently being self-distributed, after reading this review feel free to head over to his site and pick up a copy for yourself. It’s about two cousins who spend their time doing antenna repairs. Derek is the responsible one, although he’s also known to take risks if it’s something he thinks will help someone else. While Jay is the irresponsible one who’s an alcoholic with a suspended licence. One of the first things I noticed was the dialog and chemistry between the two cousins. It had a real Kevin Smith vibe to it, and I’m a big Kevin Smith fan. The two leads have an easy rapport with each other and I can totally believe them as being cousins. The only thing I wasn’t quite as convinced of, is that I didn’t feel that Jay played a very convincing drunk.
I thought the concept of the super powers in this movie was pretty well done, the idea is that through some technobabble, they are able to harness different electromagnetic waves which they can use in different ways. There are a couple accidents along the way which end up giving both of the cousins a version of these powers. Jay ends up volunteering to be a test subject to replace the one that died in the opening sequence. He ends up being able to shoot waves of energy, and can also use a type of microwave radiation to cause someone to lose control of their bowels. It’s a cheap joke, but it mostly works. I think they went a little overboard on the sound effects, but at least it’s only used a couple times. Derek meanwhile ends up getting his powers from an accident while working on the antenna. He gains the ability to see electromagnetic waves, channel his energy into an attack, and most importantly, super-speed. One of the things I liked about this explanation is that after using very much of his super speed, he’s completely drained of his energy and needs to eat large amounts of food to keep up his metabolism.
The special effects in this movie are notably done on the cheap, but many of them look great for what they are. There are many examples where the effects look pretty impressive, but there are also moments where they look like they were pulled from a 70’s TV show, especially when Derek’s running at super speed alongside a motorcycle. On a different note, I did like the fact that the petty criminal on the motorcycle showed up a few times earlier in the movie before he finally gets his comeuppance from the newly powered Derek.
The strongest point in this movie is really the relationship between the two cousins. I will honestly say that I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to end up throughout the entire movie. It may be somewhat cliched that the two cousins get similar powers, and one becomes good while the other becomes evil, but Jay never feels fully evil, more like someone trying to contain an evil within himself. Something that could have made a stronger impact if it had been expanded on better. There were always hints that he wasn’t fully aware of what he was doing when he was drunk on beer/electromagnetic waves, but it was never really clear if it was directly caused by the power cocktail he was drinking, or if it was a more indirect result of him being an alcoholic. But through it all, I was never sure if Jay would become the villain that Derek would need to fight, or if he would see the error of his ways and end on the road to recovery.
In the end, this movie definitely is not for everybody. There is a lot of weak acting, especially Tina and Derek’s pseudo-relationship, and the three other super-powered test subjects that never really got a whole lot to do besides stand around and look dumb. There are only a couple nice action scenes, most of the time the action is either bland or happens off-camera. But the overall story, especially between the two main characters, and most of the comedy touches made it an enjoyable movie for me. I especially enjoyed the small, but memorable role of the doctor, he didn’t have a whole lot to say, but he made an impact. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.