Alter Egos 2012
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten around to watching a proper superhero movie to review here, I’ve been busy with Channel: Superhero as usual as well as work stuff. But I finally caught up with this film that I had heard of back when it got picked up by Kevin Smith for his new SModcast pictures presents which was quickly renamed to the Kevin Smith movie club where it ran for three years until 2013. I had no idea what the movie was actually about aside from the catch phrase “Alter Egos” and honestly thought it had more to do with the real life superheroes that these lower budget indie superhero flicks tend to move towards. But instead, it has built a world all its own and it only focuses on a small portion of that world. It has a fair amount of humor, and uses the minimal special effects to the film’s advantage to craft an all around entertaining movie. I really enjoyed this look at the struggles of a superhero’s persona with the hints of the larger world revolving around it.
One of the most interesting things about this film is the world that it is built around. It’s an alternate present where superheroes exist and they are subsidized by the government. There are different levels of superheroes, but unlike most comic book universes they are limited to having one ability each and have to work in teams. At one point, they were allowed to use guns until one hero went crazy and shot his wife and himself. But that’s not entirely what this film is really about. Instead, it focuses mainly on a single hero, Fridge played by Kris Lemche. Fridge is in a bit of a crisis, he thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him with his own alter ego, and this all comes out during a mission that is actually part of a frame up in order to create a new super villain and regain funding for the superhero program.
There are plenty of little touches to the world this movie is building, but they’re all presented very subtly and in a context that makes sense within the situation. We find out about the single-power limitation and the gun ban through a regular police officer played by Danny Masterson who tried to get into the super powered league or whatever it was called because his power is that he is only able to turn himself invisible for 2.3 seconds and in turn he is resentful towards other superheroes. The film also uses channel surfing to get snippets of news programs and reality shows based in this world to help sell this world of a superpowered police force who have come under fire once the super villains have run out.
But the real heart of the story is all about Fridge and his life crisis. He’s stuck with a girlfriend who doesn’t care about his normal life, so much so that when he tests her by putting his moves on her as Fridge, she falls for his superhero presence. But while he thinks that she’s knowingly cheating on his secret identity with his public identity, she was just smart enough to see through the disguise and decided to play along. And most of this backstory we hear through Fridge’s discussions with C-thru played by Joey Kern who can see through solid objects. This is also where Lemche shines the most as he talks about Fridge and his secret identity Branden as if they were two completely different people, even going so far as to consider creating a third identity for himself to help figure things out. It makes him feel equal parts sympathetic and a little crazy. It’s also tied into a budding romance with the clerk at this out-of-season lodge who has a thing against superheroes but also has an instant rapport with Branden.
Aside from the relationship angle, there’s also the actual mission at hand involving a long captured super villain who has ties to Fridge, his parents, and their death. It’s presented as this simple mission, but it has so many different connections and twists that it’s always interesting to see which way it will go next. And at the same time, it never feels like it’s just pulling something out of left field, it all makes sense within the context of the world the film is building. It also helps to make this villain a sympathetic character in the end. All of the drama is also tied together with equal amounts of comedy. While the single purely comic relief stoner character Moon Dog can be hit or miss with most people, there is quite a bit of silly fun surrounding Fridge’s constant need to keep his two alter egos completely separate even though they are both staying at this lodge. I had a lot of fun with this film, and I also thought it tacked several questions that aren’t always examined in most superhero movies. In many places, I could obviously tell that it was a low budget film. Mainly the costumes of all the heroes felt very low-rent except for the great looking makeup on the villain Electric Death played by Sean Lennon who also composed the film’s score and several songs on the soundtrack. But the acting was on point for the most part. Lemche handled the lead role of Fridge very well. Kern was a little stiff, but his character was also intentionally a little stiff. It’s well worth checking out if you happen across it or you’re just looking for an unexpected indie comedy with a little meat on its bones. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.