The Last Superhero
All Superheroes Must Die 2: The Last Superhero 2016
It’s been a bit of a slow August, at least slow as in posts appearing on this site, the complete opposite when it comes to outside of this blog. But I was able to check out another recent release. Back when I first caught All Superheroes Must Die, I thought it was a great little ultra-low-budget gem that brought some new ideas and a horror vibe to superhero movies. Writer/director/star Jason Trost has gone a slightly different direction with his sequel that follows the events after his first movie along with revisiting events well before in a pseudo documentary style that becomes more like a mystery than a superhero movie. And it succeeds quite well as a mystery, it kept me guessing until near the very end without falling for obvious Macguffins and the documentary style was a nice touch to help explain the low budget feel, though there were a few moments of special effects that looked good despite the low budget.
There’s often a bit of a disconnect when it comes to films that have a documentary feel to them versus an actual documentary. There’s many of the same elements: the interview style, the physical camera covering live events, and some interstitial moments with artwork or archival footage. But when it comes to the fictional documentary, there’s often these extra touches added in that would never make it to the final version of an actual documentary. Like in this film we get to see several moments where the interviewees are uncomfortable with the interview process and either have to be convinced to start, or they ask to be done. Within the fictional context of this film, it helps add a level of pseudo-realism to help sell the audience that they are actual people rather than characters, but at the same time, if these moments were in an actual documentary, it would feel like sloppy filmmaking. There was also several times throughout the film where it would cut away from the interview to pan over a still photo of a piece of evidence or a page from a comic. Normally, this would work well to have a break in the one shot or two shot during the interview process, but often there would be a great deal of text that helped add a piece to the overlying mystery, unfortunately it was difficult to pay attention to both the dialogue of the interview as well as the text appearing on screen.
But as for the meat of the actual story, it follows documentarian Vicky O’Neal which is quite possibly a play on Vicki Vale and April O’Neal and her investigation into the murder of Ally Andrews via arson. The prime suspect is John Ford who was part of a group of superheroes called The Four and also known as Charge. The Four had disbanded after the events of the first film where Cutthroat and The Wall died, and we find out that some time later, Shadow was also killed and Charge was a prime suspect. However, Ally was actually an ex-girlfriend of Charge’s back from his time before he ever became a superhero. The relationships between all the various characters presented in this film are very complexly interwoven so that it can be a rather high entry point before you can get a feel for any of the characters. But once the mystery starts coming together and several possible suspects start coming to light, it becomes quite clear what’s going on and hooks you until everything goes south at the end.
The characters all work quite well, at least the main cast. There are many more or less random civilian interviews that pop up from time to time to give flavor to the documentary style that don’t exactly add much, but also don’t detract from the overall narrative. But for the main characters, Jason Trost as John Ford slash Charge is great playing a disgraced hero in hiding who is trying to get the truth out there, even if he doesn’t fully know what that truth is. Tallay Wickham also does a great job as Vicky who more or less is the main character as the voice of the documentary and the leading force for her and her cameraman, and as a surrogate for the audience to find the truth of this mystery that’s unfolding as she digs deeper. The other three main interview subjects also played their roles quite well, giving just the right amount of awkwardness to play up the realism that would be apparent with a documentary subject.
The ending of this film does feel like a weak spot in an otherwise enjoyable movie, but it’s not nearly enough to sink the entire film. There’s just some elements of the story that aren’t quite explained well enough, and while it’s refreshing for it to avoid the happy ending and essentially have the villain win, it left things feeling unfinished. It also added this climactic spectacle and action scene that didn’t quite feel like the satisfying conclusion to everything that we had learned about this mystery and the relationship between the two characters fighting. The visuals did look quite good even under the video effects to keep it within the documentary slash almost found footage style of movie. But again, these complaints are minor, what really works in this film are the characters and the overarching mystery shown throughout the movie. It kept me guessing as to what was really going on, and the moments where I was thrown off never felt like overly intentional red herrings. It does feel right in line with the tone and intentions of the first film even if everything else has changed between then and now. It’s worth checking out and it’s available right now to watch on YouTube via the director’s own YouTube channel so go watch it now! Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.