Almost Super: Fast Color
Almost Super: Fast Color 2019
This is another instance that reminds me a little bit of Sleight and Darkest Minds, three movies that have a Black protagonist and super powers (of sorts), but only one of them did I actually decide to put it on my list of superhero movies. While this movie does have super powers, the big thing that it lacks is heroism. That’s not to say it’s not a good movie. I actually enjoyed the hell out of it. And similar to Sleight, there is enough set up here that it the world of the movie continues either in sequels or a TV series and amps up the heroic aspect of the characters I would rethink my decision. But as it stands with this single movie, it falls just over the line as a sci-fi movie with super powers rather than a full fledged superhero movie. Though there’s enough here that I wouldn’t argue against anyone else who would consider it the other way.
One of the best things about this movie is the pacing and set up. There’s a very brief narration at the beginning, but for the most part you have to infer what’s going on based on context clues rather than having everything spelled out for you. The film takes place in the near future where there’s some type of natural or unnatural drought which makes water one of the more expensive things to buy and it comes in random jugs. Our main character Ruth is on the run for some reason and we eventually find out that she has these seizures which cause a significant localized earthquake. She also comes from a family who for generations have had the power to disintegrate objects and reintegrate them back to the way they were. And while it sounds like an odd choice for a super power, it looks amazing and the film finds a few interesting ways to use it.
Besides the super powers, the main focus is really the characters and they are all interesting and well written. Ruth has been on the run but decides to return home after a years long drug and alcohol filled bender that resulted in a child who she dropped off with her own mother Bo. Ruth is now sober but is followed by a group of government workers and specifically one scientist who makes contact with her under false pretenses. That in itself is a great sequence as we’re introduced to this mild mannered, friendly guy who seems to be in the right place at the right time until we find out that he manipulated the entire situation from the very start. Ruth’s daughter Lila seems to be nearly ten but is very talented with repairing things. Not quite a technopath like Micah from Heroes though she does have a touch of Ruth’s wild streak as we see her use her abilities to steal some tools.
While the pacing of this film is slow, the attention to detail is great as is the slow but steady flow of information. The jugs of water covered by a scrap of cloth and a rubber band, signs in the background warning against water inspectors, stores with mostly empty shelves. As well as the relationship reveals as we quickly learn that Bo is Ruth’s mother, but there’s a pause before learning that Lila is Ruth’s daughter, the sheriff is her father and that Lila never knew that he was her grandfather. There’s a sense of isolationism with the family and a theme of breaking free from hiding your power from the world. Bo tells a great story about how she initially met Ruth’s father by defying her own mother’s rule to stay secret and stay safe, and while she defied that rule while she was young, she ultimately imposed it on her own daughter and granddaughter. It’s not until the events of the movie where she allows herself to let go and encourages Ruth and Lila to open up their power to the world and find others like them.
The movie itself feels very simple but there’s a larger story behind the scenes. The effects are minimal but effective, when the women use their powers the results are absolutely beautiful as we see an object break down to its barest elements only to swirl around in a gorgeous kaleidoscope of various colored bits of dust before reforming back into the initial object. There’s also the lesson about how once something is broken it can never be fully put back together no matter how much you might want it. This is beautifully represented by Ruth’s broken bowl. She wasn’t able to use her power to put it back together to look brand new again, but they were still able to simply use glue to put it back together. It’s not perfect anymore, but it’s still able to fulfill its purpose just as well. There’s also hints at a larger purpose for Ruth as we find out she’s not just able to cause earthquakes, it’s more like she’s tapped into the energy of the Earth. We see this especially during the climax as she finally is able to accept her powers and brings about a rainstorm.
Everything about this movie works. The performances from everyone from Ruth to Bo, even the scientist feels like a fully realized character despite the limited interaction with him. The music helps sell the energy and emotion of everyone involved, and the setting in a mildly post-apocalyptic setting feels very unique. It’s not a full on Mad Max style setting where everything has completely gone to hell, but it’s at the point where it’s right on the cusp of disaster. It’s fascinating through and through and I’m all for it becoming a series to explore this world further. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.