BlokeBusting The Essentials #91: The Meteor Man
#91: The Meteor Man
It’s a….. Middle-School teacher?
Given my (essentially) middle-class upbringing in the South East of England, I feel that I’m totally empathetic towards these characters!
The first time I ever heard of this film was when I was looking through the list of films that Bubba had put together. Watching the trailer didn’t really help either, since it comes from a time where you actually got a trailer that didn’t give away THAT much from a film. And I’ll be totally honest here and say that the majority of the cameos are totally lost on me. There were 2 that I knew (which I’m sure you can guess), Bill Cosby and Sinbad. Yes, that means I had no idea who the gang members were. Pretty much any of them. I’m not good with that realm of culture! Anyway, onto the main cast!
- Jefferson Reed/Meteor Man: Robert Townsend
This character is actually a bit of an anomaly. He’s a relatively boring guy. He’s a teacher who is shy, timid and just kinda meh. And that actually was a really good idea! Think about the modern heroes that we see. You’ve got billionaire playboys, super-soldiers, mega-spies and magic casters. You’ve pretty much NEVER seen a total nobody with no real special skills/secret abilities gaining superpowers. And this film really did a great job at portraying just how overwhelmed someone like that (or you or me) would be when suddenly gaining superpowers. I’d even go so far as to say that he’s probably been one of the best audience surrogates I’ve seen in any Science Fiction film. Well, him and Jacob Kawolski.
- Michael Anderson: Eddie Griffin
This guy…. he’s alright. Have you seen literally any film where the main character has a slightly annoying best friend? Yep, that’s him. Plus he’s the one who wants what Reed has, so he’s kinda like Billy from Big but with waaay more sleaze. And it works well for his character. The problem comes from whether you enjoy those sorts of characters or not. I’m not the biggest fan myself, but I do admit that he’s played well and very fitting for the setting.
- Everyone Else: Everyone Else
This film has soooooooo many characters and cameos that I’ll be here for another few hours if I tried to go into them. So basically you have:
– The Parents who both tell Jefferson to do good and keep a secret identity AND promptly announce to the entire neighbourhood who he is and what he can do. It’s kinda fun to watch!
– The Neighbours who are actually a very good representation of an actual neighbourhood group. And you’ve got James Earl Jones as a very odd fellow.
– The Gangs. Just wow. It’s like somebody found a Schumacher Batman villain that was left lying around and just shoved them into the film. Bravo!
This film is really odd. You’ve got a man who absorbs a meteorite (in a rather fun-but-creepy scene) and gets all the powers, but only temporarily for no explained reason. You’ve got a community (and more besides) being threatened by the most cartoon-y gang outside of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. You’ve got teacher drama. To be totally honest, I do not think I could take those elements and do any better than they already did with this film.
Plus there’s the fact that this really was the first black superhero film. It’s kinda understandable that it fell through the cracks into relative obscurity, but it’s also a real shame that it did. It’s VERY campy, it’s fairly absurd but it’s also got a lot of heart and a message of needing to stand together to fight against forces impacting negatively on your neighbourhood. Now, there is a case to make that the film shows that only a superhero could save these people from their problems. And that’s actually right. But only because the villains are so OVER-THE-TOP and insane that only a random superhero could do it.
You know, this film has a good mix of practical and CG effects, which was good, because it’s OBVIOUS when it’s green-screen or superimposed. And given the overall nature of the film, it also works well for it. There’s a particularly fun moment when our hero flies around at roughly shoulder height where it’s one of the most obvious green-screen shots that just elicits a smile. And the other moments of effects can be quite eerie, such as when he gets hit by the (homing) meteorite where it almost feels like something out of an 80’s horror film. So the question is: would this film have done better with the more advanced CG of today? My answer is actually no. Part of the charm of this film is just how low-budget it feels and having better CG would actually have made it less appealing. So this film actually managed to be made at about the perfect time for what they were trying to accomplish. Well done filmmakers!
Well, now we must fly on over to Bubba to see what he thought of this film!
This is the first time in this series where I didn’t actually get around to re-watching the film. While I probably could have done some digging and found a copy to watch, this one wasn’t that readily available. I have watched it a couple times so I’ll go off of how I feel about this movie from memory. I think it’s one of the better superhero parody movies, especially the ones from this era. I connected with the humor, I liked the cast for the most part although it’s disappointing now that there’s a bit of a shadow cast on one of my previously favorite roles that happens to be played by Bill Cosby. But I liked Robert Townsend’s spin on superheroism by giving super powers to someone who wasn’t the Captain America type who would try to do good whether he was capable or not, nor was he the type that let power go to his head and become a villain. He became a hero because he was more or less forced into it by circumstance and made the most of it. And it was helped by a great cast of characters and some good music to boot.
And for its importance in superhero cinema history, this was the first big studio Black superhero movie as it was released by MGM with a $30 million budget. Unfortunately it wasn’t well reviewed and only grossed $8 million which is about the same as Blankman which came out one year later. It was also one the first superhero parody to come out after Tim Burton’s Batman. While it wasn’t a full on parody like Airplane or Scary Movie, it still had plenty of parody elements rather than just being a superhero comedy. And while none of the superhero comedies are very good aside from Deadpool, this is probably the next best one which is saying something. Plus, there’s a hint of a good message throughout and it’s a very early role from Don Cheadle who would go on to become War Machine.
Another SUPER summary Mr Wheat! And with that, we must dive right into the finale of this article: the 3 main questions!
- Would I recommend this film to others?
- Does this film deserve to be on the list?
- If so, where does it appear on the list?
Alrighty, here are the answers in full…
1) Yes. The film is a fun, fairly tongue-in-cheek superhero film (with ridiculous premise and insane villains) and is really worth your time. Plus, you know, first black superhero film. Kinda a big deal!
2) See above, Yeah! Just from the last part alone, it deserves a spot here. And the best part is that there’s nothing in the film that explicitly states “Look, it’s a black superhero!”. It’s honestly really enjoyable that this film didn’t make a single statement there. He’s a superhero, a teacher and a member of his community. Who cares what colour his skin was! But yeah, given the insane amount of pale superheroes there have been, this film was a good first step towards bringing diversity to the genre.
3) Well, here’s your updated rankings:
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- The Crow
- Dr Strange
- Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
- Batman: The Killing Joke
- Superman 3
- The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
- The Meteor Man
- Howard The Duck
- The Fantastic Four (1994)
- The Punisher
- Batman & Robin
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- BvS: Dawn Of Justice
Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)
So there you have it folks! Another film under our bat-belt. And so, I have only this to say…
“I have to go now, my planet needs me”