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Higher Power

Higher Power 2018

This was a movie that I just happened to stumble upon while browsing through Hulu. I read the description and it sounded like it qualified for a superhero movie, and while it does skirt the line a little bit here and there, I think there’s enough that it works. There’s super powers, saving the world, a super villain of sorts, and it all takes place in present day. That’s good enough for my book. As far as the movie itself, I got the impression that it was a pretty low budget film, but the special effects and cinematography were well above its pay grade. At least, until they tried to stretch beyond their limitations, then the seams started showing. Unfortunately, the writing also didn’t quite live up to the rest of the movie. It had some really great moments, but it was incredibly uneven and took forever to really get going.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #40: Megamind

Yo, listen up; here’s a story about a blue guy that lives in a….. CG world!

#40: Megamind

Or

The Battle Of The Egos

This one is actually something that breaks a personal rule that I have. You’ll find out what that is in just a little while…

First Impressions

This film kinda came out of nowhere when it arrived in the cinema (at least in England). Suddenly there was an animated film about superheroes/villains that actually focused on a villain and made you understand a side of the equation that you may have avoided thinking about. And I think I managed to see this without knowing who played Megamind. This is key, and connected to my earlier comment. So, let’s dive right into the cast!

The Cast

  • Megamind: Will Ferrell

    So that rule I have, the one that this film breaks, basically centres on Will Ferrell. And here it is: Any straight comedy with WF as a main character is terrible. Yep. I cannot stand the sort of comedy films this guy makes. Anchorman, StepBrothers, Elf, Ballard Of Whatever-His-Name-Is. None of them are watchable for me. Now give me a solid dramatic performance or a nuanced role (Stranger Than Fiction, The Other Guys <– Tell me the guy doesn’t give you solid meta humour here! ) and I’ll happily watch it. But his style of “I’m an idiot, isn’t it funny!” just doesn’t work with my sense of humour. Now, this film can arguably be called not just a straight comedy, but given the role he plays it still falls squarely in there. But he’s good. Really good. Just the right levels of ego/confidence/”humanity”/depth, not to mention the fact that a gimmick of mis-pronouncing words that REALLY should have gotten old fast but still works throughout the film. So yeah, I really liked Will in this one.

  • Metro Man: Brad Pitt

    Be honest, without looking it up/being told beforehand you had no clue that this was Brad Pitt. The cadence, the deep(er) voice and the smarminess really helped build this character of a superhero who was exactly what you’d expect a superhero to be and EXACTLY what would be so annoying about a superhero like that. The strangest thing is that you would have expected Patrick Warburton to have done the voice, since the character really looks like it was modeled on him!

  • Roxanne Ritchie: Tina Fey

    I’ll admit that I thought that the portrayal was pretty much ok but compared to the energy of Will Ferrell, she could get a little lost in the crowd. I did enjoy the fact that she was quite the go-getter and not just a damsel in distress (and though the film does really switch it up quite creatively at times, it does fall back on that trope towards the end). You needed a character who actually could sway Megamind and make him yearn for something more and Tina Fey did well as that. I think it could have gone just a little further and maybe had her discover his secret herself rather than the accident. But again, I’m nit-picking!

  • Hal/Titan/Tighten: Jonah Hill

    This guy was a really annoying character. Luckily that’s the point, but it’s still a bit annoying when he’s on-screen. The fun thing is that it does make it so that the actual main villain of the film is

    1) Literally of Megamind’s own making.
    2) A jilted obsessed fanboy.
    3) Paper-thin as villains go.

    And given the sort of film this is, that’s actually a really good use of the character and the plot. If you’re going to subvert the whole idea of the villain, why not just go nuts with the new villain!

  • Minion: David Cross

    Best character in the film. Hands down. He’s just funny, charming and fun to look at. Huh, if I didn’t know better I’d say I was attracted to a talking fish. Well nothing could be further from the truth! Isn’t that right, little home-made plushie of Minion? *does a horrible imitation of Minion* “That’s right, you’re just a big fan!”

The Setting

The setting for this film is no different from every other Superhero-From-A-City film you’ve seen. Metropolis, Gotham, New York, Insert-Others-Here, it’s just a big city with plenty of loving citizens and a hero-battle problem. But given the theme of the film is basically “Look, here’s a standard story and we’re flipping it on its head”, we can kinda give it a pass. The only problem you might have is that because of that, the entire cast and setting outside of the main guys (and even sorta including them) are basically parodies of others that came before them and have no real depth to them. And that’s not to the film’s detriment but it doesn’t push it up either. You couldn’t have explored the character of Megamind and what it means to be destined to be a villain if you’d taken the time to flesh out the rest of the story. Well, you could but it would have been a 2-2.5 hour long film and no young kid is going to sit through that. Hell, even some adults would struggle. So I get it, but it does mean that there’s not much here to discuss.

The CG

The CG in this film was quite good. It doesn’t drop anywhere close to uncanny valley, but it didn’t try to. Much like most Dreamworks films, the focus is on polished looks and a signature style. Everyone fits the pattern, everyone looks different enough to clearly be identifiable (except for the crowd scenes, which…. obviously!) and that’s what they do well. There’s nothing that looks super realistic or terrible, which is what you hope for, and so nothing pulls you out of the viewing experience. So let’s go for a general “Good job everyone!”.

Alrighty, you’ve heard from me and now you get to hear from our own Metro Man-in training: Bubba!

I’ve really loved this movie since the first time I saw it. It’s such a great parody of superhero movies at the time while still having well developed characters and doing something interesting with all of them. Megamind is an incredibly sympathetic character that is extremely entertaining with all his supervillain grandstanding. But he’s also believably socially mal-adapted where he doesn’t really understand social interactions and has his quirk with mispronunciations. Hal is another character that’s become more relevant as time has gone by. He’s more or less what would be referred to as an incel by today’s standards. He believes that he’s a nice guy, but he also believes that his desire for Roxanne Ritchie requires her to like him in return. It takes on the tropes of the back and forth villain/hero routine while still having a background of “you are who you choose to be”. It works on several different levels.

As for the relevance, this is really one of the best superhero parody movies out there next to Deadpool while still being family friendly. It had a decent box office with $150M domestically and $320M worldwide. Unfortunately it was eclipsed by the relatively similar Despicable Me which made nearly double, spawned two sequels and a spin-off. Which makes sense as the kids and the Minions were more marketable than a reference to Donner’s Superman and David Cross’s Minion fish in a gorilla mech-suit. It’s a quality film with quality humor throughout that never talks down or panders to a kid audience.

Well spoken Mr Wheat, as always. And so, we must render the answer to the following 3 questions:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

And since we must do as we always have done, let’s take it from the top.

1) Yes. The film does a good job at sending up the superhero genre and really handled the nuanced Supervillain well. It’s worth seeing even if you only want to see something more unique than the 6th installment in a Superman franchise!

2) Yes. For the same reasons I listed above, it definitely holds a place in the list. But where to put it. Hmmmmmmm…….

3) The list has been updated, the crocodiles swam around it a bit and the sp-ee-ider has been dangled in front of it. Here is your updated rankings:

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Men In Black
  5. Dr Strange
  6. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Megamind
  8. Batman: The Killing Joke
  9. Superman 3
  10. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  11. The Meteor Man
  12. Supergirl
  13. Howard The Duck
  14. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  15. The Punisher
  16. Batman & Robin
  17. The Amazing Spider-Man
  18. Batman Forever
  19. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

    Potential Substitutions:

    Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
    X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
    Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)

Yeah, it didn’t quite eclipse Dr Horrible for me. A better take on the whole “What if the bad guy wasn’t fully bad/unjustified?” and a way more subtle take but Megamind still did well and it feels good to come runner-up to such a good body of work.

Ok, that’s it! The death ray has been put back in the closet for a while and the army of flying kill-bots has been put on standby. As a heads up, I am going on holiday at the end of the year, so there may only be one more review before the New Year. However I do plan to do a short year-in-review when I come back, so if there’s anything you want me to go back over, any rankings you disagree with or anything you wish to yell at me for no reason, please do leave a comment down below.

And so, until next time, I Love You, Random Citizen!

American Rescue Squad

American Rescue Squad 2015

This review was in part decided on via my Patreon where for just $1 a month you can vote each month on what I watch for this site. This is one of the many indie superhero movies made in the past fifteen or so years but this was much more inspired by the political humor of South Park. It even opens with a dedication to Matt and Trey. Unfortunately, they really miss the mark with incredibly obvious metaphors and an oddly conservative overall outlook so this feels much more like heavy handed propaganda rather than subtle political humor.

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American Hero

American Hero 2015

This post came about in part from my Patreon where each month patrons can vote on a movie (or movies) that I review here each month. This has been sitting on my list for a while, it’s an indie film from 2015 starring Stephen Dorff and Eddie Griffin. It is currently available to watch free with ads on Vudu. There’s a bit of a documentary feel to it, but that mostly feels like an excuse for the overall low budget nature of the film. It reminds me quite a bit of Sleight, though there’s a touch more of a superhero narrative in this film, enough for it to cross the line into actually being a superhero movie. Unfortunately most of the characters aren’t all that likable and they all end the film more or less where they started without much real growth.

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Wonder Woman: Bloodlines

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines 2019

It’s time to check out the latest movie from DC Animation. This one takes a slight curveball as it doesn’t really continue the previous continuity though there’s a couple references so that it could still be a part of the major continuity despite being a stand-alone story. It’s also notable for nearly having the entire voice cast be female characters outside of Steve Trevor and a Minotaur. For the most part it follows pretty well in line with the rest of the DC animated movies. It’s a lot of fun to watch with some good action sequences and some nice character beats mixed in here and there. It’s also worth noting that the DC Showcase short packaged with this home video release: Death, is quite excellent as well.

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Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix 2019

This is apparently the swan song for the Fox version of the X-Men that really started the modern era of superhero movies and re-started with 2010’s First Class, and is now lumped into the Disney conglomerate so future cinematic X-Men will likely be tied into the MCU. It’s also one of the few 2019 releases that I wasn’t able to make it out to see in theaters even though this was a generally lighter year for superhero and comic book movies, or at least the year was heavily front loaded with several releases in the early months of the year. In general, I’ve been a fan of nearly all of the X-Men movies aside from the ones everyone hates. But I’ve also generally enjoyed the more recent ones that have been pretty middling to most audiences. I don’t think they handled every character very well, but they did do a few things right in this movie and I enjoyed more than I disliked. And while this is still a relatively new release, I will be discussing the plot in its entirety so there may be spoilers.

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Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget 1999

This movie was chosen as part of a monthly poll over on this site’s Patreon. For just $1 a month you can help choose one of the movies I review here as well as early access for certain articles. It helps cover the cost of running this site and will hopefully help expand it in the future. As for the film, I was a fan of the Inspector Gadget cartoon back in the 80’s when I was a kid but by the time the live action film had come around I was pretty much an adult and had outgrown it. Besides the fact that it looked like it barely had anything to do with the cartoon at all and just took the facade and made it into a cookie cutter live action Disney family flick. And that’s pretty much what this is. It has all the bits and pieces of Inspector Gadget aside from completely changing absolutely everything about Dr. Claw, but it barely resembles the whole of the cartoon and was not entertaining or well made at all.

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LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters

LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters 2019

It’s time for yet another LEGO DC animated feature and it pretty much follows the same overall formula with the typical LEGO style humor focused on the different DC characters. This also loosely follows a variation on the Bat family plot involving many different Bat-family characters including three of the four main Robins (Tim Drake always seems to get left in the cold in these animated movies). And for a change of pace it actually takes a bit of a look at not just the exploits of Batman, but also the importance of Bruce Wayne and his position of wealth and power within the context of Gotham City. Not exactly something that you would expect in a LEGO movie though it definitely keeps the irreverence to keep things light and not overly deep.

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Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans

Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans 2019

At my latest trip to the local library, I picked up the latest DC Animated movie with the Teen Titans. I probably said this before when I reviewed the theatrical Teen Titans Go! movie but I’m generally a fan of Go! It makes me laugh, I like the meta humor that comes with it, and there’s plenty of other superhero properties so in general the humor that exists in Go! is different than pretty much anything else in DC. I’ve also more recently been able to go through some of the old episodes of Teen Titans and actually noticed that it was generally a lot less serious than I thought it was going to be. It’s much more serious than Go! but it has plenty of humor to go around. I also love alternate universe stuff and this takes things to an utterly chaotic and ridiculous level that I absolutely loved and I had so much fun watching this. And while there’s not really much of a surprise twist, this is a recent movie so here is your spoiler warning.

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Graphic Horror: Cemetery Man

Cemetery Man 1994

I had heard about this movie a while back when I watched the Brandon Routh Dylan Dog movie, found out that they were basically based on the same character, and then promptly forgot all about it until looking it up again. There’s actually a weird and interesting connection between the comics and this movie. There was initially a novel called Dellamorte Dellamore which is also the Italian title of this movie. The author then went on to create the Dylan Dog comics which follow a similar style as the original novel and the main character of the novel shows up as basically the Italian analogue to Dylan Dog. When the comic was originally drawn, the artist drew inspiration from Rupert Everett and drew the main character to look like him. This movie then starred Rupert Everett as the main character who wore an outfit that resembled Dylan Dog.

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