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Superhero Movie (2008)
Dimension Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 7/8/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/3/2008
Peruse most any movie chat forum and you'll see that there are many people out there who hate the films of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Despite the fact that someone clearly went to see Date Movie, Epic Movie, andMeet the Spartans, still more see the films as a sign of the apocalypse and question the intelligence of those who continue to make these films successful. My problem with these movies is that they've all but ruined the spoof genre which was more-or-less created by the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker team. Now, filmgoers view any film in this genre as poison. That's a shame, as the overlooked Superhero Movie has some laughs to offer.
Superhero Movie essentially follows the storyline of Spider-Man. Rick Riker (Drake Bell) is a high-school loser. His wealthy parents were killed by a robber (a la Batman), so Rick was raised by his Uncle Albert (Leslie Nielsen) and Aunt Lucille (Marion Ross). Rick is in love with his neighbor, Jill Johnson (Sara Paxton), but he's too shy to tell her. He spends most of his time with his best friend, Trey (Kevin Hart). One day, Rick's class visits the scientific research company owned by Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald). There, Rick is bitten by a genetically enhanced dragonfly. Following this, Rick discovers that he has superpowers. He makes a costume for himself and soon begins fighting crime. Meanwhile, Lou Landers learns that he's terminally ill and after a botched experiment to save his life, he become The Hourglass. When The Hourglass begins terrorizing the city, only Dragonfly can stop him.
One of my main issues with the films of Friedberg & Seltzer is that they don't create original stories for their films. They simply takes the plots of other movies and twist them to fit their needs. Writer Craig Mazin commits this same sin with Superhero Movie. Whereas the classics like Airplane! and The Naked Gun spoof genres, but use original stories, Mazin (as noted above) simply takes the story from Spider-Man and inserts jokes. Adding insult to injury, he also inserts characters and ideas from Batman, X-men, and Fantastic Four. While Dragonfly and The Hourglass are "original" characters, most of the plot-points in this film are taken directly from other movies.
But, aside from that very major flaw, Superhero Movie definitely sets itself apart from things like Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans in a very important way -- it contains original and funny jokes. While the skeleton of the film was stolen from other movies, many of the jokes stand on their own, and many of them are very funny. When Superhero Movie takes shots at other movies, the jokes are more hit-or-miss. (Although, I loved their take on the kiss from Spider-Man and the fact that Professor Xavier's (Tracy Morgan) mode of transportation keeps changing.)
Friedberg & Seltzer make the mistake of simply inserting topical cultural references into a movie spoof. (Brittany Spears in 300 probably seemed funny on paper...actually, that's not even funny on paper.) This compounds the laziness factor and rarely results in any laughs. Superhero Movie rarely results to this tactic and more often attempts to take that Spider-Man template and inserts some new jokes. Some of these are very stupid, some are clever, but many are very funny. Drake Bell reveals himself to be a master of the double-take, and when paired with the likes of Leslie Nielsen, Kevin Hart, and Christopher McDonald, he becomes a great straight-man. (It should be noted that Drake's character is the son of Robert Hays, who was the lead in Airplane!, and the grandson of Leslie Nielsen, star of the The Naked Gun films.)
While Superhero Movie doesn't come near the quality of the old Zucker-Abrams-Zucker films, it's still light-years ahead of other recent spoof films. It takes pot-shots at the superhero genre, while also adding many original jokes. In true ZAZ style, the jokes come very quickly and while many miss, those that hit are usually quite funny. Don't be afraid to give spoof movies another try, and check out Superhero Movie.
Superhero Movie pokes fun at Spandex-clad heroes courtesy of Dimension Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This is a fairly good transfer, as the image is sharp and clear. The picture shows basically no grain and there are no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, especially Dragonfly's costume. The image is nicely balanced and the action is always visible in the nighttime scenes. Video noise crops up at times, but otherwise things look good. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action scenes provide some nice surround and stereo effects. The rain in the "kiss in the rain" scene fills the speakers very nicely. The subwoofer gets involved with some explosions. Overall, a fairly good technical package.
On January 13, 2009, The Weinstein Company brought Superhero Movie to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc offers a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a slight sheen of grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, especially the greens and blues, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is very crisp and this lends to the impressive depth and level of detail on the image. This isn't quite demo level, but for a comedy, it looks good. The Disc contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are quite good, showing good stereo separation and a nice level of detail. These come in handy, as many jokes continue off-screen. The surround effects are good as well, and they help to bring the action scenes to life. The explosions in the movie provide impressive subwoofer action.
The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are identical to those found on the DVD.
Review Copyright 2008/2009 by Mike Long