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Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Superheroes

This film opens with a quote from Albert Einstein: "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."

Superheroes is a documentary about real life superheroes (except for Phoenix Jones and the Rain City Superhero Movement) who patrol the streets of various cities, from San Diego, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah, to New York City, New York. They range from the whimsical and rowdy Master Legend of Orlando, Florida, to the serious and dedicated New York Initiative, which includes Zimmer, T.S.A.F., Lucid, and Z. They dedicate their time to community patrols and homeless outreach. Mind you, these guys don't have superpowers, but to paraphrase San Diego superhero Mr. Xtreme of the Xtreme Justice League (XJL), superdeeds are what make you super. Interviews are held with superheroes, policemen and women, a psychologist, and even Stan Lee himself!

This was a very interesting documentary, though it helps that I'm partial to the subject myself. I'm both a comic book geek and an aficionado of the real life superheroes, scanning the Google news tab for the latest updates on the likes of Phoenix Jones and the Black Monday Society. In addition to the cool graphics and the interesting premise, this documentary really takes a good look at the motivations and idiosyncrasies of the various superheroes, both lampooning and celebrating them. But mostly celebrating them. The interview with a psychologist was a nice touch, and also referred me to some good looking books.

What motivates these superheroes is sometimes personal tragedy, but often they just a want to help out. Some are motivated by the story of Kitty Genovese, a New York woman who was brutally murdered in the sight of several witnesses, none of whom lifted a finger to help her. Zimmer is one such hero, as is Mr. Xtreme. Zetaman and Apocalypse Meow in Portland, Oregon seem to be just trying to help, and being humble at it too. Assisted by Antiman and Dark Wolf, and others, they hand out supply packs to homeless people, helping out any way they can.

Unfortunately, this review isn't all rosy. In spite of the seemingly kid friendly nature of the comic book heroes come to life, this documentary is, after all, an HBO production. That said, there are multiple examples of severe swearing, and I would not recommend this for younger audiences. Visually, it's okay, thank goodness, but the swearing is an egregious stain on this film's record.

 In sum, Superheroes is a fun, informative documentary about a movement which will steadily become more and more important as the years pass, as Phoenix Jones and the RCSM go international, Mr. Xtreme swears in new members of the XJL, as depicted in bonus footage on the DVD, and the Initiative Collective branches out all over the country. This film is just a taste of that movement, and hopefully, the real-life superhero community will continue to grab headlines.

RATING: 8.5/10

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