America 2028 Movie Reviews, 4
Also posted at Medium.
Upon receiving this new assignment, I thought, “Well, hot damn! A superhero origin story. Action. Fights. Explosions. Good guys. Bad guys. Explosions. Bring it on.”
Braving the radiation storm, I made my way to the theater.
The oversized Impotent Rage Rises movie poster out front got me more pumped. The gritty, unforgiving city skyline. The lone silhouette hinted at the levels of impotence and rage swirling around inside this new superhero, Impotent Rage.
The story blurb on the poster caused me to rub my hands together with glee:
His job got automated. Impotent Rage blamed the Mexicans. When his healthcare claim got denied, did he fault the insurance company executives? No. Impotent Rage blamed the black Customer Service rep. And don’t get him started on his ex.
The world tested Hortense Fartlekins O’Houlihan. He transformed. He mutated. He became Impotent Rage.
Dang. I already felt bad for the evil bad guys.
As I started speculating about and brainstorming the many potential ways this Impotent Rage character could kill the evil bad guys—whether with death rays, golden bullets, possibly a series of karate kicks—I forced my mind to quit overthinking and just let the cinematic magic take me.
Sitting in my plush seat, munching my popcorn, I felt tempted to yell to the theater workers to can it with the previews and get to the violent death already. Then I remembered the last time I yelled about “getting to the violent death already” after the house lights dimmed. The theater banished me for a month.
Two hours later, the closing credits rolled. I exited through the side double doors in a daze. Needing to carouse the streets while processing the cinematic experience, I wrapped my radiation suit extra-snug around my body, then criss-crossed the blocks of my town, fast-walking while my mind raced in its attempt to think through each scene.
A few days later, I sat down at my laptop to start my review, but still felt stuck. Was I losing my critiquing touch?
Only after I realized how the world had changed did I see the meaning in Impotent Rage Rises. The conflicted, spirited, warbling, chortling character named Impotent Rage… this is the schlubby, out-of-shape superhero that the year 2028 needs.
In simpler times, say, eight or ten years ago, I’d write a curt, to-the-point review, something like: I appreciate it when studios give up-and-coming directors and non-traditional concepts a chance. But in this case, talk about a swing-and-a-miss. What I witnessed was a plotless-but-not-entirely-thoughtless, fifteen-minute student film that dragged out for one hour and forty-five minutes longer than necessary. With some more learning, though, these directors could create something special. And on a positive note, I commend daring choices such as casting such a non “super hero” type as the lead—not an “anti”, but a full-on “non”… very out-of-the-box thinking here. The mushroom-bodied actor’s lack of coordination when performing his own stunts did mark a departure from the tired superhero script.
I would have submitted that review and moved on.
But, after thinking intensely about the spectacle, I realized that I witnessed the evolution of the superhero trope. Impotent Rage Rises reinvents the genre, retrofitting it to these resentment-filled times in 2028.
Who needs villains in our superhero stories anymore? Impotent Rage is the good guy who unleashes on any fence, or store display, or truck parked by the side of the road. The way our hero lashed out with such vigor in scene after scene, I could see Impotent Rage fighting so many everyday, inanimate objects in sequels. Construction barriers. Manicured lawns. Neglected lawns. The possibilities are endless. If newspaper stands still existed, it’s a sin how easy it is to see Impotent Rage going ballistic on the structure, beating it and swiping at it, screeching, yelling, head butting—
Whoawhoawhoa… what if… in a sequel, Impotent Rage accidentally got sent back in time to beat up newspaper stands—
Okay, I’ll shut up and be the movie critic and not the Hollywood “idea guy”.
Back to my review.
Less-open minds complain that the senselessness of the… some call them “battles”, others say they were “violent muscle spasms”… seemed lackluster, but I saw the beauty. These “fight scenes” almost felt like homages to the senselessness of war itself, in this roundabout way.
The fact that the story didn’t migrate from one clear point to the next, after a few days of processing, I saw this approach as a refreshing change-of-pace from stories that follow storylines.
Impotent Rage Rises postulates that superheroes don’t necessarily need to battle bad guys. Sometimes, superheroes get pugilistic on random signposts, kicking at and scratching them with fury, intensity and focus, just like Impotent Rage did in that sixteen-minute-long sequence thirty percent of the way through the film. Impotent Rage channelling it all into frenetic, wild motion…
And besides: who needs superpowers when your opponent is an inanimate object like a “Thompson Ave.” sign? Like… what? Like… is that sign going to suddenly grow a soul and fight back? Nooooo.
The directors/writers didn’t even try to get metaphorical with the signage possibilities, either. I liked that. I had to wonder if the team considered options, say… a “Yield” or a “Stop” sign, that could have suggested a loose story or slightly more meaning for the viewers. But no. Impotent Rage’s ferocity didn’t need a context. He just attacked and attacked and attacked that green “Thompson Ave.” sign, punching and chopping and kneeing as if guided by voices. Voices that chattered nothing but nonsense.
This review wouldn’t be complete without talking about Impotent Rage’s costume.
It goes without saying that seeing a character in tights and a cape or a mask would have felt run-of-the-mill, but how the costume designers worked with the writer’s vision to give life to…
Gone are the days of utility belts and grappling hooks, that’s what I learned. To keep the world safe, crimefighters in these modern billionaire-friendly times can don thigh-high boots made of ostrich feathers, strings of spark plugs and an orange life preserver, then patrol the streets carrying an orange traffic cone. The whole time, I anticipated Impotent Rage ripping one of the spark plugs from the necklaces and throwing it, or maybe energizing a plug by using some previously-unseen superpower, but no. Those spark plugs remained around his neck over the old-school life vest the whole time. Speaking of the life vest, at no time did Impotent Rage go near any body of water, yet the puffy jacket remained at the ready. That royal-blue thing on his head… about three minutes before the end, I finally figured out that it was an inflatable u-shaped travel pillow, like the ones that nappers fit around their necks while sitting upright. Now that I look back, that rubber-membraned sleep aid sticking up from his forehead gave him an aura.
The way it protruded, Impotent Rage reminded me of a shaman.
Think: in 2028, a shaman who attacks everyday objects following no pattern whatsoever… I now find myself walking the streets and looking for this type of “superhero”, now that I’ve seen Impotent Rage Rises.
Though I must say this: the scene where Impotent Rage bird-called the word “ca-caw” at the Moon for seven minutes, then screamed, “Supersuit? This poopersuit is now my supersuit!” and dumped a bucket of his own feces on himself—that felt juvenile.
With so many other scenes in that plotless story fitting together in ways that didn’t fit together, this indulgence of the directors’ inner-thirteen-year-olds brought the overall story down. Nothing detrimental, just expressing my preferences. Of course, I will admit that I am a highly-trained movie critic and the average, hardworking Joe and Josephine might get a kick out of the toilet humor.
Speaking of “kicking”… the sequel that they teased at in the closing credits:
Coming Spring 2030…
Impotent Rage Two: Impotent Rage Kicks and Punches Bodies of Water While Bellowing at the Sky
I can’t wait.
Is it 2030 yet?
Vote. We can’t afford another four years of Eric Trump as President.
Also posted at Medium.