The Screen Room
I rarely get excited about new movies these days. I’m still capable of getting excited, they just don’t seem to be making the kind of films that provoke that emotion in me anymore.
In fact, so far this year there have only been about four films I’ve been remotely excited about watching - The Batman, The Black Phone, Prey and this one:
Since it came to Amazon over the weekend I decided to make it my Saturday night movie.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a slightly different superhero movie to what we’re used to starring Sylvester Stallone (Rocky), Javon 'Wanna' Walton (The Umbrella Academy) and Pilou Asbæk (Uncharted) among others.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“Thirteen-year-old Sam Cleary (Walton) suspects that his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Mr. Smith (Stallone), is actually a legend hiding in plain sight. Twenty-five years ago, Granite City's superpowered vigilante, Samaritan, was reported dead after a fiery warehouse battle with his rival, Nemesis. Most believe he perished in the fire, but some, like Sam, have hope that he's still alive. With crime now on the rise, Sam makes it his mission to coax Samaritan out of hiding to save the city from ruin.”
I saw Sly posting about this film on his Instagram leading up to its release, and after watching the trailer a few weeks back I thought it looked pretty good. It seemed like an interesting concept and a slightly grittier take on the whole superhero idea. I also liked that it was a completely original story and not tied to any already-existing comic books or media. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped.
I like Sylvester Stallone. Who doesn’t? He’s given us some great movies over the years, and other than Arnold Schwarzenegger he’s about the only 80s action star still making relatively decent/respectable budgeted movies. I thought if any actor could pull off the role of an ageing superhero to good effect it would be him.
To be fair, it’s not his fault. He delivers what you expect from a Sly performance, it’s the rest of it that’s the problem.
The film suffers from a slow pace, a messy storyline, cheesy and average performances (from some of the supporting cast), some questionable de-ageing CGI, a forgettable villain with a lame agenda, and a plot twist I saw coming a mile off (and I’m not even that smart).
It’s a shame because I had high hopes for this movie. The trailer sold it like a gritty, interesting take on the superhero idea but sadly (at least in my opinion) the trailer showed all of the best bits.
A review I recently read about this film by a follower of my Facebook page pretty much nailed it for me. Although he enjoyed it more than I did, he said he “probably would’ve liked it more if things like The Boys, Hancock, Deadpool, and other meta superhero stuff didn't exist already.”
I completely agree, although I do think there are other problems with it too.
If you watch The Boys you’ll know that it’s as far removed from the usual kind of Superhero movies and shows we’ve gotten used to as you can get, and that freshness (I think) is its main appeal. Hancock (2008) is another example of a non-comic book based superhero movie, and as much as the reviews were mixed, personally I think over all it’s a better (although very different) and more entertaining film.
With so many generic superhero movies these days it’s always nice when someone does something completely different (if you haven’t seen Brightburn (2019) I highly recommend checking it out). I’d like to see more original stories like this - just done with a little more finesse.
I really thought this film was going to be a return to action-hero form for Stallone but sadly I feel like it was a wasted opportunity to make a really unique and credible new superhero movie.
Having said all that, is it terrible? Not at all. Will I watch it again? Possibly/probably, but it’ll always be one of those films like Army of the Dead (2021) where I’ll always feel like it could’ve been so much better had just a few things been different.
If you haven’t seen it don’t let my review put you off. It’s still worth a watch.
It’s now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Seen it? Let me know what you think.