Friday Fisticuffs: Mirageman (2007)

I’m not sure if I tried to watch Mirageman before or not. I think I’m getting it confused with another movie from another country about a dude deciding to become a superhero. But, then my pal Jesse told me it was awesome, so I had to give it a shot. I had it in my stagnant Netflix DVD queue (we’ve had Super 8 for almost a month, I’m embarrassed to say) for a while, but then it popped up on Instant and I moved it to the top of that queue. Gotta say, I’m glad I did because it’s a very interesting, if completely uneven, film.

Like I said, it’s about a guy who decides to become a crimefighter. This guy happens to be a real ass-kicker who trains himself in the martial arts on a regular basis whose parents were murdered and little brother raped by a gang of attackers. It’s pretty heavy stuff for a movie about a guy dressing up and fighting criminals. But, it does give the character–who goes by Mirageman as an alter ego–an emotional center and reason to not only train himself (he doesn’t want it to happen again) but also to dress up and protect people (it inspires his now disturbed little brother).

The first twenty minutes or so are pretty serious. The material is serious, the character is serious and even the drawings shown in between scenes are serious. It even looks like something shot for Cops. Then there’s a tonal shift that viewers should get used to when Mirageman tries on different costume possibilities. This is probably the best version of that kind of scene I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie, it’s just great, but then we’re back to the serious stuff sort of. I mean, the dude looks silly running around in broad daylight wearing a bright blue costume, but since he takes it seriously and the criminals eventually start taking him seriously as his fame grows, it seems less silly.

And then, you get this weird sequence of scenes cutting between Mirageman jumping around rooftops and doing martial arts moves on a black background. This scene does not have a point and looks like something out of that 70s live action Spider-Man TV show (if it had legit fighters). After that, more seriousness, but towards the end there’s an entire fight sequence that not only really lays on the blue tint (distractingly so at times) but also the 70s soundtrack. It’s pretty serious for the rest of the movie as he takes on a gang that, I think, is made up of kiddie touchers.

So, how are the action scenes? Awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Spanish martial arts flick, but it reminded me of the Thai one because it always looks like dudes are really getting their asses kicked. The way the film is set up is interesting too because it’s not like a traditional action film where the good guy is directly opposed to a bad guy. It really is solely focused on Mirageman and his exploits in a realistic way. He either sees a problem or is made aware of one and he does his best to solve it. He succeeds sometimes and fails others, but the stakes are always raised and he, in turn, responds to them by upgrading his style or accoutrements. But, because of the format, you don’t necesarrily get the kind of big set piece fights that we all love so much. That’s okay, though, it works for the film which takes a very real world approach to the whole thing.

At the end of the day, this feels like two movies smashed together, like two different writers, directors or editors decided to combine two different movies about the same character. One went very real world and grounded with his movie and the other wanted to make an homage to 70s vigilante flicks. I have to say, I’m more interested in the latter, but I still liked the finished product. If you’ve got some time to actually sit down and watch a movie, give it a watch. I didn’t mention that it’s in Spanish, but it is, so you’ll have to read the flick, but to be honest, if you’ve seen enough action or comic book movies, you’ll get the gist from looking up every now and then. That’s what I did.

They Can’t All Be Winners

2009-02-25
2:06:36 am

I haven’t been having a ton of luck lately when it comes to watching movies. Aside from falling asleep about a half hour in exactly no matter how cool the movie, I’ve been picking some duds (though still a few good ones). I couldn’t even get into watching Repo: The Genetic Opera for some reason. I’m not going to pass judgment on that one now because I was really tired, but I wanted to keep our Netflix queue going so I sent it back.

I did not however like an action movie I tried watching last night called Kiltro (2006). I made it about a half hour into that one before I fell asleep. I was hoping for an awesome action movie (as advertised), but instead I got a story about a guy who likes to fight and has a crush on a girl who blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want my action movies (and my giant monster movies for that matter) to be less talking and more destruction, unless they happen to be actually funny like Police Story 1 and 2. Again, I don’t really consider this a review, because I didn’t watch the whole movie, just letting you action fans out there know not to waste your time.

I also watched most of a movie called Hickey and Boggs (1972) which has a lot going for it in that The Warriors writer Walter Hill wrote it and Bill Cosby stars as a tough guy private detective along with Robert Culp who also directs. I didn’t have any problem with this movie, though it is a bit slow, I just haven’t finished it yet because it’s kind of long and it expires from Netflix on March 1. It’s in the same vein as Dirty Harry and is pretty cool, so I might finish it up today. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes it’s kind of weird seeing Bill Cosby as a tough guy, but he also pulls it off really well. It’s fun to watch. Again, not a real review, but just some thoughts.

That being said, I do have four ACTUAL reviews:

POPCORN (1991)

Man, the 90s were a weird time for horror movies. You’re looking at a time after the slasher glut greatly hindered the genre, but before Scream made them cool again. Popcorn is kind of a weird movie. The basic premise is that a college film club decides to hold a movie marathon to raise some money. But this isn’t any movie marathon, they’re showing movies with a gimmick like smell-o-vision or shock-o-rama. As such, they need an old movie theater to show their flicks in and a crazy old guy to help out (and then completely disappear) in the form of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian). If you really liked the beginning of Scream 2 where there’s all kinds of craziness happening in a movie theater, then this is right up your alley as it seems as though a counterculture guy from back in the day wants his weirdo movie to be seen so much he’s willing to kill people for it (that’s not exactly the plot, but I don’t want to give too much away). There was enough quirky charm to keep me watching even though the movie isn’t awesome by any means. So, if that sounds interesting (oh and the fact that someone gets killed via giant fake mosquito), check it out.

THE ROCKER (2008)

I was really surprised with how much I liked this Rainn Wilson flick. I was also surprised with the huge number of cast members I not only recognized, but knew by name (for the most part). Wilson stars as a drummer who got kicked out of what became the biggest band of the 80s right before they blew up. Now, in modern times, Rainn’s down on his luck, but ends up joining his nephew’s band, which garners its own huge levels of success. Aside from the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Jeff Garland, Jane Lynch (from 40 Year Old Virgin and a hundred other things), Jason Sudekis, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Krakowski, Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Demetri Martin and Aziz Ansari, I was really impressed with how well they pull off some moments that could have come off as cheesy. There’s also one part where Rainn offers up the emo lead singer some songwriting advice (paraphrase “let’s speed it up and switch it to I’m NOT bitter) and he actually takes it without flinching. Sure it’s kind of similar to a scene in That Thing You Do, but in this case the lead singer just decided to go for it instead of being a d-bag. The Rocker is one of those flicks that seems like it either went up against some huge other movie or their producers didn’t have the juice to put much/any advertising cash behind it, because there’s no reason that this shouldn’t have done way better (though I said the same thing after seeing Speed Racer, which I still really enjoyed, so what do I know).

I also watched a couple movies all the way through that I wasn’t really into and those were Bangkok Dangerous (2008) and The Crazies (1973). I’ll be honest, the only reason I wanted to watch BD is because I’ve laughed a million times at the Best of The Wicker Man video on YouTube starring BD’s Nic Cage. Man that’s a funny video. You can get to it here after reading an AWESOME article I wrote about horror movie remakes for ToyFare. Unfortunately, BD was no where near as ridiculous as I was hoping it would be (I mean, COME ON, it’s Nic Cage as an assassin!). Instead, it’s a pretty run-of-the mill story about an assassin who has all kinds of rules, but is starting to not want to be an assassin anymore. You’ve seen it a million times and this doesn’t really offer up anything new, unlike Grosse Pointe Blank which is completely awesome.

The Crazies (1973) is the first non-zombie George Romero movie I’ve ever seen. It was okay, but not all that interesting. Instead of focusing on characters and how they react to these crazy situations, it seemed like Romero was more focused on showing a lot of dudes in white hazmat-type suits rounding people up after a virus that makes people go bat-poop nutso, gets released in a small town. There’s nothing all that wrong, really, it just didn’t grab my attention like my favorite Romero (and horror) flick Dawn of the Dead does.