As anyone can tell you, comic book properties are all the rage these days. Batman. Superman. The Avengers. Spider-man. Hulk. Thor. You name it, and there’s likely some project in some stage of development at any of the major studies. But why should the indie scene miss out on the trend? Why should the art-house crowd be deprived of something a bit smaller, a bit more introspective, with just a bit of the small-film-quirkiness that tends to go hand-in-hand with their releases?
Never fear, you uninformed masses, because ELECTRIC MAN is here to save the day! Well, maybe he’s not here, per se, not in the same way a Bruce Wayne or a Tony Stark or a Clark Kent would be here to save the day … but he’s still here. Granted, he’s only in comic book form, but, if the film is any indication, he’s still destined to change the lives of others … well, maybe not a “lot” of others … maybe it’s just the misfits at the heart of a fanboy-centric romantic comedy.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Jazz (played by Toby Manley) and Wolf (Mark McKirdy) are in need of some quick cash in order to keep their prized business – DeadHead Comics – open for business. When things aren’t looking too good for them, lo and behold the first issue of a hero who predates Superman – a curious oddity who goes by the name ‘Electric Man’ – shows up in their collection. The problem is that it didn’t get there all on its own; actually, a mysterious young lady named Lauren (a mannish-looking Jennifer Ewing) had it stolen but the young thief stashed it amongst their wares for safe-keeping. Why does she want it so badly? Who is the curious American comic collector Edison Bolt (a hyper Mark McDonnell), and why is he after it? And what does Uncle Jimmy (Derek Dick) have to do with all of this?
You’ll have to tune in if you want to find out more!
It’s a bit of a misnomer to say that the modern day farcical ELECTRIC MAN is influenced by comic books; rather, it’s influenced by the business of ‘selling’ comics. Jazz and Wolf are comic shop nerds of the usual variety – they have hearts of gold, they spend their days fantasizing about the lives they believe they should be leading, and they’re constantly struggling to make financial end meet end. In short, it’s the reality of trying to make it in a fairly dead (or, at least, dying) industry. Instead of focusing on that realism, ELECTRIC MAN turns the world upside down and, instead, goes to work toward winning over the audiences’ cold, cold hearts.
And for the most part it all works just fine. There are elements are obvious predictability here – there’s probably never any doubt about good triumphing over evil, and there’s even less doubt that these two young men won’t find their respective happiness – but it’s never explored as if no one is taking it any less serious than they should. Come the end, ELECTRIC MAN is a bit less of a romance and more of a traditional caper – plenty of hands are scrambling for control of the comic book, but, rest assured, it’s never in doubt that the forces of good will come together in the nick of time to save their day. If anything, ELECTRIC MAN goes in a bit too heavily with its winning smarm and ceaseless banter between all the players when they didn’t need to; as this appears to be a debut feature from screenwriters Scott Mackay and David Barras, I’m willing to chalk that single complaint up to their collective inexperience. Next time out, they’ll likely give their comedy a bit more breathing room to develop in some less expectable, more appreciable ways.
Because – mark my words – they will get a next time.
ELECTRIC MAN (2012) is produced by Dugbus Ltd. DVD distribution is being handled by Passion River. As for the technical specifications? Well, to the film’s credit, this intelligent li’l indie flick boasts some excellent quality sights and sounds – far more than I expected and have had to sit through from other, less inspired indie features from this side of the pond – so hats off to all involved in their respective roles. And, if you’re wanting special features, there are a few: there’s a ‘Making Of’ short, an examination of the film’s score (which is quite impressive), and the requisite amount of bloopers. All in all, it’s a nice collection, nicely presented, so nicely done!
RECOMMENDED. Don’t be such a prude! ELECTRIC MAN is solid entertainment. Sure, it’s a bit predictable, but it’s that kind of benign predictability that produces enough chuckles and groans to be worth it, if only for a single view. Writers Scott Mackay and David Barras (who also directs) have fashioned a modest, feel good ‘adventure’ that fanboys will no doubt love, fangirls will appreciate … and as for everyone else? Well, they can go along for the ride and be suitably entertained as well.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Passion River provided me with a DVD copy of ELECTRIC MAN by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.