As Americans we’re a people who hold dear the notion of chasing our dreams, following our bliss, not giving up and never saying die but the hard truth is it’s perfectly appropriate in a great number of cases to say die and the budding career of director Aaron Schoenke is a case in point. In fact, based on several viewings of the filmmaker’s odd short “Last Man Standing,” I am convinced it’s his patriotic duty.
A low budget grabbag of cornball dialogue, action cliches and copyright infringement, the work follows the adventures of Wolverine and Batman as they confront a mad Noble Prize-winning scientist who’s developed a weapon which looks suspiciously like a Radio Shack pager and, when fired, produces poor quality special effects expected to pass for explosions.
A family project from a family that clearly has way too much free time, the film stars Sean Schoenke as Wolverine (the member of the X-Men with long, razor-like claws) and Tom Schoenke as the caped and slightly overweight crusader. On first meeting the two tussle and squabble over the fate of the professor. Freddy Krueger wants revenge for something unexplained the guy did to a couple of his friends a while back. The dark knight cautions him that “There’s a bigger picture here than a personal matter.” Clearly writers Aaron and Sean Schoenke were reading comic books when they should have been paying attention in English class.
Batman points out that the device is all that stands between some sinister figure known as Dr. Doom and his total domination of the planet. As fate-and cheesy screenwriting-would have it, Doom just happens to be in the next room and enters with a portentous “Did somebody say my name?” Wolverine begins to tussle with the bargain basement Darth Vader while the fat bat tinkers with the pager. Suspense builds to an almost perceptible level before he finally fires the thing at the bad guy producing poor quality special effects and distracting the evil Doctor long enough for Wolverine to lop off his head.
Not content to leave us wanting less, Schoenke goes into portentous epilogue mode. In a final scene Doom’s head has been rejoined to his body inexplicably so that it can make a grammar-defying pronouncement to the effect that Wolverine and Batman proved “a more formidable and unexpected team than I anticipated” but that nothing can stand in his way “to total global domination!”
The viewer is left to ponder how this guy expects to conquer the world when he can’t even master basic English as the closing credits provide the last of many unintended laughs. “Filmed,” the final line reads, “on location at Comedy Underground in Santa Monica, California.”
Which seems fitting, of course, given that Schoenke’s film is such a joke.