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By Doug Brunell | September 28, 2007

Now that big-budget superhero movies are commonplace, the creator of a low-budget superhero film has very little chance to impress. What he or she does has to be pretty spectacular, or it will remind viewers of why Hollywood can do it better. “RetroGirl Episode Four: Nightmare” falls into the same trap, and it doesn’t get out alive.

First problem: confusion. No, it’s not the convoluted plot that involves RetroGirl (Megan Redstone) being trapped in a nightmare courtesy of DreamGirl (Krisztina Kis Halas). It’s actually a title issue. The back of the box reads that this is the “second chapter” of the “world’s best live-action comic book.” It’s the fourth episode but second chapter? Okay, maybe. At the end of the film the credits read, “RetroGirl Episode Five: Nightmare’s End,” and then advises (or warns, as it were) viewers to be on the lookout for the sixth episode, which is coming soon. Even when Marvel Comics redid its numbering system it wasn’t that bad.

That little flub isn’t the only problem. Writer/director Andy Rodriguez doesn’t pay attention to details. At one point there is a shot of a newspaper with an important headline. The filmmakers obviously couldn’t afford to get a real paper printed up, so they pasted their own headline over the paper’s real headline, which normally wouldn’t be a problem except that they used the paper straight from their computer printer and made no effort to match color or font. It’s the little things that can make or break a movie.

Continuing in the detail department, there’s a character who is established as being twenty-years-old. Later on he tells RetroGirl that he can’t let her go because he needs a date for the prom. I guess it’s possible, but with all the other mistakes it seems more like lazy writing.

As if these problems weren’t enough, there is a story that has no tension, makes little sense, and drags on entirely too long. The acting falls short of incompetent, and the fight scenes have no sense of realism or danger. The only things going for the film is the audacity of Rodriguez, who either only reads comics from the early ’80s or Image’s first output, and the way these women look in tights. I don’t like looking at ladies as sex objects, but that is what I was reduced to. I needed some excuse to keep watching.

Rodriguez is called (probably by himself) an “acclaimed fan film director” on the back of the DVD box. I don’t doubt he can do passable work, but it’s not apparent in this film. Compare this one to “The Death of Batman,” a low budget superhero film that was done right, and you can see what real talent and vision can accomplish. This is just slapped together nonsense that insults viewers and comic book fans. It takes all the worst traits of the superhero comic book genre and puts them on the screen. That’s disgraceful and inexcusable, and no filmgoer/comic book fan should tolerate it.

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