This film is far better than it has any right to be. As it stands, it’s a tightly budgeted noir superhero movie set in the 1940s. As if that attempt weren’t bold enough to earn respect, the story and acting are top notch, and the film itself simply looks amazing. In fact, it brought Sin City to mind, yet had a look all its own. It’s obvious this is the directors’ vision.
The story is beautiful in its seeming simplicity. In 1920 a serial killer is claiming his next victim when a meteor hits the town. In the aftermath of the destruction 13 people are mutated by radiation. Their children inherit their powers and become Supers. Sparks, one of the Supers (or so he thinks), becomes a famous hero whose life quickly takes a turn for the worse when he tangles with Matanza (William Katt). There is so much more to the story than this, but to reveal it is to destroy what the directors are trying to do, which is to surprise viewers at each and every turn and tweak their genre expectations to the point where they aren’t quite sure what they are watching.
The look and sound of this film must be noted, as it really helps sell it to audiences who are weaned on superhero movies that are interesting to look at but have little in the way of plot. It makes viewers think they are seeing a film with a far bigger budget than it has, and then the story engages them in ways they will find surprising for this type of genre feature. This is, quite honestly, a movie that is served by plot and not conventions.
Directors Christopher Folino (who wrote the comic book this was based on) and Todd Burrows have made a remarkable film. It is unlike any other current comic book-inspired feature, and that’s a good thing. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they have modified the machine they are using it on, and that serves its audience quite well. If you insist, however, that the only good comic book movie is one that is just like all the others you have seen (minus some hero name and costume changes), then you’ll want to steer clear of this one. It has little use for what has been done before.