You’re not the only one who gets to save people around here
There are those times when you’re looking at films in a store and you see the same bland titles. Nothing jumps out as having a truly unique title, but then one pops up in the corner of your eye and you’re instantly attracted towards it. I had never even remotely heard of “All Superheroes Must Die” but it’s certainly a title that just jumps out at you.
Initially called simply “Vs”, All Superheroes Must Die had a budget of a measly $20,000. That’s not a lot of money to make a film with and they made it stretch to an insane level, bringing in a recognised and established actor in James Remar, and Lucas Till, a young actor who’s previous film before this was X-Men First Class.
After researching the film it struck me as being very similar to a film called Watchmen from a few years ago, set in a world where masked vigilantes are a thing of the past and when they re-appear, they’re generally resented.
I must admit that I’m not one for superhero movies, there’s nothing particularly interesting about someone who has a super-power because they can easily overcome whatever enemy throws in front of them. I prefer the heroes that don’t have superpowers, such as Batman or to a lesser extent, Kick-Ass. This way they can’t rely on whatever stupid superpower they have and they have to use their brains.
Charge (Trost), Cutthroat (Till), Shadow (Merkley) and The Wall (Valmassy) are four superheroes that awaken in a strange town to find that they have been kidnapped by Rickshaw (Remar). Rickshaw has stripped the superheroes of their powers and set up a series of tests around the town that they must pass in order to save innocent civilians.
The group splits in two and whilst Charge and Cutthroat fail their first test, strange events happen at the test that Shadow and the Wall are engaged in as despite going over their time limit, the civilians aren’t killed. The Wall is stabbed to death by Manpower (Whalen), and the civilians are only killed when Charge and Cutthroat approach in an attempt to free them, long after the time limit has expired.
Soon realising that despite what they do, Rickshaw is going to kill the civilians anyway and with the aid of tests that are designed to pit each of the superheroes against each other, the group does indeed start falling about. Can Charge figure out whether Rickshaw is hiding before it’s too late?
Is it full of wham, kaboom, kapoow, boff and more wham?
This superhero movie very unlike any other superhero movie in the sense that none of them ever show that they have superpowers, even in the flashbacks. I’m not entirely convinced that the characters ever really had powers and you wouldn’t have the slightest clue other than the characters claiming they did. For me this made it a bit flat in some senses as if they weren’t going to have powers in the film, it probably would have made them more enjoyable to watch if they were Kick-Ass style heroes and knew that they didn’t have any actual powers. This would have given the characters a bit more depth.
Having said that, in some ways taking away their powers also lead to an interesting character development as it quickly becomes obvious that without their powers, these characters are pretty much useless. They don’t save a single civilian during a test during the entirety of the film, infact, Charge literally runs away and leaves the civilians to their fate when he realises that their lives aren’t worth risking his own, and later also ends up shooting innocent civilians to avoid playing Rickshaw’s game. He’s a bit of a dick really.
So away from something that I’m not sure whether I like or not, to something that I love and that is the character of Rickshaw, portrayed brilliantly by James Remar. Remar excels as Rickshaw, he is very enjoyable to watch. Throughout his career he has been very hit and miss with his performances, but for me he does very well as the antagonist. He is very menacing in an appealing kind of way, although like a low-budget version of Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds.
More accurately, he is a mix of Jigsaw from the Saw franchise and Heath Ledger’s joker. He sets up traps that start with video monologues and the characters are forced to make a difficult choice to get out. I love that whenever a video is played you can hear Moonlight Sonata in the background, one of the few bits of the soundtrack that works wells. The reason I saw he also includes bits of the Joker is that some of his traps are pure chaos theory and he takes delight in the consequences of the unpredictable actions of the superheroes.
Whereas Remar is very entertaining, the four “heroes” start talking it starts going downhill and the script is very wooden, especially from Sophie Merkley as Shadow and Lee Valmassy as The Wall. To give you a good indication how wooden the acting is from both of these people, neither have appeared in a single film since All Superheroes Must Die was made in 2011. Whilst we don’t see much of Valmassy before his character dies, Merkley is in it all the way through her performance is wooden, bland and she sports a very strange mohawk/mullet hybrid throughout.
I am also not that enthusiastic about the character of Charge. At first I thought he was bland as hell and then I realised he’s just a bit thick. In one test towards the end Shadow is going to shoot him and he not only accepts it, he gives her tips. This includes when she is aiming at his heart and then he tell her to aim to the other side of his body to make sure she hits the heart. Now, it’s not been mentioned at any point during the film that the character has that condition where all of the internal organs are the opposite way around, so if he’s telling her to move the gun to his right to aim at his heart, when she is already aiming at his heart, makes the character a bit thick.
Infact, all of the heroes are a bit thick really. They are given 90 seconds to get weapons at the beginning of the film and they just casually wander around a hardware store, Shadow just stands there as the Wall is threatened with a knife by Manpower. I would go as far as saying that the only two characters worth watching are Cutthroat due to his cynical nature and inferiority complex, and Rickshaw.
And before I move onto the summary, I have a message for everyone in Hollywood……STOP USING SHAKY CAM!!!! IT LOOKS RIDICULOUS.
With a budget of just $20,000, I suspect this is the lowest budget film I’ve reviewed so far but in fairness to it, it’s not an overly bad film. At just 76 minutes long you’re not going to be stuck there for long and whilst there are probably better uses of your time, you could do worse than watching All Superheroes Must Die.
At the time of writing it has an average rating of 3.9/10 on IMDB and whilst I think that is far too low, I don’t think it would deserve to be higher than someone in the mid fives somewhere. It’s not a great film, it’s not very memorable and I probably won’t ever watch it again, but did it interest me enough to watch the planned sequel, A World Without Superheroes? In a way yes, it did, and in that sense it did what it needed to go.
Don’t go in expecting brilliance, because you’re not going to get it, but for 76 minutes worth of it your time, it might be worth a go.