Monday, September 23, 2013

All Superheroes Must Die (2013) Review:

All Superheroes Must Die (2013) (Originally Titled “Vs.”) (2011) 

Shadow: “You're not the only one who gets to save people around here…”

Saw meets X-men! This movie is an independent film, and superhero thriller. That being said, it’s obviously low-budget, but does manage to make some good X-men-like characters: The leader is Charge, who has gains power as he gains momentum, or so it seems. He only ever uses this ability once or twice, I think. But because of an injection they all received at the start of the movie, their powers are gone/weakened. It’s a classic villain set-up.

    The nameless superheroes led by Charge (Cutthroat, some sort of antihero ninja; The Wall;  and Shadow; reminiscent to me of  Shadowcat…) are robbed of their powers and made to fight for their nemesis’s amusement. As leverage, he has hostages around the entire city, and he can kill them or blow the place up. The villain is Rickshaw, and he is rather good at outsmarting the captive heroes in a game they can’t win…and he loves it. He reminds me of Joker….or maybe moreso Arcade. Are we meant to think of Jigsaw from Saw?

    I digress…so, he instructs the heroes to pick their weapons and go to the first round. They fight two villains. A big shirtless guy with a Russian accent named Sledgeshaw, and a cannibalistic Uncle Sam caricature named Manpower. This is the only scene that feels particularly comic bookish. I liked it. But, maybe owing to the fact that it had heroes and villains more or less in costume, and Charge actually uses his ability, without giving away too much. Inexplicably, he still has his power...or some power from what I saw.
   The rest of the movie is just Saw with Superheroes, with Rickshaw plotting games and trying to get the heroes to kill each other with tools he’s provided and using hostages as leverage. In one scene, Charge realizes it doesn’t matter…Rickshaw will kill the innocents whether they fight or not, so he decides to use a gun (with three bullets, one for each hero.) to kill three innocents and save themselves.

      Well, the Wolverine-like Cutthroat protests. In another game, one of the hostages is revealed to be Cutthroat’s sister. Now, I know this is supposed to be an edgy thriller, but it does seem like Charge could’ve thought his way out of that one. Why not shoot non-lethally? I only say that because later this is exactly what he does to himself instead of shooting Shadow…kind of him to think of that then!

     Anyway, for all it’s edginess, you do get a good sense of the relationships between the heroes. Hence my X-men analogy. The Wall would be like Colossus. Charge is like Cyclops personality-wise, but with the powers of Juggernaut. He takes charge. Both The Wall and Charge love Shadow…she’s the sensitive one who calls everyone by their first name, and acts like a damsel in distress. (So, Charge is Jon; Cutthroat is Ben; and The Wall is Charlie.) Stereotypical, but it moves the plot along quickly.

The last half of the movie as the heroes begin to kill off each other is rife with melodrama and romance as they avoid killing Shadow. Flashbacks are shown that supposedly heighten the relationships but they boil down to…two guys love Shadow, and Cutthroat hates Charge…hence my Wolverine analogy. (Fact: Lucas Till, who plays Cutthroat went on to play Havoc in X-men: First Class. (2011) Overall, my main problem with this movie is Charge…if he went through all that trouble to (slight spoiler!) spare Shadow…I dunno…why not make more of an effort to save innocents? He didn’t seem to care that it is was just part of Rickshaw’s scheme when it came to Shadow.

That and the melodrama…you really get a sense for the relationships, but it is two-dimensional. X-men is kinda like that, too…but they at least have more villains and thus more stories to go through…and fight for their rights. I suppose I should go easy on the movie. It is, after all, an independent film.

    In conclusion, All Superheroes Must Die is both the title and the moral of the story...though I felt the moral was contrived: All superheroes must eventually compromise their moral characters…or make difficult moral decisions. Especially when there are budget limits! Heh heh! Given it’s small scale though, I think it did a good job… The movie had a good scenery-chewing villain, and built off of immediately identifiable superhero dynamics.

 After first round though, when Charge discovers Rickshaw will kill innocents anyway, it loses steam… much like Charge does. I dunno, maybe some people like to see heroes lose. Still, I’ll give a nice 2.5/5 stars for this underappreciated superhero film. Not my kind of superhero movie, but it has it’s moments…and most of them involve Rickshaw, since he's so happy to be winning!      

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