Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: Mummerman

In recent days, I have had an epiphany: I came to the realization of just how important it is for us all to support the independent comic makers, because they represent the very spirit of what it means to be a fan of comics.  Sometimes the Marvels and DCs of the world forget that.  They forget that comics are for the fans, because they'll make these grandiose and complicated boondoggle storylines that are more for themselves than for their fans.  That's why we need independents, so as to remind the big guys as to whom comics are made: The fans.  One such source is the War of the Independents line that I brought up previously on my blog. 

Another such source is the movie that I'll be reviewing today: Mummerman.

I had to think about how to review this movie, because some of you might judge it by comparing it to multimillion dollar movies like Iron Man or Captain America.  That would be an unfair comparison, because the funding that went into the making of Mummerman was much, much less.  It's a movie, in other words, that was made by an independent filmmaker.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you hear what this movie is about - namely, that of a regular joe who is a fan of comics suddenly deciding to adopt a superhero persona - the most likely and inevitable comparison would be to the recent Kickass. I hesitated to even bring up the movie Kickass here during my movie review, but I figured that the comparison was going to be made anyway, so I thought that it would be best to just deal with that from the get-go. 

But folks, this isn't Kickass, nor is it Iron Man or Captain America.  What you see is a movie of a comics nerd made by comics nerds.  I'm prefacing all this for a reason, so that you won't come away with high expectations of an Iron Man sort of movie, because it's not.  In many ways, it's better than an Iron Man movie, because the actors, writers, and the rest of the crew are more closely attached to the final product of a regular comics nerd taking his dream into action.  So for this movie, take off your movie critic goggles and put on your comics nerd goggles, because that's how to see this movie:  From the perspective of a comics nerd.

And as usual, I'm about to discuss the movie and it's contents, and if you don't want what's in the movie Mummerman spoiled for you, then

You have been warned!

One critique that I would have of the movie is that it starts out a bit slow, but then it picks up steam once it finds its footing.  This could be explained by the fact that this was their first attempt at this kind of movie, so they had to feel their way around, and I think they accomplished that by the end of the movie.  Another critique that I have would be that it needs to emphasize less that Mummerman (MM from here on) and the people around him are goofballs, and more on the story of a comics fan taking on the role of a superhero.

Before this is taken the wrong way, let me say that the "goofball" parts of the movie are part of what makes it fun to watch.  However, the scene in which MM drives his car backwards to chase some bad guys is trying too hard to be goofy.  Let me contrast this with "goofball" done right:  In the scene in which MM drops off those same bad guys that he was chasing to the police for the very first time, MM suddenly tries to do a disappearing act a la Batman when they momentarily turn around.  However, all he did was duck behind some air conditioning vents, and the police commissioner even points out "I see your foot". 

Another example of goofball done right is the scene in which MM swings a la Spiderman to knock out the bad guy, but then ends up getting tangled so that he is dangling upside down - a la Spiderman in the scene in which Mary Jane pulls his mask down far enough to plant a kiss.  The woman MM rescues also pulls MM's mask down to do the same thing.  This scene works in MM because he isn't trying to be like Spidey - he just got tangled up - something that just might happen to a goofball trying to be a superhero.  I can easily see similar superhero movie references being made by MM in future movies, but in his goofball way like he did here - maybe even a Kickass reference at some point!

I think the only way the MM filmmakers can learn the balance of goofiness is just to keep making movies.  Or perhaps they can take a page from The Guild and have 8-10 minute episodes, and 12 episodes for a "season".  Over the course of its five seasons, The Guild got better at storytelling, and learned how to end each episode with the right sense of "cliffhanger" to entice you to look out for the next episode.  The Guild likewise went overkill at the start on emphasizing that everyone was batshit insane, but got better about balancing that in the later seasons, so I could see a similar learning curve going on here with MM "seasons".

Anyway, like I said, MM had a slow start,but a good finish.  Towards the climax, the movie's pacing got crisper and more focused, and this made it such that you had to stay glued to your seat to see what happens next.  Probably my favorite scene is when MM had just gotten beaten within an inch of his life and literally crawled out of the motel room where he got the beating, and at that point, his friend pulled up and took him away.  As this scene was playing out, I told myself "Please don't mess this scene up by going goofball!", and they didn't - and the scene ended the way it should have ended.  It was a strong display of friendship and the risks that good friends will go through to help each other.

And this actually leads to what I believe is the strong point of the movie.  Throughout the movie, both MM and his buddy work with each other in the pursuit of MM's dream. In a real sense, this movie was more about friends supporting each other through thick and thin, even in the pursuit of their crazy dreams, than it was a superhero story.  In this movie, you also saw an important role that friends can play for each other in that they ask the tough questions like "Are you sure about this, man?"  Friends, in other words, should be able to apply "tough love" when it's called for.

My favorite part, however, was when MM was questioning whether he should even be pursuing his dream anymore.  This was just after he had gotten that beating from the villain in this movie, a serial rapist.  Such questions are what all superheroes end up asking after the first time they get such a beating.  After such a beating, the hero has to ask himself or herself  just how much they "want" this - that is, the role of hero.  After all, if they continue down the "hero" path, then this won't be the last time such a beating will occur - and it could literally be the death of them one day.  There's also the question of the toll that it takes on the loved ones of the heroes - like MM's mom, who stressed so much that she fainted and had to be rushed to the emergency room.

MM (the movie) hit this particular moment perfectly.  MM (the hero) then came to the realization that "the calling" sometimes makes you push past your preferences and even your fears because someone else is in danger.  In this case, the woman he rescued before had been kidnapped by the rapist, and MM donned the costume again (after having thrown it away) to ride to the rescue by pounding the crap out of the villain.  I had to say that even though I knew what was coming, the scene played out perfectly; right down to MM just continuing to hammer the guy with his fists once he was down - no doubt working off the anger he had not just at the villain, but at himself for failing to stop him the first time. 

It was then, as well, that MM truly felt the great feeling that comes from coming to the rescue.  Moments like that are what makes being a superhero worth all the pain and suffering that they go through.  It's a tough, tough life, because not only will you be saving loved ones, you might also be risking your life for total strangers.  And one day, you might fail in your task of rescue - and even die.  Or worse, someone else dies because you failed.  The risk/reward is a difficult balance, and it's why superheroes often pair up or form super teams, because only other superheroes know what they go through.

MM seems to have learned that first lesson, and in the process, discovered that he passed that first and important task of getting back on that horse after he had fallen off.  I have a feeling that in the possible future movies of MM, he will be learning other lessons from the hero life, but will continue to pass them as well - in his own goofball way, of course.  :-)

On a scale of 1 to 10 in which 1 is a bomb and 10 is THE bomb, I give MM an 8.  There's two reasons for that mark.  For one, I think the movie makers did a good job in closing out the movie and leaving the possibility open for future movies.  And the other reason is to give incentive to score even higher.  This was a good start and I think this same group will get even better.  

Below is the trailer for the movie:

1 comment:

Freddy Antioch said...

So this movie was filmed before kickass was casted. I know the film maker and he took like a year and a half editing like a hobby. He was a little worried when Kickass came out because people thought Mummerman was filmed after kickass. Based on when they came out. I saw the Mummerman, and I agree it started a bit slow and some of the characters are corny and the movie could do without. I understand it was acted by family and friends but overall they did a surprisingly decent job when you take off the price tag and special effects and big Hollywood names. I got my copy in a shop in downtown Antioch. And a good honest review as well.