In the animated title sequence for Electric Man, the audience is treated to a motion-comic showing the genesis of the titular character. A depression-era construction worker zapped by lightning, he becomes a super-powered crimefighter. It’s a pretty cool scene.
Unfortunately, it seems that all of the film’s creativity was spent on making it pretty cool, at the expense of basically everything else.
Director: David Barras
Release Date: 9/10/13 (DVD)
There’s nothing really new about Electric Man‘s plot. Two down-on-their-luck comic book shop owners, Jason and Wolf, have to come up with £5000 in a week or else their store will be closed down. In a crazy mishap, they acquire an ultra-rare mint copy of Electric Man #1, one of the rarest comics on earth, and one that is worth £100,000. Problem solved, right? Not quite! Other people want the comic, people who are dangerous and will destroy the property of, taze, or possibly even kill the people in the way.
(Worth noting: I kind of missed what was going on in the first minute or two because there were some pretty impressive accents on display, but either that first scene is an anomoly or my Babel fish started kicking in. If you tend to have difficulty understanding not-Americans speak English, your mileage may vary. But I did learn how to pronounce “Edinburgh” properly so that’s something.)
So you’ve heard this story before, even if not in exactly this configuration, but that’s not necessarily a problem. In this case, though, it just means the story is uninteresting. You know exactly where it’s going at any moment, and any attempt at a twist can be seen coming from the above description.
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about borderline-offensively-stupid romantic subplot. Jason is attracted to a generally attractive female, fine, but beyond that exactly nothing makes sense. Lauren’s entire character is based on falsehoods and fabrications, but somehow underneath it all we’re supposed to believe that there’s something genuine about her commitment(?!) to someone who she met yesterday and spent about thirty seconds talking to before kissing? Also, she followed up that kiss (the first of unnecessary and illogically many) with the semi-outraged exclamation “A hooker? Jesus Christ!” because I guess she didn’t ask for money, so she’s not a prostitute? Or something? I don’t know.
The issue with the story means that Electric Man relies on its technical aspects to wears its low-budget on its sleeve. Almost every single shot screams “indie film,” and even though it’s got some cinematic widescreen going on, it reeks of unprofessionalism. There’s nothing wrong with not having a budget, but flaunting it is just silly. In a world where zero-budget YouTube videos can look really, really good, a low-budget look just doesn’t cut it anymore. The couple of scenes where the film pulls from film history come off as tacky rather than clever, and really give the whole thing a student-film feel.
The wooden acting makes it even worse. Basically everyone is incompetent at best, and some performances are actually cringe-inducing (specifically Fish (actual name), who plays the theoretically dangerous Uncle Jimmy) Toby Manley, who plays Jason, is competent and seems to be doing as well as he can with the shoddy writing, but he hardly saves the show and actually just highlights how bad everyone else is.
I could go on, but I really don’t feel like bashing the film anymore. It seems like it was made earnestly by people who were trying to make something silly and quirky, and it has its moments, but those moments are too few and far in between. And those credits held so much promise…
Give Electric Man his own movie. A mid-30s period piece superhero movie. Now that could be something worth watching.