Robert Rodriguez is like the kitschy version of Quentin Tarantino. He makes movies he wants to see, and if others are along for the ride, all the better.
Spy Kids was a solid movie. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl is also quite good, though at the time suffered from some rather horrendous 3D effects. It’s a weird cult film now I guess.
We Can Be Heroes is his new film, a sort of stand-alone sequel to Sharkboy and Lavagirl. And I’m going to actually write that it’s a good movie, better than Wonder Woman!
Movies are complex beasts. The story, actors, music, shots and post-production are all super important. Editing, lighting, sound and a couple dozen more factors bring those main points to another level. Did you know that the direction an actor runs in a scene conveys intent? I geek out a bit too much on the director of photography in films, that’s a hell of an art.
WCBH looks like a kids movie, and a B one at that. It’s 2020, almost anyone can make some solid computer effects, so anything that looks like childish is done so with purpose (especially when you realize 80% of the film is on a green screen). The shots all make sense, and if you watch it a second time (cause with kids, who doesn’t?) you can see the subtleties in the shots that lead to the reveal at the end.
The actors are kids, and the film takes that over the top. What it does smartly in that regard is that each kid focuses on a specific characteristic, and then exaggerates it. Some are seen as weakness, but by the end everyone has a positive impact from their powers. Even the power of slow motion. They just do a great job of never taking themselves too seriously.
The soundtrack is delivered by a supporting character. I don’t know if this is insanity or brilliance, but it’s certainly the first time I’ve seen it work like this.
The story is the real highlight. It follows the traditional line for any band of misfits that needs to come together to succeed. The villains do a great job hamming it all up, and the punch of the film doesn’t feel like a cheat. Why? Because the story makes sense! Because the characters act according to their drivers, rather than the plot. There are no logic holes here. It’s delivered tightly, and every scene has some purpose to the larger story.
WCBH feels like the type of film that occurs when you take a comic book and transfer the spirit to film, rather than just the scenes. It’s the antithesis to Snyder’s films. And on many fronts (story, music, editing), it beats Wonder Woman.
I realize that this seems like comparing a hamburger to a steak. Your tastes dramatically impact the enjoyment. At the same time, I would think most people would better enjoy an amazing hamburger than a crappy steak.
And in a damn kids movie!