This week's review is going to be a bit different, because not only did a friend of mine make it, but it will likely never see a commercial release. My friend, who wants to get into filmmaking, gave me permission to review this here. He probably shouldn't have though, because I enjoy nothing more than destroying the hopes and dreams of my friends (partial Cinema Snob quote there.)
In all seriousness though, I'm pretty sure this was just a high school student project. Was I entertained by it? Sure, but I doubt anyone who doesn't know those involved will feel the same. Enough about my friend here though, let's talk about Hero Retreat.
Hero Retreat is a superhero movie of sorts...hmm; I've been doing lots of those lately haven't I? Anyway, there are ten or so characters, five "good guys" and five "bad guys". Each of them has a special power, chosen by their actors. Fair enough, so what are the superpowers?
On the good side, you have a Scotsman who wears a hat that allows it's wearer to teleport. OK fair enough, that works for me. There's a girl who can move at the speed of sound - fast but not as fast as the flash. You have a ninja with advanced fighting skills (too bad the choreography doesn't show it.) There's a girl with impervious skin - reminds me of X-23's sadistic handler Kimura. Oh, she can't be affected by telepaths either. Maybe she's a little too invincible then. Well, there's always drowning or poisoning. There's some knight that pretty much thinks like a computer and can handle any logical problem. It kind of works, but why is he in a full metal knight suit swinging a computer mouse around? And the fifth good guy, well...I'm not completely sure what her power is.
On the bad side, you have a girl who can stop your heart - ok, that's kind of awesome. There's an invisible man, also a useful power. There's a girl who can talk to stuffed animals...what? What purpose could talking to stuffed animals possibly have against the likes of a teleporting Scotsman, a ninja, and someone with impervious skin? Talking to stuffed animals is less useful than the ability to instantly clean people's teeth at any time. At least you could become wicked rich as a dentist with that power. Who picks...never mind, moving on. You have a telekinetic telepath, kind of like Jean Grey and Cable from the X-men. There's a girl who has different powers depending on what card she pulls out of a deck. Fair enough, works for a comedy like this. There's also a sixth bad guy, but her powers aren't revealed in this movie in case it ever has a sequel. Anyway, on with the actual video.
The movie starts with the opening credits, complete with poorly-lit footage of an empty high school music room. A girl opens a cupboard with a key and pulls out a shirt. She's then knocked over by a bunch of other shirts - oh, so this must be the powerless villain in training. Two more villains pop in and berate her for being useless. Blah, any real supervillain would execute her on sight and complete the job them self, and the lighting here is so bad I can't see anyone's face. Turn some fricken lights on!
Before long, the teleporter and speedster heroes show up. The telepath villain wonders how they arrived so quickly, even though he should be able to read their minds. He almost explains away his plan before the stuffed animal girl tells him off. Wow, most useless telepathic villain ever. Anyway, they knock over the two heroes and escape, and the heroes chase after them. Must be incompetent villains too since they leave behind the powerless girl with the stolen shirt. Why all this violence and insanity over a stolen shirt anyway? And why didn't the teleporter just teleport out of the room. What good is a superpower if you're not going to use it? Nightcrawler you are not!
The villains reach the bottom of a stairway, only to be cut off by the teleporter. OK, so he did teleport, off screen. This movie has the budget of a single Ritz cracker. The telepath taunt the teleporter with "There's two of us and only one of you!" The ninja then pops up and chops the telepath in the neck, knocking him out. Again, most useless telepath ever. Before long, the ninja is attacked by the invisible man. OK this is kind of awesome - ninja vs. Mr. Invisible. The other two villains run off as teleporter attacks the invisible man with his axe. Why isn't there blood? Oh wait he's invisible, so his blood probably is too, never mind.
(Invincible girl and megabyte knight)
The stuffed animal girl and the telepath are again stopped down the hall, this time by invulnerable girl and the megabyte knight as he introduces himself. The knight tries to talk like he comes from the middle ages, using words like thee and bane, yet he fails to speak in a British accent. After a short conversation, the four of them agree to take the fight outside, just like a real high school fight. Grant them a point for realism? After the four get outside, the speedster and teleporter join them. Four heroes on two villains? Where's the tension? The girl who draws random powers...I'll just call her card girl, pops up from behind a car and grabs the teleporter's hat. She runs off and the speedster chases after her.
The villain in training pops through the outside door near the fight, and the teleporter spots her. Wait...he has his hat on again? When did that happen? Does the hat teleport on and off of his head all the time? A little consistency would be nice. Anyway, the invincible girl charges the telepath, who uses his telekinetic abilities to knock her down and roll her away. Meanwhile, the knight charges stuffed animal girl, who in turn talks to one of her stuffed animals. The knight stops in his tracks and says,
(Stuffed animal girl and the telepath)
"This does not compute." Seriously dude? As a dataknight, you should have records on all the villain's superpowers. You should know that this girl can talk to stuffed animals, or at least compute that she's completely insane. Instead you have a computing error? Your programmers are made of stupid!
Card girl hides behind a doorway and pulls out her superpower choosing deck of cards. What superpower does she draw this time? Echolocation! OK, that's actually pretty funny. Speed girl soon shows up and starts taunting her.
"Come on, show me some love," She says. What does card girl do in response? She leaps out and hugs her. This is the kindest, most loving fight to the death of all time. The movie then cuts back to the ninja/invisible man fight. Unfortunately, the ninja is losing. Meanwhile, the villain trainee hides in the hallway as the teleporter is chasing her. This time, he doesn't have his hat. He stops at the sight of the heart stopper. They taunt each other for a while, and while no lines stand out in particular, this scene works fairly well. The teleporter charges and swings his axe, but she dodges and touches his chest, causing him a heart attack.
(Supersonic girl and the teleporting Scotsman)
The ninja finally defeats the invisible man, and then we cut to the speedster and card girl fighting over the teleporting hat. They're screaming and wining as they wave their hands at each other. Sissiest superhero fight ever. Eventually the speedster grabs the teleportation hat and teleports away. That's really hardcore, a supersonic runner with teleportation, NOBODY COULD TOUCH HER!
Outside, the villains seem to be winning the fight when the ninja shows up. The ninja knocks out the stuffed animal girl and snaps the data knight out of his processing error. This distracts the telepath from the invincible girl, who stands back up and knocks out the telepath.
Back inside, the teleporter somehow survives his heart attack and stands back up. After a short fight, he knocks her out and rests on the wall. The rest of the movie shows the heroes having a meeting while the villains have one. Isn't this what should have been at the start of the film? That way you could tell us of everyone's powers and not interrupt the fight scene later. Not to mention that the meeting goes on for seven minutes, and all that really happens is the invisible man quits, the villain in training is promoted, and the teleporter steals the villain's tarts. Yes, the hero is a thief. Well, I guess Gambit and Fantomex from the X-men are also thieves.
So how was it overall? Far from perfect, but isn't every student film? I'd say it was pretty good for a high school project - better than the video project I did with my group's Broadcast Technology skit. Was I entertained? Sure. There were some decent jokes and creative ideas. It's also hard to write a story around such strange superpowers as a data knight and a girl who can talk to stuffed animals. Sure, the lighting was bad every now and then, but this is a high school film so what do you expect. Would I recommend it? Not unless you know the people who made it. Heck, you probably can't watch it unless you know the cast members anyway. For what it was, I enjoyed it, and it was a nice break from the megacrap I usually watch. Next week, it's right back to the bad movies and games I usually talk about here.
So why did I review a "never to be commercially released" movie on a movie blog again?