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The Specials (1999)
Director: Craig Mazin
review by Denise Wayne
What do superheroes do on their day off? Although this lacklustre comedy has been compared to Mystery Men (1999), it doesn't have that movie's engaging sensibility when it comes to sending up comic book fantasy icons. The serious problem with The Specials is that there is no action sequence to offset all the navel gazing, spoof characters, and repetitive swearing.
The Specials are a super-group of the lower rankings whose hopes for a major publicity boost fall flat when the marketing campaign for their laughable action figures backfires and their leader, the Strobe (Thomas Haden Church), suddenly announces that he's disbanding the team. Rob Lowe plays the ambitious Weevil but, like most of the others - including blue-skinned Amok, punk styled Deadly Girl, fat-man Mr Smart, standoffish Ms Indestructible, and spastic Alien Orphan - we never get to see them actually do anything. So, with half the fun of a superhero movie completely neglected here, what's left is just a handful of stale jokes about character origins, petty squabbles and personality clashes in a roomful of massive egos, and the vital media attention that anyone who puts on a silly costume must, apparently, be seeking.
Real comics by Alan Moore and Frank Miller, to name only two highly creative writers, have covered all this territory a decade or more ago. There's no point in even trying to make a feature film out of tawdry sitcom ideas, so the real wonder of The Specials is why they bothered.
previously published in VideoVista #36Related item:
tZ X-Men - film review by Tony Lee
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