Boy Wonder Premiere
One of the advantages to being part of the "press" at C2E2 (besides all the granola bars you can eat and socializing with people in various states of cosplay) is that for some events, there is a greater amount of access. You move up at the front of the line. You get prime seating. And then, of course, you also have to decide whether what you've seen is worth it.
Sadly, I really wanted to catch The Middlemen panel - however, I ended up catching the premiere of Boy Wonder, a movie written and directed by Michael Morrissey. In fact, after viewing it, I mentioned to Chuck (he of the fetching headgear) that I had thought up a tag line that I could never use. We both laughed, but as I begin to write this, I have to admit....I'm going to use it anyway, because I think it's rather clever.
Boy Wonder, quite frankly, is the move which Kick-Ass tried - and failed - to be as both a movie and mini-series: an intelligent, thoughtful exploration of the consequences of superheroic and vigilante actions.
Although it's not a perfect film by any stretch, Boy Wonder is a thoughtful exploration of the morality and psychology of vigilantism. It's more of a gritty urban crime film than a "superhero" movie (although it's being marketed and was conceived as such), but that shouldn't be seen as a deficit - one of the reasons why this film works is that, without going over the top or overtly subtle, it provides a strong real-world context for the actions of its characters. This is a world that is morally gray - not the usual moral ambiguity of movies, where actions need to lead to a definite conclusion. At the end, more questions than answers are raised, but this is one of the most entertaining films I've seen.
It may lack special effects or wild stunts, but it makes up for it in sheer emotional payoff.
The story follows a young man named Seth (Caleb Steinmeyer from True Blood) - he's not your average high school student; in fact, you might not necessarily notice him. He's a driven, overachieving young man who finds solace in music. He has very few strong emotional connections, and there seems to be an insurmountable emotional gulf between himself and his father (Bill Sage).
But Seth is a boy with a mission - to discover the truth behind the brutal murder of his mother, who died during a carjacking. But as Seth digs deeper into the truth, he finds that his rage can be uncontrollable, and he finds himself delivering justice to those who would defy the law. He also begins crossing paths with a female homicide detective named Theresa Ames (Zulay Henao) who has sacrificed much for her career, and we find our protagonists gradually spiralling towards a devastating conclusion.
Now, if you are expecting a high octane action movie, Boy Wonder is not that film. In fact, most of the violent scenes are a little too brutal....and that's precisely the point. This is one of the more emotionally honest films that I have seen in a long time. It shows us a world where abuse, anger, and strong emotions are at play, where things are not always what they seem, and where people may not act out of their more noble impulses. In short, at times the film can be a little too murky, and it was hard to determine what was real and what was happening in the heads of their characters.
(Without spoiling, Morrissey indicated at the post-premiere discussion that some scenes were in specific character's minds. One of the flaws of the film is that, quite frequently, that tends to not be communicated well. It's something that doesn't ruin the movie - in fact, it seems to add to the overall ambiguity - but it can be a bit jarring.
The other great thing about Boy Wonder is that, even though there are times it may swerve towards cliche, the screenplay avoids many of the pitfalls that bedevil other "superhero" movies. There's no grand heroic arc for Seth, no promise of redemption for any of the characters, but there is a much deeper exploration of the nature of heroism...do we perform righteous acts because we're motivated by a higher calling, or is it ultimately out of our own selfishness? When we take the law in our own hands, are we stealing justice away from others? Are our own pursuits worth the toll it takes on our relationships?
Yes, this is pretty heady stuff for a "superhero" movie, but Boy Wonder is a great indie take on the genre - in many ways, it's a much better, more realistic exploration of "How would superheroes impact the real world" than Zach Snyder's Watchmen. There's no spandex, or nostalgia, or intricate action sequences - only the kind of emotional resonance that comes when people in tough situations act according to their nature. Whenever the movie seems to veer towards cliche, the screenplay turns in unexpected directions.
What also makes this movie work is the strength of the acting - Steinmeyer provides a really strong emotional backdrop for Seth. Instead of giving us the usual "troubled kid" performance that might be found in an After School Special, he provides Seth with a multifaceted view. We're never truly in support of Seth, and towards the end, questions are raised as to whether Seth really is perceiving reality. We learn about the price Ames has paid for her past - and present - and wonder by the end if it was really worth it. We also wonder how these characters are going to move forward.
Boy Wonder does not have a formal release date at the time of this writing - Michael Morrissey indicated that they were going to try to find a distributor, and were hoping to have it released later this year (hopefully in time for the NewYorkComicCon). If you get a chance to see it, do so. It probably won't get the kind of media exposure that, say, X-Men: First Class will, but like many indie comic books - and other indie films - this is one experience that is well worth your time.
It's not perfect, but quite frankly, it's a thought-provoking piece of entertainment.
Coming soon to TV Party - a review of the X-Men Trilogy with a side order of Wolverine. Two of my favorite Doctor Who stories which feature the late Nicholas Courtney.
Another note - I will be a semi-occurring contributor to the Baker Street Blog (focusing on Sherlock Holmes, and my focus will be entertainment, tv, and comics), and will be attending the Windy City Pulp & Paper Con on April 16th. (Technically, it's the entire weekend, but I'm planning to spend the day stocking up on Doc Savage).
But don't just take my word for it - let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or post on the Comic Related Forums. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. Read my blog for more cool stuff.
Thanks for reading, and as always - keep watching!
Read More! For more of Gordon's writings, insights, and
general information, please visit his blog at blogthispal.blogspot.com.
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