Celebrity Video // 2011 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // February 26th, 2012
"Together, we're the bomb squad!"
As admirable a quality as it is, the ultra low-budget superhero movie, Bomb Squad, is often guilty of being overly ambitious, since it lacks both the screenplay and budget to really make the impact it is aiming for.
Four siblings discover they have inherited superpowers from their father. Unfortunately dear old Dad is currently imprisoned, due to his exploits eight years ago, which earned him a reputation as a super villain. Unwilling to follow in their father's villainous ways, the Freeman kids must use their wits -- not to mention their newfound powers -- to escape the clutches on an evil general with dastardly plans for the family.
In terms of its setup, indie superhero movie Bomb Squad reeks of Bryan Singer's X-Men. Meanwhile the story, which focuses on four siblings inheriting superpowers from their father -- who they learn is a feared super-villain -- is highly reminiscent of Tim Kring's much maligned (though initially brilliant) TV series, Heroes. Rather than taking a lo-fi approach and delivering a unique spin on the genre, writer-director Nick Chamberlin seems intent on taking on the big boys at their own game. In the process, he draws comparisons his film can't possibly hope to live with.
There's very little about Bomb Squad even those with only a cursory knowledge of superheroes won't have seen before. The Freeman clan -- not to mention their abilities -- are, perhaps inevitably, retreads of Jean Grey (Uncanny X-Men), Susan Storm (Fantastic Four), and Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man), while the teen angst seen in the younger members of the family is such a staple of the genre that it feels tired. In fact, the refusal or inability to bring a new voice to the mix means that Bomb Squad is highly predictable. The story, which really takes far too long to get going, follows all the usual beats of the superhero origin movie. Frequently the film stumbles when it handles pivotal scenes, such as the initial manifestation of each sibling's powers; these lack any sense of excitement and are handled far too matter-of-factly.
Despite my criticisms of Bomb Squad, I have to give credit to writer-director, and general jack-of-all-trades, Nick Chamberlin. This guy has a hand in every aspect of the film's production, including the composition of the score and visual effects. Considering this is Chamberlin's feature film debut, it's hard not to be impressed by how well he brings his story to the screen, in particular with regard to how he implements the large amount of effects work -- much of which is far more subtle than one would expect from a low-budget superhero flick. As already mentioned, there is plenty of ambition on show, and some of the action scenes really do impress. As someone who is really relishing Hollywood's love affair with superhero movies and has seen just about every comic book adaptation going (including the unreleased, Corman-produced The Fantastic Four), I've seen my fair share of stinkers, and can honestly say that -- for all its many faults -- Bomb Squad is far from the worst superhero movie out there.
The screener sent for review featured a transfer that frequently appeared soft, with dull colors. Black levels remained solid, however. The 2.0 soundtrack is perfectly acceptable and sports clear dialogue. Two audio commentaries kick off the special features, with the first featuring the cast, and the second -- more interesting track -- featuring Nick Chamberlin and his siblings Andy (who is billed as a "glorified extra") and Tracy (who co-wrote Bomb Squad). The track delivers a good history lesson on the project, although occasionally it goes a little too quiet. Also included on the disc are a selection of bloopers, deleted scenes, trailers, and a visual effects breakdown; the latter of which is worthwhile if only for how it provides an insight into low-budget filmmaking.
As is strongly hinted at during the film's closing moments, director Nick Chamberlin confirms in his commentary track that a sequel to Bomb Squad is being worked on. Should Chamberlin ally himself with a more accomplished writer, and if he can secure a larger budget, Bomb Squad 2 could be something interesting, but for now, while this debut feature impresses on a technical level, it fails to deliver a unique voice in an overcrowded genre.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Celebrity Video
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes