Image Entertainment // 2011 // 78 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // February 5th, 2013
Some games have no winners.
I'm not going to have many positive things to say about Jason Trost's All Superheroes Must Die, as it's a film with precious few virtues. However, I should say upfront that I feel a little guilty about giving this film a negative review. It was shot in fifteen days on a minuscule budget (judging by the look of the film, I'm going to guess it was entirely funded by the half-full change jar in Trost's kitchen) and it makes an earnest effort to provide a satisfying experience despite its limitations. Still, none of that changes the fact that the movie just doesn't work.
Our story begins with four superheroes in the wake of a violent attack. Each superhero has a small scar on their right wrist -- it seems that they've each been given an injection designed to rob them of their powers. Cutthroat (Lucas Till, X-Men: First Class), Shadow (Sophie Merkley) and The Wall (Lee Valmassy, The FP) have all been transformed into ordinary humans, but Charge (Jason Trost, MacGruber) has retained his super-strength. Soon, the villain reveals himself: the diabolical Rickshaw (James Remar, Dexter) has decided that he's tired of losing and is going to teach his superheroic foes a lesson. Rickshaw has placed many innocent citizens in deathtraps all over the city, and requires the assorted heroes to participate in an elaborate game he's constructed if they want to save any of Rickshaw's helpless victims.
All Superheroes Must Die feels weary from the very beginning. Another villain who wants to play a game with the heroes? What a novel concept. Rickshaw is a very obvious Jigsaw/Joker hybrid whose speeches feel as if they've been cobbled together from dozens of better movies. The really frustrating thing? Rickshaw is easily the best thing about the movie. There's nothing remotely original about the character, but at least old pro James Remar has a grand time chewing on his monologues. Remar hams it up and has a lot of fun with the part, which is refreshing considering that everyone else seems to be taking this thing very, very seriously.
In a lot of ways, All Superheroes Must Die feels like those crummy comics that came out in the wake of seminal works like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, juvenile efforts that mistake death and gritty violence for mature storytelling. The movie unfolds in rather dark fashion, but the scenes of bloodshed increasingly feel like amateurish posturing. The assorted traps Rickshaw has constructed aren't very imaginatively staged, either -- these scenes are begging for a bit of Rube Goldberg-style invention. The performances by the central quartet of actors only enhance the film's flaws, as the actors are striving for dramatic weight but aren't gifted enough to reach it. This movie desperately wants to be taken seriously, but it's not skillful or substantial enough to achieve that goal.
Still, props to Trost for keeping it brief: the film clocks in at a cool 78 minutes, ensuring that the film won't stick around long enough to really become unbearable. In an era in which movies are increasingly comfortable with ridiculously padded runtimes, the efficiency is appreciated.
All Superheroes Must Die (Blu-ray) has received a 1080p/1.78:1 transfer that gets the job done but which also accentuates the film's limitations. The low-rent nature of the costumes and sets is painfully obvious in hi-def, but it is what it is. Detail is impressive throughout and blacks are deep; the transfer certainly seems professional enough. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is never quite bad, but it also fails to impress during the film's action sequences. Dialogue can be a little muffled on occasion and the sound design is never too immersive. No extras are included on the disc.
Between this film and The FP, Trost has certainly gained a cult following. I'm sure his avid fans will be enthusiastic about what he's achieved here, but the casually interested viewer need not bother with this derivative disappointment.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated