Supersonic Man

Certificate: Unrated
Running time: 88 mins
Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Starring: Michael Coby, Cameron Mitchell, José Luis Ayestarán, Diana Polakov
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy
Country: Spain

The evil Dr. Gulik has plans on destroying the Galaxy and only an alien sent to Earth can save mankind…Supersonic to the rescue!  The film poses a lot of questions, the correlation between PhDs and mental instability is one, where exactly is Gulik planning on living once he’s destroyed the Galaxy…yes Galaxy is another, not to mention why does he use his powers to turn guns into bananas but without doubt the biggest question is probably why do I let this film get to me.

It is, granted, right up my street.  Like 3 Supermen Against Godfather, The Super Inframan not to mention the fantastic Lucha Libre films of Santos and Blue Demon it sports a not so super hero.  This is one of the most troublesome reviews you’ll find as on a surface level everything about this film is ditties but yet I love it, most people do when they watch it.  It flirts outrageously with the ‘sooo bad it’s good’ category that houses films like Troll 2 and it’s in it’s shortcoming that you see the films real heart.

The score is an ear worm of a jingle, close enough that if you were unfamiliar with John Williams’ Superman theme that you might unwittingly mistake it for his…just for a moment, yet it’s distinct, repetitive and heart warming.  It’s that piece of music from the end of level boss that you just couldn’t get passed on the NES, it’s Adam West’s elevator music and it draws you in.  The visual effects are…they’re bad, you probably shouldn’t even call them effects it raises your expectations too high.  There are moments when Supersonic is flying over New York City that would have made George Reeves blush as the film stock footage doesn’t match that of Supersonic, the colour palette is wrong, the aspect ratio is a little screwy and it does that age old mistake of showing the audience far too much.  It is however better than the night flying sequences which are clearly shot against a painted backdrop of the city, as done by an 8 year old child with no fingers.  Two exceptions are the opening sequence before Kronos (aka Supersonic) is sent to Earth, it has an aesthetic to it that still excites me each time I watch the film and the robot which is ridiculously awesome.

Michael Coby (aka Antonio Cantafora) is wide of most marks, his concern comes across (at times) as predatory and creepy and when he’s playing it straight you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the biggest laughs but he's inherently likeable.  There’s also the small issue that Coby (as Paul) the alter ego of Supersonic looks absolutely nothing like José Luis Ayestarán who plays Supersonic.  Why they didn’t have Coby play both roles is beyond me…why they didn’t have Coby shave off his moustache (Ayestarán is clean shaven throughout) is beyond me.  It’s like having Wesley Snipes playing Batman to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne.  Ayestarán isn’t called into much other than flying against backdrops, stealing wine for a hobo from a restaurant, turning guns into bananas and stumbling through the odd line of dialogue.  Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace) is actually brilliant as Dr. Gulik, he’s the one bright spark in the whole thing and showcases a level of theatricality mixed with believability that belongs to a much better film.

For all of it’s shortcomings and Supersonic Man is a movie of shortcomings you can’t help but love it.  The film is by no mean feat significantly less than the sum of it’s parts but it’s parts are so lovingly constructed and truly enjoyable.  They’re the definition of cinematic candy floss, poorly made candy floss but it tastes deliciously sweet.  There’s a love of cinema that exists in the making of the film that is missing from Thor, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and it is most likely to be missing from The Avengers.  With the exception of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight the Superhero film has been devoid of the passion and personality that’s present in abundance in the graphic novels and it’s this passion and personality that seeps out of every inch of celluloid in Supersonic Man.  It’s a film that makes a mockery of the rating system as it should definitely score a lot less but it’s got a character that’s larger than life and is effortlessly cool in a geeky kind of way.

The Movie Bar is returning for a one off Summer slam of Superhero films on Sunday 5th August 2012.  More information to follow.


Ty said...

Great review, buddy! Cameron Mitchell was at his dubbed best...and you're right: the theme is super catchy. Haha.

Found this at our local goodwill a couple months ago. It was really fun. Review coming soon!

John Baxter said...

Cheers Ty, appreciate it. The film's like meth you know it's no good for you...

Ty said...

Haha, so true!

Ramón Gómez Montoya said...

According to the director reason behind the superhero looking so differently from his alter ego was he never believed people would not recognize Superman in Clark Kent. Therefore interestingly to his eyes this was not mistake in his film but all the way around.

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