Background: I liked comic books growing up and even today will find some unique projects worth checking out, the most recent being the creative Broken Saints; a project on the internet that gained a lot of buzz from movers and shakers. My roots in liking comics in general go back to when Marvel and DC slugged it out on the newsstands for supremacy; Marvel being known as much for how many advertisements they carried in each comic as the characters fans grew to love. In the spirit of some of the editorials in Marvel's comics from my youth, I start today's review with an homage to Stan Lee. Okay, here's a trivia question with a "no prize" award for getting it right: What Stan Lee project involves a superhero becoming super fast and fighting supervillains: Superman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, or The Flash? Well, if you answered any of the above, you were WRONG! The answer would be this year's title as aired on the Sci-Fi channel called Stan Lee's Lightspeed.
Movie: Stan Lee's Lightspeed is one of the first projects made from his new company, designed to be aired on the Sci-Fi channel back in the summer. It involved the employee of a government organization that had an accident on the job resulting in his gaining super speed and fighting bad guys while learning the limits of his newfound abilities as he ran around in a tight, colorful outfit. What's that you say? I have my companies wrong? Well, sadly enough, the similarities to DC's The Flash were probably the best thing about the movie, no matter how poorly they were handled. In this fictional account, the character isn't Barry Allen but Daniel Leight, played by Jason Connery (yes, he's the son of Sean). His SWAT team is called upon to stop a heist and when the bad guys blow up the building, Daniel is buried alive under a lot of nuclear waste. Spending months in rehabilitation, he soon starts noticing he can move very fast (though not at the speed of light), with some side effects like him passing out or having strokes. He keeps this a secret from his hotty girlfriend Beth (another team member; this one played by Baywatch babe Nicole Eggert), his boss at work, Tanner (Lee Majors), and others.
The man responsible for the explosion is former scientist turned supervillain Python, a guy Daniel used to work with before he went from being a scientist to becoming a cop (an unlikely career change from what I understand). Python hates the world because of numerous reasons, showing that actor Daniel Goddard found something to do when his Beastmaster series ended. The story was unclear about a lot of things but it went from bad to terrible when Daniel went into a sporting goods store and picked up an off the rack lycra outfit from a stoner working the floor to become Lightspeed. All the basic elements of a superhero story were present; a bad guy, a good guy with a desire to save the world, henchmen, and a beautiful girlfriend that would probably not be seen dead in reality with such an over the hill loser as the protagonist. What the movie lacked was a budget and good writing with huge question marks on the directing and acting by all those involved.
I know that any movies appearing as original shows on the Sci-Fi Channel are notorious for looking like they were tossed together with leftover footage and a shoestring budget but this one seemed to push even that idea beyond the breaking point. The special effects were so bad that it reminded me of some of the serials that were popular back in the 1930's and 1940's (though not as much fun of course), the fighting by someone supposed to be a cop struck me as perhaps the worst I've ever seen (and I've been watching TV and movies for over forty years), and the settings looked like an office building rented out on weekends. The dialogue was bad enough to fade some of the heat off of George Lucas' recent works, and if I were left to say one thing I liked about the movie, this would be a darned short review.
There is even a controversy about the production of the movie not paying any of the extras as well as rumors that the story was only half bad before the geniuses at the cable channel started demanding a continual stream of re-writes as the production was underway, possibly solving the mystery of what happened better than anything I could come up with off the top of my head. I tried to watch the movie four times but fell asleep three times until I loaded myself up with caffeine and forced myself to view it. Needless to say, the only thing missing from this train wreck was another no talent whose 15 minutes are up like Paris Hilton but it was clear that whatever talents the cast may have had; none of them were given the chance with such genre-heavy dialogue that would have fit in a comic book from 50 or 60 years ago at best. There was some interesting use of graphic violence in the movie too; including Python shooting one of his henchmen in the head at point blank range without any camera tricks; reminding me of a Troma flick as much as anything else. I think Stan Lee has had an exciting life and I've greatly enjoyed some projects with his name on them but this one was so bad that I thought a rating of Skip It was kind; as in kind on the Galactus scale of kind so pass this one up unless you plan on getting buzzed out of your mind on something first.
Picture: Stan Lee's Lightspeed was presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color as originally shot by director Don Fauntleroy. The colors looked washed out and amateurish, the edits made bad camera work look even worse, and the special effects looked worse than I've seen done for no budget on the internet scores of times. The explosions were so bad as to be below cheesy and if you had told me this was a home movie done by junior high school kids on Spring Break (or perhaps on the Thanksgiving holidays since that's even shorter), I'd have acquiesced and said it wasn't bad if made on lunch money and love. There were compression artifacts galore here and I'd love to find out exactly what contribution Mr. Lee made to this one (outside of being the executive producer) since he was a childhood hero of mine that seems to have cashed in one too many times on his established credentials.
Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital English with no subtitles or other languages. The vocals were often hollow and sounded like they were the actual takes from the original scenes on location rather then engineered to sound crisp and clear as most movies shoot for. There was no apparent separation between the channels in most cases and the special effects sounded like canned noises taken from old videogames, very old ones at that. The music used in the feature did not strike me as being rememberable in any manner, making me wonder what happened to cause it to sound this bad on so many levels.
Extras: There were no extras at all on the DVD; including no paper inserts.
Final Thoughts: Stan Lee's Lightspeed was one of the worst movies in the history of mankind. It wasn't one of those schlock titles that was so bad it was good either; it just downright sucked goat turds on a level that made even The Covenant seem capably handled in terms of the technical values, though I wouldn't be surprised if the writers for both projects were the same person or hung out together. I liked The Flash and other projects associated with Mr. Lee's name but this one was such a letdown on so many levels that even as a movie a crowd watches together and goofs on (like the MST3K series), I think people would be excusing themselves from the room and running away...at the speed of light. In short, Stan Lee's Lightspeed was a horrible bad movie and I went easy on it due to the proximity to the Christmas season but you should avoid it like hooker with needle marks and oozing sores.