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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Superhero Movie (Blu-ray)
Superhero Movie (Blu-ray)
The Weinstein Company // Unrated // January 13, 2009 // Region Free
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 27, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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"With great power comes..."
"Great responsibility?"
"I was gonna say 'bitches', but if you wanna be a virgin for the rest of your life..."

Yeah, so
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that's a swing and a miss, but...c'mon, Superhero Movie is another in a long, long line of spoofs with David Zucker's name plastered somewhere on the poster. If one gag doesn't do it for you, the next one's just another eighteen seconds off. This superhero spoof lobs out one air ball after another but makes up for it with volume, scoring just enough laughs to slink by. Oh, it's a long way from Airplane!, but at least Superhero Movie is an actual...well, movie, and that's a step up from the lazily strung together pop culture nods from the rest of the Reference Movie crowd.

Yup, there really is a plot this time around, and Superhero Movie nicks most of its cues from Spider-Man. Drake Bell steps in to play the dweeby, lovelorn Peter Parker type, only on this class field trip, he's chomped on by a genetically upended dragonfly. The stack of powers is pretty much the same, though, and there's even...:audible gasp!:...a figurative-moustache-twirlingly evil industrialist (Christopher McDonald) who fiddles with his own DNA but has to sap the lifeforce from one person a day to keep on truckin'. So...yeah, Rick is learning the superhero ropes and trying to win over the smolderingly hot girl next door (Sara Paxton), but he's gotta get the hang of his powers in time to keep the heavily-armored Hourglass from knocking off tens of thousands of innocent schlubs and pulling off the whole immortality thing.

Maybe I'm just an easy mark, but Leslie Nielsen blasting Kevin Hart with a nailgun? Missus C from Happy Days shoving a kitten in the ass-end of a Thanksgiving turkey? Stephen Hawking leching on a bunch of nubile sixteen year olds at a high school science fair and plowing headfirst into a glass case fat-packed with killer bees? Some old broad and her gussed-up Pomeranian being gobbled up by a wood chipper? I'll 'fess up: I laughed. The standard issue piss/dick/fart/boob/necrophelia jokes? The clunky "current!" nods to MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, iEverything, and Two-Girls-One-Cup? White guy breakdancing? Barry Bonds scarfing down a barrel drum of steroids? Mechanized "can I get a what-what?" Not so much. The hit-to-miss ratio is pretty
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lopsided -- and...y'know, not in a good way -- but Superhero Movie is funny enough.

I walked away kinda-sorta liking Superhero Movie. Sticking mostly to one superhero flick gives it a little more structure, and the comedy flows pretty naturally from there instead of just stapling on a bunch of random "get it? getitgetitgetit?" pop culture references. The jabs at Fantastic Four and X-Men feel kind of tacked on -- because...well, they are -- but they're over-'n-done with pretty quickly and are at least marginally funny. It only pokes a little bit of fun at Batman Begins, but it's the scene that screams out to be parodied the most: a pint-sized Bruce Wayne and his folks strolling out of a ritzy opera house and straight into a dingy back alley. Like...oh, pretty much everything else in Superhero Movie that cracked me up, it's anchored around maiming and death. What that says about me, I have no idea. Even though it's a spoof shot for what most of these flicks spend on soy milk and Special K, Superhero Movie manages to have at least one leg up over Spider-Man since Sara Paxton is a couple hundred thousand times foxier than Kirsten Dunst, so...yeah, there's that. Superhero Movie doesn't boldly reinvent the art of satire or whatever, but it kept me laughing enough, and I guess that means I follow that up by typing Rent It.

Oh, and you probably noticed that the big banner on the front of the case screams "longer, funnier, and more outrageous!" Strangely enough, the 'extended version' of Superhero Movie runs just shy of 82 minutes while the theatrical cut clocks in at 86 minutes. You don't exactly need a Masters in Advanced Mathematics to poke at the gaping hole in the logic there, but the extended version really is longer: it's just that the end credits theatrically run on for 16 minutes, overflowing with outtakes, deleted scenes, leftover gags...that sorta thing. The extended version really is more of a complete movie, but there's enough new stuff tossed around the theatrical credits that it's worth skimming through that cut just to see what else was scattered around the cutting room floor. Both versions of Superhero Movie are included in separate VC-1 encodes on this dual-layer Blu-ray disc, and piling on both cuts is a step up over the extended-only DVD release from a few months back.
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Superhero Movie isn't a knockout in high-def or anything, but this low-ish budget spoof looks decent enough on Blu-ray. Crispness and clarity can waver a bit from one shot to the next, but the 1.78:1 image is usually reasonably sharp and detailed. The candy-colored palette packs a wallop, and that light sheen of film grain never really creeps in enough to distract. This 1080p transfer is nicked straight from the digital intermediate, so the quality's about as close to the source as it gets, and I don't have any real gripes with either of the VC-1 encodes on this disc. It's just that this movie was shot on the cheap and really looks it. Superhero Movie hovers somewhere in the lower rungs of average for a day-and-date release on Blu-ray, but that's not exactly a bad thing. Kind of like the movie itself, this high-def presentation is nothin' remarkable but settles for being good enough.

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The sound design in Superhero Movie isn't as overcranked as the flicks it spoofs, but its 24-bit Dolby TrueHD soundtrack still sounds alright. The mix mostly sticks to the front speakers. Sure, there's a decent sense of ambiance, the MIDI symphony in the score leaks into the surround channels, and bodies being flung around, a bookend ping-ponging around a room, and blasts of machine gun fire next door give the rears at least a little something to do, but that's kind of a small part of the movie, and even the bigger action scenes don't really seem to want to stroll all that far away from the front. Superhero Movie tries to make up for it with a really hefty low-end. A kinda-caved in convention hall, slews of explosions, foundation-rattling footsteps, the meaty thuds of punches and kicks...the lower frequencies are kept thumping and rumbling for a big chunk of the movie's runtime. The flick's dialogue isn't ever drowned out in the mix and is rendered cleanly and clearly throughout.

Nah, the sound design isn't that adventurous or anything, but Superhero Movie still sounds better than okay on Blu-ray. Both cuts of the movie also include traditional Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French alongside subtitle streams in English (SDH), Spanish, and German. The theatrical version also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 dub in German.

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  • Audio Commentary: Writer-slash-director Craig Mazin piles into the recording booth with producers David Zucker and Robert K. Weiss for Superhero Movie's audio commentary. It's a pretty great track, actually, running through everything from the MPAA frowning on the word 'pubes' to nicking one plot point from 4D Man to Sara Paxton suffering through 45 minutes of makeup and wardrobe every day to beef up her bustline. The best parts, though, are the many nods to just how drastically the movie changed as production went on, chucking out a fully written ending a week before filming and shoehorning in spoofs on other superhero flicks after filming had wrapped.

  • Alternate Ending (5 min.): A clunkier spin on Superhero Movie's ending keeps the climax stuck inside the comic convention. I guess this was swapped out late enough in the game that all of the visual effects are fully polished.

  • Deleted Scenes (11 min.): Most of 'em
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    aren't scenes in the sense of being...well, scenes, with the bulk of these snippets running a few seconds -- just long enough to belt out a gag or two. Some of the highlights, I guess...? An asswiping Wolverine with rolls of Charmin for hands. A much longer rain-soppin' smooch. Lotsa extensions to the board scene where Lou Landers undergoes his horrifying transformation into proto-Hourglass. There's some okay stuff in here, and it's a drag that it's in standard definition only. Some of these same gags are in high-def in the theatrical cut's end credits, after all.

  • Meet the Cast (11 min; HD): Yup, this is a straightahead casting featurette, chucking out the usual "___fill in the blank__ is amazingly talented and wonderful!" backpatting in between behind-the-scenes footage and way, way, way too many clips from the flick. There are some okay notes scattered around in here, like Sara Paxton revealing her on-set rapper handle, but otherwise, it's pretty much what you'd expect.

  • The Art of Spoofing (11 min; HD): The title kind of says it all. A bunch of the folks on both sides of the camera chat about this sort of Gatling gun approach to comedy, how directing physical gags really isn't any different than tackling a stunt in an action flick, and what sets a spoof apart from an off-the-shelf comedy.

  • BD Live: A few bells and whistles for Superhero Movie are available exclusively online: cast and crew bios, a still gallery, and a smattering of extra footage that includes a TV teaser, one extra deleted scene, and more of a FauxTube Tom Cruise interview. The rest of it looks to be pretty standardized: a tuneHD.net frontend with a mini-forum, a survey, and plugs for other Weinstein Company titles.

  • Trailer (2 min.): For whatever reason, Superhero Movie's theatrical trailer is in standard-def only.
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The Final Word
Well, there's funny, and then there's funny enough. I mean, I'm not exactly scratching off any of the flicks on my "best of '08" list so I can pencil in Superhero Movie instead, but this Spider-Man spoof scores just enough laughs that it's worth tossing onto your Netflix queue or checking out on Starz a few months down the road. Rent It.
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