Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Max Fist claims to be a hero from another dimension who fell through time and space to earth, where he has no powers. No one believes his stories except for a local teen named Hamster.
Review: Before I get into the negatives, I have to give Archenemy points for putting a bit of an original spin on an old trope. Most superhero movies, good, bad or meh, follow your standard tropes, Archenemy goes a bit further by messing with the audience, leaving you to wonder whether Max Fist, played by Joe Maganiello (True Blood/Magic Mike/Justice League-kinda) is a real superhero from another dimension, or just a delusional hobo who has had one too many shots of whiskey.
Joe’s gruff voice and exterior works well for the character and you can tell he’s fully committed to the role. His performance was definitely the reason I kept watching. He’s joined here by a young actor I’m not familiar with, Skylan Brooks (The Darkest Minds/The Get Down) who plays Hamster. Hamster follows Max around so he can document his entire story for his vlog in the hopes of hitting it big. The other main lead is Indigo, Hamster’s sister played by another up and comer, Jessica Allain (The Laundromat/Thriller).
The youngsters hold their own for the most part and the three make for an interesting trio you don’t normally see in superhero movies. Together, they team up to take down a local druglord known simply as The Manager and in doing so, reveal a much bigger conspiracy that may or may not prove Max’s story about what he is and where he came from.
The visuals are a mix of hand drawn animation, similar to comic book art, and live action. While I appreciated the comic artwork, the two didn’t really meld together as flawlessly as I would’ve liked, so the scene transitions are quite abrupt and tend to pull you out of the flow of the movie. Another downside to this interesting story is the dialogue. Most of it feels like it was written by an adult who has no idea what modern-day kids consider slang these days.
And then there’s the way Hamster is written. No fault of the actor here but I kept thinking to myself, “these scenes would’ve worked better with a younger character”. I found it really hard to buy into Hamster’s wide-eyed, naivete. The way he followed Max (a homeless drunk with anger issues no less) all over the city, or his instant belief of his alleged powers and abilities. The city they live in is presented as a Hell’s Kitchen or Gotham kinda place, so I don’t think a teenager who’s been exposed to all that crime and violence would act like he’s in a Disney movie.
Alas, there’s a lot to appreciate here, and I think if writer/director Adam Egypt Mortimer sticks with it and gains some experience, his future endeavors will be worth checking out. For me Archenemy could’ve benefited from some punching up but I admire its ambition in trying to give us some new twists on this well-worn genre.
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
For my review of Spanish superhero thriller Unknown Origins you can click here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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