Archive for May, 2010

Mega Man

I was beyond excited when I saw the trailer for this. The fan made Mega Man film made by Eddie Lebron was released for free on the internet and is available for all to view. Unlike most of my reviews, this movie isn’t on Hulu or officially on You Tube. I’ll have a handy link at the bottom of the page. Anyway, being the Mega Man fan I am, I was sold from the moment I saw the trailer.  Would it live up to my expectations?

On paper, Mega Man has two things working against it. First is, its a video game movie. Whether from Hollywood or fan made, video game movies have a track record of being horrible. There may be one or two that you like for whatever reasons but I think all can agree that video game movies, by and large, come up short. Usually, they have little or nothing to do with the game they are based on. The cast and crew don’t seem to take the material seriously. They don’t have any respect for the audience who expect to be entertained by a film adaptation of their favorite video game. Video game movies reek of contempt. As if the film makers want to let the audience know they don’t want to do these movies and hate the audience for making them make these movies. So they make these movies are crappy as possible so they can cash in and go back to making pretentious art films.

The second thing working against this movie on paper is that its a fan film. At one time or another, we have all seen these poorly produced piles of crap littering the internet. Unlike Hollywood’s video game adaptations, fan films have a good heart, the spirit is willing, but its clear the fans have no clue how movies are suppose to be made. And even if they have rudimentary film making skills, budget and other resources sink the film before it even sets sail. The actors tend to look incredibly youthful, regardless of the role they are playing. Casting? Whats that! My friends little brother wants to play M.Bison so I’m going to let him! Fight scenes are laughable with no sense of choreography skills. Cinematography and camera work tend to be non-existent. While they may want to express  their love for the source material, generally fan films are made by people who lack the ability to do so in an entertaining fashion.

Mega Man suffers from neither of these problems. Oh, it’s not flawless, don’t get me wrong. But this might be the one case where I can say the heart was willing and there was some real skill behind the making of the movie. I’ve seen big budget, professionally done films that fail to do what Mega Man does. It’s a movie that has a heart and is taking the source material seriously. It is a movie that only a fan could make.  At the same time, the film makers knew what they were doing. They cast actors to play the roles, imagine that. And actors who fit the parts! Stop the presses! Hollywood fails at that half the time with video game movies.  Granted, an argument could be made against having Asians playing Mega Man and Roll, since they appear to be pretty white in the games. But those games have such a Japanese sensibility, it didn’t bother me. It seemed fitting, since the games originated in Japan and are just as popular there as they are in the US. Truth be told though, I’d prefer an all black Mega Man cast to the usual fan film casting technique of using the director’s college room mates in the leading roles.

Mega Man is about, well, Mega Man. Or rather, Rock. Rock is created by Dr. Light, a month after his sister Roll.  Dr. Light shows off to the media the Robot Masters he created along with Dr. Wily. Dr. Wily gets jealous that Dr. Light gets all the credit while he remains in the good doctor’s shadow. So Dr. Wily decides to hijack the Robot Masters to, you guessed it, take over the world. (Of Course!) Rock requests to help save the day, feeling that bringing down Dr. Wily will give his life meaning, so Dr. Light equips him with a battle suit and mega buster, sending him out to defeat the rouge robots.

Where Mega Man succeeds is in its faith to the source material. The Robot Masters from the first game are all in the movie. Dr. Wily’s Castle is in the movie. Much of the plot is taken directly from the games. Proto Man makes an appearance which doesn’t fit into the first game but adds some dramatic tension. The acting, particularly of Roll, has been criticized but I think they are off base. She is a month year old robot. She is suppose to be sweet, naive, and robotic. She gets to be sugary sweet at moments but I didn’t mind. That’s kind of how I always imagined Roll would be. The rest of the acting is fine, particular for the material they are covering. At least I got the sense they were trying their best. The best actors seem to be the people who are playing Dr. Wily and Proto Man. The writing is good although it gets really dialog heavy. They try to work around it as best they can. For example, Dr. Wily has a Max Headroom like female assistant whom he spouts internal monologue to. It works since Dr. Wily is such a mean bastard that he wouldn’t have friends or family to talking about his feelings with. So it makes sense that he would make a virtual reality woman with a Russian accent to converse with. Anyway, the movie does an excellent job using material from the game.

Another strong point is the cinematography. Scenes are lit well. The camera movement is motivated. Aside from a few hicups, it is shot like a professional movie. It would be nitpicking to point out the handful of flaws. The line was crossed more than once and lets leave it at that.

The movie isn’t flawless by any means. It seems that vision had to take a back seat to budget in a lot of this movie. Namely, the special effects don’t always work. They try their best to hide the seams on the amateur  CGI but sometimes its unavoidable. There clearly wasn’t the budget or experience to make the CGI look better. The Robot Masters look flat during some of their fight scenes. I could tell what they were going for and what they wanted to do with the special effects. The problem was they lacked the ability to pull off the special effects they wanted. Its far better than most fan films. And its no less convincing than some of the horrible effects produced by Hollywood CGI-heavy movies. The difference is, those movies had multi-million dollar budgets. This movie did the best it could with what it had.

A common flaw in my reviews lately is also present in this movie. Pacing. This movie can be really slow at moments. Also like they wanted to do too much. As nice as it was to see Proto Man, he could have been written out of this movie. He saves Mega Man twice, which does add to the conflict, seeing that our hero is not invincible. But really, they could have found other ways to do that.  He has a b-story that runs throughout the film but it could have been cut. Don’t get me wrong, its well done. But it also pads out the film and makes it longer than it probably needed to be. There are a lot of scenes with the characters talking for long periods of time about their feelings and ethical dilemmas they face.  It is certainly better written than a lot of the movies I review but it definitely needed to be trimmed down.

I am kind of carrying a double sided sword on this one. I would like to see what they could have done if this had been a bigger budgeted, official movie. On the other hand, if it had been a studio picture, it probably would have lacked everything I liked about it. Hollywood, for as progressive as they claim to be, would never have a mostly Asian cast. Hollywood would have casted big name actors who would be just fishing for a pay check and never heard of Mega Man. Granted, those people attract an audience to films, sometimes. But those people also phone in performances when it comes to video game movies. Where are those big stars when the movie flops and fans are calling for blood because the movie was terrible? Swimming in a pile of money. I would like to see what they could have been with a Hollywood level effects budget, tighter writing, and a wide release. I am willing to bet they could have made the first undisputed, good video game adaptation.  Instead, we have a movie that is excellent by fan film standards but may have been over-ambitious. Even as far as video game movies go, its better than 80% of the ones I’ve seen. Its fun to watch and its free, so go give it a look if you enjoyed the Mega Man series or even if you just feel like some free entertainment.

http://screwattack.com/videos/Mega-Man

May 21, 2010 at 3:27 am Leave a comment