Friday, February 18, 2011

Mystery Men

Mystery Men - 121 min – PG-13

Here is the nutshell version: a group of wannabe super heroes is trying to make it in the crime fighting business. On their journey they face a super villain who has taken the regular hero hostage and through some unfortunate events inadvertently kill said hero during the rescue attempt. This makes our merry band of misfits have to step up their game to take down the big bad guy. For a more detailed cast list and larger synopsis, click here.

This movie has huge potential. I really love the idea of everyday people doing their best at being super heroes. I loved the cast selections, and thought everyone did a wonderful job. Where this movie failed was editing. One of my instructors said that the hardest part about making a movie is to cut the scenes that we really love. You have to be able to sacrifice the parts you love to make a better film. As filmmakers, we have a deep affection for the product they make. Sometimes, we love a shot so much that we are blind to how it hurts the end product. This is why great movies are a collaborative effort: a good creative team can help cut the parts that do not work. Here are my suggested cuts and or changes that would have fixed it.

There is the opening fight scene with Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) coming in and fighting a group of bad guys known as the red eyes. This fight is poorly shot, the fight is Captain Amazing punching at the camera and we see a buy guy fall into a table, or fly across the room. There really was no choreography to the fight. I would have shot this in a serious fighting style. This movie obviously wanted to have a whimsical quality to the action, but it just doesn’t play well with the setting. Even a comedy can have some solid action fights. Another example of this is at the end, when we should have a huge final battle. The Hero Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller) fights the big bad Guy Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) like wimps doing a slap fight. Frankenstein has had much better tools and training up until this point and now with this fight they are reduced to all the skill and mastery of a kindergarten push match. Weak, needed to be redone completely. If you are making a HERO movie how do you short-change your stunt fight budget?

The next area I would tighten up on are the Establishing shots, there is an overly long shot of a model of the insane asylum that hold the big bad guy, and many Tim Burton feeling city skyline shots, if you are going to spend money on these elements you need to at least make sure the best shot of them is not when you blow them up. Close up shots are very tricky when working with models, you need to make sure when you pull up on it does not obviously come off as a model.

Lastly I would think their focus should have been on better shots set up and scene selection. Some of the poorly set up shots is when we have a cat fight in Frankenstein’s house, a bad POV exchange with Hank Azaria’s character the Blue Raja and his mother, and a very painfully long cut of the heroes sneaking into Frankenstein’s house. Some of them are of them are fine just cut them back a bit. Poorly set up and overly long.

Paul Reubens plays The Spleen., His power is toxic farts, and I think this character needed to be cut altogether. However, if you MUST appeal to the 11 year olds, ok fine. Besides his character does have a few gems so let’s go ahead and overlook the flatulence powers, but it goes way too far. There is no excuse for a skunk trying to hump his leg. The only fix for that is ample application of the cutting room floor. Get rid of it.

With these changes we could have had a much better product. I really wish it would have been better. I don’t love this movie as much as I loved it potential, it’s a shame they wasted it.

AM I WRONG? Let me know; please leave a comment on what you think? Also please let me know what movie you want me to look at and try to improve?