TADFF 2011: VS Review
Four Super Heroes - Charge, Cutthroat, Shadow and The Wall - find themselves abducted by their Arch Nemesis, Rickshaw, and are forced to compete in a series of challenges in order to save an small town full of kidnapped innocent civilians.
Trost himself described his film as Kick Ass meets The Running Man and I would agree with him thematically. Take your four superheroes, endowed with superpowers when something fell from the sky. They have taken it upon themselves to act responsibly with their powers and fight crime a la Kick Ass. They are thrust into a circus like atmosphere, Rickshaw as the ring leader, and they have to fight colorful villains along the way a la The Running Man. The visual appeal of all of this is complemented by the costume design by Jason's sister Sarah who also worked on The FP. There is some sort of throwback feel to the imagery of the film but I cannot put my finger on it.
There are hints at tensions between the heroes, power struggles, love interests, which aren't left unanswered and touched upon in flashbacks. But they help explain the tense dynamic between them as they move from the first challenge set by Rickshaw. But what Jason wants to ask in Vs is what do you have left in you when your identity is stripped away from you. Each of these four superheroes have been stripped of their power and without it they are lost because suddenly they're normal again; and vulnerable. Charge takes the lead and makes tough decisions, each one more challenging than the next. Each challenge will test their fortitude and morality. But make no mistake; people will die in this movie.
James Remar is excellent as the villain. Simply excellent. He isn't left with much to do except sit in front of a camera and taunt and goad the four heroes but he does it very well. I felt everything else was a bit stiff but that may have been amplified because of Remar's delightful villainy. This could also explain why some of the other dialogue elicited laughs from the audience where I didn't think it was meant to. I'll call it accidentally campy.
I'm on the fence on this one. I like the concept of Vs. I like the design of it. There is no denying Remar's vibrant presence in the film. Perhaps it lies in the tepidness of the heroes. The only one displaying any real charisma is Charge as he is the only one who has dug deep to find the will to find Remar and end this fight once and for all. But to expound on that would mean giving away a key plot point. Which I suppose is the point of what Trost is saying in his story. But if I am left feeling cool towards the heroes then what am I cheering them on for? But there is still room for dark superhero films against the saccharine studio fare and I hope that Vs does find its place among them.