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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Superheroes > The Specials (Anchor Bay)

The Specials (Anchor Bay)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



The Superhero genre is back and stronger than ever, but with it inevitably comes the return of its corollary, the funny superhero response.  Originally coming out of a combination of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, the TV series version of Batman that followed, and the realities of Vietnam, it is now common without that combination of events.  The Specials (1999) is a burnout, slacker, mockery of the group heroes subgenre, especially X-Men.  Unfortunately, it is the same old series of jokes in superhero clothing.


Rob Lowe, Jamie Kennedy, Thomas Hayden Church, Kelly Coffield and Melissa Joan Hart are among a cast that could have been in a funny film sending up superheroes.  Not that Batman & Robin, The Hulk and Constantine were not humorously implosive for all the wrong reasons (should Hulk really look like Shrek?), it is just that the film simply has nothing worth spoofing.  Mystery Men came out the same year with a more known cast, yet was actually more idiotic and pointless, though it was better promoted.  The result is that it was a much bigger bomb; both films feeling inspired more by Howard The Duck and its successful “cousins” The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  All come from a school of thought that superheroes are dead, but with Marvel Comic films hitting big and DC Comics about to join them, these films (even the Turtles in some odd way, though they too are experiencing a surprise revival riding this new wave) are as old, tired and dead as they are wrong.  As wrong as uninspired writer James Gunn and director Craig Mazin are and continue to be.  Unless you hate this kind of storytelling, The Specials is not worth your time.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.77 X 1 image is nothing “special” and misses an opportunity to have fun with the look of various films to that time.  Elliot Rockett was the cinematographer, choosing to match the script with unmemorable images.  Too bad.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix offers flat music score by Brian Langsbard and is limited in its surrounds.  The combination is adequate at best.  Extras include two commentaries that add little to the film, deleted scenes that would not make a difference, stills, “wedding video”, trailer and a mock toy commercial.  Even that was a mess and nothing we had not seen before, and all remind the viewer of even more missed opportunities.  If only the comedy was funny.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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