Donny Callahan, Jeff Callahan, Laura Candice
Set during the end of World War II, this ambitious fan film sees a less perfect Superman - squaring off against Hitler himself - as well as a robotic monstrosity infused with Kryptonite. Doesn't that sound fun? Along with her photographer Donald, Lois has been taken hostage and thrust front and center - into a horrendous Nazi science experiment. The goal? To create super soldiers, using a rock from Superman's home planet. Kryptonite. As conspiracy theory related television shows, and internet blogs spew out an endless supply of Nazi wonder-weapon experiment stories, the idea of Kryptonite laced super soldiers and androids doesn't seem so far fetched. But if it does seem ridiculous to whoever is reading this - let's not forget one small fact. It's no more crazy than the concept of Superman himself - and if you're reading this in the first place, you already know that... and don't care. As for the Nazi wonder-weapon/super soldier elements? Seemingly more and more believable every day - to some extent. Moving on with the film.
"Supermen: World War" is a little different than your average film involving the man of steel. With regards to the plot? I've pretty much summed it up above. I've left out the details because this is a spoiler free review - but there was enough going on to produce a feature length movie. Even if only just. Boasting a more humanized man of steel, "Supermen: World War" delivers some classic goodness. By classic I mean more of a George Reeves "Adventures Of Superman" look and feel, instead of the modern rendition we know today. Perhaps sprinkled with a little Christopher Reeve, this hero, at the end of the day, has enough slight variations in character, to solidly write that Kevin Caliber presents his own version of the iconic hero. No question.
Where this film really took me by surprise was the actual fun I had while watching. Donny and Jeff Callahan, who wrote the script alongside Laura Candice, didn't just want a different lead character. They wanted a film that not only took place during the mid 1940s, but one that looked like it could have been made back then. From dialog and sound, to editing and color, a big attempt was made to recreate that classic feel so many of us have forgotten about. There's even those infamous shots of map overlays - most recognizable from the "Indiana Jones" films, that were actually very common way back when. It all comes together and just screams to be enjoyed. Is there some over-drama? Yes. Can you tell there's a lot of green screen work? Sometimes. Does Hitlers mustache look like it's falling off at times? You bettcha buckaroo! But none of that matters. A lot of it actually adds to the experience. This is an adventure film meant to be enjoyed. You're not meant to complain about, or overthink the visuals or themes. You simply sit down, press play and stuff your face with popcorn as you watch. That's the goal and for myself? It was accomplished superly. Is that even a word?
So what does make this Superman a little different? I wrote about a more human version - but what do I mean? Aside from the more classic look of the hero, it's the personality. The attitude and even, dare I write... the anger. This man of steel feels like he has a dark side. A human side. Not quite as Ward and June Cleaver as we're used to seeing. By no means am I saying he's got serial killer tendencies or anything of the sort - just that he's darker. You'll have to watch the film to grasp what I'm trying to write. To be honest? Amid the classic movie/television color grade, and the super bright and happy looking Superman costume, Donny Callahan has directed what is actually a darker story than I originally pictured. Sure. All the styling of a classic adventure is here - but just under the surface is a brooding feeling. Enough to be noticed but not enough to drastically change the dynamic of the movie.
What did I love? The costuming. I'm not just talking about the blue and red classic tights - I'm talking about all the characters and their wardrobe. This film is a low budget indie flick - that feels like it spent what little money it had on it's outfits. I loved it! As you watch, and notice the low budget hallmarks of the film, the wardrobe and some of the props help you forget them just as quickly. When you add in the period acting, that was done quite well I should add, it's easy to think you're watching an actual movie from yester-year. Not a reproduction. I should also add, that having the film look like it was made decades ago, helped disperse that low budget feel.
At the end of the day, "Supermen: World War" was just fun. I'll admit that the second half was superior to the first, but once things started moving they never stopped. Perhaps not fully geared to the younger audience of today, any fan will love and appreciate the work that went into this. I know I did - and I'm not even a huge Superman fan! "Supermen: World War" did the trick and kept me engaged for around an hour. What more could you ask of any movie? For that, I humbly submit my rating of three and a half stars. Good work all around.