Watching this film was a puzzling experience. Several of the scenes were shot on what looked like a theatre stage (disguised with many many curtains) and the final battle took place in what looked like a backstage area, so it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a rehearsal, or that a group of non-actors and non-filmmakers have borrowed equipment from after the real people have gone home and had a bash themselves.
It’s getting easier to spot the things that low-budget films do, the more of them I watch. When you see someone walking extremely slowly in a situation that doesn’t warrant it (in this case, a young woman walking on her own through a snowy industrial district with no-one else around) you know it’s because they’ve not got much set to work with, or their camera dolly is broken and can only move at 1mph. But this is just a way to introduce us to The Beetle, who definitely isn’t DC superhero the Blue Beetle, oh no, definitely not at all. Luckily, we get to hear a radio news show talking about the Beetle, with a helpful visual of a sound wave – only, a sound wave that seems to bear no relation to the sounds that are happening. Hurray!
This film takes place in city X, with the main baddies being Hive Pharmaceuticals. We get a CGI shot of Hive’s offices, a skyscraper in a literally endless sea of skyscrapers (I would not want to live wherever that is) and then get given the exceptionally simple plot. A company is using death row inmates and the insane to test out a new formula that gives people superpowers. Their group of people (Stinger, Roach, Widow and Mantis) are doing crimes, so a cop dumps his girlfriend then gets himself sent to prison so he can infiltrate their group. He gets superpowers too – just your generic set of superhero abilities, no surprises.
That’s it, really. Beetle’s girlfriend is an investigative journalist for a newspaper (sadly, all we see of the no doubt bustling office is one wall which looks like someone’s front room) so she’s trying to figure out what’s going on with Hive too. No irrelevant C plots, not really much of a B plot either.
It’s a shade under 80 minutes, but that plot I described above would barely fill a 42 minute episode of TV, so there’s quite a bit of padding. Roach decides to visit what I presume to be some weird amalgam of a strip club and beauty pageant – four women in bikinis parade around the stage to the delight of the paying customers, but never come close to removing any more clothing. He says nothing, interacts with no-one, just watches semi-clad women for a few minutes then leaves.
Sadly, whatever budget this film possessed was not spent on microphones. The sound is poor at best, and absolutely incomprehensible at worst – that they didn’t even make an attempt to ADR the stuff you can’t hear indicates the budget was extremely low indeed. The main baddie is watching security cam footage of Beetle taking on her villains, and the footage is just the film, multiple camera angles and all. Right at the end, for no reason, we’re treated to a very crudely animated 30-second segment. It’s almost interesting in its complete lack of regard for the sensible way to make a movie, almost.
Beetle’s name in the movie is Dan Garret, which is the same name (down to the spelling) as the original Blue Beetle from the 1930s. Why do this? I guess they wanted DC to sue them for the publicity? I was really trying to think of something positive to say about this, but there’s nothing there. Proof that not everyone who wants to make a film should be allowed to do so, certainly. It’s just a horrible flat nothing, with no real reason to exist – it’s not even ripping off a character from an upcoming blockbuster. Let’s keep our fingers crossed these people go bankrupt soon, or are forced by a judge to never work in the entertainment industry again.
We’ve already reviewed one of this company’s films – “Captain Battle: Legacy War” – and it looks like Saint James Films is responsible for some real cinematic atrocities – http://www.imdb.com/company/co0352793/?ref_=tt_dt_co . They’re the place that people who are booted out of The Asylum for gross incompetence go.
Rating: thumbs down
AMAZING POST REVIEW EDIT: for its German release, this film was retitled “Die Fantastischen Fünf” (The Fantastic Five), just to make sure every comic company had reason to complain. Okay, there were five superpowered people in this film, but “fantastic”? Well played, sirs.