I’m not gonna lie: I love action-adventure movies, and so does my boyfriend. We saw Surrogates together in an actual movie theater. Yes. We each paid $15 to watch Bruce Willis play a robot version of himself and blow shit up for two hours. What can I say, we’re dorks. But last night, the boundaries of our relationship and its tolerance of awful act-ad films were tested when I forced him to watch Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes with me at 1am. I literally have a bruise on my ribcage from every time he pinched me out of utter pain and in my iPhone notes, I actually wrote the words “some Meisner workshops would have gone a long way.”
Many questions linger in my mind after my first (and hopefully only) viewing. Is Lou Farigno gay? How did the film’s star, Vincent J. Roth, find time to also write the film, memorize his lines, eliminate all expression from his face AND design costumes? Was this film actually dubbed? Did they really pay someone to write that awful Tears for Fears-inspired superhero theme song that’s barely audible? Will I ever get those 85 minutes back (at least karmically)?
This film purports to be a “campy parody” of the good ole fashioned superhero movie. It starts with an awkward-aspect-ratio framing device of a scene at a comic con, in which a young fag pics up issue one of “Surge of Power” from a portly, gay character actor who makes several more cameos throughout the movie. As we dive into the ‘comic’ we meet Gavin (played by writer/producer/costume designer Roth), who’s a full grown comic dork with a Jesus thing. A suspiciously un-campy Jesus thing.
Traipsing through several superhero-film wise-cracks, we quickly get to the obligatory transformation scene, where Gavin becomes Surge and gets his powers, which are limited to being able to tell when someone’s at the door and when the batteries are low in an electronic device. It’s weird, the powers aren’t lame enough to be a campy joke, and aren’t good enough to make Surge a superhero we actually want to invest in. The ‘middle-road’ was the winning choice in many elements of this film, as is the case in most low-budget gay cinema, but often there’s something to offset the mediocrity, like an excellent performance. This film’s star is stiffer than Al Gore, completely inept when it comes to timing and blinks an uncomfortable amount. That, combined with the slowest fight choreography ever, a pointlessly brief mood-board montage and a slew of comic-con celebrity cameos that mostly air during the film’s credits, make this “funny” film fundamentally flawed. Fooey.
If you do just wanna watch some piece of shit gay movie just to feel like a good artist by comparison or something and are sorting through the “less than 2 stars” gems then SoP might win you over by some of the strangest celebrity cameos ever. As aforementioned, Lou Farigno, who I imagine isn’t doing much else these days makes an appearance. So does Bobby Trendy (remember him??? from the Anna Nicole Show???). The best performer let alone cameo actor in the film is Nichelle Nichols, or, as you may remember her, Uhura from Star Trek :
She obviously only memorized her lines the morning of, for her one scene as phantasmic oracale “Oman” (wait, Oman?! Who wrote this shit? Oh, right. The guy that’s starring in it and designed the costumes) but she still winds up being one of the films only saving graces.
God, if only the film’s supervillain – a maudlin, fey Magneto rip-off – could have figured out Surge (of Power)’s Kryptonite-like weakness to dance music about 60 minutes earlier, I might have had those full four hours of sleep I’d always dreamed of. But alas, another sleepless night because of homo-shit for your reading pleasure. They don’t call me You’re Welcome for nothing.