Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far 13 Cult Films About Cults 13 Cult Films About Cults The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: Mini-Budget Superhero Story 'Alter Egos' Falls Short Of Creating A Distinct Mythology

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist November 21, 2012 at 3:59PM

Kudos to those who want to establish their own superhero mythology in 2012. The storytelling has evolved beyond the echoes of Greek myth since Superman burst upon the scene in the 1930s, to the point where thousands of these characters have existed in multiple mediums. Filmgoers used to consider the origins of Batman as cinematic shorthand; now, they’re often deeply familiar with the deconstructionism of “Watchmen.” So forgive the crudeness -- “Alter Egos” writer-director Jordan Galland has some big brass ones.
0
Alter Egos

Kudos to those who want to establish their own superhero mythology in 2012. The storytelling has evolved beyond the echoes of Greek myth since Superman burst upon the scene in the 1930s, to the point where thousands of these characters have existed in multiple mediums. Filmgoers used to consider the origins of Batman as cinematic shorthand; now, they’re often deeply familiar with the deconstructionism of “Watchmen.” So forgive the crudeness -- “Alter Egos” writer-director Jordan Galland has some big brass ones.

Shot on what looks to be a fairly restrictive budget, “Alter Egos” concerns Brendan (Kris Lemche), a sheepish urbanite who moonlights as costumed crime fighter The Refrigerator. Fridge, as the “F” on his chest signifies, is having a serious identity crisis, seducing his girlfriend both as his costumed identity and his mild-mannered alter ego. The line separating the two personae has nearly vanished. Our introduction to the character is him flailing out of bed still in costume; fraught with concern, he has no idea as to why Brendan’s girlfriend would cheat on him with Fridge, despite a mask hiding what is clearly the exact same person.

Alter Egos

What we soon learn is bizarre about this arrangement is that superheroes are passé. Ten years have passed since every supervillain has been eliminated, cutting government funding for the Super Corps, run by Captain Amazingness, a name perilously close to copyright infringement. The idea of a unionized superhero battalion is somewhat ripe in a post-”Watchmen” era, though it also necessitates some world building of which Galland isn’t capable, given that the budget restricts most of the action to a tiny Hamptons getaway.

Fridge reports for duty under the aegis of C-Thru (Joey Kern), a good-looking all-American type whose abilities begin and end with x-ray vision. Fridge’s neuroses seem to get in the way of how C-Thru is clearly utilizing him in a long con, and the drama soon becomes preoccupied with Brendan’s need to email his girlfriend to break it off, given that she’s had relations with his costumed identity. His intentions are furthered by Claudel (Brook Nevin), a pretty blond clerk at a resort that seems to have no other customers. Claudel can’t seem to avoid superhero-hating local cop Jimmy (Danny Masterson), a one-time fling harboring resentment towards the Super Corps for not allowing him membership because his invisibility powers last exactly 2.3 seconds.

Alter Egos

The cape-based humor in “Alter Egos” isn’t exactly all that superior to any number of independent comics that can be found at your (likely scarcely populated) comic store. Brendan’s personal struggle with the Fridge identity is strictly dime store psychology, and the ensuing romance with Claudel is devoid of any spark or invention: she hates superheroes so much that you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop in regards to the secrets she keeps. As a cheap floppy at your local comic shop, “Alter Egos” would be worth a quick flip through for these elements, but not much more.

As “Alter Egos” progresses, however, the spoofy elements fall away as Galland genuinely re-directs this film towards the gravity of the situation. There’s clearly something amusing about superheroes, the film argues, but the stories possible within a superhero universe can work as straight drama. Even if, in this case, the performances are sometimes slack, the pacing is deadening, and the budget crunch creates a repetition of locations that proves cinematically stagnant. The introduction of Shrink, a mind-controlling villain played by veteran John Ventimiglia, is one that challenges the narrative suitably, allowing Galland to push all his chips in this particular storyline forward. Lemche and Kern are middling comic actors, but when asked to fulfill the human element of their familiar archetypes, the two deliver -- particularly as their goals diverge violently.

Alter Egos

“Alter Egos” earns some cred from a score and original songs by Sean Lennon. This is more of a case of a favor being called-in, however, as the operatic superhero cues (aside from a clever co-opting of Danny Eflman’s iconic “Batman” theme) don’t exactly hum and whir, and are often ladled on thick in the early scenes to provide momentum where there is little. “Alter Egos” comes across initially as a low budget co-opting of superhero tropes with little to add to it (aside from a crude joke, there’s no insight into Fridge’s powers comedic or otherwise, never mind the costume’s similarity to Frozone of “The Incredibles”). As it moves forward, there’s a deepening of the mythology that provides dramatic fruit, though Galland curtails this with third act dramatic shortcuts that cheapen the characters’ journey, not least of which is Masterson’s unconvincing heel turn. It’s impossible to avoid thinking that, somewhere in Galland’s head, there was a more exciting, funnier, and more ambitious version of “Alter Egos,” killed by unfortunate compromise. [C]  

"Alter Egos" is now available On Demand and on iTunes.
 

This article is related to: Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates