Back in 2004 the film Surge Of Power was released, which offered up what’s said to be cinema’s first gay superhero. That film may have been largely forgotten, but 14 years later he’s back with Revenge Of The Sequel.
After defeating the evil Metal Master (John Venturini) in the first film, energy wielding superhero Surge (Vincent J. Roth) realises he’s going to have to face his old nemesis again after the bad guy is released from jail. However, Metal Master is now working as the reluctant henchman of supervillain Augur (Eric Roberts), and gets given an assignment to heads off towards Las Vegas to track down some special crystals.
Surge is hot on his trail, hoping for the help of his mentor, Omen (Nichelle Nichols, Robert Picardo), as well as from his newly artificially intelligent car, the Surgemobile. Along the way he meets some new friends and there’s the possibility of a possible romance – although for that to blossom Surge will have to get over his fears. Metal Master meanwhile also has his own inner battles to fight, as part of the reason he turned bad is because his parents (Linda Blair and Gil Gerard) rejected him for being gay.
When a movie opens with what amounts to an attempt to inure it from criticism – in this case a sort of Greek Chorus comic store guy who insists you should like it because it’s fun, even if it’s lacking in many other area – I think it’s fair to be a bit apprehensive about what’s to come. After all, if they’d made a genuinely good film, why would they feel the need to add such a caveat? It’s not the first film that’s done it, but it’s a lazy conceit.
Now I’ve said my piece about that, you can see why it would feel the need to open with what is essentially a bit of mea culpa, as it’s a messy film with a rather lightweight plot that’s a bit all over the place. It also has the sort of budget that means that while it does its best, it’s not exactly going to have state of the art superhero action and special effects. There are also a couple of moments that are almost audacious in their chutzpah, such as when the Comic Book Guy comes back to allow the movie to jump past huge chunks of the story so it can get to the finale without actually explaining how it got there. There’s also the fact that much of the first 20 minutes is essentially a recap of the first film, which allows it to reuse lots of footage from the earlier movie and even recycle some of the cameos and jokes.
Given all that it should be awful, but it’s far less of chore to watch than it might have been thanks to its joie de vivre and the sheer amount of heart that leeches off the screen. Everyone involved is aware it’s silly and so they have their tongues in its cheek, but it’s clear they love what they’re doing in a rather fanboy way. While it perhaps doesn’t make as much of its gay themes as it might – it doesn’t ignore them but for both Surge and Metal Master their sexuality is more a subplot than it might have been – it does undoubtedly exude a sense of pride over its character’s sexuality.
Where it really goes to town though is with its cameos, involving over 60 famous (and not so famous) faces. Many of the ‘celebs’ appear to have been grabbed at sci-fi conventions for a few minutes, while others have agreed to something a little more substantive. It means, for example, that the film’s council of supervillains can be made up from members of the cast of TV’s Incredible Hulk and Avengers, along with the oft-forgotten 1992 Fantastic Four movie. Elsewhere we get appearances from Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager, Gremlins 2), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Bruce Vilanch (Comedy Writer), Shannon Farnon (Wonder Woman), Nicholas Brendon (Buffy), Charlie Schlatter (Diagnosis: Murder), Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s Adventures of Superman), Mirina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and loads more. It’s certainly an impressive achievement to get them all to agree to take part, and adds quite a few fun, cheesy moments.
As you might have guessed, there is quite a camp air running through the entire movie, which some will also be pleased to hear includes times when young, male characters wear fewer clothes than they strictly need to. Kudos ought to also go to creator/collaborating director and star Vincent J. Roth, who helps give a surprising amount of charm to what ought to have been far more of a trainwreck than it is. That may sound like I’m damning the film with faint praise, but I think it’s more that no one should go into Surge Of Power: Revenge Of The Sequel expecting anything but cheap, cheesy, slightly bizarre nonsense. It would be a stretch to call it a good film, but thanks to the heart of all involved, it’s a better watch than it has any right to be.
Overall Verdict: Purely objectively, this should be dreadful, but somehow Surge Of Power just about prevails thanks to its relentless enthusiasm, and cheesily cheery, silly disposition.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel opens January 5 in Los Angeles (Arena Cinelounge Sunset
6464 Sunset Blvd), expands to New York (Cinema Village, 22 E 12th St) on January 19th and continue across the US. Vincent J. Roth will introduce the screenings on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each opening.