Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Captain Laser

Another glimpse into my private DVD collection - this time we look at a little known superhero classic, Laser Man:

The upsurge of superhero movies that really began with the success of Batman in 1989 proved that, despite the evidence of TV attempts like the Hulk and Generation X, live action superheroes didn't have to be gay. Although one might reasonably argue that this comes full-circle with the big gay joke that is Batman and Robin. Due to this new interest in the genre, by the mid 1990s any studio that could was optioning comic book heroes for film. This gave us some good films, such as X-Men and Spiderman, and some not so good ones such as Bug and Blue Sparrow, not to mention the terrible Black Scorpion. Studios such as Warner and Fox could buy up good stuff like Batman and Marvel respectively, so most others were stuck with trying to make do with utter rubbish at the lower end, or optioning small press and independent titles. Most adaptations had aspirations beyond their budget.

Enter Captain Laser, one of the few British superhero figures to make it to the screen. He started out in the 1940s as a wartime answer to such American titles as Batman and most notably Superman. Here we have a fine upstanding fellow of middle of the road imperial English values who, at an army test range, is hit by an experimental energy beam that gives him super laser powers. This was the main strip in Action Chronicle until the title’s demise in the 1960s, when Michael Moorcock took over the writing and editorial duties, and the whole thing became too spaced out and hippish. At least, that's what the extras on the DVD tell me, but this is just an ill considered attempt to cash in on the superhero rage that is so bad it is funny. It is painful that movies like this are still being made in the twenty first century.

This is a revisionist version of the story and updates it to the present, although the DVD says that an attempt was made in the early 90s to make this film as a 1940 period effort. Our hero Captain William Hardy is part of an elite unit who infiltrate the biotech company of some former East German scientist who turns out to be a damn commie in waiting, with a Nazi obsession to boot, as his father was an SS officer - just so you can tell he is evil. A laser in the site is used against our hero, before he is rescued. Consequently, he finds he has strange powers. It is the discovery of these powers that give actor Joseph Grains a chance to act intense and angst ridden, but this does at times make him look constipated. "He has some strange ability to harness the power of light and heat and direct it like a beam..." says one scientist,. Oh, and he can levitate, as can lasers one assumes, not being an expert, although I have never seen one flying in the air.

Needless to say, we also get a superpowered villain who gives himself more and more power, turning him even madder - but as he is played by Rutger Hauer, you know it must be low rent. The revisionist style is a major problem, as this is very much more taken with the angst and darkness of the 1980s rather than the fan boy lightness and fun of say, Spiderman, but it does at least tell us important facts such as prolonged exposure to laser beams will turn most normal men insane. Glad to be told what the boffins don't want us to hear. Be warned, they are threatening a film of the other Action Chronicle great, Lord Magnet. God preserve us.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home