America's 7th Best Superhero Team, the Specials, are a group of geeks and oddballs. We get to see one day in their lives as fan and new member Nightbird joins the group, just in time for the group to get a new line of action figures. But the members' extreme personalities and personal issues threaten to rip the group apart.Written by
I've been a humongous fan of the Specials since I was knee-high to... something for sure. All my friends would make fun of me because the Specials were not a "cool" group like the Amazing Trio or the Crusaders. But, you know, screw that. I also liked Winger better than Bon Jovi. I still do. I don't care what the critics say.
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During the end credits we see an "In Memory: 1970-1993" reference and picture of Mr. Stretch, an original member of the Specials that we are told died of mouth cancer in one of interview segments. See more »
The life of a superhero often seems very glamorous. Being able to fly, have incredible strength, live forever, and defeat the bad guys is the stuff of many child's dreams. Popular comics such as Action Comics and Detective Comics brought new creations Superman and Batman to American readers and they soon became part of the national conscience and inspired children the world over for generations to come. The life of a superhero however is not without its problems. Sure, there are the adoring fans, the admiration of the world, and the great powers, but what about the costs? There are super villains bent on your destruction, a secret identity to protect, and in many cases a day job to pay the bills. In `The Specials' we are introduced to a new collection of heroes and learn firsthand how tough it can be to be a superhero and what a burden having superpowers can be. The Specials are listed as the sixth greatest superhero team in America and when they are not battling bad guys, recruiting new members, or trying to work on their public image, they are one big happy family or so it would seem. Director Craig Mazin's making his debut film gives us a look into the secret order of superheroes in a film that is part documentary, drama, and comedy. The Specials are lead by The Strobe (Thomas Haden Church) as he strives to set a good example in the community and fight crime on all levels. The Strobe is married to Ms. Indestructible (Paget Brewster), a lady who when not fighting at her husbands sides, spends her day answering the phones and paying the bills at the Special's lair, a simple house in a quiet California residential area. The story opens with the arrival of Nightbird (Jordan Ladd), who as the newest member of the team is finally meeting her partners in the business. Other than The Strobe and Ms. Indestructible Nightbird has little knowledge of her new team. There is The Weevil (Rob Lowe) Deadly Girl (Judy Greer), Minute Man (James Gunn), and Amok (Jamie Kennedy). They all seem friendly towards her as do other members she meets during the course of the day, yet all is not as well as it seems. It turns out that the weight of not having the name recognition that other superhero groups enjoy has put a strain on the team. The strobe is always chastising Amock and The Weevil for their behavior in public as a tabloid has recently published a picture of them smoking in a bathroom stall. The Strobe thinks that this behavior is not only unprofessional, but it hinders their chances to gain respect and thus better work. It seems that the group are only given assignments when other heroes are busy or not interested in the work that is offered. There are also complaints that names are being mispronounced and that their costumes are not flattering bringing the Strobe's leadership skills into question.
Attempting to improve what looks to be a sinking ship, The Strobe announces that he has come to terms with a toy manufacturer for a line of action figures based on the Specials. It is believed that the toys will not only increase their standings amongst the public and other heroes, but will increase the cash flow for the team. Sadly things do not go as planned, as The Specials soon find themselves faced with their biggest challenge yet, surviving each other as petty jealousies, personal ambitions, fears and desires soon threaten to rip the group apart. `The Specials' is a direct to DVD release that while short on special features and effects is filled with originality. Yes the film does not have much of a story, but the film does not take itself to seriously at all and neither should viewers. Instead, it is a interesting slant on what happens to heroes when the cameras are off and how they have to contend with many of the same issues that everyday people do and how their powers can be a hindrance far more than a blessing at times. Church is great as the Strobe as he presents a leader who is ready to boil over at a moments notice from the pressures he is under both at work and on the homefront. Lowe is great as the son of the Original Weevil who has issues with his father as well as an offer from a far more established supergroup to ponder as he tries to decide between personal ambitions and loyalty. I could go on for a while about the various members and their issues but that would spoil the charm of the film. `The Specials' is not for everyone as it is silly film without much in the way of plot. However if you are a fan of comic heroes you may enjoy seeing the dirty laundry being aired and seeing the side of superheroes that the comics don't or cant show. I for one would liked to have seen more and hope that the film will find an audience on DVD and we may yet hear more from `The Specials' as there is still more of their story to tell. 2.5 stars out of 5 Gareth Von Kallenbach
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