December 29, 2010

Chernaya Molniya (2009)

(AKA Black Lightning)

Well, it's not a horror film (and only vaguely borders on sci-fi) but since there's nothing else to write about at the moment, I decided to watch and review "Black Lightning" for you instead.

If you are a fan of "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" (as I am) then you were probably really looking forward to seeing this Timur Bekmambetov produced Russian superhero film. It has all the elements in place to fit right into that weird fantasy sub-genre along with "Wanted" and anything else that Timur gets involved with. Well, you'd think that until you realise whoever directed this (Dmitriy Kiselev and Aleksandr Voytinskiy) are certainly not in the same class at all.

To be honest, I was underwhelmed. On the the plus side, it had three actors in it from "Night Watch" (Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Valeriy Zolotukhin, Sergey Legostaev), one from "Wanted" (Dato Bakhtadze) and a lot of pretty Russian TV stars. On the negative side, only Viktor "Zavulon" Verzhbitskiy had much of a role and he was typecast anyway. Everything was unevenly paced and there was just a complete lack of consistency about the leads, Grigoriy Dobrygin and Ekaterina Vilkova (who, of course, you've never heard of), that it was hard to tell if this was a serious film or simply a plagiarised parody of 2008's American batch of superheroes.

If you've ever watched a "Spider-man", "Iron Man" or "Batman" movie then you've seen all this before. In fact, the most memorable scenes of each are used in such a glaringly obvious way that this could be something made by the Asylum people rather than a big name like Universal.

To be really derogatory about "Black Lightning", it could be described as "Spider-man" without a radioactive spider bite mixed with "Iron Man" with a car instead of a suit mixed with "Batman" set in Moscow rather than Gotham. I think there was at least one scene lifted straight out of "Superman" too and the villain's car looks ridiculously like the DeLorean from "Back to the Future".

The funny thing is that if you've never seen any other superhero film then you will probably enjoy it. I liked it for the first half hour or so but the whole thing with the flying car was too silly especially as it was all done better in "Day Watch". All the product placement with the Apple iPhones soon got old as well especially as the same thing happened with the Nokia 7650 in "Night Watch".

The special effects were good enough for this kind of thing. I'm not sure how low-budget this film actually was because there was obviously a lot of work put into the effects even if they weren't all that convincing. I've got a suspicion that "Black Lightning" is really a kids' film anyway (and by "kids" I do mean really little kids) and they probably wouldn't notice all the flaws that adults do. When I was little I thought that "Star Wars" was really good but I can't even bear to watch it now so just envision a generation of Russian children adding this to their future nostalgia collection.

Having seen a few films meant for children over the years both as a child and as an adult, I won't say that this is the worst I've ever seen. I reserve that particular honour for "Stormbreaker" (2006) which I advise you all to watch just before viewing "Black Lightning" if you want to double your disappointment.

Timur Bekmambetov is supposedly going to direct the American remake of "Black Lightning". I don't know if that will improve things or whether it will turn out to be just a bigger budget version of all this childish silliness for the Summer but I'm sure we'll all find out.

No comments:

Post a Comment