Electric Man Review

Film Still
  • Electric Man film still


This brash and misconceived British caper comedy is a comic book movie about comic books. But it does have heart.

The impression you get from watching this shoestring-budget British comedy-thriller is that its director/co-writer David Barras has read a lot of comics, has seen a lot of sitcoms, has spent a lot of his hard-earned cash on filling his lodgings with geek merch and t-shirts with funny slogans, but has never in his entire life seen a movie all the way through. So there's heart and enthusiasm a-plenty, but there's also a shocking dearth of technical proficiency on show.

Revolving around a rare first issue of vintage comic book series Electric Man, the film sees a nefarious coterie of hucksters, hoods and femme fatales all trying to get their greasy mitts on this Boy's Own artifact. The pratfalls are hurriedly sieved through the wacky lives of bezzie mates Jazz (Jason Archer) and Wolf (Mark McKirdy) who, despite their unalloyed idiocy, manage to run a comic shop. However, the rent is due and they need cash fast, and in an offensively unlikely turn of events, they end up with the copy of Electric Man and are ready to hand it over to the highest bidder.

On the plus side, Archer's likable performance as amateur gumshoe Jazz is by far the most professional aspect of the film. He has a genuine feel for the medium and clearly has some robust acting credentials behind him. Which, alas, only shows up the fact that it feels like Barras ushered in people from the street for all the other parts in the movie. The two evil foils (one of whom is played by, erm, Fish from Marillion) scrabbling for the comic exude no sense of menace at all, while Jennifer Ewing playing the feisty redhead who keeps her cards close to her chest really lacks the on-screen glamour and sizzle to make the part work.

Worst of all is McKirdy whose Wolf is the kind of eminently slappable nincompoop who requires the astute comic sense of, say, Richard Ayoade or MacKenzie Crook to make the character to really fly. For most of the film he executes his Special Acting Style which involves him running around in his pants, making stupid faces or demonstrating all the comic panache of a medically shy school child with a bag on his head.

What's more, Barras fails to enliven his dull sets and locations via the cinematography or editing. Most interior shots are over lit, which makes it look very much like an amateur production. Plus, the film climaxes on an extended and extremely confusing dialogue scene which only exists to push the film's supposed kinship with John Huston's noir masterpiece, The Maltese Falcon.

Perhaps Barras was doing the best he could with a minuscule budget, which is forgivable to an extent. But the fact that you get no genuine sense of the world of comic books and the lives of comic book collectors is something you'll feel less able to forgive.

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