Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #1

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#1: Zoom

This is the first of what should hopefully be a long series of various hero-related movie reviews.

This first one is “Zoom”, otherwise known as “Zoom: Academy for Superheroes”. It was released by Sony Pictures in 2006 and starring Tim Allen, Courtney Cox-Arquette, Chevy Chase, and Rip Torn. It’s out on DVD or on Cable.

The story starts out with a team of teenaged superheroes led by “Captain Zoom”, whose exploits were made famous by a comic book. It turns out the “Team Zenith” was a military project running out of Area 52 (yes, one better than 51) and the comic book was used for propaganda purposes. In the comic books, most of the team was killed by a villain known as “Concussion”. But in reality, “Concussion” was a member of the team that was driven insane by exposure to Gamma-13 radiation in the government’s attempt to make the team “stronger”.

Three decades later, Dr. Grant (Chase), the original scientist behind the Zenith Project, discovers that Concussion wasn’t killed, but was sent to a different dimension and was on his way back. Grant brings in Zoom, now just a burned-out, bitter and powerless middle-aged man (Allen), to train a new team of superpowered teenagers, but refuses to tell him why. Zoom is only told that he has to train them, or else the Project’s commander (Torn) will dose them with Gamma-13 and let the chips fall where they may.

The new team consists of a lone-wolf character named Dylan that can turn invisible, a telekinetic girl named Summer, a chubby kid named Tucker that can expand any part of his body, and a 6-year old girl named Cindy with superhuman strength. Aiding Zoom is a bookwormish psychiatrist named Marsha (Cox-Arquette) who it turns out is a huge comic fangirl that idolized Team Zenith and the young Captain Zoom.

Most of the movie at this point consists of three things:

1. The eternal torment of Dr. Grant, sometimes for no other reason than because it gives the actor the chance to impersonate a Loony Toones character.

2. The continual dysfunction between Zoom, the teens, and Marsha, mostly done to pop music.

3. The eternal sense of dread from General Larraby about how close “Concussion” is to returning and his insistence that the team be given the Gamma-13, even though he knows that it also was behind the whole fiasco in the first place.

Eventually, of course, everyone gets it together, which brings us to still more pop-music montages.

I won’t give away the ending but you can probably guess how it turns out. The problem is that the story gets progressively bad and cliché once the ending approaches.

My initial thought was that this was a Disney movie. It had all of the look and feel of a Disney-made flick, right down to the hokey pop-music montages and the emphasis on young teens.

In terms of being a hero movie, I have to give it a low score. These aren’t the X-Men. They’re not even the Z-Men. Their costumes aren’t even symbolic. They’re more like sleepwear. And their feared “bad guy” is really nothing of the sort.

You pretty much hit all of the stereotypes in the new “Zenith Team”. If the chubby kid can master his body size part-by-part, then why couldn’t he make himself perpetually thin? Why does the lone wolf get to be the leader, not to mention have a secondary power? Shouldn’t the telepathic/telekinetic chick have that power? And a six-year old girl that dresses herself in pink costumes and has super-strength usually doesn’t have a heart of gold in real life.

But then again it’s supposedly not really about them. It’s about Zoom the wisecracking burnout. And I suppose if he WAS told the truth from the start of the movie, then he would have done more to properly train the new recruits and deal with the enemy that really wasn’t. But then again it wouldn’t have allowed the actor to let loose with his wisecracks.

In all, “Zoom” is a teen story pretending to be a hero story. In fact it almost seems like the superhero elements are forced into the story. Enjoy it for the comedy because that’s really all that it is good for.

Capes: I have to give 3 capes, and that’s being generous.
Cheese: This rates an Extra Sharp Cheddar (4), especially at the end, and, again, I’m being generous.
Books: I can only give it 2 books, because the story is weak and had the potential to be good but traded that for slapstick comedy.

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