Thursday, October 05, 2006

ZOOM: Derivative Superhero Caper

ZOOM (superhero comedy)
Cast: Tim Allen, Courteny Cox, Chevy Chase, Spencer Breslin, Kate Mara and Kevin Zegers
Director: Peter Hewitt
Time: 103 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

Tim Allen and the superkids
WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Jack Shepard, a.k.a. Captain Zoom (Tim Allen of TV's Home Improvement), is a washed-up former superhero whose glory days are 30 years behind him. When his super nemesis, Concussion (Kevin Zegers) is about to return from exile in another dimension, the government, led by scientist Marsha Halloway (Courteny Cox), her supervisor Dr Grant (Chevy Chase) and General Larraby (Rip Torn) lure him back from retirement so that he can train four reluctant young recruits to take up the fight against Concussion. The carrot used is a US$500,000 pay cheque.
The trainees are Cindy Collins (Ryan Newman) who is phenomenally strong; preteen Tucker Williams (Spencer Breslin) who can inflate parts of his body; hippy teenager Dylan West (Michael Cassidy) who can turn invisible; and the pretty Summer Jones (Kate Mara) who is telekinetic. Of course they all get off to a rocky start, and of course they all become a close-knit family just in time to carry out their mission.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? If you liked movies about young superheroes and their families, like The Incredibles, Sky High and The Fantastic Four, you are going to be disgusted with “Zoom”. This superkids fantasy, adapted from the novel, Zoom's Academy, by Jason Lethcoe, will give you a deja vu nightmare as it recreates ideas and gags from these films and fouls them up miserably. What makes this outing even worse is that it pretends to be earnest in unravelling a plot that even a 12-year-old child can predict one or two steps ahead.

HIGHLIGHTS: Try as I may, I cannot find anything nice to say for this derivative outing.

LOWLIGHTS: Halfway through the movie, you would probably have ceased to care about the movie because nothing seems to work here. The special effects are lacklustre; the gags are lame and mostly slapstick; and the lines are banal. Why, it is almost painful to watch Chase and Cox trying to be funny, mouthing those infantile lines.

THE LOWDOWN: “Zoom” is directed by Peter Hewitt, the guy who helmed “Garfield The Movie”. Somebody ought to tell Hewitt that the kids of today are a lot more sophisticated in their tastes than those of yesteryear at which he has obviously misdirected this comedy. Also, he needs to brush up on his knowledge of comic book heroes (has he seen The Incredibles?). None of his character has any depth, and the animated Garfield seems to be a lot more interesting and realistic than the human ones here.


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