Thursday 5 July 2012

Awesome Guy: A New Identity (2011)

Director: Bob Marquis
Stars: Mario Guzman and Alyson Maloney
This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in Phoenix in 2012. Here's an index to my reviews of 2012 films.
With superhero movies making money hand over fist for the big studios, it's surprising to see so few indie shorts playing along with the material. There's more than enough to go around, after all, and there should be enough money too. Thor cost $150m. Can't we split that budget up and have indie filmmakers shoot ten thousand short slice of life stories at $15,000 each? How about a hundred thousand at $1,500 each? I'd even settle for a million at $150 each if it means that we won't get landed with another Thor. I have no idea what Awesome Guy: A New Identity cost but Mario Guzman is better as Awesome Guy than Chris Hemsworth was as Thor, though he's trying on his best Dean Cain impersonation for size and it doesn't quite fit. What's more, his character is confronted by the real world far better than Thor was. If I'm not mistaken, this short even has more sets and not even a hint of CGI. Thank Asgard for small budgets and imagination!

What the husband and wife team of director Bob Marquis and writer Jessica Marquis do here is what I wish every superhero filmmaker would do: update the concept for the times and have fun doing so. Awesome Guy may well be awesome and, along with his trusty sidekick, Lady Justice, he may well be a primary defense against evil, but that doesn't mean squat when Megaopolis is staring at the necessity of budget cuts. Mayor Avery is very sorry, but austerity measures mean that he just has to let Awesome Guy go. Apparently they can afford a stock thank you card for him but not the time to fill in Awesome Guy's name. That's a touch of genius. And so our hero has to move on and find a new purpose, not really knowing how to do anything except save the world. With a mere five minute running time, it's amazing how much depth emerges from the few scenes it takes for the story to complete and a couple of story arcs to unfold.
Like many of the films that played alongside this one in the Arizona Shorts block at the Phoenix Film Festival, this was produced for IFP Phoenix's Breakout Film Challenge. It won there for best story and it's the story that really shines here. Five minutes is but a brief moment in film, three minutes less than the end credits of the 1978 movie version of Superman, yet it's still more than enough to tell a story, if only the story is right. The acting is most notable here otherwise: Mario Guzman being an easy casting choice. He does have to act here, unlike, say, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, but there's always been some Awesome Guy in him. It's also great to see Philip Haldiman on screen again as Mayor Avery, all grown up and doing his best in the last few years to be recognised for more than just that iconic cult debut on the big screen back in 2003. Indie filmmakers, take note: I'm counting. This is 1 down, 99,999 more to go, right?


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget. Mr. Guzman won a best actor award for his performance in 'Awesome guy'.

Hal C. F. Astell said...

Thanks, anonymous Mario! Yep, congratulations for that win, surely not the first IFP award.

Anonymous said...

Damn! Can't get anything past you Hal! (Laughs). Thanks for the great writeup!