Saturday, February 24, 2018
THE METEOR MAN (1993)
Written & Directed By: Robert Townsend
Cinematography By: John A. Alonzo
Editor: Pam Wise, Andrew London, Robaire W. Estel, Richard Candib & Adam Bernardi
Cast: Robert Townsend, Eddie Griffin, James Earl Jones, Roy Fegan, Sinbad, Marla Gibbs, Robert Guillaume, Don Cheadle, Bill Cosby, Frank Gorshin, Nancy Wilson, Big Daddy Kane, Tony “Tiny” Lister, Luther Vandross, Jenifer Lewis, Wallace Shawn, Biz Markie, Beverly Johnson, Lawanda Page, Lela Rochon, John Witherspoon
A high school teacher from a troubled inner city Washington D.C. neighborhood becomes a super-powered hero and takes on the gang that has been terrorizing his streets.
One of the first African-American superhero Movies for the big screen. This film should be quite the achievement. Meteor Man is the SMALL WONDER of movies. In other words for me a movie I remember fondly but watching it now shocked at how bad it is it tries to be good it’s aim is good hearted. But the follow through is so sloppy and misguided. Even though it is high concept. --His identity is secret yet he wears no mask and most recognize him but at certain points acts like hiding his identity is so necessary. Though seems easy enough to work out. Which is one of the more quizzical aspects of the movie.
I applaud what director/writer/star Robert Townsend is attempting to do here. It is admirable and here it is almost an all star cast. Especially with actors and comedians who were part of his other productions in major and minor roles. It's almost his own IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD
It's Great to see so many recognizable African American actors in roles both big and small and funny in bits but overall never comes together fully
This is one of the first films comedian Eddie Griffin appeared in and he makes his mark as the main characters best friend he is upstanding and funny. Though this is another case of a film that has this amount of talent should have been so much better The film has moments of comedy and seems like it would be good viewing more for toddlers and an older audience due more to simplicity and recognizability for certain audience members. It's a move where you can admire the principles and what was attempted rather than the finished product.
There is a minor romance angle but that seems quickly abandoned. Don't know if it was saved for future sequels or the film didn't have enough time or they just wanted to have an angle to have comedian Sinbad have a role in the movie. Which wasn't vital to the main superhero plot line. Though his scenes and his character are funny they seem out of place in the movie and really add nothing and soon seem more like an annoying afterthought.
Which helps explain this film, as it has ideas and is a nice thought but the heroine far from iconic and seems more like an afterthought especially after you watch the film.
I will say that the film has a light touch. I only wish was stronger in it's scope. As METEOR man only seems to care about keeping the neighborhood safe. His peers are also so fleeting so they are more temporary which is a disappointment. Though works for story moments. And kind of beats the marvel television shows on Netflix where the heroes seem to be more neighborhood oriented than world.
The film also seems to not just tell but announce details that you know will become important later. Which would have been nice to just be subtle. Just as his character arc where earlier in the film he is a practicing teacher who wants to be musician and is kind of wimpy as he runs from fights more than anything. To Now being this fearless hero who stands up in the end even with no peers to back him up.
Which is where the film becomes about neighborhoods and communities standing up for each other and themselves which is where the gang comes in representing what they were originally formed for not only a second family but to help protect the community not be the courage of them so much.
The one element that seemed to help legitimize the movie at the time, might now be it’s biggest problem. Is it has bill Cosby in a small but important supporting role. He has no lines but still appears regularly in it.
The film does have some original moments but still feels silly more than anything. Though none the less this is a film I would still share with my children if I had one. My family knows all about this film. So for me it is already ingrained --It’s great to see so many recognizable African American actors in roles both big and small and funny in bits but overall never comes together fully
The film has moments of comedy and seems like it would be good viewing more for toddlers and an older audience due more to simplicity and recognizability for certain audience members. It's a move where you can admire the principles and what was attempted rather than the finished product.
Just by looking at the ridiculous costume you can tell who the film was more intended for a younger audience. Gang members are the heroes in the end Against the mob. Which seems questionable. Especially after painting them as villains at certain points, by especially trying to steer kids away from them, but then by the end giving a different message, But I guess they are better than the mob?
One can understand that this film is aimed at more a family friendly audience. Even though in subsequent television airings some material which is innocent is cut strangely.
This is clearly a children’s film. As everything is blatant and the characters and situations seem more inclined to ore a child’s view of the world.
This is a movie that also seems either late or it seems even to come along too late for when it was released in the 90’s, but seems more in line with 80’s ideas and productions.
It might have made sense to adapt a pre-existing superhero for a film adaptation though the choices at the time might have been limited and the pesky legal wranglings of dealing with the company that owned the characters rights and staying true to the character might have limited the production and creativity. So instead he created his own which would fit everything he was trying to do and say.
The film seems to be headed towards the right place with so many recognizable faces in the cast. This was one of Townsend's few studio pictures so the cast seems there to want to help support a more uplifting story as well as him As at the time he was up and coming. Plus the chance to be on the big screen and be a star.
The movie is rumored to have gone through many re-writes and changes while in production, resulting in many plot holes including the exact abilities Meteor Man has as well as sub plots involving Jeff and his personal life (including his fears). Which would explain many details that make no sense, such as Why one of the main plots is the gang looking for the identity of meteor man and the city too. When he doesn’t even wear a mask and his friends in the neighborhood seem to all but announce it often or the fact that his actual powers seem to shift and always convenient to the scene or how when his friend impersonates him he does wear a mask and fits perfectly into the super suit. Even though they are different sizes physically.
The film just seems to have gotten too big for him to properly handle at the time. Many scenes appeared in the script and possibly could have been filmed but did not appear in the final film. These scenes include Simon asking Meteor Man to join him while they are both trying to get to the meteor, with Meteor Man saying never. A scene where Jeff, losing his powers, attempts to save a cat but can't fly. When he finally gets off the ground he catches the cat but falls. This is witnessed by Squirrel and Dre who are about to tell this information to the Golden Lords but is then stopped by Jeff. Also a scene where Jeff gets over his fear of heights and a sub plot involving Jeff's relationship with his ex Stacy is missing.
The ending forces us to believe at first that the villain caused all this ruckus and was just going to move his operation to New York instead of the current Washington D.C. Neighborhood it worked out of, the logistics of which didn't work as the Golden Lords seem to be part of the crime syndicate but still only haunt that neighborhood. Plus most of the gang seems made up of children. Who in one scene though he is super powered. The hero is held down by a bunch of children. Not teenagers but children.
The original ending had a more confident Jeff standing up for himself and his community and using his role as a teacher to better everyone's life. He then gets approached by Michael who tells him that an even bigger piece of the meteor that hit him was found in Arizona. The two then agree to buy plane tickets so that Jeff can get his powers back and once again become Meteor Man. This is followed by Michael trying to talk him into letting him get some power from the meteor so he can be his sidekick. It then ends with Michael throwing out names to him, such as Comet Boy, Chocolate Thunder, and the Flying Wonder.