Description (from the DVD box):
Jazz (Toby Manley) and Wolf (Mark McKirdy) are in financial dire straits. Unless they find £5,000 by the end of the week their comic shop is doomed. So, when Issue 1 of Electric Man, from 1937 and worth £100,000 turns up in the comic racks they think their problems are over. Enter mysterious femme fatale Lauren (Jennifer Ewing), obsessed American collector Edison Bolt (Mark McDonnell) and the thuggish Uncle Jimmy (Derek Dick aka Fish). The witty screenplay and bantering relationship of the central duo are the star attractions of this impressive film.
Making Of, Composing the Score, Blooper Reel
When I first received ELECTRIC MAN, I honestly didn’t take the time to look too closely at it. I knew from the email I had received from the production company that EM was “a Scottish comedy… an affectionate spoof on comic book fan culture,” but that was about it. From that description, the cover art, and the title, I just automatically assumed that EM was going to be a campy superhero comedy, which is great, I love those, I’ve seen tons, and even made one of my own. I was happily surprised to find that it was NOT what I was expecting, and was more of a character driven comedy without any silly superhero suits (well, just one).
EM is about Jazz and Wolf (real grown-up type guys with real grown-up type names), comic shop owners that have to come up with a pretty decent sum of cash to pay for repairs to the space they are renting, otherwise they are out and a kebab shop is in. [Small digression here: mmm döner kebab… once I heard kebab shop it took me back to high school in Germany and made me rally miss this beautiful, wonderful food that for some reason no one makes here in the US, or at least in south Texas. Anyway, digression averted…] Being as comics are fun but not necessarily very profitable, this is looking like the end for their shop. On our second plot line, you’ve got Uncle Jimmy who may or may not have murdered his brother in order to take possession of his massive comic book collection, including a mint “Electric Man #1,” one of the most rare comics in the world. By the hand of fate (and a thieving child), the comic goes from Uncle Jimmy – who was going to sell it to the biggest comic geek in the US – to the stock of Jazz and Wolf. Comedy and intrigue ensue. I’m not going to spell out the whole plot because, well, there are a lot of twists and turns and a lot of fun that I just don’t want to spoil, but with this breakdown here you basically get what’s up.
EM has a lot of really good things going for it. First, and foremost, the best thing about EM is by far the script. This film has a fun and funky storyline with some surprises; sure there’s no “What’s in the box?!” ala SE7EN type bombshells or anything of that magnitude, but it has a lot more depth than your average low budget two guys sitting around talking sort of film. To accentuate the plot there is the dialogue: it comes fast and funny and it is regularly delivered with panache. The filmmakers also did a sold job with the production design, and incorporated a lot of small elements into the locations, the backgrounds, the comics themselves to make the world of EM feel very real, while it is obviously not. It has a nice completeness to it, and I have a feeling that next time I go back and watch the film again, I’m probably going to pick up stuff I didn’t see the first time.
The director, Barras, obviously knows how to work with actors, and has done a fine job of getting a performance out of the vast majority of the players on screen. The leads, Manley and McKirdy, both deliver their lines with great comedic timing, and both have their characters dialed in; they are very believable in who they are, and in a character driven piece, that is incredibly important. The secondary characters are all solid, though not necessarily as strong as the leads (which is really no surprise for a film of this budget). Ewing does well as the mysterious Lauren, though at times she is a bit over the top (but just a bit). Fish plays the thug in Uncle Jimmy a bit one-note, but then again the character is pretty much just that so he didn’t have too much to work with, so this could be from the clay or the sculptor on this one. McDonnell’s Bolt is a fun über-geek; I just wish his accent didn’t keep peeking through!
My biggest issues with the film were really pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but there were still a few things that didn’t quite sit right. First off, the lighting could use some work. I was really glad to hear that they invested either money or they knew someone who had some training to get them good sound quality, because that will sink your low budget ship quicker than just about any other shortcoming (other than your movie just plain sucking). The sound quality in EM was very good, but unfortunately the lighting was not up to the same. There were quite a few shots with harsh, bright lights and shadows that stuck out like the killer in a slasher film, ready to cut the main character’s throats. Never was the lighting so bad to make it unwatchable, but in a film that was so uniformly good in so many other aspects, this one flaw stood out even more. My other issue was the extended bike chase scene. Yes, it’s cool that you know someone with some mad bike skillz that can pay some billz, but that doesn’t mean that we need a BMX video placed in the middle of your movie. A little cool stuff can go a long way, and for me this just went too far.
Overall, I really enjoyed EM a lot. This will be a movie I will watch again for sure, and will probably introduce it to my friends as well… In the email I received from the production company they stated they were sending this to me because I liked Kevin Smith and Edgar Wright, and that is right on. Fans of those filmmakers will enjoy EM, as well as anyone that likes comic books, a little nerdy action, or just some witty banter delivered in Scottish accents. The flaws that the movie has are very minor in comparison to all of the good things it has going for it, and for a movie at this budget level, it really shines.
Overall 8 / 10
EM on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1928161/
EM for sale (as of 9/10/13): http://www.passionriver.com/electric-man.html
EM site: http://www.electricmanmovie.com/