Are you on social media and want to make money from it? Then you know like no other that you have to get enough likes to do so. What else do you need? Unique content, for starters. For wannabe investigative journalist Hamster, that content literally and figuratively falls out of the sky in the form of Max Fist, a superhero who fell through time and space to earth and who lost his powers. Max’s story is now coming to life thanks to Hamster and his social media skills and writer/director Adam Egypt Mortimer (“Daniel isn’t Real”) and his “Archenemy”. What will get the most likes: This movie or Hamer’s social media posts? It’s going to be a close call!
After landing on earth, superhero Max Fist (Joe Manganiello) has literally become a fallen hero. He used to be a superhero on his planet Chromium, but now, he’s a homeless man who drinks away his sorrows in the local pub and paying off his whiskeys by telling his story. Sadly, no one believes him, apart from Hamster (Skylan Brooks). Both because the story would gain him more online clicks and followers and also because it’s an intriguing tale.
While Hamster is learning about an 11-dimensional space, his sister Indigo (Zolee Griggs) is doing chores for her drug dealer. It involves obtaining $300,000 from psychopath Krieg (Paul Scheer), but when that doesn’t go according to plan, she, Hamster and Max find themselves in the middle of a drug-related war. It becomes even worse when Max’s nemesis Cleo Ventrik (Amy Seimetz) plans mass destruction with her powerful weapon Void Machine. Will Hamster, Max and Indigo be able to fight wars on multiple fronts and survive the dark world? Well, that’s for you to find out!
If you’ve watched Mortimer’s previous movies, then you know he isn’t afraid of creating a peculiar film in which he combines fantasy, darkness and colourful and head-twisting cinematography. While this winning combination doesn’t do the trick entirely in “Archenemy”, the movie still delivers some fun.
What makes the movie very satisfactory is the strong performance by Manganiello (“True Blood”, “Sabotage”) as the broken, tortured but determined Max Fist. Right from the moment you look into Manganiello’s eyes, you see Max’s rough and heart-breaking past. His acting is spot on, emotional and powerful. Brooks and Griggs also give some solid acting performances. Brooks (“The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete”, “The Darkest Minds”) as the driven, compassionate and dramatic social media influencer/journalist and Griggs (“Bride Wars”, “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”) as the more rock ‘n roll, stubborn, risky and Indigo. The scenes between the three of them are the highlights of the movie.
Even the more supporting cast such as Howerton (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, “Officer Downe”), Scheer (“Emperor”, “The League”) and Seimetz (“The Secrets We Keep”, “Pet Sematary”) bring some enjoyable, over-the-top and entertaining performances, especially because of the terrific costume choices.
The movie isn’t your typical superhero film, and the main reason for that is the low budget. While “Archenemy” is an indie superhero movie, the CGI is still impressively made, and the visual choices are also on-point. Just as in “Daniel isn’t real”, colour has a significant meaning in this movie. The red in the movie stands for the danger and the possible mass destruction. There’s also pink and blue colours with a lot of meaning behind them. Pink is considered female while blue is a ‘male’ colour, but Mortimer turned the tables. He chose pink for both Max and Hamster while Indigo and Cleo are being surrounded by a blue vibe. This choice makes you question what you believe about these colours and also make you doubt whether Max’s story is true or not.
The most impressive decision regarding the visuals is the alternation between animation and live-action scenes. When the two overlap, the movie gets that ‘comic-book’ and ‘superhero’ feel and becomes more intriguing. During our interview with Mortimer, he mentioned that he loves comics and that love is certainly being presented in this movie. Congrats are in order for the animation team of “Archenemy”.
What makes this movie hard to watch during some moments is the slow pace, especially at the beginning. The pace accelerates and it even becomes explosive towards the end. You just have to sit through the sluggish start.
While “Archenemy” has a very slow start but it’s still a delightful, entertaining and creatively made movie led by the impeccable Manganiello.
“Archenemy” is released on DVD and digital platforms on the 22nd of February.