Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Well this was a bit of a surprise.  Iím completely down with the whole superhero thing, or at least I used to be, and then I turned twelve.  Just joking.  Ainít a damn thing wrong with still collecting comics well into your sixties as long as you arenít doing it in your motherís basement.  But seriously folks, I used to love comics.  I believed Peter Parkerís girlfriend should have been Gwen Stacy, I know that Juggernaut, as he was in X3, is not a mutant, I know that the Silver Surfer is a herald of Galactus, I know that the Iron Man costume is a glorified pacemaker for Tony Stark, so Iím completely down with the whole comic book thing.  Director Blake Van Der Graf and screenwriter Michael Sparaga know a little about comics too as is clearly evident in their extremely independent, but also very good film ĎSidekickí, the story of a man who maybe takes his comic world a little too seriously.

Meet Norman Neale (Perry Mucci), an underappreciated IT guy at some unnamed brokerage firm.  Norman is so geeky that even nerds would kick his ass in disgust.  Norman is atypical of a character of this sort as he lives alone, has no friends and thus has no girlfriend, is good at computers and sketches comic books.  Actually, Norman does have one pal, and this is Chuck (Daniel Baldwin) who coincidentally owns a comic book store.  One day at work while getting a cup coffee, a cup falls from the table and broker Vincent Ventura (David Ingram) grabs it before it hits the ground with some serious quickness.  Now, I would have thought that dude just had good reflexes, but Norman is convinced that Vincent has some untapped super powers.  Norman then proceeds to practically stalk Vincent, setting up little traps for him to use these repressed powers he believes he possesses, and in the process, pissing Vincent off to

no end.  As it so happens, Vincent DOES have some kind of telekinetic abilities that heís always been aware of, but has tried to avoid because he knows it would land him in someoneís test lab.  But when tragedy strikes, Vincent decides to hone these skills, with Normanís help, to the point where has almost total control over them.

Of course as we all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and soon Vincent is using his now controllable abilities for all kinds of ill gotten gain.  Norman though, once hoping to be Vincentís sidekick now has become Vincentís arch nemesis, complete with costume, in an attempt to stop him before he can do more damage than heís already done.

I donít what the budget was that director Blake Van Der Graf was working with, but Iím going to go ahead and assume it was less than Peter Jacksonís lunch per diem on ĎKing Kongí.  But as Iíve said on numerous occasions, big budget doesnít equal good movies, and it would be relatively safe to say that Iíve seen better indie flicks than Iíve seen big studio releases recently.  Sidekick doesnít disappoint in this regard.  One of the things that works for this film is that filmmakers completely understand the super hero mythos and exploit it for all its worth and the characterizations where superb.  Perry Mucci as the ultra geeky Norman, is far less a hero, and more of a tragic figure desperately attempting to find a life within someone else, and quite honestly is nearly as pathological as Vincent will soon become.  David Ingramís Vincent Ventura is quite superheroesque, as he is tall, relatively good looking and even has the Superman dipsy doo hair curl.  There is a certain realism in his descent into madness since itís completely logical, in this society of ours, that most with superior abilities, be they mental or physical, tend use them for personal gain.

Obviously though, with a film with a budget as small as this one, there are flaws that can be picked up here and there and the film, though very polished and well done for an independent picture, still has some slightly amateurish smudges here and there, but please donít let that deter you in seeing this very interesting and compelling superhero drama.  Just the fact that the filmmakers had the nerve to attempt to make a superhero film with a micro budget is amazing, the fact that they were able to make a GOOD superhero film on a micro budget is nothing short of revolutionary.

Judging from this effort, I fully expect these cats to find bigger, greater opportunities coming their way, letís hope they remember that absolute power does tend to corrupt absolutely.

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