Max Fist, a homeless drug addict, claims to be a super-powered being from another dimension, who lost all his powers when he punched a hole and escaped into this dimension. Powerless, he still tries to protect his friends from his Archenemy, Cleo.
Spoiler Level: Moderate to High
What if the drugged out, drunk homeless man that lives in the alley was a super-powered being from another dimension? A savior from another world who lost his powers trying to save his precious city from the diabolical schemes of the supervillain, Cleo. This is the premise of Adam Egypt Mortimer’s 2020 movie, Archenemy. Joe Manganiello is Max Fist, a down and out homeless man strung out on booze and drugs, who likes to tell tales of his life in Chromium, a city in a different dimension. He meets Hamster (Skylan Brooks) who is trying to break into journalism by writing the dirty real-life stories he has witnessed to living in the city slums he calls “Hamster City”. His sister, Indigo (Zolee Griggs) is dealing drugs in the hopes of earning enough money to illegally buy her brother a place in college.
When Hamster encounters Max for the first time, he sees an opportunity to tell his story. In exchange for a lot of whisky, Max tells of his battles against his archenemy, Cleo and how, to save the city of Chromium, he punched a hole through space and time which landed him in our reality. And with out the source of his power, he no longer has his abilities. Hamster and Max form a type of friendship as they search for the Crystal Cave, the source of his powers.
Meanwhile, Indigo, gets in trouble with the “Manager” (Glenn Howerton) of the local drug ring putting Hamster in danger. To save Hamster, Max kills the two henchmen sent after her, which puts them on the run. Max convinces the siblings that they must stand and fight as they can’t run for ever and he vows to kill everyone in the employ of “The Manager”.
The Manager’s boss is also coming, and you guessed it, the big boss pulling all the strings is Cleo (Amy Seimetz), who also fell into this dimension. This of course leads to the final face off between Max and Cleo. Will max sacrifice all to save Hamster? What is Max’s secret shame? Who will survive? Watch and find out.
Archenemy mixes live action with flashbacks told in simple graphic animation. The story unfolds in such a way that we are never sure until the end if Max was really from another dimension, or if he is just a crazy schizophrenic drug addict. The storyline is interesting, but the script and the flow of the movies is confusing. How much time is passing between events is not clearly defined, which makes it difficult to really connect with the characters and empathize with them. The actors are all strong, but for the most part the characters are not likeable. The production value is good and the animation, although simple, is effective and visually interesting. There is a lot of swearing and vulgarity, and quite a lot of violence.
Joe Manganiello plays Max well, and there is a great subtlety in his portrayal. There are things hinted about Max’s true nature and what the people of Chromium really thought of him, that is never fully explored, and we are not given enough information to really digest it and come to our own conclusions, or to really feel any true emotion for the character and the sacrifice he is making or if he got what he deserved or if he redeemed himself, or if he even needed redemption. Amy Seimetz is interesting as Cleo and we really don’t see enough of her, which is a shame. Skylan Brooks as Hamster is the only character we almost like. Almost. Both his and Zolee’s performances were a bit unrealistic to me. Their reaction to the carnage around them is muted and barely registers as a reaction at all. This I think is more due to the script than actual acting ability. The plot and story are interesting, but I feel the script missed an opportunity to really delve into a character and the friendship he builds with a struggling kid trying to survive in a very rough neighborhood. It sacrificed development for shock effects and substitutes style for substance.
Archenemy isn’t a bad movie; it just isn’t my cup of tea (or whisky if you will). The production value and performances are all particularly good, but the scrip lacks true depth, leaving you feeling confused and a bit empty.
Archenemy: Cosmic Bloody
Writing - 6/106/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 9/109/10
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