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In many ways, Michael Morrissey’s debut feature BOY WONDER
(on DVD today from Inception Media Group) shares plenty with the rash of ’70s
and ’80s vigilante films by the likes of William Lustig, Michael Winner, Abel
Ferrara and Paul Schrader, which many of us hold dear. Mind you, it’s not on
the level. In fact, it’s nowhere near, but it veers much closer to those titles
than recent fare like KICK-ASS, which BOY WONDER’s marketing and even
special-feature discussions are trying to ride the coattails of.
The title is most readily evocative of Batman and Robin, and
if there are any superheroes the protagonist does have parallels to, it’s the
Dark Knight and his, well, boy wonder. Sean Donovan (Caleb Steinmeyer) has lost
his mother in a brutal murder, and nine years later, he’s still reeling.
Socially awkward, he spends his time at the police station trying to make
progress on the now cold case, training vigorously and taking down criminals.
His efforts start coming to a head, however, when newly high-profile detective
Teresa Ames (Zulay Henao) begins to get close.
Sean never actually seems to be making an attempt at
superheroics, and the incidental criminals he does come across or hunt down
feel like training for his hypothetical showdown with the man who killed his
mother. None of this takes away from the film, which is actually much more
successful as the grim, psychological affair it truly is, especially in light
of the genuine New York City/Brooklyn locations used to great and authentic
Morrissey and cinematographer Christopher LaVasseur bring an
immense amount to this low-budget affair, elevating the proceedings with the
visuals—an aspect you wish the rest of the content matched. There’s a point in
BOY WONDER’s behind-the-scenes featurette when one of the actresses remarks
that she doesn’t think the writer/director knows what he wrote, and she
couldn’t have hit it more on the head.
The biggest disappointment of BOY WONDER is that its
characters are much more complex and nuanced than its cast and dialogue can
often live up to, with both frequently feeling clunky, stiff and not as layered
as they should be. The closest the film comes to total success is with Sean’s
father Terry (Bill Sage), a reformed alcoholic openly trying to fight back his
own dark tendencies and connect with his very obviously disturbed son.
The sole extra included, the aforementioned making-of, is
often bland, spending too much time addressing themes that don’t come across
and showcasing the basic roundtable of compliments. The most interesting
potential subject (and one that probably could have been most useful to
aspiring directors)—how they got such great use out of New York City subways
and other settings—is unfortunately barely even touched upon.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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