Normally, summertime is the right time for superhero movies, but our friends at Image Entertainment were out to prove that the last days of winter can be good for superhero movies too. To that end, they sent out a copy of “Sparks: The Origin of Ian Sparks” for us to review.
“Sparks: The Origin of Ian Sparks” follows the title character in the days after a meteor–that also happens to be profoundly radioactive–hits the earth’s surface and gives a group of people super powers. Said individuals become known collectively as the Rochester 13, but Ian Sparks–one of said group–doesn’t feel very super at all. Then his parents die, and that leads him into battle with the criminal element backed up by one of the Rochester 13, Lady Heavenly. The duo then tackle a host of bad guys, but one fight in particular leaves Ian on the bad end of pretty much life in general, losing everything save his own life. Ian’s pursuit of revenge for his lost…everything…will do some serious damage to most everything in sight.
The setting may well be the best part of the whole thing, as it’s set back in the 1920s in New York, which is an evocative setting all its own. Better yet, the plotline is interesting and complex; it’s very much worth watching. There’s quite a bit going on here from unexpected foreshadowing to callbacks to even some surprise twists. This is a shockingly believable look at an era in which superheroes might have existed, and that era is an unusual one indeed.
Believable and unusual…that’s a good way to describe the whole movie. It’s like an odd sort of superhero noir, a cross between superhero and film noir that’s actually quite a treat to watch. Done before, sure; “Gotham by Gaslight” did it as did parts of “Watchmen”. But this one is something special. There are a lot of surprises here, and careful watching will be the order of the day. But it will do a fine job of wrapping up most of its loose ends, with some great reveals and some big twists. A special note for Clancy Brown, who appears in this one and seems to be cropping up in more and more superhero movies these days. He’s excellent as ever, and in fact may be one of the better points of this movie. That’s not to take away from anyone else, though, but Clancy Brown is putting on a clinic here and clearly having a ball.
Special features include a commentary track, an outtake reel, a making-of featurette, and trailers for “All Superheroes Must Die” and “Stranded,” though neither will be available from the main menu.
“Sparks: The Origin of Ian Sparks” is a real surprise, a period piece of incredible authenticity, put on with a kind of care and diligence that makes it one to really enjoy. You’ll have to be careful watching this one–it’s easy to miss a lot of the biggest and best parts–but aside from that, this one’s a winner.