Screener Review: THEY CALL ME SUPERSEVEN (2016)


Admittedly, my own experience in classic spy films and TV shows is pretty limited. I was born an 80's kid and wasn't exposed to a lot of it, with exception to several classic Bond films and a handful of other titles from the 50's and 60's. That said, having come across former stuntman-turned-stunt coordinator and filmmaker Scott Rhodes's award-winning webseries, The Adventures Of Superseven, the aesthetics being tapped into here are fully understandable and so it's not hugely challenging to embrace and absorb. Rather, quite the opposite.

The series has since been woven with select episodes and footage from the first of all five seasons to offer up for the feature film now titled, They Call Me Superseven. Actor Jerry Kokich stars in the title role for a story that pits our red-costumed international man of mystery, working under the guidance of clandestined govermment agency, T.H.E.M., against Big O and the evil forces of T.H.E.Y.. More often than not during dangerous missions, Superseven tends to bump into his ex, Sandra West, (Olivia Dunkley), a former T.H.E.M. spy gone rogue whose romantic past with Superseven is almost never without relevance during their unique partnership. At one point before leaving on her own accord, West receives a tip regarding T.H.E.Y. and relays it to Superseven's tomboyish assistant, multifaceted engineer Sparky (Anne Leighton) who is ever fond of and loyal to Superseven despite her own opinions of West. After not hearing back for longer than expected, Superseven is urged by T.H.E.M. to investigate, leading to an explosive battle against a small army of T.H.E.Y. to rescue West before it's too late.

I can imagine how difficult it might be to cram four years of webseries content into a substantive feature without leaving a lot of potential holes that could throughout. For They Call Me Superseven, Rhodes does a fine job here in putting together a little something special for viewers, even adding a few bits of footage and music in between to keep it together as much as possible.

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The very low budget is obvious for this particular project while Rhodes doesn't try too hard to turn the film into something that it isn't, instead using it to play very keenly on a lot of the cheese that make the sixties and seventies such a memorable era for spy comedies and thrillers. Kokich, who wears several hats for the show's characters and overall production, nails it as the straight-laced Superseven next to actresses Olivia Dunkley and Anne Leighton who offer some delightful suprises to their respective roles, specifically to that of Dunkley whose own physicality and comedic timing makes her perfect for a role like hers.

The action is also fantastic and never loses sight of itself, playing in an almost beat-for-beat fashion that pays homage to classic spy tropes and embellishments. Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez and Andrew Palmer play two of the film's most notable henchmen, "Thunderpussy" and "The Whip" along with a slate of other smaller characters, many in the form of the kind of beautiful and sexy henchwomen lurking throughout the film as they consistently try to assassinate our hero.

Rhodes himself has a small role throughout the series, and as such, in the film. You won't see him, but he is as much of the overall voice and spirit of what They Call Me Superseven is. Having conceived it largely out of a deep appreciation for retro spy films and shows in the vein of 007, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Sydney Newman's The Avengers, and the like, you can tell that They Call Me Superseven is a project carved out of sheer love and a sense of longing for a bygone era of film that now exists but for a slightly smaller niche.

Mainstream Hollywood often tries to tap into this kind of source material, but in my own experience, I don't think I've ever smiled as much as I did for nearly the whole duration of this film. The film is chock-full of wit, sexual innuendo, action, eccentricity and the kind of wonderment you'll often find only in independent productions such as this one with a cast and crew that clearly had fun with this series, and a script that isn't afraid to poke fun at itself.

Keep Hollywood in mind when comparing a lot of its remakes and reboots and other attempts at adapting to the spy comedy genre for today's audiences. Next to some titles which fare better than others, rarely you'll find a more suitably entertaining feat than They Call Me Superseven. Sure there are obvious reasons why this is so, while in the creative sense, what Rhodes carves out here at its very core is truly worth appreciating.

They Call Me Superseven is being slated for a Spring release next year on DVD and Digital from R Squared Films. Stay tuned for more information.

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