Now, we bring you the review!
Emmy-award winning director Kyle Roberts dedicated three years of his life to bringing The Posthuman Project (TPHP) to life. Based entirely in Oklahoma, the movie takes inspiration from John Hughes and the X-Men — and in my opinion, Chronicle and Heroes — to “focus on the roots of the teenage experience, capturing that careful mix of invulnerability and powerlessness that only youth can conjure.”
As a low-budget, full-length independent feature, the movie surprised me. Now, the superpower special effects were not very good, but at least they looked consistent every time. I will admit that I was less forgiving with the blatant use of green screen. I wasn’t expecting “Hollywood-quality” effects, but I found the obvious green screen usage much more distracting than the superpower effects.
The movie follows a common formula: A group of stereotypical teenagers battling tried and true personal demons, like broken or abusive homes, health handicaps, and bullying. There’s the former jock suffering from injury; his nerdy younger brother tormented by school bullies; both boys believing their father abandoned them; the tomboy, punk rock girl living with an abusive stepfather; the pretty cheerleader with no backstory whatsoever other than that she and the former jock used to date; and the (one) black friend who just wants to have fun and who’s life doesn’t have much direction as graduation approaches. Through a creepy, lost uncle and a series of convoluted fake scientific events, the kids each attain superhuman abilities worthy of their personal, deep-down desires: The ability to self-heal, the ability to teleport, the ability to create fire, the ability to fly, and the ability of brute strength.
The script is heavy-handed with many lines about “all you need is family” and “true strength comes from within,” but honestly, despite the unoriginality of much of it, I found the movie perfect for those for those of the current Disney Channel or ABC Family generation. (One caveat: the opening scene is fairly graphic, as a bullet is shown striking through the main protagonist’s head in slo-mo.) With the exception of describing the mountain where most of the action takes place as a “big ass mountain,” there is absolutely no swearing — and a cute running gag that attests to that fact. While most of the actors are studying theater at various Oklahoma schools, the acting also had a Disney Channel-quality…and that’s ok. The movie is meant for kids and their families and the relentless positive messages are important, especially when low self-esteem and bullying issues are running rampant. Personally, TPHP shows promise as a sci-fi-lite series for tweens and teens, sort of in the vein of Kyle XY, The Wizards of Waverly Place or even Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I must also bring up again the similarities to Heroes.
Don’t get me wrong: The movie has it’s moments. It’s consistently directed and edited. It’s divided into “chapters,” — again, à la NBC’s Heroes — and in between each chapter are animated comic book panels, so the movie is in on its own joke and influences. The awkward flirting between a few of the characters reminded me of my high school years. There’s also a scene where all five kids are in the car together and a sing-along eventually ensues, and for some reason, despite the green screen usage, I found the scene touching. Actually, the movie’s soundtrack, in general, I found totally killer.
All that being said, as a 29-year-old with no children, I did not particularly care for the film and would not have watched it otherwise. However, as I sat watching it for 90 minutes, I could see other parents having very important discussions about their own kids’ fears and struggles. I think that, for parents — especially those who love sci-fi or whose kids do — it’s an important movie to watch and discuss with them.
TPHP tries to accomplish a lot — both plot-wise and visually — in 90 minutes, and it’s no surprise the film won “Best Oklahoma Film” at the 2014 deadCENTER Film Festival and has garnered a slot at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con (Saturday, July 26th, at 11:35am at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina.)
Edit: The movie also won “Best Editing” at Florida Supercon this weekend as well as a special laurel for being one of only two films out of about 100 to get a standing room only.