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'We Can Be Heroes' is a mixed nostalgic trip

  By Mason Kupiainen Originally scheduled to premiere on Jan. 1, 2021, We Can Be Heroes was released on Christmas. Director Robert Rodriguez returns with a new kids’ film set in the same universe as The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Although Sharkboy and Lavagirl are not the centers of attention, we get to see them all grown up, married, and with a child. Although The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, as well as the Spy Kids films, have not aged well, they hold a special place in the hearts of 2000s kids. Rodriguez brings a unique style to his films, with a bloated use of CGI as well as providing a strange, child-like wonder to them that is present in this film. From the set designs to the look of creatures and characters, they look as if they came straight out of the mind of a child.  We Can Be Heroes takes place in a fictional world filled with superheroes. Once an Avengers and Justice League-type team called the Heroics are captured by aliens, their children must work together to save Earth.

A trip down memory lane

Image from GeekTyrant
For those who grew up watching Spy Kids and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, the style of the film will be noticeable. It feels as if it was made by kids, from the design of the aliens to the superhero costumes. All the kids have strange and unique superpowers that feel as if a kid were designing them. Some of the powers include a kid who can draw the future, a set of twins with one who can fast forward time and the other rewind time, and a kid stuck in a time warp moving in slow motion.  The cringy dialogue and unique special effects are done in the same style as the original films. Even with the poorly written dialogue and strange visual effects, there’s a charm to it. Having recently watched parts of Rodriguez’s films, they don’t leave the same effect as they did when I was younger, but this comes from the way he designs kid films purely for children. He used his own children to help form the story, characters, score, and designs in the previous films and was able to bring them back for this film. As a kid, these films felt unlike any other children’s films around, as they had a child-like wonder to the designs and look of the films. If you have nostalgic memories of the older films, you might enjoy this one to some extent.
Image from Rappler
Despite this, the film lacks captivating characters and a well-written story. There are a few twists in the film that never felt earned, and came off as cheesy and out-of-left-field. As for the characters, there are too many so you really don’t become attached to any of them. We spend the most time with Missy Moreno, the daughter of Pedro Pascal’s character, Marcus. Despite her character having the most screen time, there’s nothing that makes us gravitate toward her character or give us a reason to care for her. The best characters in the film are sadly Sharkboy and Lavagirl, and their kid, Guppy. However, they aren’t given much screen time since they are only supporting characters. In Sharkboy’s case, he doesn’t do much in the film, as he never talks and is constantly wearing a mask. It would have been better to have them and their child be the main characters and learn more about what they’ve been up to all these years.

Lack of connection

Kids will love the film, just as early 2000s kids loved Spy Kids, but anyone over the age of 12 probably won’t be able to connect with it. The children take center stage and are depicted as much smarter than the adults. This provides a powerful message for kids about teamwork and stepping up to do good.  The acting is in no way stellar. Even with actors such as Pedro Pascal and Sung Kang, all of the adults appeared to simply be there for a paycheck. Nothing is particularly bad about the adults acting, but it leaves you feeling like they were phoning it in. None of the kids were great either, and at times they were quite bad. Part of this is the cringy dialogue and weak screenplay, but their performances were hollow and dry.
Sources: Polygon, What's On Netflix Featured Image: IMDB Images: GeekTyrant, Rappler