Monthly Archives: April 2009

PUSH

The most refreshing thing about Push is its recognition that, after a decade of comic book movies (not to mention three seasons of Heroes), the public is now so familiar with superheroes that they no longer need origin stories to make superhuman abilities seem credible or scientifically plausible.

Now that everyone knows what a “mutant” is there’s no need to waste half a movie introducing them or their powers, so Push drops us into the middle of its world and trusts its audience to get it without being patronized by jargon about genetics or evolution. Admittedly some of the Marvel characters are so well-known that their origin stories are themselves classics which require rehearsal when brought to the screen for the first time. But since Push’s characters have no cultural baggage they are free to slough off some of the prescriptive conventions of the comic adaptation genre, and the film is the better for it.

Push’s informal visual style is also much less ponderous than the typical comic book movie which sometimes confuses taking its material seriously with treating it solemnly. In many ways, Push is the Slumdog Millionaire of superhero movies, an English language story in an Asian city that favors handheld camera gestures and the cacophony of local color to deliberate camera movements and a reserved pallettte.

As for the story and the action scenes, it is basically Heroes with a big budget. Chris Evans’ easy charisma is perfect for these types of movies, being the only good thing about the Fantastic Four movies (besides the Silver Surfer himself) and Dakota Fanning impressed me with the way she is defining her persona at the peak of the awkward phase (of any girl, not just a child actress trying to transition to adult actress).

Going in without any preconceptions, I quite liked Push and was really surprised when I discovered what bad press it got (21% on Rotten Tomatoes)! Push shares some similarities with Jumper but I think it is much more successful, especially in the way the evil conspiracy is handled. I would look forward to seeing Push Harder, but Jump Higher not so much.