Posts Tagged ‘michael barnett’

Real Life Superheroes

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Donning capes and masks these grown adults appeared as if they were getting ready to go trick or treating. Calling themselves “real life superheroes”, they seemed a little dorky at first.  The individuals featured in this documentary (written and directed by Michael Barnett) believe it is their duty to patrol the streets, fighting crime and picking up the slack that the police and other government institutions leave behind. As we follow the lives of several “real life superheroes” however, it becomes apparent that the work they are doing is not only beneficial to society, but vital to their communities.

The tone at the begging of the film seems to mock these cape and spandex wearing crime fighters. In the first few minutes of the film we take a tour of one man’s extensive action figure collection and watch as he sings along to  the Power Ranger opening sequence on his small television. He is known on the streets as the helmet and amor wearing Mr. Xtreme,  and he is the founder and  sole member of Xtreme Justice League, a citizen’s crime fighting organization in San Diego. His apartment is shabby and his social life is inactive to put it nicely. With a pot belly and no girlfriend, Mr. Xtreme  spends the free time he has between multiple day  jobs patrolling the streets hoping to prevent violent crime. We join him on a nightly escapade to patrol a part of campus where a sexual assault had been reported earlier. Although Mr. Xtreme runs into more hostility than appreciation from the community, (a guy threatens to call the police on Mr.Xtreme if he doesn’t leave his lawn), he is confident his presence, costume and all, is a deterrent to prospective offenders.

Next we meet Master Legend. He’s a long haired, middle-aged vigilante  who likes his beer and makes his own weapons out of cardboard and other household items. After cracking open a cold one he opens up about how his father was a member of the Klu Klux Klan and used to beat him. It was his loving and supportive grandmother, he says, who taught him that he had the potential to be a great force of good.  Turning past traumatic experiences into positive outreach turns out to be a reoccurring theme in many of hero’s lives we meet along the way. The commitment these ordinary citizens have to altruistic service is inspiring.  Every night  you’ll find Master Legend like many superheroes around the world (yes, it’s a global online community) handing out food and blankets to his cities homeless. A hero husband and wife duo hands out care packages every week to those living on the streets-the cost of which all comes out of their own pocket. Many of these heros have limited means themselves and it is astonishing the sacrifices they make in order to do what they do in their communities. When finances get tight Mr. Xtreme moves into his van rather than cease operation of Xtreme Justice League. You’ll come to really admire these quirky yet concerned citizens, as even director Michael Barnett admits he did in the midst of shooting this movie. What begins as a mockumentary becomes something very heartfelt as one grows  immense respect for these selfless individuals. Overall, this movie kills apathy and kicks evil villain butt!

Real-Life Superheroes at the Slamdance Film Festival

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Kasey, Will, James, Hannah, David and I with some of the Superheroes

Kasey, Will, James, Hannah, David and I with some of the Superheroes

Last night a bunch of us ventured over to the Slamdance headquarters to catch a screening of Michael Barnett‘s documentary entitled Superheroes.  We had heard a lot of buzz about the film, but weren’t entirely sure exactly what it was about or what it’s angle was.  I think most of us went into it expecting to see a bunch of costume-wearing, crazed, deluded comic book nerds who believe they have superpowers.  And yes, there were more than a few comic book fanatics involved in the film.  However, there were also ex-convicts, tattoo artists, school teachers, and even a fair number of women.  What they all had in common was a belief that the world is not as safe as it should be and a deep-rooted commitment to making it better in some small way.  And for the most part (with a few exceptions like Master Legend) they all seemed remarkably grounded, sane, and fully aware of the fact that they possess no actual superpowers.  We went into the film expecting to laugh at the people in it, and at the start of the film we definitely did a little bit.  But by the documentary’s conclusion, I think we all a new-found respect for these “real-life superheroes.” (more…)

Superheroes: A Slamdance Hit

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Superheroes, directed by Michael Barnett, is a documentary revolving around the lives of “Real-Life Superheroes.” These people, as a hobby, decide to spend their nights patrolling the streets of their towns and cities in search for criminals and crimes in action. When first entering this movie I thought it was going to be about mentally ill people who believed they have super powers and ran around in costumes thinking they could save the world. In reality the film was much more. These “heroes” are ordinary people who typically hold ordinary jobs and decide to spend their nights and off hours helping those in need. Not only to they try and deter crimes happening at that moment but they also bring necessities like food, water, basic clothes, and toiletries to homeless people and those less fortunate. During the Q&A after the film some heroes in attendance spoke about talking to communities to raise awareness regarding crime in their areas. (more…)