Super-Scattered 'Amigos' At All Roads Film Fest

Thursday, October 4, 2007

We had high hopes for "Super Amigos," one of the selections at National Geographic's All Roads film festival. It has an intriguing premise: Real-life social activists don Mexican wrestling (lucha libre) masks to do battle with the forces of evil at work in Mexico City. It's got a Tarantino-esque vibe, filtered through the hyperkinetic sensibility of hipster Mexican cinema and superhero cartoons. It's got snazzy special effects, a zippy soundtrack and a compelling cast.

And . . . about 20 minutes into the film, it starts to lose its superpowers, lulling the viewer into a soporific state.

Which is too bad. It's hard to go wrong with a cast like this: Super Barrio, who battles gentrification and nefarious landlords; Super Gay, who wages a solitary war against homophobia after his lover is murdered; Ecologista Universal, who fights pollution; Super Animal, an animal rights activist who vows to dismember any bullfighter he encounters in the street; Fray Tormenta, a priest who runs an orphanage -- and whose story is eerily similar to that of Jack Black's character in "Nacho Libre." Mexico City, the world's biggest metropolis, is rife with societal ills that these superheroes are all too eager to right.

But director Arturo Perez Torres ("Wetback") spends too much time skittering from character to character, revving up the action with cartoon footage and 3D animation, that he doesn't stand still long enough to tell a coherent story. It's hard to keep track of who's doing what, and why.

-- Teresa Wiltz

Super Amigos (82 minutes, in Spanish with English subtitles) kicks off the All Roads film festival at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at National Geographic headquarters, 1600 M. St. NW. The film is not rated but contains adult subject matter including strong language and gory scenes involving a bullfight.

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