If you told me Robert Rodriguez would manage to get the money to produce a pseudo-sequel to The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavegirl in 3-D more than a decade after the critical flop was released, I would’ve called you a crazy person. Yet, here we are and here I am about to review We Can Be Heroes, a film that does have a strong connection to the aforementioned film. Now, if you told me I would actually like We Can Be Heroes despite its pedigree, I wouldn’t have believed you. And, yet, here I am about to say that I did enjoy We Can Be Heroes… but only under the right circumstances.
Although the film has been out on Netflix for a good while and, according to the service itself, We Can Be Heroes has been watched by a lot of people all over the world, I’m betting there is a contingent of subscribers who have been avoid this film like the plague. I can definitely understand the sentiment as I was on the same boat. So, with this section of the community in mind, this review will still be a SPOILER FREE review.
We Can Be Heroes takes place in a world that has been defended by its planet’s superheroes for ages. These superheroes have garnered a strong following as positive role models and most of them have children. When an alien invasion decimates the heroes, their kids realize that they’re the last line of defense against the alien force. They band together under the leadership of Missy Moreno, the only kid without any powers, and devise a way to stop the aliens as well as saving their parents.
There’s definitely no mistaking it for Robert Rodriguez’s other kid-friendly movies like Spy Kids and the aforementioned Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. The overlook and aesthetic of We Can Be Heroes basically follows the same template of looking and feeling like a cheesy, low-budget children’s sci-fi film. A lot of the colors just really pop out like an old-timey comic book. The special effects and CGI never really looks totally convincing but, hey, they’re not really supposed to look all that real. There is a lot of ingenuity regarding how to make all the effects work in the movie but they just didn’t look believable. The campy look is supposed to be part of the charm, I guess.
The writing for We Can Be Heroes is actually pretty good but it’s still full of holes. Robert Rodriguez does show he knows his superhero stuff as he uses a lot of tropes from comics. But, at the same time, he still inserts a lot of his own creativity. This is shown in the kids’ powers and abilities and how they use it. Some powers, such as the ability to mimic anyone’s facial features are utilized well into the story. I was also really impressed with how he managed to utilize a kid’s only power to move slow and making this weakness into a strength. However, some abilities, like the power to make things fly by singing in a very low register, just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’m betting Robert Rodriguez things this is how Banshee’s power works… but he’s wrong and the X-Men member requires a special suit to do that. But, then again, this is a kiddie film so mentioning that would just be nitpicking.
I will say the acting, especially from the child actors, are really good in general. But before I do that, I first have to commend the adult actors. I’m impressed with the caliber of stars We Can Be Heroes wrangled up. Well, they’re not exactly A-listers but you do have some recognizable personalities like Christian Slater, Priyanka Chopra and, most exceptionally, Pedro Pascal. You don’t get any Oscar winning performances here but they do look like they’re, at the very least, putting in the effort. Okay, some of the performances are cheeseball as all hell. At least it looks like they’re having fun with it.
But going to the child actors, most of them do a decent job here. YaYa Gosselin, who plays Missy Moreno, the new leader of the group delivers a mostly enjoyable performance here. There were some moments wherein the acting didn’t feel natural but it mostly works out. I guess the same can be said for pretty much the rest of the kids here; really good acting for the most part but there are just some gaffes here and there. Unfortunately, I did get annoyed with one kid. And it just so happens to be the daughter of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Guppy. It does seem unfair to be so harsh on her, considering she’s actually the youngest actor in We Can Be Heroes. I just felt really annoyed by her, partly because Robert Rodriguez tried to make her a focal point of the action scenes as well as the kid’s overall acting chops and rather unenthusiastic performance. I’m sorry but that’s just how I feel!
The overall plot of We Can Be Heroes might come off as standard childish superhero fluff initially but there are a few twists thrown in to keep things interesting, which I do appreciate. It would have been so easy to make this your one-of-the-mill sci-fi/superhero adventure for children that will keep your youngin’ entertained for its 97-minute runtime. But I can’t deny that it’s a little more than than. Still, it’s nothing really groundbreaking, especially when it comes to plot twists in other superhero films. I will say it does keep things somewhat interesting. While I do say it’s deeper than expected, it’s still shallow enough for children to follow along easily.
With that being said, I’m still rather wary to give a full thumbs up to We Can Be Heroes. There are some caveats to look out for. If you have children, it’s a good enough watch. Kids will like the colorful action and creative use of superpowers. And you won’t feel like slitting your wrists from boredom because it does try to do stuff to hold the adults’ interest. This does make it a really good Netflix movie for parents to watch with their children. If you’re in a good enough mood or willing to look past the more silly, cartoony stuff, it’s more than watchable. If you’re expecting something more than that, well, you’re not the audience of We Can Be Heroes.
Have you seen We Can Be Heroes? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comment section below!