Judey Reviews: We Can Be Heroes

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You ever get so mad watching a movie that really shouldn’t merit your wrath? Neither had I before I watched We Can Be Heroes by director Robert Rodriguez.
We Can Be Heroes is a spinoff sequel to the 2005 film Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D and focuses on the next generation of superheroes in that respective universe. Sometime after the events of the first film, a team of superheroes including a now-married Sharkboy and Lavagirl is formed called the Heroics. In this film, the Heroics are captured one-by-one by an invading alien armada who are threatening the planet with a seemingly doomsday-level event called the Takeover, and it is left up to the superpowered children of the Heroics to rescue their parents and stop the Takeover.
The main reason I chose to review this film is that I honestly was a bit intrigued about it due to the odd timing of making a sequel to a fifteen-year-old movie that a lot of Gen Z-ers like myself grew up with. I expected to write a positive review of the movie, like most of my other reviews previously, but bear witness as I write my very first negative critique about this confusing, awkward, and annoying mess of a film. “But wait, it’s supposed to be a children’s movie, you shouldn’t expect it to be a masterclass of cinema!”, one may say in this film’s desperate defense. The thing is, have you seen some children’s movies within the last five years? They definitely have some intense quality and storytelling to them (such as the case for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Incredibles 2) and absolutely have the capability of being held to a higher standard of film. This film, however, has A LOT of missteps, plot holes, continuity errors, bad jokes, bad editing, and most egregiously, lazy writing.
The main protagonist is Missy Moreno, the daughter of Marcus Moreno — the leader of the Heroics. When alien spacecraft enter Earth’s atmosphere, Missy is taken to Heroics HQ along with other children of the Heroics to be kept safe in a bunker while the entire Heroics roster is deployed to stop the alien menace. Among the children include Wheels, who has super-intellect; Noodles, who can stretch his limbs; and Ojo, who draws the future.
There are other children amongst this supergroup here, but I only listed the kids who actually had a major impact throughout the story and who didn’t do their best to make me want to reach through cyberspace and physically pull them offscreen. Those kids include A-Cappella, who levitates objects by singing and just sings for no reason in at least three scenes (like she wasn’t using her superpower, there was just a normal conversation going on and she decided to intrude theater-kid style); Slo-Mo, whose superpower is that he moves extremely slow and who just disappears and reappears from shot-to-shot sometimes since the script supervisor probably forgot he existed; and Guppy, who is supposed to be the daughter of Sharkboy and Lavagirl but only comes off as an eight-year-old girl who is edited to seem like she can overpower grown adults. Oh, and the most offensive waste of potential in the entire movie? There are a pair of twins named Rewind and Fast Forward (guess what their powers are) whose abilities are utilized usefully twice in the whole movie, amongst the mass number of times when they mess up or things go wrong.
As the movie progresses, the kids themselves are detained on-board the alien mothership by who they thought was the leader of the Heroics Program and the US President, but were actually alien spies the entire time. Due to some quick thinking on Missy’s behalf, the kids escape and head toward the chamber where the aliens are preparing to unleash the Takeover, only to be stopped when Ojo also reveals herself as an alien. A struggle ensues and the kids almost manage to stop the countdown to the Takeover but were too late. A chamber gate opens and out from where the kids thought would be a horde of alien soldiers ready to conquer the planet, all of the Heroics strode out much to the confusion of everyone (ESPECIALLY ME). As it turns out, the “Takeover” referred to the takeover of power from the adult superheroes to the next generation, and it was all one big staged test.
I somehow saw this coming, as little sense as that premise makes. If the whole thing was a test, why were there scenes of the Heroics trying to escape the chamber and talking to the President as if they don’t know he’s an alien? And why choose to replace the not-very-old and very-much-capable superheroes with kids who didn’t even complete the objective they were tested for?
The strangest thing I witnessed in this film was the odd amount of hollow jokes about the President that were painfully-obvious allusions to former President Trump, such as this ingenious line that was delivered by one of the kids after finding out the President was an alien spy: “[The aliens] must have hacked the elections and put their own alien in as president so they could set a trap for the Heroics!” Hardy har, this line is unfunny and forced, just like this movie.
This film also sold itself as a sequel to Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, but Sharkboy and Lavagirl have maybe less than five minutes of screentime between them, and only one of them has any spoken lines. What good is having the original Lavagirl actress return for basically a cameo in a movie that was marketed around her and Sharkboy’s appearance? Eh, who cares, Netflix is already making a sequel to this film anyway.
Overall, I really do not recommend We Can Be Heroes unless you had a really bad day at work and need to vent by unleashing verbal fire and brimstone upon these characters’ poor actions and dialogue.