REVIEW: We Can Be Heroes (2020)

We Can Be Heroes Still Image
‘We Can Be Heroes,’ Still Image — Photo: Ryan Green / Netflix.

Directed by Robert Rodríguez — Screenplay by Robert Rodríguez.

Robert Rodríquez’ We Can Be Heroes is a sequel to his 2005 family adventure film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D. His 2020 standalone sequel tells the story of how after the superhero team ‘The Heroics’ — this universe’s Avengers — fail to prevent an alien attack, their children, who almost all exhibit X-Men like superpowers, must work together to find a way to save their parents and the entire world from the invading extraterrestrials.

Yes, you read the title right. This is a family superhero film that is named after the 1970s David Bowie hit song ‘Heroes,’ even though its target audience is kids and their families. While that may be slightly peculiar, the film is kid-friendly and exactly as fun, cheesy, and hokey as you would expect a Robert Rodríguez (Spy Kids) family film to be. To be totally honest, I actually hadn’t planned to watch this film at all, but when I noticed that my mother had decided to watch it, I decided to join her and see what Robert Rodríguez’s latest family film was all about. I really didn’t expect all that much, but, honestly, I have to say that it made me chuckle more frequently than I had anticipated. It is very endearing, light-hearted, and a part of me hopes that it will become a true hit with its target audience.

The film has some fun references to other films in the superhero genre, and Rodríguez has also packed the film with some very noticeable political lines of dialogue including the line: “How did this guy ever get to be President? He can’t even put two sentences together.” Its political references are clear and obvious, there is even a line about the antagonists having ‘hacked the election.’ So it is definitely true that there are jokes in the film that are meant for parents. I will also say that I really liked the film’s central message. We Can Be Heroes is essentially about preparing the next generation for difficult challenges ahead so that, as I believe one character says, they can protect our planet. Frankly, it would actually have been kind of appropriate if Greta Thunberg had made a cameo appearance.

Granted, the film doesn’t look great. Its syrupy sweet and bright candy-colors get tiring to look at eventually and the visual effects are not up to par. In fact, it looks more like something that was made in the early-to-mid 2000s. Furthermore, the story perhaps isn’t very original (though I would argue that that is by design), and there is also a lot of forced drama, but I do ultimately think the writer-director achieves what he set out to do. Look, Rodríguez won’t win over a new audience, even though the film’s cast includes Pedro Pascal, Boyd Holbrook, and Christian Slater. I wouldn’t really call it a ‘good movie’ per se, but I think Rodríguez has made a neat little family-friendly superhero movie with We Can Be Heroes, and I really would recommend it to families that are looking for a fun and family-friendly superhero film for people of all ages, which, let’s be honest, not all superhero films are anymore.

6 out of 10

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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