It’s time to look at a superhero movie that isn’t very well known. At the very least I definitely hadn’t heard of it before and I consider myself to be a bit of an expert on comic book movies. It’s one of those films that is a little tragic because for the most part it’s really fun. I dare say that it’s a great movie at some points, but then it seriously falters towards the end. There’s one moment in particular that is quite egregious and I’ll get into that later on in the movie.
The film starts off by introducing us to Jefferson. He’s grown up in a pretty tough neighborhood where gangs are pressing ground and the cops can’t handle them. His father is trying to get the community to rise up, but it’s been tough since there are few who actually want to support this. He does a good job of standing up to them, but the gangs are very powerful so eventually the neighborhood is on the losing side. At that point, Jefferson is hit by a meteor and gets super powers. He’s now got super strength, durability, flight, speed, etc. He is effectively a Superman so ending street crime should be easy right?
An interesting dynamic here is that everyone in the town knows that Jefferson is Meteor Man. There aren’t a lot of superhero movies where the hero’s identity is public at least until when Iron Man came out and that sort of changed how secret identities are handled in the movies. It’s a nice angle but Jefferson ruins it because of how timid he is. He spends a lot of the film just running away from the villains or passively watching them.
I’ve got no problem with him doing that when he was a human. That’s fine and if anything that’s actually pretty realistic because we see that whoever stands up to the gang is quickly beaten. The people are too afraid to actually charge him with a crime and that ties the cops’ hands as well. Maybe even the first scene would be fine, but once Jeff sees that he is bullet proof he should not be scared at all. Instead he just keeps letting people get beaten up because he refuses to go after the villains. He just watches them off each time and since they know his true identity you’d think that he would take the mission of stopping them a little more seriously.
The casualties keep on building throughout the film as the villains go after his Dad and then a next door neighbor. Meteor Man waited so long that even his powers started fading away which really shows how he came close to blowing his chance here. He was literally sleeping when they broke into his house and put the family at risk. Everyone easily could have died there and it would have directly been Jeff’s fault.
The worst part about this is definitely the ending though. Jeff’s dog gets hit by the villain and is dying in front of his eyes. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not only was the film repeatedly shooting itself in the foot here, but Jeff didn’t even make an attempt to save his own dog. He just lamented that his powers were fading and rather than use the last of them to save his own pet he just watches. Fortunately another guy with powers shows up and saves the dog, but it’s such a terrible scene. Unless it is actually meant to make you dislike Jeff but I don’t really believe that was the intention. If it was then I suppose I’ve got to admit that the film pulled a fast one on me…but it’s not like that would save the scene.
If ever there was an ending that destroyed a film it was this one. Even the big battle with Meteor Man and the villain is pretty annoying. Why did the guy have to also get super powers? It felt pretty forced and since he is already a better fighter than Jeff it meant that the hero was basically confirmed to lose from the start. Even once Jeff gets the Bruce Lee book he ends up getting wrecked and by the time he actually manages to win you’ve stopped rooting for Jeff. You’d almost rather some other hero comes in to win.
The less said about the climax the better. It’s not like it was devoid of fun, but it does totally encapsulate the missed opportunities in this film. It never should have gotten to that point if Jeff was even a slightly decent hero. It’s a crying shame if you ask me. The film’s at its best when it’s taking advantage of the parody elements in the movie. There’s some fun scenes that poke fun at the whole thing like when they announce who Meteor Man is so casually at a board meeting.
Then there’s the scene in the ally with little kids stealing someone’s purse. The sequence is so surreal that you’ll likely think that it is just a dream for a while. I certainly did so when the scene just didn’t end I was shocked. That’s the kind of scene that is low key excellent. If the film had played to its strengths like that then it may have been better. Another good scene is when Jeff is trying to stick up for the kids, but ultimately has to give up because they keep breaking things.
The humor is actually on point here so there are a lot of fun moments like this. Meteor Man is part comedy after all so you would expect that. The film can surprisingly get pretty serious though so it does a good job of balancing both genres. It’s probably what adds onto the frustration for the average person living in the neighborhood. Imagine literally living next to a super hero and still being robbed the next day.
Aside from the lead the other characters are at least charismatic. Simon, the leader of the villains is cool even though his screen time is very limited. He’s definitely the leader for a reason. Then the other members of the gang are good enough. Jeff’s Dad does a good job of leading the rebellion and while he does endure quite a lot in doing so, he never regrets his actions which is great. He’s tough all the way through to the end. Jeff’s friend Michael is pretty annoying though. He puts everyone in danger by pretending to be the Meteor Man and that’s ultimately part of what puts the hero in such a bad position.
Overall, Meteor Man didn’t really click for me. It’s unfortunate because I liked more of the film than what I didn’t, but the latter scenes just really hurt its case. The final fight even throws some random power level issues in which is rare for live action. There’s a good movie in here, but the lead just does his best to sabotage it at every corner. It’s why it can be very difficult to have a good film with a bad main character. It’s possible of course, but it’s never going to be as good as it should have been. If you can get around the fact that you’re gonna be a bit annoyed during the film then I’d recommend checking it out. Otherwise you should definitely check out Steel instead.