I'm a sucker for superhero movies, and Malaysia just unleashed its own superhero on the cinematic screen, complete with snazzy special effects, called Cicak-Man (Lizard-Man). Topping the box office in Malaysia, I won't be surprised if the movie does reasonably well here if the sell out screenings I noticed so far is any indication, or the indication actually coming from fans crowding Causeway Point when the cast came visiting yesterday.
I probably am not the first to say this, but Cicak-Man borrows its material heavily from its comic book counterparts from the West, most notably from Spider-man. You have a shy (though loud mouthed) scientist Hairie (Saiful Apek) who's our hero Cicak-Man, gaining his powers through a erm, lab accident. He has a love interest the equivalent of a Mary-Jane Watson - Tania (Fasha Sanda), whom his best friend Danny (Yusry Kru) also has the hots for. Gaining the powers of the cicak (lizard) does have its difficulties as well, as Hairie initially finds it difficult to control his powers - which is not much, save for its long sticky tongue (Who needs webbing!). In fact, as with the cinematic version of Spidey, Cicak-Man too designs his own costumes, get its fair share of extremely bad press, and in a rip off sequence, saves his girl from a darkened alley (yeah, beautiful girls always walk alone in dark alleys, so you know).
Set in the fictional futuristic city known as Metrofulus, the movie takes on a light hearted approach at poking fun at the real world, like the incessant meaningless tolls and taxes, with conglomerates having plenty of power, as well as plenty of subtle jabs at piracy. The villains though, are extremely campy, and reminded you of characters from the old Adam West Batman serials. Chief villain is a Lex Luthor type infused with The Joker tendencies - Professor Klon (Aznil Nawawi), who nary avoids laughter in every sentence he makes, the CEO of Klon Technologies, with diabolical plans to rule Metrofulus. Aiding him are two clones/rip-offs from The Matrix Reloaded's Twins, substituting the classical white garb with brown ones, and calling themselves the Ginger Boys (AC Mizal and Adlin Aman Ramlie).
However, if you're rolling your eyes already, it's not all that bad. The computer generated sets are quite decently done, with plenty of money pumped into creating virtual backdrops which can rival some of the best of Hollywood. No effort is spared in creating the sets, though towards the end, the finale got set against a typical, low budgeted looking rooftop, atypical of any superhero showdown.
What I thought was strange, was that the movie can't decide whether it wanted to be funny, or serious, and ended up with a strange mix of the two, even within the same scenes. The hero too bordered on slapstick, regardless whether in costume or not. Ah, the costume, in one of the promotional pictures it actually looked real cool, but in the movie, it looked too much like a rubber suit with a rubber mask.
Expect the usual sub plots, like how the filmmakers worked in an in-built weakness for Cicak-Man (no, not the rubber band bit, the other one), and given our hero enough on his hands to keep him occupied, with challenges on both the personal love live as well as saving the known world (hey, that sounds like a typical Spider-man story). But be warned, you've got to wait almost an hour before the hero turns up in costume, in an almost two hour long movie which got dragged down by needless bits, be it the hokey romance, or the unnecessary monologues / dialogues by the villains which became more irritating than funny.
Cicak-Man is definitely one strictly for the kids who don't mind how their heroes look like or act, or unless you don't mind deja-vu superhero tale, complete with flimsy plot and forced funny antics.
On a side note, I wonder if Raintree Pictures would make a movie version of VRMan, after all, he's one of their earliest (if not the FIRST) local superhero. In fact I was brainstorming some ideas, and yes, VRMan can actually be damn compelling, if the cheesiness be toned down, and more serious themes thrown in. But no James Lye or Lisa Ang please haha!