Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez
December 25, 2020 (United States)
Aliens are attacking earth and have defeated the world’s greatest superheroes. Now their children must step up to the plate and stop this invasion to save their parents.
Family friendly films come out by the fistfuls. The genuinely good ones could fit in a thimble with room to spare. Too often they talk down to the intended audience thinking they are stupid rather than just young. Young does not equal stupid. Robert Rodriguez treats his audience as stupid rather than young and that is where all the problems stem from.
We Can Be Heroes is great for kids but is a tough ride for adults. This is a kid friendly film with the acting to match. There is no need to have weak acting in a kid film. The children should not be allowed to give a halfhearted effort nor should the adult actors. Pedro Pascal gets praise from The Mandalorian but here he is just stiff as a board. I know it is not a major part but put some effort into it man! The only one that really tries in this film is Christian Slater (Tech-No) but the rest of the actors not so much.
I think it should be obvious even to the children heroes in the movie what is going on with the plot by the aliens, but it is not. I will ruin the ending for you, and I apologize for that, but I cannot do my review here without doing such. It turns out that the alien invasion plot is actually a test of the hero’s children in order to get them ready or show them that they’re ready to be heroes and take over for their parents. “Timmy, I know you’re twelve and you could die but I think you are more than ready to fight this monstrous creature. Be home in time for lunch…unless you are lunch in which case I am renting out your room. Tootles!”
The aliens are trying to craft a plot to get these kids to step up to the plate, but there were so many holes in the logic of the aliens and of the story that the kids should have known something was wrong beyond an alien invasion. There were so many moments that made no sense that I had trouble suspending my disbelief. The narrative logic was shaky at best here. It felt like a direct to video family film with a slightly better polish than a direct to video family film usually has.
The alien kids are in charge on their planet? How incompetent are the adults? Is the message to children watching that they are smarter than their parents? If so then Robert Rodriguez is wasting his time because kids already think that. I think the message should have been the children are capable but with the revelation that children were in charge of the alien species that was not the message.
I honestly knew there was something up with Ojo (Hala Finley), a mute psychic girl that communicates through art, but I was not sure what. Everything that happened with her was ham fisted. She was the only child in the story that they never mentioned a biological parental equivalent of. She is said in outside film material to be the stepdaughter of Ms. Granada (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) who is in charge of the Heroics Program which all the children’s parents belong to. That though never really came through in the narrative.
What gets me though is that Ojo started out as implied as being psychic by drawing what would happen but then they switch it and imply that she is merely drawing things to further the plot of her people. At least that is how I took it. That still does not explain how she knew about random events that were beyond her knowledge of her plot. PLOTHOLE!!
The Heroic Children are lead on their quest by Missy Moreno (YaYa Gosselin) who is the daughter of retired hero Marcus Moreno (Pedro Pascal). Weirdly the character of Marcus never gets a hero name though he is the leader of the group. That really jumped out at me.
The young Missy is too right about everything. She doubts herself repeatedly throughout the story even though her decisions in regard to the aliens are right. She only fumbles when dealing with the other kids during training and it is never that serious, yet she is racked with doubt until the very end when she is not for reasons. Her doubt does not seem to be because she is powerless though I am not sure what powers she could have. Her mom is stated to not have had powers but neither does her dad since BEING GOOD WITH SWORDS IS NOT A SUPERPOWER! Was her doubt part of the fake out to trick the aliens? I am not sure, and you probably will not be sure either.
This is a silly observation on my part, but Sung Kang from the Fast & Furious films is completely unrecognizable here just because he got a haircut. I have seen him so often with that shaggy mop top type deal that I had trouble realizing who it was when I saw him. It was really weird.
This was a continuation of the film universe begun in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D which is a film I am unfamiliar with. Taylor Lautner originated the role of Sharkboy but here it was played silently by JJ Dashnaw with his face covered. Taylor Dooley however reprised her role of Lavagirl (not Lava Woman since she is an adult?) from the film.
Still though it is not completely unwatchable-at least if you watch it with your kids. We Can Be Heroes is not aimed at adults but rather at younger children. It is all about kids being superheroes and doing super heroic things and has a story more like a Nick Jr show than it does an adult aimed feature. This is something that your kids will like. You may have a little trouble with it, but you will get through it.
We Can Be Heroes is a great film for your very young children but not so much for adults. You will enjoy it enough to be able to sit through it with your kids so if they want to watch it watch it!