A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie has too many secrets to keep for it to be strong on messages, but, at its center, it's about a friend helping another friend overcome his despondency to find his purpose again (even if that purpose isn't entirely noble).
Positive Role Models
Main hero Max Fist is driven by rage and violence and, while powerful, is not really a positive role model. But a new hero emerges, and, based on this character's behavior, it's a promising beginning (especially given that the character is non-White and not male).
Violence & Scariness
Animated interludes with extremely strong blood and gore (severed arm, etc.). Strong, brutal fight sequences with punching, kicking, killing, etc. Neck-breaking. Guns and shooting; many killed. Blood spurts, bloody wounds, huge pools of blood. Man brutally stabs a woman in the stomach. Man briefly throttles a woman. Woman smashes man with chair. Characters jump through window, fall and smash to ground below. Car runs over character; character smashes windshield, rips spoiler off, bashes car with it. Character shoots self in head playing Russian roulette. Firebombing delivery truck. Scenes of anger, rage, tension.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief flashback shows a couple holding hands. Man shown wearing nothing but tight red briefs and boots. Brief shirtless man.
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Strong, frequent language includes "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "hell," "goddamn." Middle-finger gestures.
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of iPhone, Twinkies.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character downs lots of whiskey, gets staggering drunk, vomits more than once. He drinks several cans of beer after waking up. He also buys and snorts cocaine and meth as a way of "enhancing" his "powers." Villains are drug dealers. One minor character snorts cocaine and offers various other drugs. Drug-related dialogue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Archenemy is an "alternative" superhero movie about a man (Joe Manganiello) who may or may not be a superhero from beyond time and space. Violence is a big issue, with lots of fighting, killing, blood, gore, guns, and shooting. Animated sequences feature particularly strong gore, a woman is stabbed and briefly throttled, a man shoots himself in the head playing Russian roulette, and more. A main character drinks excessively (mostly whiskey, but also beer), gets staggering drunk, and vomits; he also snorts cocaine and/or methamphetamine. Other characters also snort cocaine, several villains are drug dealers, and there's drug-related dialogue. Strong language includes frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Sex isn't much of an issue: A couple holds hands, and a man is shown in tight, red briefs. Overall, the movie's story is a bit thin, but it's very entertaining moment by moment. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With cool characters and costumes and a winning combination of the grim and the spirited, this snappy sci-fi story both adheres to traditional superhero themes and turns them thrillingly sideways. Archenemy doesn't always do a good job of guarding its ultimate reveal (is Max really a superhero?), and, by the movie's end, you get the idea that maybe there was a better story to be told here. But what the film lacks in overall reach it makes up for with its small, potent doses. Directed and co-written by Adam Egypt Mortimer, who also played with friends who may or may not be what they seem in Daniel Isn't Real, this movie's best asset is its neatly defined characters.
Manganiello does a great job of keeping Max on the fence, despondent and self-destructive but also genuinely frustrated. Brooks is a delight as Hamster, first glimpsed wearing socks with smiley and frowny faces on them. Even the villains stand out from the background, especially one who wears glasses and a sweater-vest. But it's Griggs who emerges as the star. Archenemy is brutal and violent to be sure, but Mortimer keeps a clean frame and a good pace, the animated interludes are gorgeous, and even the talky scenes are framed in dynamic angles. Overall, it's one of the finer examples of the "alternative" superhero movie genre.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.