Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Lots of violence, language in atypical superhero tale.

Movie NR 2020 90 minutes
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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.

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