Imagine Batman dirt poor, and wearing a red hoodie.
I have a soft spot in my heart for filmmakers trying to circumvent Hollywood and make movies on their own terms. However, the lack of big money can sometimes result in a film with far too many deficiencies to overlook. In the case of Crimson, it’s a bad film, but it does try in all earnest to tell the story of an everyman who becomes a superhero.
Walter Levitte (Michael Leszczynski) is a down on his luck comic book artist, hoping to hit the big time with a character called Crimson. Crimson’s backstory is this: after falling into a vat of melted red crayons (don’t ask), he emerges a superhero who feels no pain (not exactly superheroy sounding). Walter hopes his boss will publish it and he’ll make enough money to move with his girlfriend out of their crime-ridden neighborhood. However, his boss thinks the idea is so bad that he fires Walter on the spot. That evening, Walter drowns his sorrows at a local dive, is thrown out by the owner, and inexplicably beaten to a pulp in the alley by a group of thugs who leave him unconscious and with a case of amnesia. The only memory he has is of his comic book alter ego Crimson. Now Walter, clad in a red hoodie to simulate Crimson’s red crayon-like skin, sets off on a path to take out the bad guys.
Crimson is an action/vigilante flick that tries to be a little bit like Kick Ass and Super, with a pinch of The Dark Knight thrown in just for good measure. Only it lacks the stellar acting, writing, lighting, audio, and directing all of those films possess.
Michael Leszczynski does his darnedest as Crimson, the everyman hero who can’t really fight, has no real super powers — except he can take a beating like no other and is able to adopt the same growling way of speaking Christian Bale used in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Leszczynski has minimal acting experience and it shows, his performance is labored and hammy, with overly expressive facial features that would make a silent film star blush. When he speaks his lines, Leszcynski stiffens, as if he can’t talk and move naturally at the same time.
Our hero’s nemesis is the lamest crime family ever to exist in the history of cinema: the Emerson clan. Patriarch Boyd Emerson (Patrick Gus Posey) looks more like an older brother than a father to Cael (Michael Shimmel, who is also a writer and producer on the film) and Tommy (James Ventry), a recently released felon. This hapless family and their crew are threatening Walter’s sister Amanda (Lizzy Bruno), who refuses to sell her home to them so they can build their casino empire.
There’s a lot of yelling going on from actors who deliver their lines with a lot of volume and little else. Particularly the Emerson clan, who try to be tough guys but only add more unintentional hilarity to a film that is already full of inadvertent humor. There are moments in this film that are just painful to watch, especially the ending fight sequence that is about twenty minutes too long and poorly choreographed. It is one giant anti-climactic brawl that resembles a drunken fight after a sporting event rather than a battle between our hero and his archenemies.
This standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is filled with lighting problems; it gets so bad that several scenes are too dark to make out who is in the shot. The worst part of the film (besides the acting) is the Dolby 2.0 Stereo track. Most of the time the dialogue sounds like it was recorded in an empty warehouse, with the sound bouncing off the walls, making it almost impossible to discern what is being said. Which, considering some of the dialogue, isn’t so bad.
Extras include a very, very, very long behind-the-scenes featurette, which is as chaotic and schizophrenic as the film itself. Extras also include trailers from the vault of Bloody Earth films.
Crimson is an ambitious attempt at the superhero genre without special effects or a well-known comic book character. But a fail is a fail, and
Crimson doesn’t deliver the quality of film that audiences have grown to expect.
A big, bright red guilty.