The Golden Blaze (DVD)

Action, laughs, and one super dad!

Young Jason Fletcher (Khleo Thomas, Holes) lives for one thing: the latest comic book adventure of his favorite superhero, The Golden Blaze. His father, Gregory Fletcher (Blair Underwood, L.A. Law), is not quite as heroic. The entire town has labeled him “The Fletcher Flop,” thanks to his many failed inventions. But he keeps at it at the hopes of impressing his boss, billionaire Thomas Tatum (Michael Clarke Duncan, Daredevil). When Gregory unveils his new earthquake suppression machine, something goes horribly wrong. He and Tatum end up exposed to a mysterious fluid from deep beneath the Earth. Next thing you know, Gregory develops superhuman powers thanks to the accident. And not just any powers, but the exact same ones as The Golden Blaze. Jason is the resident Golden Blaze expert, so he sees the opportunity to turn his dad into a real hero, not to mention enjoying some quality father-son time. But on the other side of town, Tatum also gained powers from the accident, and he has a sinister plan.

It’s almost impossible to discuss The Golden Blaze without also mentioning The Incredibles. See? I just did it right there. The two films have a lot of the same themes in common. There’s a superhero dad who reconnects with his family. There’s humor about folks with amazing powers trying to live ordinary lives. There’s even computer-generated animation. Although the two have a similar attitude, The Golden Blaze just doesn’t have the depth of characterization found in Brad Bird’s film, not to mention any of its cleverness. The comparison might not be a fair one, because it’s clear that director Bryon E. Carson (Undercover Brother: The Animated Series) didn’t have the same resources Bird had at Pixar. But for what it is, The Golden Blaze still could have been better.

The movie is light and inoffensive, and intended for young viewers. Its biggest problem, though, is pacing. There are quite a few subplots to keep track of, such as the bullies who pursue Jason, the romance between Gregory and Jason’s teacher, Tatum’s relationship with his own son, and the wacky antics of a sushi-loving comic book store owner (Neil Patrick Harris, Starship Troopers). Just when the movie gets going on some fun parts—such as The Golden Blaze “rescuing” people from ordinary problems, or the hero and villain confronting each other during “parents’ day” at school—all the excitement comes to a halt for more slow-paced subplots. It’s frustrating, like the movie equivalent of being stuck in “stop and go” traffic. Younger children might enjoy the humor here, but mostly it’s made up of simple slapstick gags that we’ve all seen in a hundred other cartoons.

Created entirely in Flash animation, the visuals are hit and miss. At times, the characters appear to have no weight, so that when running or walking they do not blend into the background. They instead look like they’re running across a flat drawing of a street, rather than down a street itself. At other times, though, the animation serves the story very well, especially in the Jack Kirby-inspired scenes in which Tatum unleashes all his powers. If nothing else, The Golden Blaze at least shows that Flash has a future as a form of animation, as creators continue to push the limits of what it can do.

Created on a computer, it’s no surprise that the DVD’s picture quality is good, filled with bright and vibrant colors. The 5.1 sound concentrates mostly on the dialogue, with the action scenes and the catchy score by Joseph Stanley Williams coming off slightly understated. There are no extras.

The Verdict

Although The Golden Blaze earns points for being light and harmless, the court finds it guilty of not living up to its potential.

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