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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30%
Worth A Look: 10%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap60%

1 review, 4 user ratings

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Matt Mercury
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by Jay Seaver

"Not good enough for a tribute, not sharp enough for a satire."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2015 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: Attending any genre film festival means you will probably get hit with parodies claiming great affection for science fiction films and television from the 1950s and 1960s but which wind up accentuating their weaknesses or playing as shallow imitation rather than recognizing what made them exciting. "Matt Mercury" may not be the worst of the bunch, but it's among the more leaden I've seem lately, dragging more in its sixty-five minutes than many serious movies do in twice the time.

The titular Rocket Ranger (Matt Lavine) commands a ship with a fairly small crew - blue-haired navigator Sparx McCoy (Lauren Galley), robot chief engineer Jinky (voice of Heidi Hughes), and an uplifted gorilla science officer. Their latest mission is to stop Professor Brainwave (Bill Hughes), who has been given a massive cranium and a desire to pull the Earth out of its orbit after encountering a group of extra-dimensional aliens. He'll need the help of not just Brainwave's former colleague Dr. Syfer (Rick Corrigan), but his former first officer and lover Mulkress Dunner (Chantal Nicole).

There's enough blame to go around for why Matt Mercury is not much good, and the usual impulse is to not come down too hard on the people onscreen who are likely doing the movie more for love and fun than anything else, but there's little avoiding that star Matt Lavine is a weak link as the title character. He gamely wears a goofy uniform and hairstyle and cheerily plays the fool, but just doesn't display the comic timing or inflection necessary to make his playing dumb funny, and doesn't fare much better when the script tries to paint him as having some emotional complexity. He's not necessarily the worst of a weak cast - most of the actors could use some seasoning - but he's in the most scenes with the least personality on display.

This isn't the first time Bill and Heidi Hughes have played with these characters and situations; the IMDB shows a 90-minute version from a couple years ago and a short with a somewhat different cast eight or ten years before that. It kind of shows; there are about a half-dozen characters floating around that seem like they're supposed to be important but do little more than cameo. There's also some genuinely weird changes of tone: The movie will be running along in "isn't this cute and silly" mode and then pull out a sharper satirical knife and make what at least feels like gags about how cheap life (especially the non-human variety) could be in those "classic" movies or how the cute pixie girl is actually kind of a horrible racist, and do it casually enough compared to the hammered-in jokes where it's hard to tell whether one has just seen a joke about something or the thing itself.

The look of the movie also goes into the "could be good, could be bad" category. It's self-consciously garish and cheap-looking, with the silliness of certain costume designs occasionally flogged in dialogue just in case the audience doesn't get the joke, and the digital sets don't look very good, right along with other bits of video-game-quality effects. But give credit where it's due - there is some fun puppetry and a few bits that, if they aren't actually practical, feel like they are, or at least conjure up some of the reactions that the movies Matt Mercury imitates brought forward.

Heck, when the Hugheses pull out their own outlandish but kind of original idea at the very end, the movie does generate a tiny spark of interest. It's a real shame that it comes after an hour of things being pretty terrible, bad enough that even the usual hoped-for improvement likely won't make a "Matt Mercury II" watchable. Although, who knows; stranger things have happened in the future.

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originally posted: 02/16/15 04:21:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2015 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/19/15 James le Really reminded me of the space shows from my childhood and I enjoyed it! 5 stars
3/16/15 Steven Jones Matt Mercury is actually a lot of fun. I love the look, story and characters! Fun Fun Fun! 5 stars
2/26/15 Jonathan S. Loved this retro SciFi movie an the over the top plot! Want more Matt Mercury! 5 stars
2/24/15 Val Edwards I like the campiness and the clean humor. You guys obviously had a lot of fun doing it. I c 4 stars
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Directed by
  Bill Hughes

Written by
  Bill Hughes
  Heidi Huges

  Matt Lavine
  Bill Hughes
  Lauren Galley

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