Time for something a bit different. Here at Jacky the Nerd’s Blog, the royal we like to talk about nerdy things. This includes books, video games, cosplay, maybe some socially relevant stuff sometimes, and my current tenure as a teacher in China.
Today, I’m reviewing my first feature length fan film. Blue Core Studios MegaMan was released in 2010. The film is one of the most ambitious video game to film adaptations I’ve seen outside of Hollywood, and being purely fan-made, I’m going to cut it some slack in some departments and I’ll explain why in the body of the review itself. I will also give away some spoilers because eh, I don’t really care because the movie’s been out for five years.
MegaMan (the video game series) is about a blue robot that fights other robots. It’s awesome. The MegaMan movie is about people talking, exposition, and a blue robot that fights other robots sometimes.
First, I want to discuss the plot. The plot closely follows and plays with the canon of the video game series. The movie opens with an interview starring Dr. Light introducing the Robot Masters. It provides enough exposition in an organic way to give people unfamiliar with the series some background information. There’s an argument between Dr. Light and Dr. Wily about what the robots should be used for, and then Dr. Wily gets fired and goes home to brood to his AI waifu. We also meet Roll, who is basically the movie’s happy and cute character. I like Roll. And we get to meet Rock/MegaMan shortly thereafter. Then the movie falls into sluggish pacing. We see Rock and Roll explore the city, meet Blues/ProtoMan, and Dr. Wily scheme a bunch. About 35 minutes into a 90 minute long film, we get our first real action scenes with Dr. Wily using the Robot Masters he stole and reprogrammed to cause mayhem with only the finest montage of CGI cars and special effects that would make the old Sci-Fi channel jealous. A few minutes later, MegaMan shows up and fighting happens! Unfortunately, the fighting gets broken up by exposition scenes. Actually, it’s more accurate to say exposition scenes get broken up by fight scenes. Overall though, the last half of the movie has a faster and more fun pace than the first half. It also has one-liners that range from tacky to funny.
As for the actors and their characters, Dr. Light (played by Edward X. Young) is mostly very stiff. He comes alive during Light’s argument with Wily and actually expresses anger and vindication. Most of his expression and acting comes from head bows, occasional grimaces hinting at anger towards Dr. Wily, and showing some warmth and pride about his robotic creations. He’s very monotone throughout the movie. Young’s performance in MegaMan suffers from a serious case of the blands. It’s too bad he only really came alive for one scene because that one scene demonstrated some talent.
Rock, Roll, and Blues are pretty simple characters, with Rock being the most developed because he’s the main protagonist. Roll (played by Jeanie Tse) is happy, cute, and helpful. Tse’s performance makes her character endearing and she’s not annoying because she brings just enough energy to make Roll the sweetheart she’s supposed to be. Blues/Protoman (played by Sung-Mo Cho] is basically Batman if Batman were an overpowered robot with freewill. Example of this: Blues—without any armor or weapons—straight up punches ElecMan’s head clean off while ElecMan is electrocuting him. Any scene with Blues/Protoman is good because they’re short, to the point, and something marginally cool happens sixty percent of the time. Rock/MegaMan (played by Jun Naito) is curious, wants to do something special, and has a sense of right and wrong. Hmm…sounds like MegaMan!! Naito brings Rock/MegaMan to life with a little bit of stiffness that feels more like restraint to keep himself from overacting, but he delivers the character pretty well in an odd stoic manner.
But I need to dedicate a special paragraph to Dave Maulbeck, a.k.a. the guy who brought Dr. Albert Wily to life. Seriously, Maulbeck’s Dr. Wily gives this movie much needed life. Maulbeck maybe overacting a little bit with his fake German accent and really big facial expressions and body language, but I could tell he was having a blast with the role. He brings Wily’s arrogance and greed to bare in every scene. He even grovels at the end of the movie, perfectly mimicking what Dr. Wily does at the end of basically every MegaMan video game. I always smiled when Maulbeck was on screen because I knew he would do a good job and make the movie fun. While he portrayed a traditionally two-dimensional villain, Maulbeck was able to make me feel some pity for Wily because at the end of the day, Wily just wanted someone to recognize his contributions to the field of robotics. Upon reflection, Maulbeck’s performance just makes Dr. Wily seem like he’s on some very destructive, world-conquering midlife crisis instead of a madman who just wants to rule over everything. So, way to go Maulbeck. Way to go.
Now, time for production.
The movie did a lot of things right and wrong in terms of production. The lighting in this movie went from awful to good from scene to scene, but mostly remained in the awful-to-acceptable category. It looked like they filmed the movie through stage light gels sometimes. The people at Blue Core probably know more about lighting than me, but I thought the lighting was inconsistent and sometimes plain bad throughout the movie. The music was unmemorable. I cannot recall any of the music except for one instance in the film proper when there was a brassy sounding remix of the theme to Dr. Wily’s Castle from MegaMan II and anytime Blues/Protoman showed up, they did his whistle. And the end credits because they played The Megas “I Wanna Be the One.” The generic music set tones for fight scenes, but served little purpose beyond that.
The camera work varied from not bad to good. Whenever Dr. Wily was on screen, sometimes the camera would shake, which gave the film a kind of chaotic vibe because Dr. Wily is insane. This worked really well during the argument scene with Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. Anytime the camera focused on Wily, the camera work was shaky. When it focused on Light, the camera was stable. SYMBOLISM!!! There were a few really neat shots, but they are overshadowed by the close-ups. So many close-ups. Too many close-ups. I swear, at least ten minutes or more of this film is made up of close-ups of people talking. I guess because I was taking notes to review this movie, I noticed just many close-ups there are, and how boring they make things. But, most of the close-ups are quickly ended by fights scenes.
Lastly, I want to talk about the character’s appearances and costumes. Dr. Light had his beard and buttoned up lab coat. While Dr. Wily wasn’t bald and had crazy bat-shaped hair, his costume was spot-on perfect. Red tie, unbuttoned lab coat, white shirt, jeans, mustache. It was all there, simple and perfect. The funniest thing about Maulbeck’s costume is his mustache, which is obviously fake because it changes from scene to scene. One scene it’s brown; in another, it’s black. Full in one; half-empty and falling off his upper lip in too many scenes that I care to count! Poor Wily ‘Stache.
Roll’s appearance was generic, but recognizable. She wore a red shirt and jeans. Her hair was long, blonde, and tied back into a pony tail with a green bow. Simple, consistent with the video games, and cute. Perfect for Roll.
MegaMan’s costumes were jeans and a blue T-shirt before he gets his trademark helmet and cannon. When he does get his armor and cannon, he looks a little something like this.
The rest of the Robot Masters—at least the ones portrayed by humans—all had the same athletic armor aesthetic, but this was to help with costs and probably keep the actor’s comfortable. Making movies ain’t cheap, even if they are fan films. And this fan film, while not super expensive looking, definitely cost its staff at least hundreds of hours to make between working their day jobs and being normal people. That being said, I forgive the athletic armor costumes because they worked for the studios purposes and were visually different enough to make each character distinct. They weren’t perfect, and I think IceMan should have at least been given a puffy blue coat because IceMan’s original design has a heavy parka influence. On that note, ElecMan should have had a thunderbolt symbols somewhere—anywhere for that matter—on his armor because the character has that thunderbolt symbol in the games and it’s incredibly simple and generic. There was no excuse to not include ElecMan’s little thunderbolt symbol on his chest. While my gripes may conflict with the realistic aesthetic the creators were aiming for, they’re still my gripes darn it. Now, FireMan’s costume was great. He had the helmet and his colors were basically all there and in place and he looked like the character. Blues/Protoman’s armor was awesome. It had the scarf, the helmet, visor, sunglasses, and the colors were perfect. Protoman is so OP, he got a gray under-suit instead of a generic black one! That being said, Protoman did lack the shield, but his armor is in the movie for less than five minutes, so I gave them lots of leeway on it.
Moving onto the CGI robots, BombMan’s design is my favorite. CutMan is my least favorite because of it seems less polished and detailed than GutsMan and BomberMan’s designs. The CGI characters usually bite the dust pretty quickly because animation is hard, and it makes sense for the production team to want to get past those fight scenes to push the story along.
But the ultimate question is this: Is the movie any fun to watch? And my answer is yes. I’ve watched the movie at least three times, and I always have fun watching it. Are there parts about it that are bad? Objectively speaking as an amateur media critic, yes. But Maulbeck’s performance combined with some legitimately fun fight scenes and other fun segments peppered throughout the movie, it’s worth a watch. Some people will enjoy it more than others, and I will personally enjoy the movie in the future when I watch it again sometime next year. To watch the movie for yourself, click this link here.
Author’s note: I plan on doing more of these fan film reviews because I really like seeing fan films. I think they’re fun and worth paying attention to. While not all fan films are created equal, I praise the efforts fans put forth in creating these labors of love.
MegaMan. Dir. Eddie Lebron. Perf. Jun Naito, Jeanie Tse, Dave Maulbeck, Edward X. Young, and Sung-Mo Cho. Blue Core Studios, 2010. Fan-film.