February 11, 2019 Mega Time Squad (Movie Review)
Need a few laughs? Searching for a film that is both funny and intelligently written? Look no further than Mega Time Squad. Abandon all expectations, sit back and enjoy the newest offering from Dark Side Films and Writer/Director Tim van Dammen (Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song 2013), which arrives to select theaters and VOD on February 15, 2019.
John (Anton Tennet: September 2007, Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song 2013) is a small town criminal who dreams of one day having his own crew. Unfortunately, John is, to put it nicely, rather stupid. He is one of the many lackeys of petty crime boss, Shelton (Jonny Brugh: What We Do in the Shadows 2005, 800 Words 2015). Shelton tells John he wants to stop the influx of the Chinese crime gangs coming into his city, Thames, New Zealand, and shares that he wants John to rob them of a good chunk of their cash.
John fancies Shelton’s sister, Kelly (Hetty Gaskell-Hahn: Shortland Street 2007), and she encourages him to follow his dreams because, “Your nuts are probably bigger than you think.” Backed with this newfound confidence, John decides to go rouge and do the heist behind Shelton’s back and keep the money for himself. Now, not only are Shelton and his crew after John, but so is Wen (Yoson An: Ghost Bride 2013, The Meg 2018), and both are hellbent on making him pay for his crimes.
If John’s life was not already chaotic enough, during said robbery he takes an old Chinese bracelet, which also happens to be an ancient device with the power to allow the wearer to time travel. Time travel comes with a price, though: an ancient Chinese demon whose main purpose is to police the user who does not follow the rules of time travel. Of course, John, in all of his simplicity, falls prey to mistakes while navigating using the device. Now, it is no longer just two flesh and blood monsters chasing him, but he has unwittingly added an ancient evil into the mix – and this evil always wins.
How is this hapless, petty criminal going to survive? Does John even have a chance at coming out of his situation alive? And, if not, who will get to him first – the boss he betrayed, the gang he stole from, or the demon who does not subscribe to the rules of the human world?
Who would not want the chance at being able to turn back time, even just for a few moments? A person can take back the cruel or idiotic thing that just came out of their mouths, they could save a loved one’s life. Or, in the hands of an inept person like John, walk into any situation without a clear plan because ‘time travel is the perfect plan’. Needless to say, calling Tennet’s John a victory in casting and talent is an understatement. Tennet brings complexity and genius to a character that is already written to perfection and makes him leap off screen. Every time the viewer breathes a sigh of relief that the foolishness is over, John continues to climb higher to the top of the Darwin Awards. Tennet often has a blank or confused expression on his face as the chaos that John has created unfolds around him. It is almost as if John, himself, is confused and astonished that he ends up in the situations that he finds himself in. This creates a raw innocence that is fueled by the simple nature of the character, allowing the viewer to both sympathize and laugh at him.
Tackling one genre is a daunting task for any writer. Why or how van Dammen thought it would be a wise idea to tackle several simultaneously is puzzling. On paper, it seems like he just threw a bunch of random ideas at the wall and decided to keep whatever stuck. Yet the viewer is better off for this gamble: Mega Time Squad is the prime example of something that should not work but actually does. Going into specific details of how and why the film is so hilarious would only ruin the experience for the viewer, but it’s safe to say that, yes, this is a Comedy; but unlike the norm this one has soul. Van Dammen has achieved what most writers and directors only aspire to: a masterfully written film that is so perfect that it breaks all bounds of expectations and appeal. He has found a way to allow the viewer to feel the full spectrum of emotion with that feels both graceful and natural.
Every character has his or her own unique identity, even if they only have less than a handful of lines. The viewer will have an immediate knowledge of who the character is and what to expect from them as soon as the actors hit the screen. Each character – and there are many amazing actors in this film that are not touched on in this review – in the film deserves his or her own review raving about both the character and the actor playing it. Generally speaking, most writers end up having to throw away characters to keep things interesting or move the script along, but somehow van Dammen has bypassed this trap. Van Dammen does not have a long resume, but if he continues producing this type of genius then he will quickly solidify his place as a legend in the industry.
The ultimate question is can an Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Comedy actually prove itself worthy of praise ? If the film in question is Mega Time Squad, then the answer is absolutely. A stupid criminal carrying out the most polite crimes in history, life or death situations, time travel, and the addition of a Chinese demon just for fun; sure, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Somehow it all works like an insane acid trip down a spiraling rabbit hole, and lots of laughs are sure to be had at the glorious pandemonium of it all. Other films even daring to attempt this mish-mash genre (or Comedy, in general) should take notes. For all these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Mega Time Squad 5 out of 5 stars.