When you think about it--you probably have definitive feelings when it comes to ordinary men and women masquerading as costumed superheroes. I'm not quite sure what I expected when I sat down to this lively documentary feature, but I have a much greater appreciation and understanding of the subject matter than I did going in. I'll just be honest and say it, I found the whole idea a little silly. And yet, to a large degree, I am a convert. The world would undoubtedly be a better place if more people took such an active and participatory role in civic events and community. This spirited movie has so much heart--with a fair share of comedy and even thrills--it becomes strangely irresistible, thought-provoking, and oddly touching.
First and foremost, I would commend director Michael Barnett with his even-handed and well balanced approach. He introduces a diverse cross section of superheroes for this piece. Major characters tend to come across in one of three ways--comical, a bit sad, or (for lack of a better word) truly heroic. In very different ways, however, they all stand out. Whether as actual crime fighters, community advocates, or charitable figureheads--these guys and gals put themselves on the front lines. What they battle, for the most part, is apathy. And their greatest strength is caring. Many come from difficult circumstances and playing the hero can be a form of survival or a case of redemption.
The film has so many memorable highs. A group in Brooklyn polices the street in a sting operation. Several groups help the homeless. And, in perhaps the film's most harrowing moment, a lone man faces down a drug dealer. For whatever reason, these are real heroes simply by their willingness to become involved. The film counterbalances with psychological profiling, police insight, and even gets an brief assist by Stan Lee. You might be surprised by how affecting this film is. I watched it for a bit of amusement, and it ended up inspiring me to achieve more and participate. 4 1/2 stars, I'll round up for good intentions. KGHarris, 8/11.