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Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes (DVD Review)

9 Mar, 2006 By: Brendan Howard


Prebook 3/21/06; Street 4/25/06
$29.95 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Vincent J. Roth, Robert Hurt.

While “Queer as Folk” got the jump on the gay superhero with the in-show comic book Rage: The Gay Crusader, Surge of Power is the first movie to give an openly gay crime-fighter top billing.

It all starts when young lawyer and comic book fanatic Gavin (screenwriter-star Roth) gets caught in a laboratory accident. He discovers his new electrical powers after saving a hunky guy from gay-bashing thugs and soon enlists a scientist to develop a costume for his new alter ego, Surge, and help him learn about his powers and fashion (capes are so out).

The arch-villain who unintentionally set off the accident in the first place got powers, too, but doesn't intend to do good with them. It makes for a showdown between good gay guy and bad gay guy. Along the way, the movie looks at what life would be like for superheroes in the real world: Capes get stuck in doors, secret identities are useless, superheroes can be sexually ambiguous, and weaknesses can be dorky (dance music for Surge).

The attempt to find humor in the comic book world, a la Mystery Men, falls short. The film is a victim of the standard low-budget bugaboos. Roth casts himself as Gavin/Surge, making for awkward, unbelievable line delivery. Unfunny lines are delivered as funny, making for painful scenes.

The only bright spot is the cavalcade of comic book, sci-fi and fantasy in-jokes and cameos. Case in point, Noel Neill (Lois Lane in the black-and-white “Adventures of Superman”) asks, “Where's a real superhero when we need one?” and mocks Surge when his cape gets stuck in a phone booth.

Surge of Power is a good one-time curiosity for comic book fans, especially given its many cameos and its frame story of a fan reading the Surge of Power comic at the San Diego Comic-Con. Its mostly unfunny script and amateur acting, however, should keep most others away.

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