Link to watch the film for free online:
This review will contain major spoilers and assumes the reader has already watched the film as it is freely available online. If you’re after a recommendation, then yes, go watch it now! For full review, read after the cut:
Eddie Lebron’s Mega Man is a fan made film based on the popular Mega Man classic series which debuted in 1987. The games have expanded to several spin-off series and for years, the fans have demanded a film based on the franchise. This film by large comes across as a film made by fans for fans. It satisfies a fan hunger for an engrossing storyline based on the Mega Man IP, but ironically (and sadly) fails to deliver on several key fronts. Inconsistent acting quality, direction and screenplay are the three main contributors to my criticisms. Overall however, this doesn’t make Mega Man a bad movie: its shortcomings simply take you out of the experience. They remind you that you are still watching a fan movie based on an enthralling franchise. At best, you’ll remember why you love and love to hate tacky films like this. It is extremely over the top, and on occasion (surprisingly enough), that is what we, or at least what I want and expect from a Mega Man film.
The film’s screen play and dialogue is undoubtedly some of the films strongest and weakest points. There are a few outright awful moments, which simply shouldn’t even have been included in the script, let alone the final cut of the film. The pacing of the dialogue is often plagued by hiccups that create unnecessary pauses or conversations between characters that are not needed to progress the plot or flesh out the characters’ back story. In the end, this dilutes the experience and confuses the viewer by giving excess information about some topics, but not enough information about others. The content of the story and script was for the most part satisfactory; it simply needed considerable editing and polish to become the epic film it could have been.
Here are a few examples: Early in the film, Rock and Roll have a discussion on the relevance of activation day. If this was an attempt at foreshadowing that Rock was born on Dr. Light’s wife’s birthday or the day his children were meant to be born, it was never clarified. Speaking of Dr. Light’s wife; my initial thoughts were that introducing the human element is well and fine, but altering the story of Light’s past is fundamentally wrong. That said, not much is known about Light, and so in retrospect, I think this was a wise decision by the filmmakers. It solidifies the relationship between Rock, Roll and Light. One loophole to this is during Rock and Light’s father/son talk, with Light hinting that Rock and Roll metaphorically are Light’s two unborn children; what about Blues? Where does he fit into all of this, especially as he is the one who is more human like than either of the two?
Another awkward moment was the breakfast scene that was meant to emphasise the alienation Rock feels due to being new in our world. The scene comes off as both oddly paced and misplaced. All of the AI programming added into Rock, and nothing about social etiquette or even his own name?
In the latter part of the plot a downright silly pop cultural reference is made; “How do you like them apples?” This made me so angry I wanted to switch off the film entirely. Fortunately, it was said at a pivotal moment in the film that made me forget it as quickly as I had heard it. Also, having Cut Man say “I’ll cut him down to size” is just simply not funny, ironic or remotely interesting. I couldn’t even appreciate this as a tacky one-liner.
Having said all that, there are a numerous genuinely fantastic moments in the script, and how they are played out in the film. The reporter in the beginning of the film was a hugely beneficial addition to the film as a whole. It introduces non-gamers to the Mega Man universe, gives a recap for the gamer audience who know of Mega Man (but aren’t necessarily huge fans themselves) and it allows the people in the loop to giggle with glee and bask in the nostalgic glory of Mega Man 1.
Blues was not introduced in the Mega Man series before Mega Man 3, and arguably shouldn’t have been present in the film at all. Personally I feel his service wasn’t needed to progress the film, and his inclusion was clearly added as fan service. With this in mind, his character was still elegantly introduced as a foreshadowing element and was well maintained throughout the film. First Wily and Light mention him. Then he shows up as a mysterious character while Rock and Roll walk about in the city. People in the loop immediately recognise him due to his clothing colour scheme. And Blues’ montage in the latter part of the film enlightens the unaware audience of his motivations. The question of whether an homage to other games in the series is really the best choice of action still perplexes me. For one, robots cannot think for themselves in the classic series, this was the whole point of the MegaMan X series. X was the first who could think.
Edward X. Young’s portrayal of Dr. Light fluctuates in quality. Dr. Light is admittedly a very difficult role to play as little is known about his personality. In one moment, I would believe he truly is Dr. Light, the next just a really bad actor. His eyes often move downwards after performing a line to illustrate melancholy, signs of regret or worry. He’s also all too eager to share his opinion and give elaborate details, almost to fill in the viewers. Whether this is a script problem or a performance issue I couldn’t tell. There are moments where his conversations with Roll perplexed my idea of what their relationship was all about. Dr. Light’s first moments with Roll feel especially odd, whether this is due to poor acting or a poor attempt at foreshadowing their family relationship I do not know. To me, this came off as a badly articulated conversation, with hints of an inappropriate sexual tension between the characters, making it more uncomfortable to watch than enlightening in understanding the story. Who writes dialogue like: “Now that your system check is out of the way we can concentrate on other things.” “Like the Interview, Dr. Light?” “Hahaha. Exactly.” anyway?
Dr Wily was incredibly well portrayed by David Maulbeck; disgusting, disgruntled and so full of misplaced hatred. This is probably the best acting I have seen of any game to film adaptation. If Maulbeck doesn’t get some kind of award for his performance, I will be thoroughly shocked and appalled. He is the Wily we know and love to hate, and never deviates from this path. My one and only complaint to his character is how he truly deserved to have Wily’s fluffy hair, which was a shame they didn’t bring in. One thing that still perplexes me is the white, dead skin on his face; why was it there and what’s its significance?
Rock performed admirably, for the most part delivering his lines well and rarely deviating from this path. All conversations between Rock and Blues were especially well-delivered. Not much more to be said about his performance, except perhaps his action sequences. The action sequences throughout the film suffer from lots of close up editing during moments of falling, which made the film appear even more low-budget than it deserves to be portrayed as. Nevertheless, as this is a fan made film we can look past that.
In regards to the music, personally, I cannot stand when music from several games is used in a single film. In my opinion it dilutes the experience for the hardcore, the people who recognise the work. Now the exception to this would obviously be fan made films, and this boils down to fan decisions. Original music or remixed MM1 music would have best suited this film; Mega Man 1 did after all have great music as well. With that said, the music and sound effects in this film were incredibly well done.
Cringe worthy performance hiccups sometimes ruin entire scenes as they are intertwined with a rather verbose screenplay. Sometimes less is more, and I thoroughly believe this would have been the case for this particular film. The viewers understand who the good and bad guys are. Delivering long conversations that detail each person’s motivation isn’t going to help the viewer.
Let’s just make a couple of things very clear. Despite my complaints on the film’s shortcomings, this really isn’t a bad movie. Most of its shortcomings are inevitable due to its small budget and filming constraints, which I can’t fault the director for, especially considering the difficulties in portraying the destruction of a large city in a fan film. On that note, I must say both Wily’s Castle and the Yellow Demon were considerably better than I could have imagine they would turn out. The makers clearly understood the Mega Man universe; however, the film suffers from a few moments reminding us why game-to-movie adaptations in all likelihood will never work, and efforts should be spent on creating films that complement the plot of a game, rather than reinventing the format for a different medium.
In the end I’m left with the same bitter-sweet taste I had after watching the film adaptation of Silent Hill. Being an eccentric Silent Hill fan, like Mega Man, I genuinely want to unconditionally love this film, but sadly it didn’t happen this time either. Nevertheless, sign me up to buy a DVD. And if you are a Mega Man fan, so should you. Eddie, I love your work, but please take my constructive criticism on board should you make a Mega Man 2 or another film based on a game franchise. Keep up the good work though. Also, if this isn’t a sign that Capcom needs to make an official Mega Man movie (CG, Anime or live action), I don’t know what is. Screw Attack, I hope you’ll send Capcom the viewcount of this film, so they realise the potential of realising an actual project based on this IP.