2 1/2 StarsBoy Wonder is another film in the line of Kick-Ass and Super in which the lead character moonlights as a wanna-be super hero. Sean Donovan (Caleb Steinmeyer) witnessed the brutal murder of his mother at a very young age. He’s grown up obsessed with finding her killer. A straight A student by day, and a hooded crime fighter at night, Sean finds himself closing in on the murderer as his two worlds collapse around him. His once abusive alcoholic father (Bill Sage) is the only family Sean knows, and the memories of drunken fights and bruises continue to push Sean closer to the edge. As he blurs the lines between hero and vigilante taking out the city’s lowlives, a detective (Zulay Henao) begins to close in on him. Who decides what’s right and wrong in a world where evil goes unpunished?
The film is a dark amalgamation of super hero origin stories such as Batman’s Bruce Wayne’s witnessing his parents murder, Spiderman’s Peter Parker’s high school woes, and even deriving its title from the nickname of Batman’s sidekick Robin, Boy Wonder. The movie doesn’t take the over the top action sequence route of higher budgeted fare, instead opting to focus on the darkness in the mind of Sean, and what drives him to take to the streets with blind rage.
If you’re expecting a lot of action, you won’t find it here. Sean only gets in four fights, one of which is at a high school party. Those sequences are short lived but all are brutal encounters. It’s only in the last fight on a subway that Sean dons the look from the movie’s poster and DVD cover, otherwise it’s strictly a hoodie. The film attempts a more realistic progression for his super hero lifestyle, such that he’s not intrigued even a little bit with comic book heroes. The majority of the plot is Sean slowly slipping into madness as his plan to get his mother’s killer comes into play. Detective Teresa Ames and her partner (Daniel Stewart Sherman) run a side plot of investigating Sean’s fights and murders. These two collide as Teresa takes an interest in Sean’s case. All the while his father tries to reconnect with Sean and help him in dealing with his mother’s death. The twist in the end is well laid out, takes the darkness to a new level and turns out surprisingly gratifying as all the pieces fall into place.
The cast does a wonderful job. Zulay Henao and Daniel Sherman make a convincing team of detectives, with Sherman adding a much needed lighter side to things. Caleb Steinmeyer is creepy and gives Sean a persuading emotional side to his brooding inner darkness. This lends credibility to several impassioned scenes between Sean and Teresa as well as Sean and his father. Bill Sage plays an abusive and caring father equally well, which makes the ending all the more stronger.
While the pacing is a little on the slow side I’d recommend Boy Wonder if you like dark mysteries or super hero type flicks, but there could have been better fight choreography and more action, rather than just a tease here and there.
Director: Michael Morrissey
Stars: Caleb Steinmeyer, Zulay Henao, Bill Sage