The short-running film introduces an original concept from the man himself, Stan Lee.
  • OVERALL
    2.5
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
The short-running film introduces an original concept from the man himself, Stan Lee.
THE BAD
With its short length and juvenile storytelling, this animated film sometimes lacks a solid purpose.
THE FEATURE
There is not a better time than now for superheroes to attract a substantial amount of viewers. It seems that since the release of Spiderman, almost every comic book film has succeeded from Daredevil to Ghost Rider. The popularity of Heroes on network television is also evidence of this decade's sudden superhero spurt. The name Stan Lee has sunk more and more into general pop culture. Longtime comic admirers have known Lee for years as the mind behind Marvel comics, and the ongoing wave of comic-based films have really brought his name to the surface. At this point, Stan Lee is a renowned auteur, which means his name is reliable enough to slap on a DVD cover before a title as a marketing ploy. With that being said, Stan Lee's The Condor has recently made its direct-to-DVD debut.

The film begins with an introduction from Stan Lee himself. While somewhat brief and pointless as most DVD introductions are, Lee excitedly says that he wanted to introduce the world to the first superhero with a Latin background. With that, the animated film begins.

Meet Tony Valdez (voiced by Wilmer Valderrama). Tony spends most of his days in the local barrio competing in skateboard competitions. This goes against the wishes of his father, George, who is a bigwig with a robotics corporation and has higher aspirations for his boy. Once George discovers his corporation's involvement in illegal human testing, he and his wife are killed for knowing too much. Tony is even crippled by mind-controlled goons while attempting to save his parents.

All seems devastating for Tony as he lays helpless and disabled in a hospital bed. This is until he finds hope. Coincidentally, he has access to slick gadgetry from his father's corporation. Thanks to the convenient injection of nanobots and a new skateboard, Tony can not only walk again, but fly all over the city. Tony becomes The Condor, and sets out to uncover his parents' murderers and save the city from harm.

Some may call this jumping the gun, but I expected good things from The Condor based on Stan Lee's name stamped on the front cover of this DVD. However, I popped in the disc to find a quite bland, ho-hum animated film that clocks in at a measly 74 minutes. This is indeed an important lesson in not judging a book (or a DVD in this case) by its cover.

Comic books come in all different tones from dark and realistic to light and cartoony. The Condor falls more into the latter category. While the film deals with mature topics such as loss and sexual innuendos, the nature of the characters and the violence is rather exaggerated and silly. It was difficult for me to figure out the age demographic that this DVD is trying to hit with its odd combination of traits.

There is also the portrayal of a Latino superhero. For a film that introduces a Latino protagonist, it certainly is not careful with first impressions. The storyline does not delve deep into Tony's family, heritage, and atmosphere, but instead focuses on his goofball pals from the local half pipe, some of whom are portrayed in a stereotypical light. After Stan Lee's introduction that makes such a bid deal about Latino heritage, I really expected this film to bring more aspects of race to the forefront. As this is the story of The Condor's origins, perhaps more installments will follow that follow the trials and tribulations of Tony Valdez.
THE EXTRAS
Meeting of the Giants

By "giants" this title refers to the meeting between Stan Lee and Wilmer Valderrama. Now I understand referring to Lee as a giant, but Valderrama? Most of this consists of Lee talking about how he conceived the ideas for The Condor, while Valderrama is barely interviewed. Being that Stan Lee is the true master people want to hear from, it is best that he builds up this film like an exciting 12-year-old boy who just got his hands on a comic book. The doc*mentary is not very insightful, but just listening to Lee ramble on is a treat in itself.

Outskating

This is a DVD game in which you can control Condor on his skateboard. I found the game to be frustrating as DVD remotes are not coordinated for game play, but I still give it kudos for trying.

The DVD also includes an intereractive character gallery.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen (1.78:1) The entire film is done in two-dimensional animation and with characters resembling those from your typical, weekday afternoon cartoon. I do enjoy seeing 2-D animation utilized in this CGI-hungry industry, but the look of this film is lacking the true appearance of a comic book.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Surround 5.1 and 2.0. Most superhero films tend to pack a punch with Dolby enabled, but this film is not so impressive in stereo. I could have easily mistaken this for a cartoon playing in the background on network television.
THE PACKAGE
Standard DVD keep case. The case also comes with a glimmering slip sleeve that matches the image on the front cover of the case. This image is of the silver Condor logo.
THE FINAL WORD
There may be avid Stan Lee fans that need to own this DVD right away. If this is the case, you know who you are. Otherwise, The Condor is a pretty average DVD that did not do much for me. Hopefully this will be reasonably priced, because an unexplosive film that runs slightly over an hour is not worth the effort to me. Curious comic fans may want to give this a rental, but I am willing to bet this straight-to-video flick will appear on cable television soon.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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