Plot: What’s it about?
If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then I have to imagine that the creators of the Marvel Cinematic Universe must feel extremely flattered right now. And I’m not just referring to this movie, more on that in a minute. The success of the MCU has “inspired” a surge in the superhero genre and for fans it could be a good thing. Then again, it might not. After all, isn’t too much of a good thing a little…oh I dunno, a bit too much? Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are best known for Paranormal Activity 4 and the 2016 techno-thriller Nerve. I’d suggest checking either of those out before taking the plunge with Secret Headquarters.
We meet Charlie Kincaid (Walker Scobell), a fan of the superhero known as “The Guard.” Charlie lives wit his mother (Jessie Mueller) and seems to be overlooked by his father, Jack (Owen Wilson). Jack’s an I.T. expert who never seems to have time for his son, constantly rescheduling their time together. Charlie and best friend Berger (Keith L. Williams) are hanging out with friends Maya (Momona Tamada) and Lizzie (Abby James Witherspoon) and mistakenly uncover Jack’s man cave (i.e. his “secret headquarters”…get it?) at which time they piece together that Charlie’s dad is The Guard. Of course, we need an antagonist and it’s not long after their discovery that we meet Argon (Michael Peña), a military industrialist who wants the power source of The Guard.
I’m trying to come to terms with the movie I just watched. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not terrible. It does have some good moments and I’m automatically a fan of anything that Michael Peña is in. But that’s also part of the problem. He’s also a part of the MCU with his role in the Ant-Man films. It just seems like some weird, alternate universe that he’s in this movie. I don’t know if the movie is totally uninspired or just a blatant ripoff of other films, far more successful, that people might give this one a shot. Even the cover art seems like a cheap copy off of Avengers: Endgame (see visual below). This seems like the kind of movie that they show in another movie if the main character is an actor. I’m sure I’m the only one who gets that reference and I’m fine with that. I dunno, if you’ve got a house full of 11 year-olds who have seen every MCU movie and are looking for something the same, yet kind of different – maybe give this one a shot.
Video: How’s it look?
I might have had my issues with the movie but I have to admit that it looks pretty darn good. The 2.39:1 AVC HD image is about as crystal clear as it gets making way for a near perfect visual presentation. Though Wilson, as of this writing, is in his 50’s, his pre-pubescent co-stars aren’t showing any signs of age. The CGI are a bit off the mark, but little intricate details make the image pop. In essence, and we all know this is coming, it’s consistent with most new to the format Blu-ray’s that hit the market.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Regardless of my thoughts on the film, I have to admit that I was hard-pressed to find anything wrong with the included Dolby Atmos mix. And you know what – it sounded just like I thought it would. Isn’t that amazing?! Again, like the video, we know what we’re getting into with this Dolby Atmos mix. All channels are working overtime for your auditory enjoyment. LFE are heavily involved, there’s a front and rear spacial spread that kept my head turning multiple times throughout the movie. Vocals are, as expected, rich and crisp. This delivers, as expected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- BFFLs — Join the cast of Secret Headquarters as they reflect on their characters and how they developed unshakeable bonds as Best Friends For Life.
- The Secret Headquarters — Go behind the scenes and discover how the crew brought the set of Secret Headquarters to life.
- Panic! At the Moon Dance — The production team discusses how the set, stunts and special effects came together to create the most important sequence of the film.
- Who is the Guard? — Owen Wilson explains who The Guard is and how the guardian came to be.
- Gag Reel — Outtakes and bloopers from Secret Headquarters.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
The Bottom Line
I’m not the target market for this movie. And even in the days when I was, I don’t know if I’d get a lot out of this. Don’t get me wrong, this movie isn’t totally without its merits – there are some good lines and scenes. But it’s just that it’s totally uninspired. I’m still trying to figure out if this is some sort of homage or just a blatant rip off to say “Hey, we’ve got a superhero movie too! Come see ours!” Nevertheless, I’m sure this film has an audience out there – somewhere.