Title: Heroes of the Golden Mask
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Starring: Ron Perlman, Patton Oswalt, Christopher Plummer
Runtime: 1 Hour, 22 mins
What It Is: In the ancient Chinese kingdom of Sanxingdui, a devious interdimensional warlord (Ron Perlman) wreaks havoc on a regular basis in an attempt to steal a mystical item called the Jade Blade. Five superheroes with golden masks that gift them abilities are the only thing standing in his way. Unfortunately, one of the heroes perishes and thus his mask needs a new worthy successor. Enter Charlie, a modern-day American homeless thief whom the mask chooses. In this animated feature, can Charlie defeat evil alongside his new friends, or is he doomed to fall back into his less-than-honorable ways?
What We Think: This movie was cute! Something children might enjoy! The character designs for the main cast were the best feature and I genuinely enjoyed some of the creature designs. Holeface in particular was a cool, inventive monster I enjoyed watching. The masks each character wore looked spectacular as well and gave a slight bit of insight into each character’s personality. Maybe it was because of the animation but I very much felt like this movie was inspired by video games based on formula and some of the core ideas. Some frames of the animation also looked very picturesque and visually interesting. There were definitely some things I liked. I appreciate the amount of effort at creating this film and the hours it must’ve taken to animate this and bring this animated world to life. It does show.
Now for some of the negatives. I’d say it was most definitely a kid’s film, although some of the jokes seemed a little adult, so I probably wouldn’t Grade this as harshly as I normally would. However, wouldn’t be doing what I’m here to do if I didn’t discuss the faults I did see. This animation was clearly done on a budget and in a lot of scenes, it shows. The background characters definitely were copied and pasted, some of the side characters had unintentionally horrifying designs (looking at you mob boss with a freakishly big head), and some of the texturing and environments weren’t as polished as they could’ve been. Also, not sure what they used to record the voice acting or if it was an editing error but the recordings of actors’ lines seemed somewhat inconsistent in volume. There were times I could barely hear what the characters were saying.
The script was . . . interesting. It was definitely not great. Plot points felt rushed, character development was questionable at points, and the dialogue was stilted and awkward. Charlie is really hard to sympathize with as a main character because he’s overflowing with nonchalant sarcasm at inappropriate times and some of the actions he takes don’t seem well set up. The movie rushes from plot point to plot point and doesn’t take time to really get us invested in the characters. There are also a few jokes that’d definitely go over kids’ heads. There’s also a part where Ron Perlman’s baddie talks about decapitating a fish lady at one point which made me wonder what age group this was made for. Like jeez, Ron! There are children watching!
Finally, the voice acting. Dear God, if this isn’t some of the laziest voice acting I’ve heard from Ron Perlman. I love Ron Perlman as an actor but holy moly, he sounded half-asleep in his lines. To be fair, had to be hard to sincerely deliver some of the more ridiculous dialogue. Matter of fact the same could be said about the majority of the voice acting in this movie. The actors sound completely not invested in their characters. The only one that seems to be making a genuine effort to deliver his lines effectively is Patton Oswalt, who at least gives his character some semblance of life. You know it’s rough when a character’s father dies (it’s at the beginning of the movie, I’m not really spoiling anything) and you can barely tell they’re upset if you were going off voice alone. The less said about the background voices also the better.
Our Grade: C, as I said, a kid’s film or this would get a much harsher rating. That and there were things I genuinely enjoyed about it. It’s nice, simple, and feels like a kids’ movie your kid might find on a VHS rack in a library back in the 2000s. (This reviewer is now realizing how much he aged himself with that statement.)