The first superhero comedy film penned by the brilliant James Gunn - who gave us the cinematic Guardians Of The Galaxy we all love - is a getting a "special" Blu-Ray release for its 20th anniversary.
The Specials, from 2000, was one of the pioneering subversive comic book superhero movies that turned a magnifying glass on the genre's tropes to give us an intelligent comedy full of both wit and respect.
It even inspired me to houserule some simple mechanics for the accuracy of action figures produced to represent characters in a superhero roleplaying campaign.
Here's my review from when I originally came across The Specials in 2011:
Through the wonders of the Internet, I literally stumbled across The Specials while tracking down a DVD of Special (after I saw the trailer on Facebook) and knew straight away it was my kind of film.The region-free, 20th anniversary Blu-Ray - the first time this movie has been released in high-definition - is due out on July 14 and can be pre-ordered direct from La-La Land Records.
Although written by James Gunn, whose DIY superhero flick Super is due out next month, The Specials has more in common with Mystery Men and the TV show The Tick than either traditional superhero movies or the grittier, more "realistic", costumed crimefighters of Kick Ass and co.
In this film The Specials are the sixth (or seventh) greatest superhero team in the world.
However, the film isn't concerned about the heroes fighting supervillains or averting natural disasters.
This is a slice-of-life look at 24-hours in the life of these second-string characters as their lives fall apart after the disastrous launch of a range of Specials' action figures - and team leader The Strobe (Thomas Haden Church, Sandman from Spider-Man 3) discovers his wife, Ms. Indestructible (Paget Brewster), is having an affair with the team's most popular member, the legacy hero Weevil (Rob Lowe).
In a fit of pique The Strobe disbands the team. Foul-mouthed, aggressive former supervillain Amok (Jamie Kennedy), Power Chick (Kelly Coffield), Alien Orphan - a shape-changing alien blob that crash landed on Earth (Sean Gunn), the world's most intelligent man Mr Smart (Jim Zulevic), new girl Nightbird (Jordan Ladd), size-changing Minute Man (James Gunn), demon-summoning Deadly Girl (the adorable Judy Greer), the hilariously simple US Bill (Mike Schwartz) and Eight (one mind in eight bodies) all suddenly find themselves out of a job and looking for a purpose.
Occasionally laugh-out loud funny, despite Amok's frequent f-bomb bursts, The Specials is really a quite gentle comedy about a group of outcasts who find acceptance and strength within each other.
Virtually bereft of special effects, as well as action, the film is carried by the convincing performances of the ensemble cast and the humanity of Gunn's script, with its off-hand remarks and knowing asides gently poking fun at various tropes of the superhero and comic book genres.
This celebratory edition includes a number of special features, both new and old, such as:
- Mojo's Magic: The “Specials” Effects featurette
- Audio commentary: Director Craig Mazin, Writer/Actor James Gunn, Producer Mark A. Altman and Visual Effects Supervisor Mojo (from 2000)
- Audio commentary: Writer/Actor James Gunn and Actress Paget Brewster (from 2005)
- Deleted scenes, wedding video, toy commecial, behind-the-scenes photos.