Captain Eager And The Mark Of Voth

Captain Eager And The Mark Of Voth


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Billed as the first film ever to be shot in cardoscope and with effects largely dependent on traditional CGI (cardboard and glue imagery), Captain Eager And The Mark Of Voth harks back to the grand old days of Saturday matinees when brave, honest heroes boldly did battle with sneering villains to save the Earth. Times have changed since then, and our eponymous hero, having suffered a family bereavement, has gone into retirement, but all at once he finds himself called back into action to investigate an old enemy causing trouble in the Veritan sector. Accompanied by the doddering Professor Moon and charming Scamp the Space Dog, he hooks up with ex-girlfriend Jenny and best buddy Scrutty. But can Captain Eager's outdated methods work in the new shiny digital future where he finds himself painfully short of management qualifications?

It's a great concept - indeed, variations on it have worked well in the past for films like The Incredibles and The Return Of Captain Invincible. Sadly, this time around, it just doesn't come off. It's always rather saddening to have to review a film like this which is plainly a labour of love (writer/director Simon DaVison spent four years working on it) but which has simply collapsed in the execution. It is, of course, intentionally tongue-in-cheek, and as such the shaky sets etc. are all well and good. Poor continuity, heavy exposition and cardboard characterisation are also par for the course, but are sadly still a problem when they get in the way of the story. For a film like this to be watchable there needs to be a strong thread of story running through it (even if it's sometimes inconsistent) and we have to care about what happens to those involved. Unfortunately, this film's heroes aren't just stereotypes - they're nonentities.

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The film's central problem is that it lacks confidence in itself. On account of this the direction is lacklustre, much of the design work is mediocre (or simply stolen from elsewhere), and the acting is not merely camp but actually terrible. DaVison, it seems, has failed to understand that kitsch dialogue is not the same thing as weak dialogue. Actors best known from TV programmes such as Spaced and Black Books stumble through their roles almost apologetically, with only Tamsin Greig showing any spirit. James Vaughan is a charisma-free zone as the Captain, his jaw just not square enough to fit the part.

The cutting in this film is pretty dreadful, yet it seems to have been edited to such an extent as to have lost all sense of itself. What remains is a loose collection of awkward scenes which look like they were put together by the kids from Why Don't You? That's the trouble with labours of love - sometimes they mean so much to their creators that no one can see how wrong they're going until it's too late. One can only hope that the devoted DaVison tries again and produces something worthy of his considerable efforts. Captain Eager, alas, won't be saving anybody's day.

Reviewed on: 13 Apr 2008
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Square-jawed hero Captain Eager is summoned into the digital age to do battle with an old enemy.
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Director: Simon DaVison

Writer: Simon DaVison

Starring: James Vaughan, Tamsin Greig, Mark Heap, Richard Leaf, Lindsay Carr, Nick Mellersh, Grant Russel, Krishna Kumari-Bowles, Petal

Year: 2008

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: UK


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