Zoom review by Mike Long

In our society, majority rules. But is the majority always right? Rottentomatoes.com is a clearing-house website which collects movie reviews from various mediums and gives an average score for each film. The lowest rated movie in 2006 was Zoom, as it received 48 negative reviews and had an average score of 0 out of 100. Thus, one would assume that it was the worst movie of the year, right? Not hardly. I'm not saying that Zoom was great by any means, but it certainly wasn't the worst release of 2006 that I've seen, and it seems odd that everyone would dump on this little movie.

Zoom opens with a comic-book panel retelling of the backstory. We learn of a government-sponsored group of super heroes called the Zenith Team, who are lead by Zoom (Tim Allen), who has super speed. Also on the team is Zoom's brother, Conussion (Kevin Zegers), whose force beams can move mountains. The team had a great deal of success, but the powers that be wanted them to be more powerful and zapped them with Gamma 13, which caused Concussion to become evil -- and he then disappeared into another dimension. Thus, the team was disbanded. (This segment looks very nice, as the comic panels have an old Marvel Comics look.)

The story then leaps ahead to the present. Zenith Project scientist Dr. Grant (Chevy Chase) informs project leader General Larraby that Concussion is returning to this dimension. (This part is a bit fuzzy.) Larraby orders Zenith Team to be re-formed. Zoom, who now goes by his civilian name Jack Shepard is found working in an auto shop. Dr. Grant and team psychologist, Marsha Holloway (Courteney Cox) persuade Jack to return to headquarters with them. There, Jack learns that he will train a new group of young superheroes for the project. After a thorough search, the recruits are narrowed to four. Dylan West (Michael Cassidy) can become invisible. Summer Jones (Kate Mara) has the power of telekinesis and is somewhat psychic. Tucker Williams (Spencer Breslin) can cause his body to expand. And little 6- year old Cindy Collins (Ryan Newman) has super strength. Jack makes a half-hearted attempt to instruct the kids, but remembering how much he hated being Zoom, his heart just isn't into it. But, when he realizes that the kid's lives are in danger, he has a change of heart.

Again, Zoom isn't the worst movie of the year, and saying so is ludicrous. Little Man, When a Stranger Calls, Basic Instinct 2, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning -- these movie are all far worst than Zoom. At no point during this movie did I check my watch, fast forward, or wish that I were dead. I can't say the same for those other movies.

The basic problem with Zoom is easily summed-up: It's unoriginal. Nearly every facet of this film feels as it were lifted from another source, be that super-hero related or otherwise. Of course, anything dealing with young super-heroes owes a debt to the X-Men comics and the subsequent X-Men films. (There's a scene where Summer uses her powers, and with her red hair, looks just like Jean Grey.) Also, the notion of a training academy for super heroes was put to better use in last year's Sky High (which in turn stole ideas from Harry Potter.) The scene in Zoom where perspective candidates for Zenith Team demonstrate their powers is nearly identical to a similar scene in Sky High. The idea of super heroes in retirement has been done in comic books for years, and will probably remind many audiences of Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles. At least Zoom is stealing from good sources.

Zoom does feature a cast of familiar faces, but they don't work too hard here. Well, that's not exactly true for Tim Allen, who seems to be having fun in his role and of the cast, he's the one who's actually attempting to have comic timing. Courteney Cox looks a bit lost at times, as if the dialogue doesn't make sense to her. Rip Torn is his usual gruff self. But, it's Chevy Chase who's the anomaly here. For those like me who grew up during his heyday, it's great to see the man back in action. And yet, the fussy, nervous Dr. Grant probably wasn't the best comeback role for Chase, as he's the victim of jokes instead of the instigator and this doesn't suit him.

Going in, I expected Zoom to be a giant turd, but instead I found a movie which doesn't have an original idea in its head, shows some lazy acting, but overall, is fairly mediocre. Anyone who likes super hero stories should find something to like here, as the characters are interesting and the finale is well-done. The storyline is somewhat bland and confusing, but there are some funny moments. And here's the ultimate litmus test: my kids liked this movie and have already watched it a few times. So, if you know someone who's too young for the X-Men films, but has tired of Sky High, Zoom is worth a rental.

Zoom (which for this DVD release is officially called, Zoom: Academy for Superheroes) zips onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks good, as the picture is sharp and clear, free from grain or defects from the source material. This is a bright and colorful movie, and all of the tones look fine on this transfer, as flesh appears realistic and the color is never oversaturated. The framing appears to be accurate and edge enhancement is not an issue. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which sounds very good. The dialogue is sharp and clear and the sound is never muffled. The subwoofer effects during the finale are nice and surround sound effects come into play in any scene where the team's powers are being used.

Zoom didn't fare very well at the box office, which may explain why there are only two extras on the DVD. First, we have "Academy for Superheroes Guide for Kids" (8 minutes) which is a series of faux PSAs which feature two guys in their underwear posing as superheroes who attempt to help kids. To say that this is God-awful would be a great understatement. These do teach good lessons about avoiding junk food, exercising, sportsmanship, and avoiding danger, but man they are bad. The other extra is "Bringing Superheroes to Life: The Making of Zoom (14 minuntes). This slick making of features clips, along with comments from cast & crew and lots of behind the scenes footage. Looks at cast and characters, sets, costumes, training, visual fx.

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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