Review: Stan Lee’s Lightspeed / Cert: 15 / Director: Don E. FauntLeRoy / Screenplay: Steve Latshaw, John Gray / Starring: Jason Connery, Nicole Eggert, Daniel Goddard, Lee Majors / Release Date: Out Now
Although we haven’t done the research, we’d wager there was a moment in the early '70s when some TV exec said: “This Six Million Dollar Man idea is dynamite! But here's the thing... how are we going to convince the audience that he’s running at these tremendous speeds?” At which point, presumably, he was shown some test footage of a guy in tracksuit apparently moving faster than those around him but shown entirely in slow motion. Suitably impressed by this low-tech solution that relied on the audience’s imagination, he would have probably said, “Brilliant! Let’s do it!”
You can't help wondering whether a similar conversation took place during the development of Stan Lee’s Lightspeed. Except that in this case, the exec was shown test footage of a man in a ski-suit onesie speeded up to look like the Keystone Cops, with billows of smoke to give the idea of burning rubber. “OK! Don't spend more that 45 million and don't mess it up!”
Watching Lightspeed induces a nagging feeling that the makers of this movie are having a laugh. Is the presence of a surprisingly sprightly (until he stands up) Lee Majors just part of an elaborate in-joke? And that costume really is terrible. Our hero buys it in a sports shop to prevent windburn (no, really), so it’s got a plausible rationale. But you can’t help being reminded of that moment in Spider-Man (2002), when we’re expecting the first appearance of the classic outfit but get Tobey Maguire in his pj's instead. That was a joke that worked. In Lightspeed, the sartorial faux pas haunts the movie as we’re repeatedly subjected to Jason Connery looking like Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards making a cameo in a Benny Hill sketch. Mind you, it does clear up the mystery of which side Connery dresses on.
Any good points? Well, it certainly has a comic book feel, and Daniel Goddard actually does quite a good turn as the particularly nasty Python – a villain who gets through so many henchmen (he even dispatches a few himself) that you’re left wondering how they recruit these people. It might have actually attracted some younger viewers, but for some bizarre reason they decided to chuck in such a surprising amount of violence that it earned a 15 certificate.
Why did Stan Lee let them put his name on it? Why is it getting a re-release now? Were they serious? Lightspeed is a film that raises more questions than it answers.
It’s on the left, by the way.