comScore Review: Sterling Gates' The Posthuman Project | The Mary Sue

Review: Sterling Gates’ The Posthuman Project Provides An All-Ages Alternative to Age of Ultron

OK, less "alternative" and more "in addition to," but still.


You might know Sterling Gates’ work from comics, including Supergirl, Superman, and Green Lantern Corps. However, Gates is also a screenwriter and he, along with writer, Matthew Price, and director, Kyle Roberts, have created an indie superhero film called The Posthuman Project, which is available on iTunes and other VOD outlets TODAY!

According to the website:

Denny Burke (Kyle Whalen) is finally about to graduate high school. Senior year has been one bad thing after another: a broken leg, a broken heart, and — worst of all — a broken home.

With four of his closest friends, Denny goes on one last rock-climbing trip to prove he’s ready to start his adult life… On their trip the five teens receive a genetic boost beyond anything they’d ever imagined.

Denny’s soon faced with the first big decision of his adult life: does he give up these powers and stay a normal teenager, or does he keep them…and graduate from the human race?

The film offers a really interesting take on the superhero genre. For one, the superpowers aren’t the point. Yes, a group of kids end up with super abilities, but only around the middle, and they’re not really a focus. The Posthuman Project is mostly origin story, and the focus is more on the fact that several of the kids come from not-so-great homes and have turbulent relationships with their families, which I found hugely interesting. Their pitch that this film is “The Breakfast Club meets X-Men on a micro budget” isn’t inaccurate, and these kids – while all being a little too-attractive and uniform in their look (even the one black character) – all deal with stuff that you don’t necessarily see in mainstream teen fare. Abusive family members abound, and what this film is saying is, in part, that you can choose a family, rather than be satisfied with the one into which you were born.

There’s also the fact that, while all the kids end up with special abilities, the point isn’t the formation of an inevitable superhero team. They all have these powers, yes, but they’re all also going away to college and will be splitting up. This could be the beginning of a series, but it could also simply be one chapter in the lives of these kids. Either prospect makes this film interesting.

This isn’t a perfect film. The Posthuman Project is definitely meant to be appropriate for a younger audience, and so much of the action and dialogue is designed with kids in mind. For example, Denny’s younger brother, Archie (Collin Place), refers to a mountain as “a big-ass mountain,” and Denny responds with, “Archie! Language!” These are older teenagers. Yeah. The film is also very definitely indie. You will see obvious green-screen.

One of the “pros” of the film is that there are two female characters in the main ensemble. However, only one of them is a fully fleshed-out character.

PHP Gwen fire

Gwen, played by the charming Lindsay Sawyer, is a pink-haired slacker who’s great at fixing cars. She’s got an ease and wit about her that masks the fact that she’s dealing with an abusive stepfather at home. When she develops her special ability and is able to use it to defend herself, you’ll find yourself cheering inside, as she really, really deserves it. She’s cool to watch.

By contrast, Lisa, the only other girl in the cast (played by Alexandra Harris), doesn’t have much going on that isn’t in relation to being the love interest for the protagonist. Harris does just fine with what she’s given, I just wish she were given more. Even the true nature of her abilities isn’t revealed until the last frame of the movie, and throughout the film she’s in some kind of distress. It’s almost as if Gwen was created because they knew that Lisa was so lame and they didn’t want girls to have such crappy representation. What would’ve been better is if they would’ve had two nuanced female characters.

Speaking of representation, there is one black character in the entire film – Denny’s best friend, Adam (played by Josh Bonzie), who’s pretty cool, the voice of reason, and gets an awesome power that allows him to be instrumental in the ultimate resolution of things. However, this movie was so white, it was painful.

Much of the dialogue is cheesy, the antagonist’s evil plot is half-baked, and there’s no shortage of hammy performances. That said, there are some great conceits and ideas in the film that make this worth a watch. Also, if you have tweens who are into all things super-powered, this would be a great option for them. I wonder what would happen if this film were picked up by a larger studio and remade with a larger budget. The bare bones for a solid alternative to Big Two superhero movies are here – it could just use a little nudge.

Til then, enjoy The Posthuman Project with your nearest tween.

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