ZOOM: ACADEMY FOR SUPERHEROES
Most reviews treated Zoom: Academy for Superheroes harshly, although it is not entirely bad, but certainly no more than a mediocre film. The main problem with Zoom is that the focus of the film is not where it should be in a superhero film. Most superheroic films feature great feats of superherodom or battles with super-villains, as well as the requisite origin story that comes in the first outing. In Zoom: Academy for Superheroes, that focus is instead placed on comic/slapstick scenes with the kids as they attempt to perfect their powers, which usually go awry in one way or another. Zoom does get itself together for a big superheroic showdown at the climax where the kids get to combine in the use of their powers, but this is over fairly quickly. The result is a film that spends its running time on comedy and only emerges into what a superhero film should be in the last few minutes. Moreover, the villain of Jacks brother is not particularly well developed and seems a cursory attempt to create a dramatic menace to drive the show. The character arcs throughout the film are all predictable Tim Allen learning to come to care for the kids and give up on his cynicism about life; he and scientist Courteney Cox realizing their mutual attraction for one another; the similar realisation of the attraction between teenage trainees Kate Mara and Michael Cassidy.
Tim Allen has been polishing a career in family films for some time now Zoom: Academy for Superheroes is even co-produced by his production company Boxing Cat Films. Allen handles the central role reliably. The surprise among the cast is Courteney Cox in the role of a nerdily bespectacled scientist a part where one sees Cox attempting to stretch herself and play something different for about the first time. On the other hand, one of the more grotesque sights is Chevy Chase having been brought out of retirement to play the throwaway role of one of the scientists. As Tim Allen says to Chevy at one point: Youve got old it is hard to tell if its makeup or just the way Chevy Chase looks these days, but he seems like a very old man. The part is not helped by some of the embarrassing scenes the filmmakers put him through like an entirely gratuitous scene where the kids trap him in a biosphere chamber and for no particular reason pelt him with storm, lightning and snow conditions. As though determined to totally trash Chases career, the film even includes outtakes that run alongside the end credits, including a particularly embarrassing scene of Chevy improvising a childs song about pooping in his pants.
The special effects in the film are extremely variable. In particular, the scenes with Spencer Breslin blowing up to the size of a barrage balloon look as though they have been produced by a cut-rate digital effects house. On the other hand, there is a cute scene with Tim Allen and the kids erratically piloting a UFO that travels only about 20 mph, even if the scene is ruined by a blatant product placement for Wendys. There are some appealing graphics over the opening credits that relay the exploits of Captain Zoom and his original team in terms of comic-book panels.
Director Peter (sometimes Pete) Hewitt has made a number of genre entries including Bill and Teds Bogus Journey (1991); The Borrowers (1997) about a family of little people; Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999), a coming of age comedy about a man with psychic powers; Thunderpants (2002) concerning a kid whose farts are so powerful he is able to launch a NASA rocket; Garfield (2004) based on the popular comic strip; and Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? (2014). Hewitt is also credited with the story for the big-screen adaptation of Thunderbirds (2004).