We now live in an era of the comic book film. Filled with huge set-pieces, the genre continues to demolish box office records. While some of these movies have started to integrate more nuanced narratives, they have largely been CGI filled crowd-pleasers. Co-written and directed by Julia Hart, Fast Color is a new superhero origin that trades action and spectacle for a grounded story, propelled by well-developed characters.
The tale of Fast Color follows Ruth, a young woman with supernatural abilities that is forced to go on the run once her secrets are discovered. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the aforementioned lead, with Lorraine Toussaint as Bo, and Saniyya Sidney as Lila.
Reading the premise, one may think that this is a movie taking place on a massive scale, with spandex aplenty. In truth, this is an anti-superhero film. While there are powers to be seen, the core of this smaller feature is rooted in the relationships we follow. It is as much a plot about family as it is about extraordinary behaviour. In fact, the element of comic book affinity acts only as a single thread within the fabric of this character first fable.
Taking place in a broken world, the filmmakers take us on a journey of empowerment and heroism. The performances by our cast supply this wonderfully, ensuring that we feel every emotional beat. The stand-out moments are not crashing buildings or immense fights, but rather simple interactions that evoke honest feelings. While these sequences are sometimes injected with supernatural abilities, they are always used in a way that acts as another step in the truly human narrative. The creators of this film clearly have a passion for a story-first approach, backing it up with the needed production skills.
Working on a smaller budget with limited resources, the technical aspects of this movie are still able to act as the perfect foundation for everything above it. The direction is effective, as it takes us from scene to scene, while the cinematography by Michael Fimognari encapsulates the gritty surroundings that are sometimes filled with mesmerising colour. Furthermore, the CGI used is marvellously grounded and believable in the moments it is needed. A special mention must be made to the glorious score by Rob Simonsen. Moving from pounding violins in one moment, to purposeful synths in the next. The music is a breath of fresh air for a feature within this genre.
Fast Color is a different superhero film, released at a time that really needs it. Showing us that real human decisions are the most powerful abilities of all, this is a release that dynamically displays a well-told story. The movie is proof that this genre need not be repetitive and stale. While many may disagree, this will likely end up being the best superhero film of 2019.