Captain Black (2019)

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A down and out restaurant manager attempts to find his inner hero in this indie dramedy from star and director Jeffrey S.S. Johnson.

Mike is a restaurant manager who gets along well with the people he works with. However, outside of work, things are not going well. His parents have died, and he’s estranged from his sister Brie. His neighbor is in an abusive relationship and he bonds with her son. Plus, he doesn’t know how to deal with life in general. That is, until one fateful night, he sees a group of comic books with a character named Captain Black. Mike begins to read the story and becomes fascinated with the story.

When he is invited to his co-worker’s Halloween party, Mike decides to dress up as his new hero. At the party, Mike meets a mysterious woman who dresses up at Captain Black’s partner, Kitt Vixen. Mike soon finds himself infatuated with the mystery woman after they make out at the party. While attempting to find out the identity of Kitt Vixen, Mike begins to find himself while he is immersed in the world of the comic book hero. When he discovers the identity of Kitt Vixen, he is in for the shock of a lifetime.

An indie dramedy from Jeffrey S.S. Johnson, who also takes the titular role and wrote the script, this is a film about life and one man’s immersion into a comic book character and the potential consequences that immersion can cause. There are beats of comedy in the script and some fantasy sequences that hold akin to something seen in films like perhaps The Spirit and Sin City. However, the film does take a serious turn when reality sets in and it can be at times painful to watch but shows a level of empathy for the lead character of Mike.

As the character of Mike, we see Johnson having to deal with a very irate and cocky customer in the opening scene, played by a cameo-appearing Mackenzie Astin. He seems to be dealing with a lot, including the death of his parents and estrangement from his sister. He also deals with talking to the son of his neighbor, the victim of domestic abuse, but knows he can’t do much about it. It is when he gets immersed in Captain Black’s comic books that he finds something to live for. He slowly begins to have that confidence he so much needs in his life. However, reality tends to sink in and he doesn’t know how to approach that reality at times.

The reality sets in to a whole new level when he meets a mysterious girl dressed up as Captain Black’s partner Kitt Vixen, played by Georgia Norman. After an incident between the two, when they discover their identities, it becomes a major storm that affects both their lives. It does involve something extremely forbidden, a mistake that never should have happened. When Mike learns the truth, he becomes shocked at first, but is willing to help out in any manner but learns of the potential dangers of helping.

While there is serious nature of Mike’s dilemma, there are beats of comedy that occur within the first hour and they involve his co-workers. While Kris, played by Linara Washington, seems to be completely sympathetic towards Mike, especially in his crisis, his other co-workers tend to play things up quite well and the comedy works. However, in the last half hour, things take a turn for the worse, and it goes either way for Mike.

Captain Black starts out as a comic book fantasy but things get very serious and for the man seeking his inner hero despite having to overcome his own personal demons all with a very good performance by star and filmmaker Jeffrey S.S. Johnson.

WFG RATING: B+

Random Media presents a Drunken Troubadour production. Director: Jeffrey S.S. Johnson. Producers: Jeffrey S.S. Johnson and  Brooks Kephart. Writer: Jeffrey S.S. Johnson. Cinematography: Steven Moses. Editing: Timothy Snell.

Cast: Jeffrey S.S. Johnson, Georgia Norman, Charley Koontz, Linara Washington, Joaquin Camilo, Kirsten Roeters, Liesel Kopp, Michael Marc Friedman, Reece Rios, Nico David, Carla Tassara.

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