Tony Valdez is a college dropout (much to the disappointment of his rich, robotics company-owning researcher parents) who lives for and is actually damn good at only one thing – being California’s best extreme skateboarder. Arrogant and at the top of his game, a tragic turn of events brings Tony back down to Earth and now half-crippled and struggling with his desire for vengeance, he dons the nanotechnology-enabled equipment that his childhood friend Sammi whips up for him using his own parent’s research, and becomes… El Condor, skateboard fighter for justice.
But the Condor has another more important mission that he must fulfil – avenge his family and bring down those plotting to spread terror throughout the world using the Valdez technology!
Stan Lee Presents: The Condor is a 2007 direct to DVD animated movie that falls under the Stan Lee Presents banner and is directed by the fairly unknown Steven E. Gordon who has worked previously as a storyboard artist and director on some other Marvel and animated projects. And of course, anything that has the legendary Stan Lee’s name attached to it means that the old bugger has a hand in it somewhere, and unfortunately he is pretty much in the thick of this mess too.
You would think that with such an acclaimed comic book writer like Marv Wolfman on board, surely you can’t go wrong, but the creative team of Stan Lee and Marv just didn’t seem to click. First off, the quality of the concept and story is so hackneyed and poor that it is simply embarrassing. Stan basically rips out essential plot devices from just about every major superhero that he has ever had a hand in creating and tries to make it ‘cool’ and contemporary by making the main character an ultra cool, extreme skateboarder. Right. Then the story which is horribly predictable and in the end, just plain boring, spirals downwards as you watch an extremely arrogant and annoying Tony Valdez reluctantly (and without actually caring much about what he is now doing it would seem) turn into a ‘hero’ which is supposedly meant to appeal to the kids of today.
And don’t get me started on the dialogue! Seeing as the cast of this movie are all Latin Americans, we get the worst of the worse – a non Latin American writing Latin American culture and ending up giving us exactly what we don’t like to see on TV: the stereotype. Bad, cheesy and cringe-worthy lines make up a large portion of this title which unfortunately doesn’t help its already shaky premise.
Thank goodness that animation is more than adequately handled though. Although the look is pretty simple and not overly stylish, it is pretty standard for the better stuff produced these days and the actual animation itself is fluid and stylish when it needs to be. The character designs are all pretty simple and easy on the eye, but I do admit to thinking that the Condor’s outfit isn’t actually all that bad in the looks department.
The one thing of the visuals that did stand out for me was the more than decent colouring, particularly some of the light effects like the green light trails off Tony’s braces and skateboard when he was fighting crime dressed up in his Condor gear. Which unexpectedly makes me stop and think for a little bit – just why the heck did he name himself the Condor? Yes, he got a Condor shaped pendant from his mom, but a dude on a skateboard calling himself the Condor? Come on!
We don’t get big name voices for this straight to DVD release, but at least they tried, bringing in Wilmer Valderrama (You might know him better as Fez from the That ‘70s Show) as the main protagonist, namely Tony Valdez himself, Latin American singer and actress Maria Conchita Alonso and finally for all you Battlestar Galatica fans, Alessandro Juliani. Eveyone involved with the show does a great job voicing all the characters, but unfortunately with such weak dialogue to act on, it isn’t enough to raise the production value of the movie as a whole. Surprisingly enough though, the music choice for the movie is actually pretty good and the composed pieces work well with the action and the tone throughout the movie.
Yeah, it is pretty difficult to sell The Condor to anyone. It basically rips off all other super heroes that Stan has ever created, the dialogue is extremely shoddy and absolutely cringe-worthy, and it is boring, predictable and in short, just doesn’t work. It doesn’t make for a great kids movie and it doesn’t make for a great adult movie – which was important considering that this movie is actually meant for teens, meaning it doesn’t manage to fall within a single target market! At least the animation is certainly very nice, but pretty standard for the stuff produced nowadays which leaves us with very little in the end on which to actually commend this film.
Avoid it if you can, or if you want to watch it out of curiosity’s sake, just download the damn thing from a P2P network because you certainly should not be wasting money on it!
And yes, once again that bloody old Stan Lee makes an appearance in the movie, this time in animated form. Seeing him pitch up once or twice in his other Marvel movies was a fun little homage at first, but it has gotten tired now Stan. Real tired.