Captain Black writer/director Jeffrey Johnson picked up the Best Director prize for this passion project at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival as the recently completed film continues its successful festival run on the way to, one would expect, an indie distribution deal for the quirky, endearing charmer that stars Johnson as Mike, a mild-mannered restaurant manager who becomes captivated by a collection of comic books left behind by an employee and, in particular, becomes obsessed with the righteous, good-hearted superhero Captain Black and his sexy co-hort, Kitt Vixen.
Johnson has been around the Hollywood scene for quite some time and will likely be familiar to fans of Terminator Genisys and Haunting of Cellblock 11, though he's also a sought after voice actor who has served as the voice for T-Mobile for the past six years. Johnson serves as writer, director, producer and star for Captain Black, an infinitely charming and spirited flick that can't help but put a smile on your face.
In the film, Mike gets the chance to live out his superhero fantasy when a Halloween party gives him the chance to try out a homemade Captain Black costume, an experience that leads to an even more fantastic meeting with a costumed Kitt Vixen (Georgia Norman, Escape the Night and Custody), whose roleplaying seduction of Captain Black ends just as quickly as it seemingly began.
With his fantasy woman having disappeared, Mike is content with his treasured memory until one day when he accidentally comes across her yet again. This time, however, he has to face the truth that his fantasy has a definite reality to it that doesn't quite live up to the comic book. Realizing that everything is not as it seemed, Mike begins to question every other aspect of his daily life including his relationship with his estranged sister (Kirsten Roeters, Godsdotcom and Gaslight) and his abused next door neighbor (Liesel Kopp, The Adventures of Mr. Clown) and her son (Nico David, Agents of The S.H.I.E.L.D.). Even Mike's close friend and confidante, Kris (Linara Washington, Madam Secretary and Grey's Anatomy), can't help him now.
Now, Mike will have to figure out who he really is and what he's really got inside himself.
First off, let's state up front that Captain Black is simply a winner, a good-hearted and energizing film that soars on the strength of Johnson's clear vision for the film and winning performances across the board from his ensemble cast that also includes welcome appearances by Mackenzie Astin and Charley Koontz. Ann Kathrin Dern's original music is perfectly attuned to the film's energy and rhythm, while D.P. Steven Moses' lensing is absolutely stellar. Roy Rede's production design gives the film a colorful, pleasing palette that ensures the film's story is fun without ever actually making fun of the characters as is so often the case in this type of film.
Given he's already picked up one prize, it should be noted that Johnson's directorial effort here is rock solid and accomplishes pretty amazing things within the framework of a modestly budgeted indie flick. Johnson's performance is warm and endearing, while the entire ensemble cast deserves credit with special mentions for the marvelous Georgia Norman, tremendous Liesel Kopp, incredibly winning Linara Washington and others.
If you're a fan of comic book culture because it actually means something to you, you're going to truly appreciate Jeffrey Johnson's effort here while simply having a genuinely good time. Captain Black is the kind of film you want to see do well on the indie fest circuit because it's the kind of film that makes you feel better leaving the theater than when you arrived.
For more information on Captain Black, visit the film's website. Be sure to follow it and if this film arrives at a fest near you don't miss the chance.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic