The Golden Blaze (2005) / Animation-Action

MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences
Running Time: 87 min.

Cast (voices): Blair Underwood, Khleo Thomas, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sanaa Lathan, Rickey D'Shon Collins, Neil Patrick Harris
Director: Bryon E. Carson
Screenplay: Archie Gips
Review published May 20, 2005

Jason Fletcher (voiced by Khleo Thomas, Holes) is a typical kid with typical problems, not feeling so popular in school, and the constant target of the school's biggest bully, Leon Tatum (Collins), son of the city's most powerful and wealthy entrepreneur, Thomas Tatum (Duncan, D.E.B.S.).  Things are bad enough without having his embarrassing father Gregory (Underwood, Malibu's Most Wanted) to worry about, especially after he became the laughing-stock of the community for introducing a substance meant to revolutionize the world, only to have it backfire, starting a series of calamities on the family that others less-than-endearingly refer to as "Fletcher Flops". 

Both Jason and Leon do share one passion -- a love for comic books, and their favorite hero of them all is "The Golden Blaze", who on a monthly basis battled evil wherever it appeared, most notably in the form of his arch-nemesis, Quake. Fantasy turns to reality when a mishap in Gregory's latest demonstration for Tatum Corporation goes awry, causing both Gregory and Thomas to gain superpowers strikingly similar to the ones found in the Golden Blaze comics.

The Golden Blaze is an animated superhero film aimed mostly at children, but smart enough to entertain adults as well.  Although it does feature mostly African-American characters, the themes and situations presented have universal appeal, so really, this is a family feature that can be enjoyed for just about anyone who likes stories about comic book superheroes.  For a small limited release motion picture, there is still a modestly impressive cast of voice actors, including Blair Underwood, Sanaa Lathan (Alien vs. Predator, Out of Time) , Michael Clarke Duncan, Neil Patrick Harris (Harold & Kumar, Undercover Brother), and Khleo Thomas, all of whom fit their designated roles perfectly.  On the whole, there's nothing revolutionary about it, but taken for what it is, it is entertaining in its look at superheroes and the comic book world, and should meet well with younger viewers who like animated stories done with good humor.

Perhaps more important than the story itself in terms of movies, The Golden Blaze heralds itself as the first theatrically-released full-length animated feature to be done entirely on computers using Flash animation.  As such, one shouldn't expect the vivid 3D renderings of The Incredibles or even quality that remotely approaches your typical Disney release.  It looks just like many animations you'd find featured on various websites, with bold colors and not a great deal of attention to detail.  It's about on par with many cartoons made for television, but it works well enough to still be entertaining.

The Golden Blaze is a film for all ages, but the appeal will most likely to be strongest among kids of an age where superheroes are at the top of their favorite type of entertainment.  The positive role models and themes of family unity will probably please parents looking to expose their children to superhero fare that teaches life lessons rather than offering just a showcase of mindless violence.  Good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, kids will like it.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo