Stan Lee Presents: Mosaic (2007) / Animation-Fantasy

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for some violence
Running Time: 72 min.

Cast (voices): Anna Paquin, Kirby Morrow, Cam Clarke, Gary Chalk, Nicole Oliver, Stan Lee (cameo)
Director: Roy Allen Smith

Screenplay: Scott Lobdell
Review published January 2, 2007

Stan Lee, the world famous comic book pioneer responsible for the creation of such beloved superheroes as "Spider-Man", "The Fantastic Four", and "The Hulk", created the main story used in this latest direct-to-video animated superhero feature, Mosaic.  Unlike most of his previous works, Mosaic isn't a Marvel property, produced in part by Stan Lee's POW! (Purveyors of Wonder), although it is still very much in the usual Stan Lee/Marvel tradition of just-for-fun superhero adventures that are breezy, a little cheesy, and yet easy to watch.  Unfortunately, unlike Lee's prodigious early creations, Mosaic suffers from being a bit too corny by comparison, with a silly back-story, lame characters, and a sense of adventure that would hardly entertain most viewers over the age of 12.

In this original adventure, Maggie Nelson is a high-spirited teenage girl with big aspirations to become a famous actress, much to her Interpol agent father's dismay.  When her father is hospitalized after an altercation with a mysterious force, Maggie soon finds out that she has developed powers of her own, including the ability read DNA, shape-shift into any human (or animal), and become invisible.  Unsure of what these powers are and why she has them, things become more clear after meeting Mosaic, a member of an ancient hidden race of powerful Earth beings known as "homo-chameleo", a forgotten race hiding out among the rest who have similar abilities to change their appearance and visibility.  With her father soon kidnapped by the power-hungry leader of the Chameleons, Mannequin, Maggie must join forces with Mosaic to get back her dad before he is killed and Mannequin's plans on taking over the world are realized. 

Anna Paquin (X-Men: The Last Stand, The Squid and the Whale) supplies the voice of Maggie, who, much like Paquin's character of Rogue in the X-Men films, can take on the properties of others, although more by reading their DNA than through touch.  Outside of her involvement, the rest of the voice work is by no-name voice actors, who do a good job even if they don't lend the production the familiarity that other recent animated superhero franchises benefit from. 

Longtime "X-Men" comic book scribe, Scott Lobdell, writes the screenplay based on Stan Lee's original story, although he does stay within the realm of Lee's style in making the characters cheeky, the tone always light, and the confrontations limited to just a few heated exchanges before the action begins.  The dialogue itself is strictly juvenile comic book fluff, although it may please Lee's fans to hear a Spider-Man allusion and to see Lee given a cameo role in the film as "Stanley".

The animation is very much in keeping with the style you'd see on a typical Saturday morning superhero cartoon, which emphasizes more color and basic design than in intricate detail or fluid character movement.  One gets the impression that the film itself was tailor-made for television, as the periodic, commercial-break fade-to-blacks persist throughout.   It's one of two straight-to-video animated productions Lee has worked on (Stan Lee Presents: The Condor is the other), and will probably only truly appeal to audiences that watch any project dealing with animated superheroes.

Unless you're a Stan Lee nut, it's probably best to give this one a pass. Mosaic is a mostly forgettable entry in an already-glutted superhero genre, and it doesn't really stack up well against the tried-and-true stalwarts of the Marvel and DC comic book world.  While it does feature a rare female protagonist, it's unlikely to have a fervent following among young girls (just like most superhero projects, male or female), so this one's limited mostly to already-established younger avid comic book aficionados.

Qwipster's rating

©2007 Vince Leo