Milwaukee Film Festival 2016: They Call Me Jeeg
By Devvon Eubanks
Superheroes come in many shapes and sizes, and Gabriele Mainetti’s take in “They Call Me Jeeg” is certainly a unique one. After evading the police by jumping into the Tiber River and falling into a barrel of radioactive waste, thief Enzo Ceccotti (Claudio Santamaria) falls ill and soon develops powers of superhuman strength and amplified healing abilities. But after using his powers as a criminal and being mistaken for a Japanese anime hero by a mentally handicapped girl, Alessia (Ilenia Pastorelli), Enzo starts to use his powers for good and vows to stop a well-known crime boss known as “The Gypsy.” While the premise of the film does seem to be interesting, the overall execution is quite poor. The plot is confusing, the cinematography and effects are average, and many of the characters are forgettable. Also, Enzo is not a superhero by any means and never accepts himself as one until the very end, mostly by arguing with Alessia about his role with his new powers and focusing on her as a love interest. The feeling of his importance in this universe feels tacked on, as he is a simple man who keeps to himself, loves pornography, and does what he can to survive, even after he obtains his abilities. And when he finally does take a stand as a hero, it is sudden and rushed, and everyone accepts him even though he doesn’t do much to earn his mantle. The plot behind the main villain is also wholly perplexing, as he owes money to a third party for some reason and gets caught up in a gang war without too much explanation of what is going on. Furthermore, his connection with Enzo feels artificial and slapped on, especially next to many conflicts and adversaries from the Marvel and DC universes. Overall, it is a film that is a bit hard to follow with a few highlights of a decent (though turbulent) relationship between Enzo and Alessia. “They Call Me Jeeg” may appeal to those who love the story of a tragic hero struggling to accept his role in the world, but the journey contains many bumps that could dissuade viewers quickly.