If you’re suffering from superhero fatigue, this is just the palette cleanser you need.
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A ghastly concoction of razzle-dazzle circus maximalism, poorly CG’d supernatural whimsy and sentimentality so cloyingly sweet you can feel it in your fillings, “Freaks Out” is, however, almost admirably unaware that its over-egged, unironically “Springtime for Hitler” production design, and its lazy invocation of the Holocaust as a narrative shortcut to high emotional stakes, might be in questionable taste. Instead, this is a sincere, if deeply misguided attempt to fabricate weepy wonderment amid the ruination of World War II.
Freaks Out seems preoccupied with looking cool and feeling offbeat without considering basic narrative requirements. With such an intense visual language and detailed costume and set design, it’s a shame that the story lacks similar heft.
Its splashy, curiously filter-free adventures unfold in Italy and Germany during World War II, to sometimes awkward effect.
The more fanciful qualities of Freaks vs. the Reich work fairly well. Mainetti has a gifted cast and a talented special effects department, so the scenes of these X-Men-like outcasts fighting fascism do look fantastic. But the film’s exhausting length is a challenge, as is Mainetti’s failure to use his historical setting meaningfully.
The puzzling thing about Italian director Gabriele Mainetti’s feature set in 1943 in German-occupied Rome is that, rather than embracing tastelessness a la John Waters, it guns for earnestness despite not having a thoughtful bone in its body.