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DVD Review: Catalina — CD Superhero

| Jan 26, 2009
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Several months ago we learned of a movie called Catalina — A New Kind of Superhero and promptly reported the news to TGF readers. At that time the film’s producer was looking for distribution but you could watch the trailer on the film’s website. Now we can report that the film is available on DVD. At this time it’s only available in the European PAL video format but many of today’s modern computers can play back that format if you can’t get it to run on your DVD player. (Some players also will work with PAL format.) So, we gave the review copy of the film to our guest science fiction columnist Louise Baltimore and here’s what she thought about the new kind of superhero.

There have been many examples of crossdressing or transgender heroes, and villains, in comic books…I mean graphic novels, as well as other forms of fiction but to the best of my knowledge there hasn’t been a live action crossdressing superhero in the movies (or TV) until the release of Catalina. (Captain Cross Dresser doesn’t count, that’s animation.) So I must applaud Water on the Rock productions and K. D. Barker (writer, producer, director and other tasks) for making the effort. It takes an enormous amount of work to make a feature length film and it was a gamble that one could succeed with a crossdressing hero. So, many thanks for making the movie. It’s about time those of us who appreciate expressing our feminine sides had a hero/heroine to look up to.

Space ships.

To quickly summarize the plot: A galactic villian named General Krillgarth The Negative is roaming around space with his fleet blowing up planets and being nasty. He may be called The Negative but he’s positive that he likes conquest. Krillgarth is captured by the Galactic Council and they ship him off to exile on a primitive planet. Unfortunately they didn’t round up his space fleet so it attacks the prison ship. The captain of the ship escapes in a small life pod craft with the General in suspended animation. It crashes on Earth and our hero, out for a stroll in pink pumps, comes upon the crashed ship. The General has come back to life and run off with what he thinks is a super meta weapon that will give him even greater powers. Nope. Catalina gets the powers and the fun starts.

aliens

Catalina will appeal to an audience that enjoys a good, rousing, B movie romp. The names Ed Wood and Roger Corman came to me as I watched Catalina unfold. The best of the low budget film makers know how to make the most of the money they have. That means no star names will be found in Catalina. You’ll know you’re not watching Men In Black. The special effects (over 300) weren’t done by Industrial Light and Magic, and if the sound wasn’t perfect the budget didn’t include the cash for retakes or overdubbing. It’s a bit rough in patches and the story plods at the beginning (a long space warp effect seems a bit gratuitous and threatened to give me a petite mal) but there’s action, things disintegrating, cars (and people) getting tossed over buildings and a cyborg with lesions and a lot of tubing coming out of his head. Add some cool looking space ships and what more could you want?

The film’s biggest flaw is casting. But, like I said before, if you don’t have several million to throw around you’re not getting Leonardo DeCaprio or Liam Nesson. The Ben/Catalina role (her full femme name is Catalina Airboat, you’ll have to get the DVD to learn where that came from) is played by Nathan Lubbock-Smith. While Mister Lubbock-Smith has the looks and the build to play a hot crossdresser, his work in parts of the film seems unfocused and leads this reveiwer to think that perhaps he hadn’t quite internalized the character properly. I say “in part”s because he does actually achieve a true characterization in some scenes and gets off a few funny lines. At time though he seems a bit at sea.

It’s hard to say whether or not is is Lubbock-Smith’s fault, the director’s fault, or hair and makeup’s fault but Catalina could have been a lot hotter. With his build and face (wonderful skin!) he could have been a total babe in drag. But, for whatever reason, Catalina has the exact same hairdo as her male self. The sideburns are there in both genders. In this reviewer’s opinion a crossdressing superhero need to look really hot and long flowing hair is a must. Points will be lost with transgender viewers over the hair issue. A crossdresser  can look ordinary when she’s just hanging around the house but when her super powers manifest we need to see that reflected with a transformation to a more sexy look.

Another problem is Catalina’s voice. When dressed and interacting with other character she talks in an unconvincing falsetto — that for some unknown reason completely fools everyone into thinking she’s a lady.

In one scene Ben has changed into his Catalina gear and his girlfriend uses her key to the apartment (a closeted crossdresser letting his girlfriend have a key? Unbelievable!) and without a wig, with Ben’s sideburns and speaking in the falsetto he confounds his girlfriend who is unable to recognize him as Ben. She demands to know who Catalina is and where has Ben gone. I can only hope that it’s a goof on Lois Lane never recognizing Superman without Clark Kent’s glasses.

The evil General, destroyer of planets, comes off a lot like a nightclub bouncer. Played by George McCluskey the General is not really that menacing. Well, when he tosses a car at Catalina that’s a bit menacing but in the main he just bullies people around and without his space fleet (oh yeah, they show up in time to threaten the Earth on the General’s behalf) he’s not much of a threat. Especially to Catalina, once she figures out all her powers.

So, if low budget sci fi with a British accent is your cup of tea you may want to give Catalina a try. Some of the supporting players are worthy of mention — like Sarah Waddell as a nuclear terrorist with multiple personalities, Laura Martin as the low level crook who is drafted by the General to be his aide, or Martina McClements as the Earth dwelling member of the Galactic Council.

Catalina, A New Kind of Superhero is available from the Water on the Rock website. Thanks again for the effort Mister Barker. Now Catalina is more than an island off the coast of California. She’s our very own superhero, flawed though she may be.

Catalina, A New Kind of Superhero
DVD
96 minutes
Written and directed by K. D. Barker


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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment

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About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

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