Review by Sean Boelman
The iconic comic book writer Alan Moore notoriously hates many of the screen adaptations of his work, so fans will undoubtedly find it exciting to see an original film from his mind. However, despite expectedly strong world-building, a generic neo-noir plot keeps The Show from being as memorable as Moore’s other creations.
The film follows a private investigator on a search for a lost artifact in a world of masked vigilantes, vampires, femme fatales, and other wacky characters. It’s seemingly a world constructed out of the many tropes that Moore has worked with in the past, and while it feels very lived-in, it’s also overstuffed.
Moore’s style is extremely dense, and that doesn’t necessarily translate well to a stand-alone feature-length format. There are so many subplots and one-off elements introduced here that will pique viewers' interest, only for the film to move to the next weird thing. It’s as if Moore didn’t trust the audience enough to linger on details.
Director Mitch Jenkins does a great job of bringing Moore’s world to life. It’s a gorgeous-looking film, blending the dark and grimy style of neo-noir with the colorful and surreal superhero visuals. And the production design, along with the makeup and hairstyling, are about as strong as they come.
As for the central storyline, it’s nothing spectacular but it’s well-done for what it is. Moore certainly knows how to write a detective story having done his fair share of them, but it retreads a lot of ground that has already been covered before. The film is at its best when it really goes off the deep end and leans more into the surreal elements.
The development for the protagonist is a little thin, but it works given the nature of the film. He is supposed to be an ambiguous and mysterious character, and so the fact that we don’t get much information on him until the second half makes sense. And the crew of supporting players created for the film is interesting as well.
Tom Burke’s lead performance in the film is excellent, as he has a great leading man quality to him reminiscent of the classics of the noir genre. He’s really charming, and this is part of what makes the film so compelling. In the supporting cast, Darrell D’Silva gives a strong and chameleonic turn.
The Show doesn’t live up to the expectations that fans of Alan Moore will undoubtedly have for it, but it’s still entirely sufficient for what it is. Ultimately, it’s a lot of great moments and ideas that don’t come together as well as they could.
The Show screens in theaters for one night only on August 26.