The Toxic Avenger, is a promising reimagination with some shortcomings.
As a die-hard fan of the iconic Troma classic “The Toxic Avenger” since the tender age of 12, my expectations were sky-high when I heard about the 2023 reimagination starring Peter Dinklage, Jacob Tremblay, Taylour Paige, Julia Davis, Jonny Coyne, Elijah Wood, and Kevin Bacon, which premiered at Fantastic Fest. While this modern adaptation had its moments, it, unfortunately, falls short of capturing the cult magic that made the original 1984 film unforgettable thanks to Lloyd Kaufman.
First and foremost, the shining star of this film is undoubtedly Peter Dinklage, who takes on the titular role of Toxie. Dinklage’s performance is a tour de force, bringing depth and humor to the character. His performance as the mild-mannered janitor and step-dad who transforms into a hulking, crime-fighting mutant is a highlight, showcasing his versatility as an actor. Dinklage is all in with what many may call his most outlandish role. On the flip side, Kevin Bacon delivers an outstanding performance as the film’s villain. His portrayal as a charismatic corporate jerk with villainous plans makes him a formidable adversary for Toxie. Bacon’s presence on screen is magnetic, and he elevates every scene he is in.
Elijah Wood’s performance, described by some as Penguin-like, is indeed unforgettable.
He brings a unique and quirky energy to his character, adding a layer of eccentricity to the film that complements the over-the-top nature of the story. Wood’s commitment to his role is commendable and adds a certain charm to the movie. However, despite these standout performances, the film needs help to live up to the legacy of the original. One of the major drawbacks is the pacing. It takes far too long for the audience to dive into the carnage and chaos that one expects from a “Toxic Avenger” film. The film’s slow build-up may leave viewers impatient, especially those familiar with the rapid and relentless pace of the original.
Dinklage’s transformation into Toxie is a central element of the story, but it is delayed and lacks the impact it should have had. His backstory also needs to be more developed, leaving audiences wanting more depth and context to his character. Furthermore, the screen time for Toxie and Elijah Wood’s characters is limited, leaving viewers craving more of their dynamic. The editing, marked by poor and fast cuts, unintentionally disrupts the film’s flow, preventing viewers from becoming fully immersed in the story. I really wanted to learn more about the brother relationship between Wood and Bacon.
I give “The Toxic Avenger” 2.5 out of 5 stars. Even though it offers a fresh take on a cult classic, it struggles to capture the essence and excitement of the original. It suffers from pacing issues, underdeveloped character backgrounds, and a lack of screen time for key characters. While it may not live up to the expectations of original fans like myself, it is worth a watch for its standout performances and modern spin on a Troma classic. My love for the original remains unshaken, as it introduced me to the bizarre and entertaining world of Troma cinema, leaving an indelible mark on my cinematic journey.