Making the Grades
This movie features some of the best actors in the business, including Bill Cosby and James Earl Jones. Robert Townsend stars, and he wrote and directed the film. That may be where the problem lies, as it seems that both writer and director needed to stand back a bit so they could see the big picture.
This is your usual superhuman story. Townsend plays Jefferson Reed, a meek and quiet substitute school teacher. "Run from confrontation," he tells his students, and he too does all he can to avoid lurking street gangs. Then one day he gets hit by a meteor that leaves him with superhuman powers. Now he is seen as the savior of the neighborhood, as he takes on the Golden Lords, a funny looking gang with blond brush cuts, that seem far too conspicuous for the undercover drug work they claim to do.
Following the great superhuman plot, Reed's powers come and go at inappropriate times, leaving his friends to fight for themselves. And there is the big confrontation at the end of the film, where you think a great ending may be lurking as it appears the neighborhood is going to have to stand up to the gang for themselves. Well, in fine Hollywood tradition, this wonderful finish is not considered. Instead, a ridiculous fight scene drags on and on, where the gang leader and Meteor Man have it out on the street. Somebody phone the police! Finally for no reason, Meteor Man finds his powers again and saves the day.
Even without the flat ending, gangs are a serious problem, and these guys are too real to fall into the Superman villain category. They also employ many young children who gather drug money in lunch boxes. The kids are used as a comedy tool, but seeing kids used for criminal actions is no joke. Meteor Man offers little in entertainment or life experience.