Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Supersisters”: Review. There was potential, but there was no genre self-awareness

  • Teenage Ala (Katarzyna Gałązka) does not fit into the provincial world around her. He still rebels and acts against his father (Grzegorz Damięcki), a physics teacher at a local school. When Ala accidentally discovers that he has superpowers and meets his sister Lena (Karolina Bruchnicka), which she never knew existed, her life turns upside down – literally.
  • Movie “Super sisters” directed by Maciej Barczewski can be seen in Polish cinemas from May 10.

In one of the interviews, Barczewski says that he grew up on Spielberg's new adventure cinema. This can be seen very clearly in the new film by the director of “The Master”. Joe Dante's films (“Gremlins Are Roaring”, “Uptown”, “Matinee”) must be very close to him in particular, since the pro-family message of his superhero story about separated sisters with superpowers resonates so strongly.

Ala (Katarzyna Gałązka) and Lena (Karolina Bruchnicka) were subjected to experiments in the late 1980s by a secret cell of the Polish People's Army. Headed by a cartoonishly demonic colonel (Marek Kalita), the facility is officially closed after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the defeat of the Evil Empire. As befits a villain from Austin Powers, the colonel does not want to come to terms with this and, with Hector (Mateusz Kościukiewicz), who looks like Bolo Young from “Double Strike”, at his side, he pursues his sister, who was freed from his underwater laboratory. Ala does not know that her father (Grzegorz Damięcki), who teaches physics at a provincial high school, is actually a scientist from the communist army, who took part in a secret experiment in the past, and decided to save her and raise her unaware of his origins. The colonel didn't forget about her. Lena, who rides in a wheelchair, like Charles Xavier from “X-Men”, was not forgotten either, and Ala had no idea of ​​her existence.

The tracing paper covers the tracing paper, and the diagram follows the diagram. There's nothing wrong with that, as we get classic superhero cinema from the VHS era. It's just that we are already 8 years after the premiere of the first season of “Stranger Things”, which was built on the same concept. Barczewski and co-screenwriter Krzysztof Gureczny made a film for viewers who know perfectly well the story, which refers to the entire cinema of the 1980s, about secret services (American, not Soviet) experiments on children with superpowers. Eleven, whose copies are Ala and Lena, has become an iconic part of global pop culture. So I expected that the creators of “Supersisters” would ironically paraphrase “Stranger Things” instead of turning it into a simple… rip-off. There is a direct reference to the Duffer series at the very end of the film, when the heroine mentions Hawkins, Indiana, but it looks like a calculated ploy by Netflix. Well, unless we get some crossover of the universes from Poland and Arizona in the 1980s in the sequel, which would be an absolutely delicious idea.

The biggest problem of “Supersisters” is the lack of self-deprecating humor. I don't expect the self-awareness of “Deadpool” or “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but Barczewski could take a look at James Gunn's superhero cinema, which masterfully ridicules the rules of the genre without deviating from the Marvel (now rival DC) canon. “Supersisters” is reminiscent of “Flash Gordon” or “Punisher” with Dolph Lundgren. Everything is too serious and drawn with too heavy a hand. While this works well in family-friendly threads filled with a Joe Dante atmosphere, in the climactic action scenes the director leans towards Marek Piestrak, who, however, has a solid budget for special effects. Gałązka and Bruchnicka, as well as Dżer (Tymoteusz Frączek), modeled on Dustin from Stranger Things, are good at building friendships and sisterly relationships, but in the final duel Lena looks like a heroine from Dario Argento's horror films who overdosed on sugar from panna cotta. The cartoonishness of these scenes would be much less if the creators winked at us from the very beginning and balanced on the verge of self-parody. Or maybe they do it but I don't notice?

“Supersisters” is also devoid of a typically Polish element, which would distinguish the film from superhero mutations from global cinema. Everything is set in the early 1990s, when teenagers listen to Western pop, led by George Michael's “Freedom”, and not Polish hits. Instead of food trucks, they have casserole stands, and kids run around the streets instead of Chevrolets. But nothing comes of it, except that the creators are sentimentally playing on retro longing, in the style of “Stranger Things”. A Walkman here and a Walkman there. An amusement park here instead of Fortnite, and an amusement park there instead of game streaming. It's a pity that no attempt was made to place Polish teenagers with Sumerpowers in the unique atmosphere of Poland chasing the American dream seen in “Dynasty”. There was plenty of scope for the screenwriters, but a safe imitation of Hawkins was chosen. Okay, there's a joke about Lech Wałęsa. Almost as numb as the one from “Aftermath”.

This does not mean that “Supersisters” is a failed film. We are pleased that the producer duo Aneta Hickenbotham and Leszek Bodzak are not afraid to invest in pure entertainment cinema again. In the case of this film, we could use more self-ironic spark and the courage to mix Yankee postmodernism with Polish familiarity, which determined the success of “Scythe” by the same producer duo. Well, maybe the creators will spread their wings in the sequel and it will turn out that the sisters still have some part of the world to save. The 1990s in Poland were, after all, a time with many valleys of snakes.


“Supersisters”, dir. Maciej Barczewski. Release date: May 10, 2024

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