"Skull World" is a documentary that takes a look at the life of Greg Sommer -- a charasmatic individual who is taking the world by storm with the help of his alter ego. By day, Greg is your less-than typical guy who enjoys rockin' out to metal music with his friends and living life to the fullest. By night...well, it's actually by day as well...Greg takes on the persona of Skull Man! An even crazier individual who runs the Canadian-chapter of Box Wars. An underground movement were anyone can participate as long they have the fortitude to fight in battles where the costumes and weapons are made entirely out of cardboard.
Regardless of what country you're from, your race or your gender, most of us have had this idea instilled in us all our lives that there is a certain point where we have to grow up. Life is no longer about fun but responsibilities. You go and get an education, get a job, buy a house, convince someone to spend their life with you, have 2.5 children and then recycle a daily routine until you end up dead in the gardening center of your local home improvement store. This is a life style that works for some but not so much for others. "Skull World" would like to introduce you to Greg Sommer; a man who is trying to walk a path he's set in this world himself and living life by his standards. Which means doing what you love and rockin' out, man! Part of Greg's world and one of his biggest passions in life involves underground battles that are not fought with fists or weapons, but cardboard.
Justin McConnell (director of "The Collapsed") set out on a 2 and a half year venture filming "Skull World"; a documentary about his long time friend, and occasional collaborator, Greg Sommer. A rather eccentric fellow who chooses to follow his own path in life and pursue his dreams. Sometimes as himself, other times as his alternate persona Skull Man. An uncontrollable beast who's about livin' large and rockin' loud. Even more than Greg himself! But what are Greg's, or rather, Skull Man's dreams? Well, one is to run a film and video production studio. The other is to take over the world with his cardboard warriors! Okay, maybe global domination isn't one of his desires. You could say, more or less, that he is looking to entertain anyone and everyone who is willing to watch or even participate in Skull Man's Box Wars. Box Wars is a fierce battle that calls forth anyone with a warrior's spirit! …And cardboard based costumes, armor and weapons.
"Skull World" is an interesting and entertaining look at Greg 'Skull Man' Sommer; the type of guy that we all know, wish we knew or wish to be. A man who's not afraid to live life marching to the beat of his own drum, or occasionally thrashing to. Sometimes he wears a skull mask to release any inhibitions he may have, but the personality and the goals do not change. He's just rockin' out a bit harder is all. But he's the type of guy modern society would snub their nose at for not "growing up". He's a man who does freelance video production work while he can, then works in a cemetery for steady pay and when he's not doing that, he's leading the charge in cardboard wars. An event wear he and his friends dawn costumes and armor made entirely out of cardboard and arm themselves with weapons also made of cardboard. The goal: destroy the armor of the members on the opposing team (you lose by having all of your armor/costume torn off). Think of it as a hybrid of roller derby, L.A.R.P. and backyard wrestling.
There are essentially two storylines occurring within "Skull World": one is simply about Greg -- who he is and the life he lives -- and the other is about Greg's passion to get Skull Man's Box Wars out there to as many people as he can. Now, unfortunately, "Skull World" has received some negative criticism for it's supposed lack of depth and lack of emotion. Which isn't entirely true. "Skull World" isn't a movie that focuses on the drama or the negativity that may or may not be in or around Greg's life. "Skull World" is about a man who believes in fun and entertainment and the movie reflects that in it's atmosphere. It wants to entertain you with the life of a unique individual and his passions in life. Personally, I don't need to know why he wears the mask. I don't need to know about any of his broken relationships or any fights he has with friends about what they should do with the Canadian-chapter of Box Wars. I just want to see Skull Man and his compadres participate in total cardboard mayhem and what Greg does when he's not preparing for war. "Skull World" does just that and does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere that matches the personality of its subject.
Certainly that will be disappointing for some who prefer a more emotional or dramatic story in their documentary, but I believe "Skull World" provides a nice counterbalance to those as there are already plenty that offer that. Do we need one more? The movie's goal is to entertain but it still offers a personal story for viewers. After all, we are watching a movie about a man who spends 2 and a half years (In the documentary. He has invested even more time both before and after the movie.) of his life trying to develop what was essentially a backyard hobby into something that is becoming a global entertainment. It's an underdog story to extent as Greg only has the support of his friends, his family and his own passions to push him forward. And it's great to see the progression of Skull Man's Box Wars; something that went from a backyard spectacle for a public access show, to a half-time show at roller derby events and to what could possibly become a TV show.
"Skull World" may not pull on heart strings but that's okay since it doesn't need to. It's a fun and entertaining documentary about a guy who you can't help but love and cheer on while he tries to live his dreams. Something most of us give up on early in our lives. It's a well executed documentary as it does provide entertainment and an atmosphere that matches the personality of it's subject but still adds enough personal material so it isn't just entertainment nor does it bog itself down with unnecessary drama. The main story of Greg taking box wars, something that started out as a hobby amongst friends, to something much larger and turning Skull Man into a cult-icon of sorts is the compelling aspect of the movie. What helps the movie and makes Greg a great character to follow are the interjected moments between the builds and the battles that show the different interests of Greg and various adventures he finds himself on. It gives the movie some breathing room for the audience so they don't become bored with just cardboard battles and adds enough depth and personality to the movie that makes it an enjoyable watch.