Saturday, 9 July 2011

Super

Year: 2010
Director: James Gunn
Screenplay: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Andre Royo
Running Time: 96 minutes
Genre: Superhero, action, comedy, drama

Summary: Diner cook Frank D'Arbo (Wilson) has had two perfect moments in his otherwise miserable life: One was marrying recovering addict Sarah (Tyler), and the other was pointing a policeman in the direction of a fleeing purse-snatcher. When Sarah leaves him for sleazy local drug pusher Jock (Bacon), Frank falls into despair. After becoming fascinated by a TV show about a religious superhero called The Holy Avenger (Fillion), Frank experiences a divine vision in which God touches his brain. Inspired by this Frank puts together a home-made costume and sets out to fight crime as The Crimson Bolt. His favourite method is to hit criminals on the head with a pipe wrench. However, as well as drug pushers and child molestors, he also attacks people who happen to push ahead of him at the movies. Frank's activities attract the attention of excitable comic-book store clerk Libby (Page) who becomes his sidekick, Boltie. However it turns out that she is even more violent than Frank is.

Opinions: Let's get the obvious thing out of the way first: With it's concept of an ordinary person becoming a superhero despite having no powers or real abilities is bound to be compared to Kick Ass (2010) which was released a year earlier and has a very similar theme. In fact in both plot and style the films are very different. Super is a darker film, and more ambiguous. Frank D'Arbo is pretty obviously unhinged right from the start, while Dave Lizewski (the protagonist of Kick Ass) is basically a guy who has read a few too many comic-books.
The film is basically a dark comedy but there are several genuinely disturbing violent scenes which pull the laughs up short. The scene where Frank almost beats together a guy and a girl for cutting in line at the movies is really disturbing because it is both funny and very shocking.
As the intense, deranged but starngely likeable oddball at the centre of the film Rainn Wilson does a brilliant job with a character who is not too far removed from his most famous role as Dwight Schrute in the US version of The Office. The scene where he breaks down into a self-hating rant is a superb performance. Ellen Page, however, comes close to stealing the film as the psychotic comic-book store clerk and superhero fan who sees in Frank the chance to live out her fantasies. She also has a genuinely creepy seduction scene. By the way, this movie convinced me that if they ever make a movie of the X23 comic-book Ellen Page would be perfect for the lead role.
This movie is bound to be a big cult movie in years to come. Some audiences will probably be put off by the uneasy tone, shifting from laugh out loud comedy to intense violence, and some may find the lead characters difficult to warm to, but for superhero fans looking for something edgier this is a must-see.
I enjoyed the hell out of it.


"Actually, the guys kinda got a point. I mean, I wonder all the time why no-one's never just stood up and become a real superhero."
- Libby (Ellen Page) in Super



"Shut up, crime!": Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson in Super

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