Super (2010)

September 09, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

No more what ifs, because there are several places where “real superheroes” have popped up, and they’re anything but impressive; however, what if one of theses individuals truly went blood and guts all out? Enter Super by director James Gunn. There have been a few “real super-hero” movies that have come out in the past few years, such as Kick-Ass and Defendor, but Super still manages to stand out. The film stars Rainn Wilson in the lead role, Liv Tyler, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon. After Frank, played by Wilson, has his wife Sarah taken away by drug dealers, he is sent a holy message to shut crime up, and he does so by bashing it with his pipe wrench.

Director James Gunn penned a wildy funny, dark script that just delivers the goods in such an oddly fun manner that it’s hard to look away from the screen. The script tells a standard revenge story, with very quirky characters and a few twists that are done well; in addition, it has the balls to do some damage. Visually, the film is colorfully inventive and very imaginative, especially when we get to observe the mechanisms of Frank’s brain, in one scene we do so literally, and it’s completely off the wall. Frank’s dreams and hallucinations are comical, odd and dark. For example, he dreams of an octopus-like creature holding him down, along with his blankets that have come to life, and the finger of God touching his head. How does this all add up? Gunn and the cast make it work. The action scenes are gritty and hard-hitting, mixed with 1960s Batman Wham! and Bam! text on the screen. The gore isn’t diluted one bit, so that we can taste every drop of blood the Crimson Bolt bashes out of crime.

The entire cast does a solid job, and Rainn Wilson is up for the challenge. Wilson, as Frank, is a pure-bred loser that flips burgers, and he transitions wonderfully into the Crimson Bolt. His transition is seen in the rise of his level of psychopathy, as it grows into a monster when he loses Sarah. His character also gets one to think that superheroes with no powers, like Batman, would be psychopaths if they were real. Wilson is awkward in an entertaining way, but he also has an insane glare  in his eyes that makes you believe his commitment to stopping crime. Ellen Page, as Libby, is initially a comic book geek, but turns into the Crimson Bolt’s sidekick named Boltie. Page, as Boltie,  is a lightning rod of energy, always eager to do something and desperate to be someone, as she admires the superheroes in comic books.Page truly energizes the film, and mixes things up when the film loses some down the road.

Super is rough around the edges, and it chooses to show the darker side of being a “real superhero,” but it’s quite an entertaining film.  Frank as Crimson Bolt could’ve easily been a Travis Bickle, if Bickle was in a comedy, and that makes it an interesting film to watch, even knowing that it misfires at times. Future cult classic? Yes.

Potential Drawbacks:

The violence of the film may be overdone for some, as it gets a bit excessive at times. There’s only so many ways that Rainn Wilson can crack a guy’s skull open with a wrench. In addition, Rainn Wilson does a solid job, and he is pretty hilarious in the film, but there are moments where he may feel dull to some viewers. There are times when one may wonder if he’s doing drama at all or if he’s just simply trying to and it comes out as comical.

Although there are many unique scenes throughout the film, it may seem to some viewers that the Crimson Bolt goes through the same things that big-budget superhero film characters go through. There are variations to the superhero start-up formula, but not enough to pry the film away completely from that formula.

The chemistry between Liv Tyler and Rainn Wilson just wasn’t strong enough, and some say it wasn’t there at all. This is supposed to be the woman that fires up Frank’s determination to do all the insane things he does. Frank does turn into the psychopathic Crimson Bolt, but sometimes the audience might wonder if Sarah is worth all the trouble and is the sole reason for his “evolution.”

There will no doubt be complaints about Ellen Page’s character, as Libby is provocative at times. Simple: if you’re looking for clean fun, this ain’t it.

Film Recommendations:

Kick Ass

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