Super (2010)

Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson
  Ellen Page
  Liv Tyler
  Kevin Bacon

Going off the footage in the trailer, Super could very easily have been written off as a Kick Ass facsimile, but the film itself is a very different beast indeed. From Troma graduate James Gunn comes a wry, morally bankrupt, smart, fun and dark as hell superhero movie. It’s no real surprise that this comes from the mind of the same man that directed Slither and wrote 2004′s Dawn Of The Dead remake and Tromeo & Juliet (which, if you believe the rumours, he also directed).

Super is the sort of film that audiences will either love or hate. Some people will be disgusted at the slew of senseless violence on display, others just won’t get it, but some will adore it’s cockeyed tale of everyman Frank D’Arbo.

The only two worthwhile moments in Franks life are pointing a policeman in the direction of the criminal he is chasing and marrying the love of his life Sarah. When Frank comes home one day to find that his wife (Liv Tyler), a former drug addict, has left him for a sleazy dealer named Jacques (Kevin Bacon) he vows to get her back in whatever manner necessary. In his fragile state of mind he becomes disillusioned with the number of crimes going on around him and one day, after an hallucination in which Gods finger touches his brain (yes, really) and with an idea implanted by Libby, the girl from the local comic book shop, he decides that the best course of action is to become a real life superhero and change things for the better.

Donning a homemade red and yellow spandex costume and becoming The Crimson Bolt, Frank Vows to find Jacques and his henchmen, rid the World of their evildoings and get his wife back. Along the way he, somewhat unwillingly, enlists the help of Libby who becomes his enthusiastic, and occasionally psychopathic sidekick Boltie. The two of them then embark on a spree of vigilantiism that makes Kick Ass’s Hit Girl look cartoonish and tame by comparison.

Rainn Wilson is startlingly good as Super’s bumbling, Joe Average protagonist and one can only hope that he chooses more roles like this and Hesher than appalling comedies like The Rocker. He’s ably assisted by a cast of colourful supporting actors who all turn in memorable roles too, with particular mention going to Nathan Fillion’s TV evangelist superhero and Ellen Page as the maniacal but well meaning Libby. Movie veteran Michael Rooker is, sadly, a little wasted in a minor role, Liv Tyler is a tad underwhelming and Linda Cardellini is tragically underused in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as a pet shop employee, but otherwise the performances are first rate all around.

The generous dose of explicit violence, morally ambiguous sex scene and the fact that the film is championing a character who is as violent, if not more so, as the people he doles out his vigilante brand of justice to, not to mention mentally damaged and borderline schizophrenic, will alienate many of the films potential audience. Those who aren’t easily shocked however, are in a for a treat. The script is smart and incredibly darkly funny in places and the pacing is perfect with absolutely no moments that drag or feel like they’re there to extend the running time.

With it’s snappy direction, colourful comic book-esque sequences, excellent performances and the fact that Gunn almost refuses to take a moral standpoint, Super is bound to become a cult classic that will be enjoyed for decades to come. Shocking in places, jaw droppingly brutal, funny, droll and thoroughly entertaining with an underlying mean-streak, Super is fantastic and surprisingly uplifting.

There’s nothing left to say except watch this movie. That, and “Shut up, Crime!”

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

4 Comments on “Super”

  1. Mondo says:

    Without a doubt the most underrated film of the year. Surprised you didn’t mention Kevin Bacon’s truly fantastic Bad Guy turn though – the final scene between him and Raine Wilson is absolutely fantastic.

  2. Rag says:

    This film really didn’t float my boat. It struck me as a film that didn’t really know what it wanted to be. It started out as a rather black comedy. Very dry. This is something that Wilson (who I am not a huge fan of) does pretty well. But then it does a bit of a switch and tries to turn dark and gritty. And it does get dark and gritty.

    To be honest I cannot draw fault from any of the performences or the story or the production. It is all good. But it doesn’t mesh. Mr Bacon hits his groove and sticks to it. Liv is a goddess, and I will fight anyone who says different (I will probably lose, but will do so knowing I am fighting on the side of right). Raine does a crackin job of dry tongue in cheek loser hero. And the annoying whiney bitch from Juno is perfectly whiney and annoying. But they all seem to be out of step.

    Everyone seems to have a different idea of where the black comedy ends and the dark drama begins. Whether this is down to Gunn’s lack of decisive vision, or caving to the creative demands/input of his stars, I could not say. But he was in charge, so I blame him.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Scooby-Doo movies (nostalgia makes me a lot more forgiving). But he really needs to step it up before I bow down at the altar of him.

    IMHO it needs to have 2 or 3 skulls less.

  3. Jamie Carruthers says:

    I’m with you, Rag. It just didn’t vibe with me in the right way. I’ve watched it twice now just to make sure it wasn’t my mood or whatever, but no.

    Like everyone is saying; the performances are all excellent, the gore is handled well, but the tone is so spread thin that it just doesn’t sit well.

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