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rochefort [Film Festival 03.14.11] movie review action comedy drama

Year: 2010
Directors: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 8 out of 10

When Frank D'Arbo's (Rainn Wilson) ex-junkie wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) backslides into her old ways and hooks up with dealer/all-around scumbag Jacques (Kevin Bacon), Frank does what any reasonable person would do: He takes inspiration from an access-channel Christian superhero called the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), stitches together a costume, and goes out in search of crime to fight. Dubbing himself the Crimson Bolt, Frank's weapon of choice is a massive wrench that he uses to make good on his admonishment "Shut up, crime!" Eventually aided by his trusty sidekick, comic book clerk Libby (who christens herself "Boltie"), the duo set out to right wrongs and beat up thugs, vigilante style.

Let's just get one thing out of the way right now: the promotional campaign for this, the latest from James Gunn (who wrote the script for Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead"), simply does not prepare you for just how messed up this movie is. I think most will garner from the trailer that "Super" is "Kick-Ass" from a more indie, more eccentric perspective, which is definitely true, but it's also much, much more. Actually, "Super" is the film that proves "Kick-Ass" was indeed the high-profile beginning of a new kind of superhero movie, while at the same time shoots for such extreme heights that it makes whole chunks of the former seem tame and restrained. Unlike "Defendor", another recent post-mod take on crazy men in costume that never really ignited, "Super" is flat-out psychotic, and could even be considered quasi-grindhouse were it not so well-written and -paced for most of its runtime. The performances are good to great: Wilson brings all the stern crazy that's made him famous, but also takes every opportunity Gunn gives him to inject the character of Frank with unexpected depth and pathos. One scene wherein he prays to God for guidance goes from oddball to strikingly moving in the span of a few lines. For all of us who know we're far from perfect, his brazen honesty and heartbreaking insecurity will hit like a stone in the stomach. Wilson is also smart enough to know when to share the spotlight with Page, who steals the second act and seems to really come alive under Gunn's direction. So it is with Bacon, Tyler, and Michael Rooker (as Jacques' head thug), all of whom turn in their most interesting work in a long time.

One warning, however: this baby is loaded with machine-gun shifts in tone, and while the audience at the Paramount rode the rhythm and was fully responsive from start to end (I easily missed about twenty lines of dialogue due to the laughter), it's likely that mainstream audiences won't be quite as accommodating, especially since Gunn (who also wrote the script) takes potshots at everybody and refuses to spell out much. Everything from Frank's moral imperative, to the treatment of modern (and, at least in terms of its cautionary media, super-cheesy) Christianity, to the violence in the film (which is often very gory and just as often ludicrously excessive) is depicted for laughs or shock value one minute, then in a decidedly, sometimes confusingly profound light the next. And you know what? Bravo. So much of what constitutes the blogosphere's ongoing crusade for originality and daring in modern cinema amounts to little if we can't let films like this one take their risks and catch us off guard.

While it's definitely not controversial on the level of, say, "A Serbian Film", "Super" is likely to meet some resistance from some corners of the geek elite who often demand brilliance but just as often are really only reinforcing their own slight modification of the status quo, and Gunn's script gives the finger to that kind of thinking. Frank and Libby are, for the most part, psychotic, and it's hard to find anyone in this story who doesn't also have quite a bit of damage baggage, so if you're looking for another movie to use as an representative example of your own moral correctness, you'd probably do just as well to go with "Taxi Driver" or "Falling Down". It's playing in that sort of backyard. The main difference is that "Super" is the funniest black comedy of its kind by a long shot. If you're the sort of viewer who can appreciate it when a film really goes there, by all means see this. It doesn't hurt that this is one genuinely funny, genuinely entertaining slice of midnight madness.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

" likely to meet some resistance from some corners of the geek elite who often demand brilliance but just as often are really only reinforcing their own slight modification of the status quo, and Gunn's script gives the finger to that kind of thinking."

This line is awesome. You now have a new reader. Fuck the status quo (in all its forms).


John (11 years ago) Reply

Link to the trailer is wrong:


agentorange (11 years ago) Reply

Fixed :)


Hassassin (10 years ago) Reply


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