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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 08.08.11] movie review news action comedy

Year: 2010
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8 out of 10

[Editor's Note: rochefort had a similar reaction when he saw the film at SXSW. Read his review.]

It's pretty much a given that when James Gunn's name is attached to something, it's going to be a little twisted. Slither had its moments though the film really succeeded in its mix of comedy and traditional effects but you just know that when Gunn set off to make a superhero movie, this wasn't going to be your typical superhero.

Frank (Rainn Wilson) is your typical working schmuck. He's married to a beautiful woman named Sara (Liv Tyler), a recovering drug addict who is soon swooped away by a drug dealing sleaze names Jacques (Kevin Bacon). After a strange close encounter with God (complete with weird tentacles, brain opening and being touched by God's disgusting finger) and a little additional support from The Holy Avenger, Frank decides he's going to turn into a vigilante justice fighter and The Crimson Bolt is born. With a handy wrench as his weapon of choice, Crimson Bolt goes around shutting up crime by bashing criminal minds to a bloody pulp. He soon picks up a sidekick by the name of Boltie, a comic store employee who takes a shinning to the idea of kicking butt. The not so dynamic duo eventually learn a few tricks and set off on their biggest assignment: to rescue Sara from Jacques and return Frank's life to a happy place.

From the get go it's clear that Gunn's movie isn't exactly your run of the mill superhero in action tale. Frank's religious revelation that leads to his crime fighting days is creepy, his name is irksome and his crude weapon makes for gross and bloody fighting; perfect for Gunn who can put his practical effects team to good use, a nice change from digital effects. But the blood, gore and explosions aren't my favourite parts of Super. That's reserved for the story itself which is chalk full of goodness, some of it very twisted. Gunn's film takes on vigilante justice unlike other films by grounding itself in reality. This isn't Nolan's Batman. If anything, the current incarnation of Batman feels like a true comic book hero compared to Crimson Bolt.

Of course a guy without powers or knowledge of weapons is going to use whatever is handy – a wrench is a good a weapon as any. And then there's the question of what is crime and what isn't. Who decides? There are two great scenes: one in which Boltie encourages the beatdown of a guy who keyed her girlfriend's car and another when Crimson Bolt beats a man and a woman senseless because they butted in line at a movie theatre, which directly speak to this idea. They're both hilarious and brutally violent but extremely effective.

I haven't cared much for Rainn Wilson in anything beyond his stint on "Six Feet Under" but I found his characterization of Frank appealing and his transformation from regular Joe to justice seeker bizarrely believable – if you're a little off your rocker. Still, his fight to get the girl back is sweet and earnest. Ellen Page's Libby/Boltie is a ball of frantic energy, jumping into the situation before thinking which makes an interesting counterpart to Frank's more reserved approach. Kevin Bacon overacts his way through yet another bad guy though this time, it fits well into the universe created by Gunn and his team while Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry have great appearances as supporting characters. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the man behind the voice of God without looking it up.

On the surface Super may seem like another take on the low budget "regular Joe goes superhero" track we've been seeing lately but the bits this has in common with 2009's Defendor (review) are miniscule and if you thought Kick-Ass (review) was questionable, you'd better prepare yourself for Gunn's ingenious grindhouse superhero. Not only does Super provide more than enough gore to keep Gunn's Troma fans happy, it offers up something else too: a genuinely likeable lead in a movie that really gets to the core of the messed up world of the superhero.

Super is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, August 9th.

DVD Extras: Not too many extras on this release. DVD features one deleted scene, a 20 minute making of which includes interviews with the stars, producers and director. Best part of this release, aside from the movie itself, is the commentary with Gunn and Wilson.

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chuck (10 years ago) Reply

This film was very good. So much more than what I was expecting. The scene towards the end when they pan towards Boltie and, well, no spoilers but it was shocking and gutsy. This film gave me a new respect for Mr. Wilson and Ms. Page.


kall (10 years ago) Reply

I know Ellen Page is supposed to be 22 in the movie but i had a strange pedobear feeling when she slept with the hero. She looks so young that's kind of weird. Anyway she was great in the movie, complete nutcase, full of energy and involvement.


ToeCutter (10 years ago) Reply

Saw this a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised, it's a decent flick.

Without spoiling anything, there are some downright shocking scenes of violence for a movie that appears to be somewhat tongue in cheek for the first half or so.

Good flick though, and I agree that both Wilson and Page were far better than expected.

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