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SUPER (2010)

>> Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shut up, crime!

If you're wondering why I'm reviewing an 'old' movie, than shut up - you don't know nuttin' about nuttin'. While Super was made in 2010, it's been trickling down the festival spout and finally ended up in a screen near you just last week. So, now that I've gotten that out of the way we can talk about the movie - which needles to say, is actually quite super.

I think the most obvious comparison anybody is going to make to Super is Kick-Ass, and I don't blame them. In fact if I had to, I would imagine the Crimson Bolt in Super (played really well by Rainn Wilson) and Kick-Ass share the same universe in the way that Metropolis and Gotham City co-exist. Both superheros live in the real world in this case and both have motivations for getting their start. While Crimson Bolt is easily the weirder (or quirkier) of the two, he's also the most motivated to get the job at hand done and is less motivated to do because they're 'cool' - as I feel Kick-Ass does. But, this is a debate that could (and probably will or has) go on forever - so I will leave it alone and get back to just Super.

Wilson plays Frank, a man so easy to relate to whatever's on TV that that he falls in love with an ex-druggie named Sarah (Liv Tyler), who seems to be just as into the romantic ideals that rarely live in reality. This is where you begin to see just how much of the story of Super exists in the real world, as well as the oddities that embody a man named Frank. Not long after the honeymoon is over - the honeymoon is over and Sarah leaves Frank for greener pastures. The greener pastures in this case are played by Kevin Bacon, a drug-dealin' scum who preys on Sarah's former weakness for cocaine' and other sitch things. Powerless as he is, Frank reports a kidnapping to the police with no avail. So, quite logically, he becomes a superhero and calls himself the Crimson Bolt.

With Frank's general distaste for drug-dealers, child molesters and people who butt in line at movie theatres (damn straight!), it doesn't take long for the Crimson Bolt to do some damage around town - nor does it take him long to get noticed. Soon people are reporting a masked criminal running around assaulting people. It's not until he gets a new sidekick named Boltie (Juno's Ellen Page) that folks start recognizing Frank for his heroic efforts to clean up the city. Eventually though, he has to face his ultimate enemy in Bacon's Jacques, and fight to get his wife back.

What I really liked about Super was the realism writer and director James Gunn used as not only a comedic device but as a commentary on what being a real life superhero could be like. Not only once but twice do we get to see the vast amount of loitering the Crimson Bolt (and later Boltie) experience while "waiting around for crime to just happen". Other realistic approaches come in the form of the surprising (and unexpected) deaths in Super as well as Ellen Page's yearning to just be part of something bigger than the role she plays as someone who works in a comic book store.

Super easily gets an open door and while it's basically the same thing as Kick-Ass, I still found it better in tone. I'm not sure if it's because I like the person Frank is (a lovable loser, really), or if I've just spent so many years watching Wilson as Dwight on The Office that I know nobody else could have played this role better. Everything works really well though, and by the end you find yourself relating with Frank immensely - especially when you get to see things through his own eyes. And let's not forget Nathan Fillion as The Holy Avenger and that whole shtick. It's the cherry on top of this whole, wondrously fun and sorta touching film.

*Stills courtesy of This is That Productions


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