05 September 2011

Movies: Super

Super (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1512235/

Dark comedy / Action / Drama

Frank the fry-cook's wife leaves him and shacks up with a drug dealer. Devastated and feeling powerless, he decides to become a superhero (without superpowers) to fight evil, especially the guy that stole his wife. He becomes The Crimson Bolt, fighting crime with a pipe wrench. Along the way Libby, a  comic book store cashier, becomes Boltie, the Crimson Bolt's sidekick.

Very dark comedy starring Rainn Wilson (the Office, House of 1000 Corpses, etc) as Frank. With Liv Tyler as Frank's wife Sarah, and little Ellen Page as Libby.  Kevin Bacon is Jaques the drug dealer. You'll probably also recognize Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog) as The Holy Avenger. There's even a brief appearance by Linda Cardellini. You'd probably recognize her from Freaks & Geeks, E.R., or as Velma in the live-action Scooby-Doo flicks.

That said, I loved the casting. Granted, Kevin Bacon as a smarmy drug dealer isn't a stretch. But the casting of Wilson and Page is perfect because you wouldn't normally anticipate either in such outrageous roles. Fillion's Holy Avenger isn't much further afield than his Captain Hammer, but it works and is amusing.

Comparisons with the film "Kick Ass" are unavoidable. Both films involve regular guys deciding to dress up as superheroes and fight crime on their own. But that's about where the similarities end. "Kick Ass", despite its violence, is nowhere near as dark as this film.

It is a low-budget indie production, and it shows in the camera work. Not saying it's bad, it just looks more gritty and almost documentary-ish. A lot less polished looking than the "Kick Ass" production.  That still isn't saying that it is badly produced. Quite the contrary. Its production helps emphasize the film's tone. The indie-style camerawork lends a more 'realistic' feel to the film.

This movie gets violent. Very violent. Way more violent than "Kick Ass".  Brutally violent. And gory.
There isn't really a "Good" vs. "Bad" feel to the film either. It's a little more along the lines of Frank is the central character, you're made to feel sorry for him in his situation, so you're rather on his side from the start. But Frank is duller and more powerless than Rainn Wilson looks. Page's Libby is energetically more out-of-control than she looks. And Bacon's Jaques is as smarmy as the role requires. When it comes down to it, it's less a "Good vs. Bad" story and more down to degrees of schizophrenic, sociopathic and psychopathic behaviors.  None of the central characters are "normal" folks. And, unlike in "Kick Ass", all the character flaws in "Super" are on display.

As much as I liked "Kick Ass", I think I liked "Super" a little more for its edgier and darker story. Plus "Super" is in some ways more believable than "Kick Ass". The characters have real problems, real issues. The story is also more driven and tighter, and seemingly a little less sanitized.  The comedy is more subtle than in "Kick Ass" too. "Super" is closer to "American Psycho" on the dark comedy scale, although not quite as messed up as AP.

I liked it, it appeals to the macabre and morbid humor centers.

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