Saturday, April 23, 2011

Super - Digital Download Review


Theatrical Release Date: April 1, 2011

With the super hero genre becoming so overstuffed anymore it is inevitable that we start to get entries that tackle the subject from different angles. While Super isn't the first independent film to treat the world of super heroes in a realistic manner it is without a doubt the craziest movie dealing with masked vigilantes that I have ever seen.

Review Vital Stats:
Service: Xbox Zune Marketplace
Download Type: Rental
Picture Quality: HD

Loves: Ellen Page, Nathan Fillion, bat shit crazy films
Likes: Rainn Wilson, Kevin Bacon, super hero movies
Neutral: Liv Tyler
Hates: The MPAA
Most: Realistic super hero film ever

From director James Gunn, the same man that was responsible for giving us the fun and sadly forgotten little horror comedy Slither from a few years back, has returned to give us a super hero film that is unlike any other to come before it. And yes, I am including such entries as Kick-Ass which I love to death and even the more obscure Woody Harrelson movie Defendor. While both those films and countless others are have attempted the realistic approach to the super hero genre they always veered off in some other direction. Kick-Ass may have started off being quasi-realistic but ended up being a real super hero movie when all was said and done. Defendor took the approach of having the hero being a mentally handicapped person who wasn't really protecting people as he hunted down an imaginary villain. Super may not be the first comic book movie to ask the question of what would happen if a normal every day person tried to stop crime but it is the first one to answer it in the most bizarre and insane way possible.

Frank (Rainn Wilson) is just your average guy. He works at a hole in the wall restaurant by day and comes home to his lovely wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) each night. Frank has had only two life defining moments amid a history laden with tortuous events. The first was his wedding day where he saved his wife from a long life of drug abuse and the second was a time when he kinda sorta aided a police officer chase down a criminal. His life for all intents and purposes was fulfilled...until the day arrived when Sarah just up and disappeared. Her whereabouts isn't exactly a mystery though. Just before she vanished Frank was visited by a strange man named Jacques (Kevin Bacon) whom he proceeds to refer to as Jock (he seriously thinks that is the guy's name). Jacques apparently had met Sarah and after discovering a past that was littered with substance abuse of all kinds decided to use that as a means to steal her away from Frank.

Frank and Sarah aren't quite as put together as they appear.

Frank tries repeatedly to get Sarah back by attempting to file a missing persons report with a detective (Gregg Henry) and going straight to the source by visiting Jacques's club. After failure after failure he soon realizes that he must take matters into his own hands and does what any logical thinking person would do...becomes a super hero. Or at least he tries to anyway. Inspired by a very cheesy television super hero called The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), who reminds me a lot of Bibleman by the way, and a very literal moment when God touches his brain he conjures up the masked vigilante known as The Crimson Bolt. After taking some notes from a local comic book shop employee named Libby (Ellen Page) who herself is quite the geek when it comes to the world of super heroes, he is out there in no time flat battling crime of all types trying to work up the nerve and gain the skills necessary to break Sarah free from the evil clutches of Jacques.

Super is one of the few films I have seen where I honestly had no idea where any of it was leading. I thought I knew where it was going with it being rooted in the comic book genre and all but found myself being caught off guard at multiple points where something would happen that any other sane film would steer clear of. With this being a "realistic" point of view of someone battling the forces of evil (drug pushers, pedophiles, line butters) I thought I was prepared for something along the lines of last years Kick-Ass when it came to the violence. That film took a no holds barred approach with its heroes getting the crap beat out of them including a blood thirsty 12 year old girl that was particularly violent. It wasn't until I saw Super that I realized just how un-realistic that movie actually was though.

Jacques and his henchmen send Frank home empty handed.

The Crimson Bolt's main tool of destruction is your simple garden variety pipe wrench. Since we know he isn't out to fix people's plumbing problems it's pretty evident that he is gonna use that thing to basically beat down any evildoers he comes across. The difference here from those other films is that when he embeds that wrench into someones head it doesn't just leave a giant bruise, it usually splits their head open. I wasn't prepared for how brutal and bloody this movie was going to be. Every time Frank would commence with his way of shutting up crime I found myself wincing and giggling at the same time. Some of the things he does is just so dam nuts that you have to laugh at it which brings me to another point that needs to be made.

This film is chalk full of mentally unbalanced individuals. The things they do or say are not inherently funny, when a man has a giant brick dropped on to his head from two floors up it will kill the guy. But the way the director makes light of such horrible actions is by adding these comic book overlays on the screen such as "CRACK!" or "BAM!" which harkins back to the glory days of the old Batman television series. The difference here is that even though those funny cards pop up, the people that have been attacked are usually seriously injured. I guess if I were to label the type of humor the film deals with I would have to say it is a black comedy of sorts. We laugh at Frank's actions because no sane individual would ever do any of the things he does or that of his sidekick Boltie.

And thus The Crimson Bolt has been created!

Ah yes, Boltie. That comic book store clerk I mentioned earlier, Abby, well she is kind of The Crimson Bolt's biggest fan. When she finally discovers his secret identity (trust me, she didn't have to try too hard) she stops at nothing to get in on the fun. Yeah, she finds the idea of running around town dressed in a costume beating people to death to be a fun night out. Frank being not of sane mind himself let's her join as his trusty sidekick Boltie. If you thought Frank was out of his mind as he pummels people to near death with his wrench just wait until you see what Abby tries to pull on the public. Their first encounter with a "villain" is just some guy that MAYBE keyed the car of a friend of Abby's. So what does she do, she storms into the guy's house and attempts to murder the guy while the whole time acting as giddy as a school girl. It's as if our two heroes are only reenacting things they have seen in movies or read in comic books without thinking of the real world consequences that come with those actions.

Watching Frank as The Crimson Bolt and Abby as Boltie roam around town fighting evil is the framework for everything but there is just so much more going on here than that. If you were to look between the lines (or panels) you would see there is an underlying message that is being conveyed. All the gags and super hero cliches are there to serve the purpose of letting us see what would actually happen if someone tried to be a real super hero and it's not pretty. It isn't only the bad guys that get horribly wounded but our "heroes" as well. What happens when they confront an armed assailant? They get shot is what happens, they aren't bulletproof. OK then, what happens if they wear a bulletproof vest? Well the vest doesn't cover the WHOLE body now does it? On top of which wearing a vest like that makes it kind of difficult to do a lot of acrobatic maneuvers in the heat of battle.

Boltie is one of the most bat shit insane heroes ever.

Super isn't the first film to point out such things, the aforementioned Kick-Ass and the very old comic book comedy Blankman made me aware of such problems with a bulletproof vest a long time ago. But this film has much more going for it than that. The mere fact that our two heroes are crazy people is one aspect I don't think I have ever come across before. Usually it is the villains that are crazy or unbalanced, here it is the other way around with all of their enemies being fairly controlled individuals. You don't see Jacques's henchmen setting someone on fire and then putting an entire clip of bullets in them now do you? I gotta admit though that that is a brilliant decision to have our protagonists be the real threat to everyone's safety as they try to deliver their own brand of justice. With all the comic book movies coming out anymore it was a breath of fresh air to sit down and watch something completely original in a sea full of clones.

Originality, that is what made everything click for me with Super. The characters are unique and most of the things they do I have never seen before, at least not in this light. With this being an unrated film the director was free to do whatever he wanted and so he did. Not being tied down by the MPAA or big studio politics allowed him to stuff this thing with as much crazy shit as he could. Anyone wanting to know what an R-rated Wolverine attack would be like or has ever wondered what kind of sexual activity goes on between a hero and his sidekick will have that wish fulfilled here in glorious detail. I cannot disregard the actors though, Rainn Wilson took his personality from the character of Dwight that he plays on the television show The Office and made him into a seriously disturbed man that now instead of threatening people destroys them. The rest of the cast with Kevin Bacon and Liv Tyler did fine jobs with Bacon being a adequate enough villain overall.

Time to stock up on supplies for the massacre that awaits.

The one member of the cast that blew me away though was Ellen Page as Abby/Boltie. Anyone familiar with her past work probably has the same image in their head that I do when they picture her in a film. She usually plays that snarky, extremely smart teenager that rattles out witticisms like there were no tomorrow. Well be prepared to be surprised because you will find none of that here, Ellen Page is quite simply a revelation as Boltie. The amount of glee she displays when she kills someone is simply hilarious. She is so amped up to get out there and rip someones throat out for any reason she can find that her energy level will drive most people into laughter simply because there is no other possible response to her craziness. At one point she dispatches a foe and doesn't have a witty one liner to spout, so she instead points a finger laughing just after she clipped their legs off by ramming a car into them. But there is one line of dialog she delivers in an appropriately creepy fashion that will stick with me forever. All I have to say is, "It's all gushy".

Super is not a film for everyone unfortunately. Most will cherish it for the risks it takes while others will be turned off by its bloody antics. I don't believe it was made to be liked by everyone though which I appreciate. This is the type of film that the independent community of filmmakers was founded for. I found the adventures of The Crimson Bolt and Boltie to be some of the best crime fighting hi-jinks I have ever seen. It goes places most wouldn't even dare to acknowledge let alone film and serve up to an audience but that is part of its charm I think. So if you are in the mood for a super hero flick that ditches the idea of playing by the rules or felt like you got burned by the not very realistic Kick-Ass then look no further than Super and...




laptops said...

Its a great super now review.

canciones nuevas said...

Watch it at your favorite cinema , Is a great movie!

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