Super


Dir: James Gunn
Star: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler

There's more than a hint of Kick-Ass to this, with its tale of a (semi-)normal guy, Frank Darbo (Wilson) who has had enough, and adopts a superhero persona with no actual superpowers, to take on the bad guys. Becoming a viral success, he acquires himself a cheerfully violent, younger female sidekick (Page) and goes after the villain (Bacon) responsible for turning his wife (Tyler) back into a junkie. This was actually filmed in early 2010, not long before Kick-Ass was released, and does have some differences - not least a budget which was a literal fraction (abour 1/14). Most obviously, is this having an adult protagonist, who is trying to deal with things in a more mature way - though his bizarre visions, involving his head being sawn open by tentacles which appear to be on day-release from Japanese hentai work, and encounters with a Bible-inspired superhero, do kinda take this out of the real world.

Regardless of who inspired who, Super's position does make it feel less imaginative, and Kick Ass certainly feels like a ballsier, more transgressive effort - this is summed up in the difference between Page, kicking ass as a 22-year old, and Chloe Moretz, doing the same thing, but at half the age (and with an even fouler mouth). There is also the problem that Frank could certainly be seen as mentally-ill, which isn't quite the sort of person an audience can typically get behind, even if the targets for their vengeance are obvious "bad guys". That gives this almost a Taxi Driver-vibe, albeit with a lot less subtlety: Page is there simply to provide a moral compass and stopp Frank from turning into Travis Bickle. It's probably more realistic and certainly darker: however, superhero films of every genre are more about empowerment, and there's precious little of that to be found here. The entertainment value certainly suffers as a result.

C+
[November 2012]


Super... Thanks for asking
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