Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Movie review: Super

James Gunn's Super is one weird little film which, granted, I knew going in, but even so surprised me.  I don't know a lot about Gunn's previous work aside from Slither (which I adore) but I knew from reading reviews that Super was supposed to be dark, twisted, funny and violent which seem to be the director's typical M.O.  I had thought that maybe Mr. Mouse might like this film - he like dark comedies and he likes Rainn Wilson - but as I started watching it one night after Mr. Mouse had already gone to bed, I knew within minutes that I'd made the right call to watch it without him.

Super is the story of sad-sack Frank (Wilson) who, after his recovering addict wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a handsome, smarmy drug dealer Jock (Kevin Bacon - excellent and clearly enjoying himself), adopts a superhero alter-ego, The Crimson Bolt, who goes after petty criminals wielding nothing but a big ol' wrench.  Frank is slightly disturbed, however, and ends up administering indescriminate costumed beatings to people who cut in front of him in line at the movies.  Things intensify when Libby (a maniacal and tiny Ellen Page), a clerk at the comic book store where Frank "researches" superheroes without superpowers, figures out who the Crimson Bolt is and signs on as his kid sidekick, Bolty.  Bolty derives far, far too much pleasure from hurting people - she's effing nuts.  But nuts is sort of what Frank needs when he goes up against Jock and his crew.

The cast Gunn has assembled is impressive: in addition to the aforementioned Wilson, Tyler, Bacon and Page, there's Nathan Fillion as a Christian t.v. superhero, Gregg Henry as a detective, Michael Rooker as Jock's main henchman and Linda Cardellini in a cameo as a pet shop owner.  The film itself has a very small, low budget feel to it, not nearly as sophisticated as Slither.  It's not as funny either, although there are spots of humor here and there.  Wilson's Frank is truly pathetic, good-hearted and also mentally disturbed.  The violence is pretty shocking - which I know sounds strange coming from someone who watches so many horror/monster movies.  But Super is about a regular person facing real life issues - mental health, drug addiction, abandonment - and to watch him going through the thought process to conclude that violence is the only way he can deal is pretty grim.

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