Sunday, 3 June 2012

Movie: Super

Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page as
The Crimson Bolt and Boltie.

"Shut Up, Crime!"

Super tells the story of Frank Darbo who on discovering his wife has left him for a local drug baron, decides to put on his hero costume and adopt the persona of The Crimson Bolt as he takes to the streets to fight crime, at times in an extremely violent manner.

I suspect the extremeness of the violence is probably meant to be a parody of comic book violence but whatever the motivation behind it, it’s still approaching gruesome at times and therefore the humour is for the most part quite dark.  It would be fair to say that Frank’s methods of dealing with crime are closer to those of The Punisher rather than the likes of Spiderman or a similarly more family friendly super hero.

I’m a massive fan of The Office and so it was Rainn Wilson’s presence that first brought Super to my attention.  However, in some ways the character of Frank Darbo is the very opposite of Dwight Schrute, although there are some similarities.  For example Frank is a similarly dorky character, but unlike Dwight he is well aware of this fact and suffers from major self-confidence issues.  Frank’s behaviour is extremely unhinged at times, and some of his more severe actions even make Dwight look the model of sensibility and normality.

I was expecting Super to be a full-out comedy, but while the first half did have its moderately amusing moments (I particularly liked the scene where Frank keeps childishly defying Jacques the drug baron by touching his car), it wasn’t until the introduction of Boltie as The Crimson Bolt’s ‘kid’ sidekick halfway through the movie that the comedy reached its peak.  Even then the humour has a strong ‘indie movie’ feel to it and some of the laugh out loud moments are due in part to the shock value that accompanies them.

Shut up, crime!
In terms of the individual performances, as you’d expect Ellen Page is exceptional as Libby/Boltie, as is Rainn Wilson as Frank/The Crimson Bolt.  Frank Darbo is a very complicated and interesting character and I can’t imagine anyone playing him as well as Rainn.  The supporting cast also put in strong performances, with Liv Tyler excellent at portraying the various personality stages that Frank’s wife goes through and Kevin Bacon playing a convincing drug baron.

For all I enjoyed this movie, I can nevertheless in some ways sort of understand why it never got a movie theatre release, as it’s not a standard mainstream blockbuster movie which will appeal to everyone, but if you don’t mind your movies without the Hollywood polish then you may well enjoy Super.

Super is far from being a typical run-of-the-mill movie.  In fact it’s a bit weird and unusual at times, but in a good way which sets the movie apart for its own uniqueness.  However, if I had to make a criticism then there’s one obvious thing that comes to mind which I really wish they’d done differently.  Unfortunately I can’t really reveal the specifics without giving away a massive spoiler, but anyone who’s seen the movie will probably guess what I’m referring to.  Even the next day I was still thinking to myself ‘I really wish they hadn’t done that’ but other than this one criticism I enjoyed Super and there wasn’t too much you could find fault with.

As already mentioned, the extreme violence won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can overlook this and don’t mind a bit of darkness then Super is worth checking out and proves that you don’t need a massive budget to produce an entertaining movie.

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