6.8/10
32,318
91 user 78 critic

Defendor (2009)

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2:03 | Trailer

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ON DISC
Arthur Poppington, a regular man who adopts a superhero persona, known as 'Defendor', combs the city streets at night, in search of his arch-enemy, Captain Industry.

Director:

Writer:

1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sgt. Chuck Dooney
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Paul Carter
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Capt. Roger Fairbanks
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Dominique Ball
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Radovan Kristic
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Wendy Carter (as Kristen Booth)
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Fay
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Biker Cliff
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Judge Wilson
David Gardner ...
Grandpa Henry
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Mr. Debrofkowitz
Max Dreesen ...
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Storyline

A crooked cop, a mob boss and the young girl they abuse are the denizens of a city's criminal underworld. It's a world that ordinary Arthur Poppington doesn't understand and doesn't belong in, but is committed to fighting when he changes into a vigilante super-hero of his own making, Defendor. With no power other than courage Defendor takes to the streets to protect the city's innocents. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An unexpected hero will rise. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use and language throughout, violence and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

13 May 2010 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Defendor - A véderő  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$18,628 (USA) (26 February 2010)

Gross:

$37,606 (USA) (26 February 2010)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Apparent homage: The headline of a front page of a newspaper seen in the film reads, "HERO OR MENACE?". This is the same headline that appears in Marvel Comics' "The Amazing Spider-Man" comic on the front page of The Daily Bugle newspaper. See more »

Goofs

When Katerina wants to take a look inside Defendor's cardboard box, it is clear the flaps aren't sealed even before she runs a knife between them. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. Park: Arthur? Arthur.
Arthur Poppington: Yeah.
Dr. Park: Are you thinking about the question?
Arthur Poppington: Mmm... Are you Japanese?
Dr. Park: No.
Arthur Poppington: Mieko Tatsuri is Japanese.
Dr. Park: Oh. Who is Mieko Tatsuri?
Arthur Poppington: Mmm... She's the leader of Blowback. Her father is a ninja and her mother is an alien from the gamma sector.
Dr. Park: Okay well, I'm Korean from Earth.
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Connections

References Columbo (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Stash
Written and Performed by John Rowley
Published by John Rowley (as John William Wildman Rowley) (SOCAN)
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User Reviews

 
Clever parody juxtaposed with intriguing self-reflexive darkness - an inspired revision of the superhero myth
12 September 2009 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

Given the recent onslaught of superhero films hitting theatres, it would seem only natural to anticipate parodic responses to the genre, sending up its excesses and sillier elements. On the surface, it would appear that debut director Peter Stebbings' Defendor is exactly such a film, casting Woody Harrelson's oddball everyman as a surrogate crimefighter and exploiting his antics for humour in the vein of 1999's Mystery Men. And initially this is the approach the film itself appears gearing up to take, opening with a hysterical spoofing of overblown superhero film clichés, including rooftop billowing fog, high contrast city lights against nighttime darkness, and larger than life acrobatic feats ("always check the garbage days" moans a wounded Defendor after leaping off a rooftop into a dumpster recently emptied of garbage to cushion his fall). Such astute genre awareness combined with the wonderfully imaginative collection of Defendor's makeshift crimefighting weapons (including the most inspired use of marbles seen in ages) could easily have assured for an hour and a half of lighthearted, enjoyable cinematic fun.

But Stebbings' film has grander ambitions than a mere surface level parody, which subtly unfold as the film progresses. As the laughs slowly become fewer and fewer, Defendor's narrative becomes steadily more engrossing, settling on a tone pitched halfway between exhilarating crime/mystery thriller and poignant character study, as the viewer is led increasingly to question Defendor's mental stability, and even the ethics of his imbalanced war against injustice. While such transitioning between tones could prove a dangerous stumbling ground, Stebbings is careful to distinguish between his darker themes and moments of levity, utilizing dashes of all too real violence to savagely undercut the fantasy or parodic elements. For all Defendor's silliness, it certainly packs a brutal punch when necessary.

Of course, being the work of a first time director, one would expect the occasional fumble, and Stebbings' film does lose its way for a period nearing the climax, meandering somewhat and losing its rhythm. Nonetheless, an emerging subplot musing on the roots and importance of heroism (clearly borrowing amply from Christopher Nolan's recent two Batman reboots among other sources) which could have been the clumsiest addition to the movie actually emerges as surprisingly tasteful and functional, adding more nuance and complexity to the unfolding film without coming across as excessively pretentious. Completing the package is the wonderfully grandiose musical score by John Rowley, managing to perfectly encompass each tonal shift, whether gleefully riffing on superhero musical motifs or offering something more profound and honest, either way adding welcome depth and volume to a film already far from lacking in either.

The casting of Woody Harrelson as the titular hapless crimefighter also proves a stroke of genius, as Harrelson's naturally wacky yet powerful charisma exemplifies the essence of the film, beautifully blending child-like emotional simplicity, tenacious determination and enough flat out weirdness to make it all ring true, as well as an inspired ripoff of Christian Bale's now iconic Batman voice. Kat Dennings is equally delightful to watch as a young prostitute who may be either befriending or manipulating Defendor, warping her naturally quirky and spunky energy into something darker, yet just as resonant. Elias Koteas essays antagonistic clichés with the utmost grotesque skill as a crooked cop, and Michael Kelly reconciles a weakly written role with a gruff credibility as Defendor's employer and solitary friend. Finally, Sandra Oh is superb in her few scenes as Defendor's psychological examiner, infusing impressive dramatic tension with moments of deadpan humour, and bringing welcome life to the film.

It would be easy to compare Defendor as a film to its protagonist: slightly cumbersome and prone to stumbling at times, yet cleverly self-aware, comical yet with layers of unexpected darkness, and overall encompassed by such an infectious sense of classic, cheesy charm that it is near impossible not to love in the end. Whether taken as a superhero parody, straight out superhero film or character study (or ultimately all three), Defendor proves a highly enjoyable success, and one easily worth a watch.

-7.5/10


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