Defendor (2009) Poster

(2009)

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8/10
Clever parody juxtaposed with intriguing self-reflexive darkness - an inspired revision of the superhero myth
pyrocitor12 September 2009
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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8/10
Fantastic
Paul Magne Haakonsen5 April 2010
Wow, this movie was awesome.

I sat down to watch this movie with no high expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised. Finally a "superhero" movie you can relate to, instead of everything being all high and mighty on morals and super powers.

"Defendor" had it all, comedy, action, drama and romance. What made this movie unique was the blend of genres which works really well. Initially I thought it was just a spoof of superhero movies, but "Defendor" is so much more than that.

The characters in the movie are real and believable. Hats off to Woody Harrelson for his marvelous performance as Arthur / Defendor. This role really showed off Woody's acting talents. I think we can all see parts of ourselves in the Defendor character, and that is what makes this movie so powerful, so gripping and so entertaining.

And also to Elias Koteas for his role as the corrupt policeman and Kat Denings as her role of a young woman in drug abuse and harsh life situation. And the supporting roles were nicely portrayed as well.

The story told in "Defendor" easily picks you up and keeps you tight. It is really good and you can place yourself in that story. It is very believable and leaves you very entertained.

I was thoroughly entertained from start till end. Lots of good action, really good and solid story, and spectacular acting. This is definitely a keeper, a movie with enough value to be watched more than once.
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10/10
Defendor YES
Duff Hendrickson25 March 2010
The only reason I can think of why a person would give this movie a bad review is that it wasn't the movie they expected. I liked it from the first minute to the last, and I didn't know what to expect. I can't think of a single flaw in this very low budget film, so in comparison to some of the disappointing big popular movies out there that have expensive visible flaws, I give Defendor a big YES. Woody did a very good job on this film. I can see by his performance that he enjoyed making it and I enjoyed watching him.

I was disappointed in Woody Harrelson's previous acting in the "2012" monstrous mess where he painfully overacted and seemed to be telling the audience that it was all a bad joke. Defendor made up for that.

Woody proved that you don't have to have expensive green-screen special effects to make a good movie. It can be done with acting talent. Thank you Woody!

Relax your mind, see the movie, let yourself enjoy it.
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9/10
Brilliant
nightcity22 March 2010
One of the best movies I have seen this decade, funny, touching and clever. It would have totally passed me by if someone hadn't recommended it, which is a shame as it's an excellent film.

Acting, music score, writing all come together really well. Thank you Woody for another great movie.

I would really recommend this film to anyone even if the "superhero genre" is not your thing, since that is only tertiary to the theme anyway.

I look forward to seeing more from Peter Stebbings.

I can only hope that "Kick Ass" is half as good as Defendor.
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7/10
A Don Quixote for our times
Muttines22 March 2010
This was a rather enjoyable and strangely touching action caper, with moments of genuine depth and truth.

Woody Harrelson proves once again that he's an incredibly versatile and emotionally astute actor, with an arresting performance that carries the story along with remarkable zeal and fun. And while the plot and direction skirt close to sentimentalism towards the end, Harrelson executes the last few scenes in a manner so as not to spoil the quirky edge of the film.

Another angle that I found particularly enjoyable were the deferred references to Don Quixote - if you've read Cervantes's hilarious Rennaissance series you'll no doubt notice uncanny similarities that suggest homage: In lieu of the outlandish chivalric tales that madden Don Quixote and compel him to forge his own suit of armour and 'sally forth' into the wilds of quiet old La Mancha, we have 'Defendor', who similarly loses what few wits he has to begin with by obsessively reading comic books and deciding to become a superhero in an anonymous post-industrial slum. Sancho Panza is replaced by a saner but similarly pliant crack-addict, Kat, and Rosindante is supplanted by his 'defendog' mobile.

There are other similarities the movie has with D. Quixote, but to mention those would give the game away. It will suffice to say, however, that the film is quite highly recommended by this viewer, if not just for the joy of seeing Don Quixote once again take to the streets in all his glory.
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8/10
Surprise! This is a great movie!
dennispublic21 April 2010
Wow, that was surprising.

I stumbled across this film by accident, I saw that Woody was in it so decided to give it a try. I wasn't expecting much because I had never heard of it. But I was very pleasantly surprised.

This movie is great! "Defendor" is very funny, yet has a real story, and will get you emotionally involved when your not laughing your butt off. You pretty much can't go wrong here. Most importantly it was all thrown together beautifully, hats off to the writers and director. Every actor did a great job as well, but Woody stole the show, he deserves an award for this - he nailed the roll and then some. 110%. Well done.

This movie is underrated!
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9/10
Great movie!
T k A30 March 2010
A tragic action-adventure film about a mentally challenged man who works as a traffic sign holder by day, but who becomes Defendor by night. Armed with his club, marbles, firecrackers, and angry hornets, Defendor emerges from his secret hideout, helping others and stopping punks, in his effort to find Capitan Industry and bring him down. His exploits pique the interests of a girl, a family, and eventually a whole town. By his youthful wisdom, determined and fearless bravery, he gains many admirers who voice support for his cause.

If you're looking for a little adventure or a touching story, take the time to watch Defendor, A very enjoyable movie with great lessons. Don't pass it up!
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7/10
Defendor: Not what you're expecting
stefan-humphrey14 April 2010
While at first I thought it was a comedy, I was soon proved wrong. I like Woody Harrelson for his comedic value, this pushed his acting skills in a newer direction. While still maintaining a comedic overtone it settled into a serious note that is very seldom seen in most newer movies. It's not big on special effects or huge explosions, but the movie its self makes up for all that for being big on heart and able to touch feelings that haven't been touched in a while.All in all I'd say Woody Harrleson doesn't deserve an Oscar for his performance(while it was quite memorable), the movie does deserve an honorable mention at as many award shows as possible!
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9/10
C'mon, make like a rocket. Take off.
Thomas Elfgren20 March 2010
Probably the best movie so far, this year. And it would have dodged my radar completely if my friend wouldn't have recommended it to me.

So here's me, recommending it to you.

It's a dark comedy, which will make you laugh, no doubt. But it's comedy saturated with a sad story about this great guy that escapes his ordinary life by turning into this Defendor character. Someone who's not afraid. Allegedly a thousand times better than the guy without the mask. And together they'll make you love this movie.

It actually reminded me a lot of "Reign Over Me" with Adam Sandler. Which is also very good.

If you're in the mood for a drama that'll captivate you, but won't rip your heart out, like Million Dollar Baby might have or most certainly will. This is what you're looking for.

Thank you, Woody!
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8/10
Amazing performance of Woody Harrelson
judithlpz24 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Defendor is a movie that describes a simple history in a very dark way, the marketing of the movie is wrong because present Defendor as a comic movie when truly it is not; here we have a sad history when almost immediately we know that by the end not all will be happiness.

Here we have a very good casting and a movie done with a good cinematography and with details which will be difficult realize that Defendor really had a very small budget.

Peter Stebbings did a very good job here his first chance as director and probably his only fail was in the history of his main character leaving him without any chance of success because it is remarkable that Arthur-Defendor had a lot of disadvantages.

Mention apart deserves Woody Harrelson, again he prove that currently nobody better than him for create characters with a range of emotions, he got the perfect balance between strength and sensibility and in each look (helped maybe for his intense blue eyes) shows intense tenacity and tenderness, in my opinion here he is even better than in "The Messenger" (his last academy award nomination).

Defendor probably is not a perfect movie but Woody Harrelson rescues any mistake on it, congratulations whoever chose him for this movie.
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6/10
A different kind of superhero.
lewiskendell14 April 2010
Defendor is the story of a simple, deluded, child-like man, who thinks he's a super-hero. In all likelihood, he should have died a swift and brutal death no later than ten minutes in, but it seems that God watches out for the simple-minded, even in movies. Somehow, Defendor even ends up bumbling his way into doing some good.

Woody Harrelson portrayed Arthur in a way that completely avoided mocking him. Imagine Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump. Arthur has definite reasons for his quest and his actions, and as those reasons are revealed during the movie, you become more and more attached to his character. Kat Dennings plays a young prostitute who befriends Arthur and is instrumental in helping him to his final destiny, and Sandra Oh stars as a psychiatrist who learns about Arthur along with the audience.  No one is responsible for the acting burden that Harrelson has, but their performances are still solid. 

I liked this movie a good bit. It was funny in some parts, and sad in others. We really don't get to spend enough time with Arthur/Defendor and his world, but what's here is pretty satisfying.
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9/10
Meet The Normal Batman - Defendor!
Girish Gowda5 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
My God, Woody Harrelson is on top of his game and is on a roll this past couple of years. I was very excited to see this movie, it looked like it would be fun. Not to mention, I am a huge Batman fan (only Christopher Nolan's dark versions). Bruce Wayne is a billionaire and he can afford to be the superhero, but how could a normal man be a superhero vigilante? Defendor is the answer - one has to be an extremely justice minded and fearless person, but not so naive as Arthur Poppington in this movie; he uses marbles instead of guns, his batmobile is a jacked up truck and he uses lemon juice as acid! I thought I would at the very least, smile through the film with the bumbling Defendor who took himself far too seriously, but ended up shedding a few tears. The acting and the settings are incredibly realistic, I loved this movie.

During the day, Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) is a normal man (even if slightly naive to the workings of the world) working in the construction industry. During the night time, he transforms into his alter-ego, Defendor, protecting the streets from thugs. The city has a problem with thugs and nobody is prepared to stand up and fight for themselves. The police are slow to catch the wrongdoers and Arthur has a huge willpower to do what he can to help the people. He helps Kat (Kat Dennings) one night from Dooney - when she really didn't need any help - she was a hooker. Dooney (Elias Koteas) is a corrupt cop in the police force and he is in cahoots with a Serbian mob boss. Arthur has been searching for Captain industry all his life as he had killed his mother. Kat and Arthur become friends and Defendor goes after Captain Industry knowing that there is a very high chance of dying or getting arrested.

Director Peter Stebbings has made a classic film which will be remembered for ages to come. The dialogues are simply awesome and the background score is very cheesy, but it works. Although I was excited, I didn't think I would like this film as much as I did. Woody Harrelson and Kat Dennings give amazing performances which broke my heart, they have perfect chemistry. Arthur is a very child-like adult who thinks he can be a superhero and that guns are for cowards. He is very honest with everybody, but bumbles up a police investigation in the matter of the mob boss. I rooted for his character all through and the climax was brilliant. He says to Kat: "I will see you on the moon" and in that scene I really had some tears in my eyes. He fights for justice even when he is gravely wounded and talks like a real hero. Elias Koteas and Sandra Oh as the psychiatrist also gave good performances. Others worthy of mention are his little cousin and the cousin's dad, Paul. Give this a chance and you just might end up falling in love with Defendor! 9/10
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8/10
Woody Harrelson At His Finest
chicagopoetry23 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
It is too bad that Woody Harrelson was nominated for best supporting actor for The Messenger; he should have been nominated for best actor for this, his role as a mentally unstable man who likes to pretend that he is a superhero called Defendor, and who lives out his dream by actually fighting crime. There are some brilliantly funny and memorable moments in Defendor ("Oh, no, please, not the lime juice!"), but this is not a comedy in the strictest sense. It's actually a pretty serious drama slash crime thriller. The only glaring flaw in Defendor is the character of Kat played by Kat, a character who is much too together and with it to be a crack addicted prostitute, but the wide range of emotion in her acting makes up for the implausibility of the writing she is dealing with. We almost want Defendor to go a little farther in his wacky vigilantism involving swarms of hornets and marbles, but in some ways it's good that the movie doesn't stray too far away from reality. In fact, we get the sense that Defendor isn't as crazy as everyone thinks he is, that he's actually well aware that he's really just a normal guy play acting, which makes his heroism all the more potent. Three cheers for Defendor!
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9/10
deserves to be seen
tamrawillett24 February 2016
Touching, funny, charming, heart-breaking, optimistic--and so little known. This film is on my special list--the one with the films and books that if folks like 'em, I know I'll like the folks. (Since you asked, another such movie is Australia's "The Castle." And, since you asked, one of the books is "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell) A wonderful example of a well-acted film.

Haven't written a review for a long time, and when I tried to post it learned the minimum length is 10 lines of text. More words do not indicate a better composition--I should know, I taught English Comp at university.

Okay--long enough now.
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10/10
I laughed, I cheered and I cried
notgivens17 February 2016
Not your typical superhero movie, Defendor is rooted in the average guy who just won't take it anymore, Arthur Poppington knows what's wrong and what's right... which in today's society is rare. Notable similar projects include Kick Ass, Badass and Super, none of which should be missed.

This may be my favorite role that Woody ever played. Peter Stebbings, a brilliant Canadian actor some may remember from Jeremiah in 2002, has written little, but this effort makes me hope that he does more, he even played a brief cameo as a doctor.

The final moments of any movie nearly always determine my ratings of a movie, and this one was truly moving.
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7/10
One of the best of this now sub-genre
witster1821 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Defendor is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise suffocating wave of superhero movies. Woody Harrelson is a likable, albeit a little mentally unstable city worker who spends his nights fighting crime under the name 'Defendor' - with an 'or':) Imagine a garage inspector gadget with ducktape, marbles, and live bees as his major weapons.

Defendor gets mixed up with some dangerous people, and finds himself in over his head. The plot is nothing amazing, but the characters, there's something to write home about. Harrelson and Elias Koteas are excellent adversaries. Sandra Oh does a fine job as Harrelson's shrink. Michael Kelly is also good. Kat Dennings rounds out some solid and surprising performances in this one.

This is a believable story with believable characters. There is a little bit of everything in here. Drama. Comedy. Action. Defendor also has that little something that you can't put your finger on... probably the music, and the overall direction.

I hate to bring this down by voting it 7 while it's @7.3, but 7 is an accurate score here. Positives are mentioned above. Negatives include a lag in the middle and a hurried ending, but this movie has some good messages and a fine cast. Defendor makes the audience feel like the characters around him - he grows on you. The best of the lot I rented. Recommended. 73/100
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5/10
Sloppy superhero satire
Samiam31 January 2011
It may be a superhero satire, but I think the mindset behind Defendor is closer to Forrest Gump. This movie wants to celebrate being dumb, but it does so in a very stale, dry fashion (unlike Gump). Defendor has no heart or soul. I never got the sense that the makers put any effort into this. Instead they use a cute idea and hope that it's enough to sustain a viewer for a hundred minutes.

the Defendor is a Don Quihote type. He is a mentally troubled individual who dislikes himself, and the society he grew up in; a society of crime to which he lost his mother; a society that makes fun of him. As a means to make himself feel more accomplished he dressed up as a super hero and drives around the streets at night fighting drug criminals, using a bat, a handful of marbles and if necessary, a squirt of lime juice.

I can pin point a few good one liners early on, but for the most part, I find the Defendor to be a dud. Whenever it tries to be funny, it feels random, and contrived instead. Take for instance the use of marbles as a weapon? I would've liked to see something a little more clever considering that the intention is superhero satire. Maybe if he threw little plastic supermen instead.

Another problem I have with the movie, is the plastic style of acting. Nobody seems remotely involved in the project. Woody Harrellson, is missing the fiery edge that made him so funny in Zombieland, here he just feels childish. In fairness, the script doesn't offer much character for anyone to work with, and certainly not a lot of dialogue either. The climax feels rushed and cheap but by the time you get there, you may not mind. Defendor is pretty boring, and unacceptably lazy. No thought process has gone into this movie, leaving the Defendor, unfunny, uncool, and unfair to the viewers.
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4/10
I think I missed it...
flankerltd5 September 2010
I think I may have missed the greatness of this movie. A lot of other people seem to think it was funny and touching and this other stuff.

I thought the acting was average at best. Woody does play a "special" kind of super hero, but aiming to copy Christian Bale's over-exaggerated deep creepy voice? Really? Although, it did make me wanna dig up my sling-shot and chase people around.

The comedy part of this movie escaped me as well. Maybe it's because the face of comedy has changed over the last 20 years, but myself, roommate and girlfriend failed to even giggle. Are we laughing at Woody's lack of normalcy or unique perspective? Is if funny to be a hooker? Is it funny to repeat a tag line all movie during serious scenes? The mass release of self proclaimed super hero movies is not impressing me. This movie fell way short.
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3/10
Woody is awesome... film isn't!
namashi_12 July 2010
Peter Stebbings's 'Defendor' is a poor show. Mainly because, the truly terrific idea is led-away from a shoddy screenplay. How interesting to think a concept like 'Defendor', and how disappointing it is to see a golden opportunity gone wrong.

The story tells of a regular man who adopts the persona of a superhero named Defendor on a quest to find his arch enemy, Captain Industry! The film beings with a bang, but loses pace 30 minutes into the film. The climax is okay, it doesn't leave the impact one would expect. Peter Stebbings's direction is fair, but his writing is a letdown.

Woody saves the film with his brilliant performance. The American Cult Star delivers one of the strongest performances of his career, and of, recent times, of course. Kat Dennings also delivers a good performance. Sandra Oh is her usual self.

At the end of the review: 'Defendor' is a disappointment. Thumbs Down!
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1/10
Taxy driver for idiots
magbogdan23 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Worst than a stupid movie who knows is a stupid movie and ends up stupid is a stupid movie that thinks is a profound and moving story and ends up being stupid i mean this movie has all the clichés in the book and really violates your privacy gets you by the neck and forces you to feel something i mean you got the hooker with the heart of gold the dumb but well intentioned vigilante and a bunch of other guys who have no character development whatsoever you know there is no subtlety in this movie it's all laid out for you so you don't have to think and judge, this movie makes all the judgments for you and this is another one of a long line of movies that really don't respect his viewer and forces you to say it was good because, hey it had all the good movies clichés (i hope you understand what i mean by that) well i am sorry but this movie is a piece of s.h.i.t and didn't moved me one bit i am glad he died at the end (another good movie cliché)and you people should watch taxi driver or midnight cowboy for good real people stories people who have been ostracized from society and feel alone and trapped not this commercial piece of s.h.i.t. i am so harsh on it just because it tried to force me to like it and i know 90% of the people who watch it will like it just because they feel they are bad people if they don't
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7/10
Touching
ssvfolder-129 March 2010
I don't know why - this movie, despite its obvious lack of blockbuster shine touched me. The semi retarded guy who defends us, while creating an alter character for himself so he wouldn't be afraid is something that does makes me feel. I am tired of all the cynical behavior that defines us in real life. This character's honesty, removes all the blocks that every day life had put on us. If it would be as glamorous as Forest Gump, this movie would be a candidate for Oscar. I gave it a 7/10 because it's obvious lacks of glamor are being compensated by a touching story. Woody Harrison is great. It seems that he manages best to perform best for characters that are killers/stupid. In conclusion definitely worth seeing.
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1/10
An unfunny ripoff of the 1978 film Nunzio
oolatech229 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Wow I read all the great reviews of this terrible film. I laughed at one scene and it was barely a chuckle. Woody Harrelson is a funny guy, but I couldn't believe how unfunny this movie is. In 1978 there was a movie titled Nunzio and it was about a mentally challenged man that dressed up in a towel with a homemade "S" on his cape and he thought he was a super hero and at least his heroism was realistic. I felt sorry for Defendor because he was so head strong and walked right into every situation in an unbelievable fashion. From the bubble gum and the firecracker to open an unlocked door, to the getting an undercover police man killed and screwing up the investigation, to the psychiatrist begging the judge to let him go. I honestly (to quote Adam Sandler's principal in Billy Madison) felt dumber for having watched it! I guess the writer saw Defendor as the Batman to Nunzio's Superman, lol. I am so glad that people find movies where the actor portrays an individual that is a danger to himself and others as heroes. I never liked Rain Man and it won accolades. Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of an autistic savant was at least realistic. When Defendor has breakfast with pancakes and gets arrested he probably would have been committed not released to the guy that supervised him at work!!! I can not believe how this crap is ingenious. How did he get a drivers license if he was slow?? He wouldn't have been able to pass the written exam let alone drive around in a huge city owned vehicle. This was not heart warming it was a sad excuse for a feel sorry for the main character cause he "didn't know any better." The psychiatrist is to blame for the ending. I think she should have her medical license revoked! I threw corn at the screen when the crack prostitute (I'm being politically correct) promised to change. Yeah right Alice, step through another looking glass and bring plenty of band aids!!! To all of you that wrote how brilliant this film was I have some advice: If you want to see a more realistic mentally challenged superhero watch a great film like Nunzio from 1978 and then re-read your review! You may actually see why I am so animate about the general dumbness of this film. Woody I still love you as an actor and everyone is entitled to make a bad film here and there. This one was definitely yours!!!!
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4/10
Brave attempt at something different horribly misfires
bas rutten30 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If not for the superficially similar, and wholly awesome Kick-Ass, this movie would have probably been totally forgotten. In my opinion it probably should be.

Marketed as a goofy superhero comedy, "Defendor" is instead more of a cross between a dark comedy and an earnest drama..that unfortunately doesn't work as either.

Woody Harrelson does an apt job at playing the titular Defendor, an emotionally damaged simpleton who dresses up as the super hero "Defendor" to fight an imaginary bad guy named Captain Industry, with low-tech gadgets like insect swarms and marbles...which is exactly as ineffective as it sounds.

This sounds like a great idea for a comedy, but it fails for one simple reason..the execution just isn't very funny. While Harrelson's fine performance is good for a couple of smiles, everything else just isn't as funny as it was probably intended.

That being said, the movie fails even worse as a drama. It tries really hard to be a touching, heart-felt movie about big themes..but the characters and the plot are so absurd, and the dialog and music are so overdone that it falls completely flat...I can't take this seriously, let alone feel anything. I am sorry to say that Defendor regularly goes into the realm of "unintentionally funny". It doesn't help that the bad guys and the basic plot are totally forgettable.

In the end this is a somewhat decent idea for a movie, totally ruined by a horrible execution. Woody Harrelson does the best he can, but he cannot save this movie from becoming a wholly unremarkable mess that switches between boring, unintentionally funny, and cringe-inducingly bad.

*1/2 out of ****
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7/10
The mentally ill are the sane
Joris22 December 2014
A superhero movie is best when it subverts the genre itself, like in Chronicle or Birdman. Defendor does just that. What happens when someone with a vulnerable mental state claims to be a superhero, fighting Captain Industry? They are looked down upon. They are seen as harmless and pitiful. Until they start to take action. Then they need to be contained and get psychological help. This movie tries to shine a light - through the psychologist - on that vulnerability and shows us there's something noble, even something pure in people who (try to) fight injustice. Woody Harrelson is in top form playing the protagonist Arthur aka. Defendor. His quest to defeat Captain Industry is a sobering and fruitless one, but the public begins to care for him. Maybe just because of Athur's general naivety. A graffiti artist paints a wall with his portrait, calling out to "fight back". That's what this movie was about for me. Fight back. Fight the self-righteous world who divide 'normal' people from those whore aren't according to some arbitrary measurement. Defendor is a warm eulogy for those defying normality and a subtle criticism on what is perceived as sane.
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7/10
Defendo or Defendon't
bowmanblue26 May 2014
I'd never heard about this film until I'd watched Seth Rogen's 'Observe and Report' - a film which has the line, "I thought this was going to be funny, but actually it's kinda sad." That summed up Observe and Report and it also sums up Defendor.

If you're looking at pictures from the film and you think Woody Harrelson looks kind of funny in his bowler hat and painted-on eye mask get-up, you could be mistaken for believing that this is the 'comedy' it's partly billed as. It's not comedy. It's also not fantasy, sci-fi or action.

I would say Defendor is actually a drama. There are a few laughs (anyone who fights baddies armed only with wasps and lime juice is always going to raise a chuckle), but generally it's a character-focused piece about Arthur, who is a man with severe mental disabilities. He's also sick of being laughed at, so he becomes a 'heroic' crime-fighter by night called Defendor.

I thought it was going to be funny, but it is actually quite sad. Defendor wants to do the right thing and is a genuinely nice guy. That's what adds the pathos when he's repeatedly beaten up or exploited by a working girl who he befriends.

I thought this was a great movie - hardly feel-good, but deeper with more subtle, black humour; just don't expect a rip-roaring, action-packed, laugh-a-minute joyride.

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