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A year ago I wrote a review about Matching Jack, an Ausralian film about almost the same sort of story. I complained then that despite of the superb acting, the story itself followed every cliché in the book. Well this one is more or less writing the textbook of how to do it right. It doesn't avoid any of the unavoidable melodrama of such a story but it does it without ever letting it spill over. The acting is superb in this one too, but the story makes you feel like you're viewing real people and not a movie about real people, and in this case it works for the film. It's nice to see Andy Serkis for real this time - he does a wonderful job even when not hidden behind fancy CG. Also excelling are the two young leads Thomas Brodie Sangster and Aisling Loftus. There's something in this sort of story that brings out the best from actors. In such a movie if they didn't do it properly it would've turned the film downright unwatchable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Death of a Superhero's" titular character is fifteen years old, and fifteen is a pretty rough age. The body's changing, hormones are overloading the brain, and the once pointless female is miraculously the best thing on the planet. Combine that with school, starting to think about your future, parents, a menial job, and being surrounded by other hormone imbalanced punks, and fifteen is a pretty crappy age. But that's what the average fifteen-year-old boy has to deal with. Adding chemotherapy into the mix is only going to make life all the more unbearable. "Death of a Superhero" is about Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) coping with his life- threatening cancer. Given his low chance of survival, Donald toys with the idea of suicide. He stands in front of trains and teeters on the edges of bridges. To help manage his emotions with his practically imminent demise, Donald draws himself as a superhero battling the evil Dr. Glove. We see animated sequences of Donald's alter ego saving lives and battling evils that parallel the dilemmas in his own life. Donald's parents are torn on how to handle his deeply imbedded depression. Psychiatrists have seemingly been a lost cause, but in one last attempt, Donald's parents hire Dr. Adrian King (Andy Serkis). Dr. King seems to create a balanced relationship with Donald as he stays honest with his situation and acknowledges his anger instead of trying to subdue it. Dr. King is the Dirty Harry of psychiatrists as he's grizzled, blunt, and seems to have a perpetual hangover. Working with a sense of reality, Donald feels comfortable enough to actually open up to Dr. King. "Death of a Superhero" has a nice mentality. It's brutally honest, but there's a fair sense of humor and heart. It's always nice seeing Andy Serkis in his actual skin and Thomas Sangster's performance is nothing short of impressive. The animated sequences show Donald's resentment better than words ever could, and the movie's pacing is fairly quick for what would be expected with this subject matter. This movie's been out for about three days, since I wrote this review, and I'm already hearing comparisons to "50/50." Both are good movies with similar plots, but the themes are radically different.
I love resilience. The relentless search for true love. The reason for us to be here and to have faith. Death of a Superhero is as grim as it is bad ass. Fantastic portrayal of an adolescent soul trapped in between the fear of an unfulfilled life and a sense of rightness. The film makes no compromises even in the face of death, instead turns everything into a comic book fantasy. The Superhero lives on. Risqué, Surreal,Emotional and funny at times. Death Of a Superhero tells a story that we avoid talking about and rarely deal with so boldly. Must watch for all of us whether you have lost a dear one or not. The plot gives enough time for the characters to evolve. The combined effect of performances, cinematography and music builds a world you would want to linger around for a while.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am not into making judgemental comparisons between books and filming
adaptations of the former ones, because I believe it would not be fair.
Nonetheless, I can say it seems McCarten was asked to build a script
that would fit in an hour and a half movie. I missed some depth in a
few characters and relationships (both the live ones and the animated
ones), but, yes, it might demand quiet a longer movie, I think.
I cannot help view the movie through the book, but, once again, it would not be fair to value the film in light of the original McCarten's comic- script novel.
Enjoy the movie =).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really enjoy drama movies. I feel that when given the right one it
can blow my mind. This one didn't do exactly that. It did make me
emotional, most notably at the end when Donald tells Shelly to go to a
particular spot by the seaside because he will always be there. It's
actually pretty touching.
So what is the plot? a fifteen year old boy is dying of cancer. He decides to adopt a lifestyle that he wants to do such as drawing graffiti on shop windows late at night and consistently drawing on a notebook. Of what you may ask? a superhero. His parents take him to a psychiatrist that tries to help him come to terms with him dying. While all this is going on he falls in love for the first time.
The superhero symbolism is actually really well done in terms of symbolising what exactly Donald (the dying kid) is thinking. Also being a comic book reader I also liked how well the animators (there are animated sequences of a superhero fighting an evil nurse and a mad doctor) made it look like a superhero cartoon or some of the comic books I pick up in terms of style (and only in terms of style).
The acting is actually really really good. Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Andy Serkis, Aisling Loftus, Michael McElhatton and Sharon Horgan to name a few. I am certainly going to look for more of their stuff.
So if you like the premise and you can find it, get it and watch it. It isn't grim nor depressing nor lighthearted. It is sad, touching, charming and to a small extent funny. I would recommend it to people with an opinion like mine.
In "Death of a Superhero", Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) wants to be
a superhero when he grows up. That's not going to happen because Donald
is dying of cancer. He's trying to balance his survival/mortality rate
with his coming-of-age interest in girls and sex. It's a drama about
cancer, comic books, superheros, thanatologists, and teenage boys. It's
an interesting mix which results in an odd, quiet, and unfortunately
On paper it can be compared to "50/50" (2011) but it has a completely different tone and feel which makes it less palpable. It's like "Kick-Ass" (2010) but with less action, more comic book drawings, and less humour. And I mean that as a good thing. I think. This is a very slow-moving film about a depressed teenager who draws out his superhero and superheroine fantasies. I think it would have been easier to take if he really did fall or jump off the bridge that he teetered on the edge of. It started getting more entertaining when he met a girl and she elevated his graffiti to revealing heights. But, as it has a tendency of doing, cancer slowed that down.
Remember the cute and only slightly annoying kid from "Love Actually" (2003) and then remember the knowing laugh of amusement when he appeared as a young Paul McCartney in "Nowhere Boy" (2009)? This is your chance to see him in a very impressive dramatic role. The other stand-out was Andy Serkis as the thanatologist hired by Donald's parents to help him and themselves deal with his impending death. For all intents and purposes, let's call him a therapist. It's the usual character which all of these types of movies have, but there was something more here which I can't quite put my finger on which grabs your attention and then makes you bookmark his IMDb page.
The drawings were insanely impressive; unfortunately, I'm not one for comic book stylings. "Death of a Superhero" is certainly a good film that I appreciated, but I can't say I liked it.
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