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|Index||210 reviews in total|
Despite enjoying other films like it, I was never a fan of James Gunn's
Slither. It just came off as being average to me, and despite multiple
tries, I have never ventured back to give it a second chance. Keeping
that in mind, I ventured into a screening of Super at the Toronto
International Film Festival hoping to be surprised, and not to come
away disappointed. Thankfully, it turned out to be quite the awesome
Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) lives a pretty miserable existence. He has just two happy memories in his entire life marrying his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) and pointing a police officer in the right direction of a suspect. So when Sarah, a stripper and former junkie, leaves him for her boss Jacques (Kevin Bacon), he loses all faith. But during a chance epiphany, he realizes his true calling is to be a superhero the Crimson Bolt and fight against those committing any sort of crime, whether it be drug dealing, underage rape or even butting in-line at the movies.
While I figured the film would have a hurdle to face making it feel different than any other movie about ordinary people donning costumes and fighting crime (in the past few years alone, see Special, Defendor, Kick-Ass and to a point, even Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), but Super is a much different beast. From the epilogue through the totally ridiculous (in a good way) animated song and dance credit sequence on, you know you are in for something different. This is a film that embraces the absurd and the full-blown psychopathic, and delivers a twistedly hilarious comic gem that lacks the seriousness (mostly) that plagues the other films previously mentioned. And any movie about someone using a pipewrench to wreak havoc on crime is immediately enough to make me forget Defendor even existed.
I think the element that sets Gunn's twisted fantasy apart from other films is that it is decidedly not mainstream. D'Arbo truly becomes the superhero we all wish we were by taking out anyone who is committing crimes. He has the vendetta against Jacques taking his wife hanging over his head throughout the movie, but in the meantime, he ensures that no crime goes unpunished in increasingly graphically violent ways. I knew that using a pipewrench could only lead to a bloody mess, but I did not expect the movie to become the nasty bloodbath it quickly does. If you remember being disappointed at how much blood got cut between the conversion of Kick-Ass from a comic to a film, you will be delighted at just how much is spilt here. I knew Gunn was a graduate of the Troma film academy (Lloyd Kaufman makes a cameo late in the film), but I never expected to see just as much violence as I did. Thankfully, every injury and blood spurt is more hilarious and ridiculous than the last.
Wilson is amazing from start to finish as D'Arbo. I have never been a fan of his zany humour, but it fits this role perfectly. He jumps from being the pathetic loser to being the invigorated crime fighter with ease. And despite playing the role seriously, you never once think he is descending into parody. The film is a parody, but he never hams it up in the role deliberately looking for laughs. He has a very strong comic presence that he maintains throughout the film, and brings a rather poignant touch to more than a few scenes. If he sticks to more roles like these, and stays away from being the best thing in downright awful movies like The Rocker and My Super Ex-Girlfriend, he might have quite the career ahead of him.
The supporting cast is all very good and very funny in their smaller roles. Bacon is just as good as he always is, injecting the right amount of style and finesse into his scumbag of a character. Tyler could have done a bit more as the damsel in distress, but she remains quite memorable in her role. Smaller turns by Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker and especially Nathan Fillion all pay off wonderfully within the film. But if anyone can even stand close to Wilson's performance, it is Ellen Page as the off-the-rails comic nerd Libby. While she has found fame playing Juno and derivatives of the same character in the majority of her roles, she actually is quite different here. She alternates between being anxiety-ridden and being a complete psychopath, often in the same scene, and practically steals the film from Wilson. And when she finally becomes his sidekick Boltie, she truly is able to embrace the absurd.
If I have any problem with the film (outside of a rather bizarre and horrendous looking CGI sequence early in the film), it is that it never stays consistent with its tones. The humour remains intact throughout, but its absurdity starts to waver as the film goes on. It remains ridiculous, but it becomes a bit too serious in some sections. It feels more like Gunn did not want to truly push the film into the realm of comic fantasy, and still wanted some semblance of realism to stay within the film. He explained his tonal shift choices to the audience, but it still is not enough to make up for the film never knowing which way it wants to go. I loved its unpredictability of what D'Arbo would do next, but loathed never knowing what the next shift would be. It never destroys the film, but it weakens the film cohesively.
Super is an awesome film, and one whose dark humour never truly overtakes it. Wilson and Page are amazing in their roles, and the rest of the supporting cast does a great job backing them up. I just hope everyone can experience and have as much fun as I did.
On 2nd April 2002, a 50 page script (originally written as a short)
born from the creatively messed up mind of James Gunn flourished into
the world. Entitled 'SUPER' (deliberately all in capitals) the film was
destined to be a personal homage to the early comic-books Gunn had
grown up with as a child, combined with the sincerely twisted Troma
films he had worked on whilst first touching down in the movie
business. What remains today, 8 years later, is both a darkly sarcastic
tale of personal justice, and a horrifically funny look at the
every-man, melting together to form a rather obscure and perversely
convoluted masterpiece of independent cinema.
Destined to be likened to the recent features of late such as Matthew Vaughn's 'Kick-Ass', 'SUPER' stands alone, successful in its conquest to both alienate the viewer, and twist their perceptions of justice and doing the right thing. Whereas 'Kick-Ass' longed to be gritty and satanic in its approach, it only appeared so through the hazy goggles of Hollywood, never fully commanding the realistic ambiance that sits so gracefully at the centre of 'SUPER'. Gunn's unique and devoutly crooked approach is so confident and gracious in its presentation, every-shot though tremendously rough, settles calmly into the film, reflecting Darbo's genuine feelings that he's not actually doing anything wrong. The film, although simple in its set-up, truly digs in under the skin of what is right and wrong and who decides, toying with religion and depression and other serious affairs along the way; whilst also juggling sociopathic violent outbursts and superbly perverted comedy.
Although fantastically scripted, the heart of 'SUPER' belongs to the frankly outstanding cast. Rainn Wilson's astounding central performance as mopey Frank and his demented alter-ego frantically shakes the viewer throughout, tearing the words directly from the page with emotional and personal flair, allowing him to be both despondently bitter and broken, as well as painfully hilarious at exactly the same time. Strong support is held up by Kevin Bacon's "interesting" villain Jacques, as suavely bold and sophisticated as modern drug dealers come, with his team of bumbling accomplices making troublingly comic targets. Liv Tyler drifts sweetly and innocently into the backdrop of Frank's crusade as his angelic wife Sarah, but the show-stealing Ellen Page dives straight in front as the sadistically adorable Libby, later becoming Darbo's sidekick Boltie. Her fearlessly pushy and exaggerated enthusiasm for bloody violence is both utterly hysterical and painfully sinister, although never drifting to the dark-side of the audience's perception, despite her adversely psychotic attacks on "crime". Even the cameos from the likes of 'Slither' star Nathan Fillion (among others) are marvellously acted and well placed, providing constant hilarity for Gunn fans and others alike.
Due to the tiny budget (roughly $2 million) and limited shooting schedule, visually 'SUPER' can be noticed to be rather dim in places, luckily salvaged by the hauntingly humorous use of onomatopoeic graphics (Bam, Boom, Splat, etc.) and truly fragrant soundtrack, in particular Tyler Bates' chirpy yet thoughtful scoring.
Viciously funny, sadistically adorable and hilariously heart-felt, 'SUPER' is bound to be one of the most original, unique and darkly comic films you will ever have the privilege to lay eyes on. It won't be to everybody's taste, some welcoming the extreme violence and sickening comedy, others not, but it will certainly open up your mind to look beyond the face value of justice and is sure to blur your perceptions of right and wrong beyond recognition.
What exists beyond the colourful spandex and bloody smears is a truly heart-wrenching and unpredictably grim portrait of the 21st century peppered with love and laughter, making 'SUPER' the most beautifully honest and ambitiously passionate vigilante tale to ever grace the eyes of the public. Treat it with care and a thoughtful mind, this is not your average gore- fest, 'SUPER' is an engrossingly real and overlooked gem, so original yet commemorative in its approach. Rubbing shoulders with the heavy-weight blockbusters of 2011 won't allow it to fare well financially, but 'SUPER' is a fresh and poignant escape from the dark depths of the Hollywood explosion-fest and should be endured by all those who seek excellent filmmaking. Shut up, crime!
The single solitary downfall of this movie is that it completely disregards expectations, but I'm pretty sure it couldn't have been done any other way. How do you advertise for a movie that is a perfect mix of drama, comedy, tragedy, thriller, parody and character-based gore-fest? How do you tell the uninformed movie-goer that what they're about to see is going to challenge them in ways that a super-hero movie could never be expected to? The answer: You don't. James Gunn invests a lot of confidence in his audience with this film, because he knows it has to be seen and he knows it is great, but is risking everything just by the mere fact that he made it. People will go into this movie, expecting a comedy about a silly down-to-Earth superhero, and for the first half hour or 45 minutes, they'll be confused about why some really serious themes keep popping up. Then, when all hell breaks loose and the jokes slow to a halt, they'll be wondering if they should have been laughing at the first half of the movie. But is that the movie's fault? If you walked in to watch Romeo and Juliet, expecting a romantic comedy, the same thing could happen. You'd laugh at the cheesy dialogue, at the squabbling houses, but after a while you'd start to wonder. And at the end, well, you'd feel that you'd been duped. Myself, walking into the empty theater at 10:00pm, having researched the movie, obsessed over it, and prepared myself for anything, well, I was blown away. Even though I built this movie up on a pedestal of monstrous heights, I was still pleasantly surprised and left the movie with my heart beating in my throat. One review is not enough space to discuss just why this movie is so great. People could analyze it in groups like they do with Citizen Kane, and I think they'd have a good chance of missing something. I only wish to say that I highly recommend this film to anyone who is a thinking moviegoer, or appreciates art in all of its forms. This movie deserves to make a billion dollars, and hopefully it blows up and gets its just deserves. Bring everyone you know and support this underrated masterpiece.
With a recent emergence of superhero movies aiming to be grittier and more realistic, Super is arguably the most accurate portrayal of what would happen if someone without powers or insane amounts of money decided to be a superhero. It would require a strict devotion to doing what YOU believe is right. There is, of course, almost always a level of ambiguity among superhero stories. Batman is considered by some to be a menace who if ever caught would most likely be charged with assault and breaking and entering, among other offenses. But he decides to be a vigilante because he sees injustice and wishes to fight it. He believes that what he is doing is right. Similarly, Rainn Wilson's character Frank becomes tired of standing idly by after his wife Sarah, portrayed by Liv Tyler is taken away by the slick and dangerous Jacques, played by Kevin Bacon. Frank intends to get his wife back and stop crime in his neighborhood. But as soon as Frank dons a costume and a monkey wrench as his weapon of choice, his mental well-being quickly comes into question. After all, what kind of person would strike someone in the head with a wrench, thus sending him to the ICU, for cutting in line at the movies? Is he psychotic? Is he deluded? Frank argues that it's actually everyone else who is deluded. What if we're the ones with a problem. After all, most of us witness the injustices and evils of this world and simply accept them as facts of life. We tell ourselves that nothing can be done about them and continue with our lives. Frank however knows what is right, even if that truth is only in his heart. The film earns it's R rating with massive amounts of graphic violence and a particularly strange sex scene. While Kick-Ass already tackled similar subject matter, Super takes a different approach. While Hit-Girl had weapons and combat training, Frank a.k.a. The Crimson Bolt and Libby a.k.a. Boltie (Ellen Page) have no experience at all and have nothing but rage and a penchant for violence to help them stop the bad guys. Additionally, Super begs the questions: Are the protagonists defenders of justice or psychopathic killers? Can they be both? While Kick-Ass had Joan Jett's Bad Reputation playing during Hit-Girl's butchering of a group of criminals, Super doesn't always portray our heroes' actions in such a cheery light. In order to save Frank's wife, The Crimson Bolt and Boltie need to be murders. They don't have the money or skill to develop sophisticated weaponry that will incapacitate their opponents. They don't have that luxury. They will gather whatever crude weapons they have in order to exact justice on those who escape the law. And if that makes them crazy, then so be it.
The superhero film craze has led to a lot of ordinary main characters
taking justice into their own hands. In that sense, nothing will strike
you as original about "Super," the latest film from James Gunn
("Slither") and one made on a shoestring budget. Rainn Wilson stars as
Frank, a man who loses his cool when a drug kingpin (Kevin Bacon)
steals away his wife (Liv Tyler). After having a vision in which his
brain is quite literally "touched by the finger of God," Frank decides
to create his own superhero, the Crimson Bolt, a force against all that
is evil in the world, or at least the small town he lives in.
Much like last year's "Kick-Ass," which re-examined superhero tropes using unlikely and subversive heroes, "Super" specializes in being deliberately perverse and relishes in the violation of genre expectation. James Gunn's film is foul, hilarious, real and campy all at different times. The film's disapproving critics will undoubtedly argue that down-to-earth characters and a gritty context cannot coexist with excessive, comical violence. Gunn likely believes that these two universes can be reconciled into one film, but nevertheless, the film delivers roaring entertainment with surprising moments of poignancy despite being a complete brain-scrambler.
"Super" begins like a typical narrated indie comedy. It portrays Frank as a bit of a dreamer, a slightly unrealistic person with a slight but charming naïveté. He finds oddly religious sources of inspiration to become a hero, such as the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), a made-up TV superhero used to promote Christian messages to children. Although Gunn brings Frank's overactive imagination to life, the film stays grounded in its "real person seriously considers being a superhero" concept. As Frank's world comes crashing down, we develop a definitive sense of pity and support his revenge fantasy. Then Gunn blows the lid open.
First off, the Crimson Bolt's weapon of choice is a pipe wrench. It seems goofy and kind of silly at first, but then he's actually bashing people over the head with a pipe wrench until they're bleeding and/or unconscious. Eventually, sweet lovable frank becomes a morally ambiguous hero, especially after he decides to teach the guy who butted in line at the movie theater a thing or two. This certainly makes "Super" a more complicated film, but it also creates a definite discomfort. Enter Ellen Page as the over-zealous comic book shop girl who inserts herself into the equation as Frank's kid sidekick Boltie. She not only attempts to seduce Frank, but she has an even more unrealistic notion of the violence she seeks to create. Together, they serve as a catalyst for the black comedy elements and the campy gore.
Both Wilson and Page push themselves in positive ways with their roles. Page leaves her dry wit comfort zone for some outrageous antics and Wilson shows some range with Frank's emotional side. Their radically different notions of what being a superhero is about leads to great hilarity and disturbing conflict.
Gunn chooses to sacrifice communicating the great depth of these characters by violating viewer expectation with the violence. Some of the gore stays realistic but uncomfortable while other deaths go over the top. The inconsistencies jar the tone of the film and suggest to the audience that they should take the film more or less seriously depending. It can become very difficult to remain engaged in the character sub-plots and the script's other strengths with this distraction. The other issue is the lack of realism with Frank being able to pull of his superhero. He drives around with his own license plates, for example and does a terrible job of concealing his identity. For a film that chooses to create down-to-earth characters, it becomes a bit hypocritical to ignore obvious truths.
Yet the fun, the humor, the strength of character and the way Gunn challenges thematic notions raised by most superhero films definitely elevates "Super" in a way that suggests its future will be as "cult favorite" as opposed to "lauded superhero spoof." The way it toys so carelessly with realism and cartoony realism makes the ride a bit bumpy, but judging it purely on entertainment value it's a hilariously good time. One simply must be able to reconcile its various genre elements in order to remain engaged in Gunn's unique and well-intentioned story that deconstructs our previously unquestioned love of superheroes.
Wow, I can totally relate to this movie. My life may not be as tragic,
but I could definitely relate.
Super follows Frank (Rainn Wilson)who lives a rather pathetic life. He's obviously not happy where his life is, and he can't seem to be as normal as your typical, everyday guy. His wife, Sara (Liv Tyler) who normally wouldn't be caught seen with Frank, just basically married him because of her troubled life. Then one day, Sara just packs up and leaves and Frank just can't get over her. He tries to get her back from the evil Kevin Bacon, but to no success. So one day, he has a revelation, and decides to dress as a superhero named Crimson Bolt in efforts to find meaning in his life. A friend of his named Libby (Ellen Page) volunteers to be his sidekick known as Volty and together the two of them work together to save Sara from the evil Kevin Bacon.
All I can say is that this isn't a happy movie. Our two protagonists cause more crime themselves than the good of society and they really don't seem to get too much credit in their efforts to shut up crime. In the end when they decide to get Sara back, comes a situation I never saw coming. This is the first time in a long time where a twist in the story was totally unexpected, and I applaud the filmmakers for making me surprised. That rarely happens.
There's also an attraction between Libby and Frank. However, Frank is so bent on being with his wife that he turns down Libby's efforts. I really wanted him to just forget his wife, and pursue a life with Libby. He might even be more happy. Does he? Well, I won't spoil that.
Super is a good movie, but very dark. I was glad I was able to catch it. It's definitely not a feel good movie, and again I could totally relate to the main protagonist. It makes me wonder if there is a little Super in all of us.
This film is about an ordinary man who decides to start fighting crime,
even though he has no special skills or powers. It also takes place in
the "real" world, where of course nobody has done this before.
The similarity to Kick-Ass ends there.
Believe me, this film is definitely a comedy, I laughed out loud many times. What happens, though, is that the film gets so dark and unforgiving that the "morality" of the film is hard to decipher. In that sense, it is very different from Kick-Ass. It's a great "spiral" from a literary point of view, but the movie doesn't make the transition smoothly.
Rain Wilson is funny in spite of himself throughout the film, although he does try to be serious quite often. Is this basically watching "Dwight" be a super-hero? Yes...to the same degree The Rocker was about "Dwight" playing in a rock band.
Ellen Page is fun, although her story "arc" is the weak link in the film. It's completely believable. Everything that she does (and what gets done to her) is pretty realistic for a "superhero" movie. That said, it's almost too low-key, and ultimately I found her role in the movie unsatisfying (though well-acted).
Kevin Bacon is great. This movie actually made me miss him of late. He provides a much-needed credibility to this film...it's hard to put it any other way. I wanted more of him.
And of course, there's Nathon Fillion. He's only in the movie about 2 minutes or so, but while he's on it's wonderful. Keep this man in comedies, Hollywood!
Ultimately, fans of superhero movies, dark comedies, and even cheesy horror films (Slither) will enjoy it immensely.
Casual movie goers may get turned off by the gritty violence and somewhat convoluted message.
I love Rainn Wilson, he's a fantastic actor, and now with Ellen Page by
his side, amazing!
This is the kind of movie where you laugh at the craziest stuff you've ever seen, and at the same time can feel a bit compassionate to the role who is played by Rainn. Ellen Page play the part as the sidekick to The Crimson Bolt, Boltie. She is full of energy all the time and nothing can stop her from having her fun. She is like the commercials for red bull, but it looks like she's always on red bull. And i was quite shocked when i saw that Andre Royo was starring in this movie, well known from The Wire, but he just had a small role.
A totally MUST SEE movie!
This is a 'love it' or 'hate it' movie. Like this reviewer, a small
fraction of the audience will find themselves in between. The general
public will either love this or hate it, depending on their
expectations in comparing this movie to "Kick-Ass"; and it will always
be compared with "Kick-Ass". Both films are about ordinary people
donning costumes to fight crime. However, this is where the comparison
ends. Written and directed by James Gunn, this is not a movie for just
anyone. Keeping in mind his "Dawn of the Dead" and "Slither", it
becomes evident that Gunn has intended for this movie to target a
specific segment of the movie going populace, specifically those who
enjoy very dark humor.
A cook by profession, Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is sad man with a depressing past and a feeble excuse of an existence. His greatest moments in life is marrying a recovering drug addict, Sarah (Liv Tyler) and helping a cop catch a purse snatcher. These events are so overwhelming that Frank even symbolizes its meaning through crayon sketches. Then things turn sour again. Sarah relapses into drug addiction and even leaves Frank for Jacques (Kevin Bacon), her drug dealer. Attempts to get his wife back results in insults and beatings, until the day Frank has an epiphany. Having realized that the only way to recuperate his wife is to punish drug pushers, Frank becomes a furious vigilante, and soon gains media attention as "The Crimson Bolt".
As an independent production, "Super" has its moments as a believable and funny film, with some good acting by the likes of some top actors. Although the plot, acting and twisted humor are the highlights of the film, it never comes together as a whole. Like Kick-Ass, the story pits average Joes as superheroes but without super powers. But unlike the aforementioned film, the vigilantes here are almost psychopathic. And yes, there is more than one. Last seen together in Juno, Ellen Page joins Frank as "Boltie", a sensuous side-kick bordering on lunacy. Together, they are more dangerous than the sleaziest of dark alley crooks. As actors, both D'Arbo and Page are scary, funny and insane. In opposing roles are Kevin Bacon and Michael Rooker as his side-kick. Bacon is the same as in all his antagonistic roles, 80% threat and 20 % deed. My biggest disappointment is the underplayed role of Liv Tyler. Gorgeous as she is, Tyler's role (and character) is a negligible two pennies worth that could have been done without.
Coming back to Gunn and his attempt in making an off-beat, albeit, dark comedy, I can say his approach is acceptable in starting an offshoot in the superhero genre. By his words, there are thousands of bank heist movies, so why not a few movies about superheroes without super powers.
If you haven't seen "Kick-Ass", I would suggest you watch that film first. If by then you are ready for some in-your-face violence (literally), a twisted and absurdly dark plot with a questionable conclusion, then, and only then would I suggest you try this movie. But don't say you weren't warned. In not calling it tasteless, this film does have a certain odd taste to it. It's like curiously savoring a medium-rare steak and then wondering halfway "what if the meat is human flesh!?!"
First let me start off by saying that at first glance Super looks very
similar to Kick Ass and I've read many reviews on here with people
calling this film a Kick Ass rip off IT IS NOT!
In fact Super is nothing like Kick Ass the only common thing they share is one ordinary person becoming a super hero you could say that kick Ass rips off such works as Batman or Green Lantern. An normal person suddenly becoming extraordinary isn't a new concept that Kick Ass invented and Super does not rip off that film in anyway, but I'm going to stop talking about this and get to the film itself.
The trailer for this film did not show what this film was really about, this is not a light hearted comedy about real life superheroes instead it's much more adult. This film is about a troubled man that has never really known true happiness in his life and suffers an ultimate blow when he looses his wife. This pushes him over the edge and eventually through a series of bizarre signs and a very disturbing vision decides to become a superhero.
This is about a man who could well be close to becoming a serial killer but his victims are people who commit crimes. He doesn't intended to kill them but his attacks are so brutal that they could lead to death and he seems to have no intent in puling his punches per say. Like wise his sidekick played by the talented Ellen Page is also a border line psychopath who is overall feisty and eager. Her character is just plane insane and without Frank would have become a crazed killer in a costume. I enjoyed her character very much I thought she was very funny and I loved her crazed psycho personality.
I admire how this film is shot, there's a lot of hand-held or steady cam shots and it gives the whole film a very documentary feel and it adds to the sense of realism that this film is about. This documentary realism feel is something that I personally think Kick Ass would have been better with, this feel works so well when action sequences take place or violent scenes occur because it makes them so much more tense and brutal.
The comedy in this is well placed, dark and disturbing at times and I found myself in some scenes laughing at how disturbing these scene were not one to show the kids.
I have nothing against any of the acting in this film I thought everyone was at their best suited their character, the only character I had a problem with was Liv Tyler's character I couldn't understand what her character really wanted during the course of this film one moment she wants to give up drugs for good the next she's living with a crime lord who deals in drugs what is going on with her?
I personally wish this film went on longer but that's just me. There were some really shocking moments in this film that really got a reaction from me and the ending at first left me feeling really sad inside but then afterwards it felt like the right one although I was disappointed with one aspect of it but I can't say without spoiling anything.
In short if you had low expectations and haven't seen this watch it and leave your expectations at the door you will not be disappointed unfortunately this isn't one of those films that I can share as some people will be put off by the odd and disturbing scenes but keeping in mind this is not a Kick Ass rip off this is a unique film all on it's own.
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