Defendor - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Defendor Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 23, 2013
Defendor is a surprising treat for fans of superhero movies. The film has an impressive cast and a good storyline. Some may say that this is similar to Kickass, but it is very different. I personally feel you can't compare the two and both of them do something that the other movie can't. Woody Harrelson is great here, and he delivers a well executed performance that is fun and funny. The rest of the cast are fine as well and each brings something to the film that just makes this such an original and refreshing movie that is worth checking out. I can see why Kickass might be a similar film, but the plotline for this film is very different, and in many ways a bit better. Defendor seems a bit overlooked with the success of Kick Ass and if you've that film, you'll probably enjoy this other take on the superhero genre. Harrelson is great here and he manages to deliver a wonderful, humorous performance that makes the film what it is. Give this film a shot; it is definitely worth your time if you want something that is original and quite different from everything else that we've seen. Defendor is an underrated film that definitely is better than what the critics have said. Give it a shot, you'll surely enjoy it. Films like this are fun to see because they think outside the box, and offer something really good for viewers looking for something interesting to watch. Defendor is a gem of a movie, and one that successfully combines comedy and drama into one memorable movie.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2010
Similar, but not the same as Kick-Ass, we get another take on the idea of ordinary and powerless people trying to become superheroes. This is a superhero film yes, to a degree, but it's more or less a character study about a severely troubled, delusional, and slow-witted man who takes up the mantle of a superhero to provide his life with meaning.

While there is humor in this film, I wouldn't go so far as to call it a comedy. Possibly a dark (very dark) comedy might be fitting, but I prefer to think of it as a drama with some darkly humorous satirical elements theoughout. It's not a bitter satire like Network, nor is it gut bustingly hilarious. It's emotional, full of depth, heart, and is quite touching. Some of it just happens to bring chuckles now and then.

I'm not sure if this is what the cast and crew were going for, but this seems like a film you could use in an intellectual conversation about deconstructing the nature of heros (more specifically superheroes), vigilantes, and the subgenre of this type of film. If any of that doesn't make sense, maybe this will: basically this is, I feel, a treatise on deconstructing notions of heroes and superhero films. Like I said earlier though, this may be valid, but it's first and foremost a character study.

And what a character! Woody Harrelson has really been on a roll in the past two years, and this is another performance that is just dynamite. He shines as the lonely, troubled, and delusional Arthur/Defendor. You wanna think he's nuts (he is), and laugh at him, but at the same time, he's oddl;y charming, and compelling, and you really grow to love and care about him. Longtime character actor and That Guy Elias Koteas is terrific, as is Kat Dennings. They both play archetypical characters, but aren't totally run of the mill, same-old same-olds. Oh is also good, but I wish she had a larger role. Given her screentime though, she's really good.

This is probably not a film for all tastes. For people who like tons of action and mayhem, you'll be disappointed, for peope who don't like superhero type films, you'll be disappointed. But if you want a sharp, moving, and terrifically well made Canadian Indie about a guy who uses a superhero alter ego to escape his troubles, you'll probably like this. Really, the character could have chosen anything to use as his refuge. That he chooses to be Defendor just adds to his character, and helps the movie provide an interesting take on notions of heroism.
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2011
The local police force in Hammertown? They're simply too overwhelmed to care about the recent wave of crime sweeping the city, those that aren't corrupt. And the bad guys, immigrant drug runners, hardly even care themselves, bored beyond tears with the good life, and killing and murdering. The only soul who does seem to care is a homeless guy (Harrelson, very sympathetic) who's got an I.Q. of maybe 80, tops, and may be a "retard", if not an idiot altogether. His only help is a crack ho, shining him for money for drugs ... can anything good emerge from this veritable shitstorm of filth? Yes, and that's the serio-comic message of hope that this work delivers.
Super Reviewer
½ March 25, 2011
A strangely compelling film - it carries a dark yet somewhat optimistic tone, and the unhinged performance from Woody Harrelson is a treat to watch.
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2011
Mixing a current love for super-hero movies, with a drama about mental health is a hard sell. Probably why this film has been skirting under the radar for sometime. People always talk about Batman being mentally ill. Well, Harrelson's character truly is. He is misguided into a world of crime fighting, searching for his mother's killer. He gets way in over his head, and his antics have serious consequences. He jeopardizes police investigations, and really gets hurt. At the same time, his actions are celebrated by the media and the public. The film looks at these points from a distance. Are Harrelson's methods justified? Is he just a gimmick? Is there a better way to fight crime? Whilst, all the time, reminding us that Harrelson is not well. He is dangerous, even if his heart is in the right place. Perhaps a bit too much darkness to truly take off, it has some great performances, and the action scenes always let you feel that something bad could happen to the hero. Not something you can say about many superhero films.
Super Reviewer
September 17, 2009
Defendor is a firmly odd endeavour, 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.
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.
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2010
This is an adult Super Hero Spoof Movie thats so stupid its funny, Woody is at the bottom of the barrel, it can only get better from her. Still its funny enough to watch. But again not for children. 3 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ October 14, 2010
This was sooooo much better than I thought it was going to be. The commercial ads sure did not do it justice. It was very funny, and very moving at the same time. Well written, and very nice cast. The only reason I even watched it was because of some of the nice reviews here. I am so glad that listened.
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2010
Defendor waits too long into the film to be a great movie, but for that reason, I can just say that it was very good. I loved Defendor, because of it's kid like heart that was only able to be shown to adults due to the R rating. I love the style and the emotion put into the film. The end warms your heart and I wish there were people in the real world just like this, except for the murdering parts. I emotionally loved this film and besides the dull start, it's terrific!
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2010
Great in parts, but pretty average on the whole. It's kind of like a marriage between Kick-Ass and Forrest Gump, only far less good than the both of them. Woody Harrelson, who here plays a mentally challenged man with an ambition to be a superhero, has a fairly fun and sympathetic character. But as often as he amuses, there were also a lot of scenes when I found myself irritated by his slow-mindedness and stupidity. I think the script is mostly to blame for that though, as opposed to Harrelson's acting. It's one of those films with a really interesting premise, but that let's it go to waste due to the lack of qualitative writing. It also tends to drag on a lot, which made me a little sleepy while watching it. Like I said in the beginning though, it does have some moments when it's really good. It's just a shame those instances are in the minority.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2010
Defendor, from Peter Stebbings, has it moments, and then it doesn't.Despite being bucketed in as part comedy, there isn't exactly a whole lot of laughs in the 90+ minutes of "super hero" crime fighting. The pacing is moderate as the dramatic and emotional portion of the story carries the film over anything else, while the dark humor makes occasional appearances. Just because this picture isn't funny, that doesn't mean it is a horrendous film because it does find a way to entertain from time to time.The crime fighting, as well as the action, is nothing to make time for. The Defendor character has no super powers or training of any kind, yet this isn't a problem because it fits in with the tone of the film and it produces the most amusement.Woody Harrelson is quite the character and he definitely outshines everyone else in the movie. Kat Dennings and Elias Koteas produce likable performances; however their characters are more on the unlikable side.Defendor lacks the excitement to be anything spectacular, but it isn't a complete waste of time. "Look out, termites. It's squishing time."
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2010
Arthur (Woody Harrelson) is a socially immature guy with a serious lack of common sense & is "not quite all there upstairs". The life he's led has somewhat forced him to be delusional wherein he slips under a superhero character which he prefers to be called as 'Defendor' with an O. He's out on a mission to defeat someone he calls 'Captain Industry'. He blames 'Captain Industry' for his losses, & believes that for the society's well-being, he needs to get rid of this Captain Industry.

Quite a different kind of superhero movie where our hero neither has supernatural powers like that of Spiderman & Superman nor super financial powers like that of Batman. But he has a cause for which he feels that he needs to become a superhero with whatever resources are handy to him. Since he's not right in mind, he gets out to fight the baddies with his limited resources, & this is supposed to create comedy situations. But it fails there for most of the part. The emotional sequences aren't well done either. I felt somewhat sympathy for Arthur, but not enough. "DARKLY FUNNY"? It's neither enough dark nor enough (in fact, hardly) funny. I can hardly remember myself laughing out loud while watching the movie. Maybe 2-3 chuckles at the most. The script lacks meat & doesn't work at many levels.

One of the main reasons I went for this movie was Woody Harrelson's name on the casting list. Unfortunately, he isn't that effective here. I'm not sure if the weak script is to be blamed for that. Kat Dannings is the best of the lot. Sandra Oh & Elias Koteas are efficient. Michael Kelly is okay. I was surprised to find Lisa Ray on the casting list. Of course, she went unnoticed for me.

On the whole, you won't be missing much if you give this one a skip. 5.5/10.
Super Reviewer
½ July 10, 2010
CAST: Woody Harrelson, Kat Dennings, Elias Koteas, Sandra Oh, Lisa Ray, Michael Kelly, Charlotte Sullivan, Kristin Booth, Tatiana Maslany, Lyriq Bent

DIRECTED BY: Peter Stebbings

SUMMARY: Despite lacking any actual superpowers, Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) transforms himself into costumed vigilante "Defendor." But danger beckons when the hero tries to protect young prostitute Kat (Kat Dennings) from an assailant.

MY THOUGHTS: "I went into this film expecting a dark comedy. What I got instead was a smart, funny, heartbreaking, and extremely touching film that explores what it's like to be a real hero. Some of the movie was outright hilarious, other times you don't know whether to laugh at or feel sorry for Harrelson's character. The fast story holds your attention, and some of 'Defendor's' tools are really creative - and hilarious. He doesn't believe in guns because in his words: 'People who use guns are cowards'. Couldn't agree more. I really appreciated the honesty of this character. Good flick...Give it a watch...."
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2010
Pretty bleak movie and kinda boring still with a decent message to everyone who saw it. It's a mix between drama,comedy and action. Watch at own risk...though I wouldn't watch it again ever.

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.
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2010
06/05/2010 (DVD)

Kind of weird, dark and funny.

Not the best "Hero Flick" I've seen, but definitely the strangest!

It has strands of humor, a shot of morality and an awkward romance that actually works.

This is "DEFENDOR"
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2010
Defendor: Look out, termites. It's squishing time.

Another entry in the realm of average person takes up the job of superhero. While not as well done as the recent Kick-Ass or as oddly touching as the Michael Rappaport film Special, this film nevertheless makes good enough work of its premise due to Woody Harrelson's performance.

Harrelson stars as Arthur, a man living in solitary, who puts on a costume at night to fight crime as Defendor (emphasis on the "OR"). His skills consists of a utility belt full of marbles and jars of wasps, bad puns, and his weapon of choice - a WWI trench club. Defendor's goal is to defeat his arch nemesis, Captain Industry, who he has had trouble finding. One night, Defendor breaks up a "situation" involving a prostitute, played by Kat Dennings, and a corrupt cop, played by Elias Koteas. Soon, Defendor befriends the prostitute, who claims to know where Captain Industry is. It will be up to him to finally stop Capt. I., that is if he can escape the realm of real world troubles.

The film certainly benefits from Harrelson's performance, otherwise it would just be another entry into this type of very specific genre. There's nothing really exceptional about the way it is put together, other than Defendor's unique utilities and the very on the nose scoring for the film. Still, it does manage to be darkly funny at times, and does have some memorable moments scattered in there. But it all comes back to Harrelson who gives the film its heart.

Worth a rental.

Chuck Dooney: Who writes your dialogue? Superman?
Defendor: No. I write it myself.
Chuck Dooney: You know what? You need a good ghost writer. Somebody with talent.
Defendor: No. You need a ghost writer. 'Cause that's what you're going to be after I pulverize you.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2010
A true original... at once smart funny and touching. Woody Harrelson continues his hot streak with one of his all-time best performances.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2010
"An unexpected hero will rise."

A comedy centered around three characters: an everyday guy who comes to believe he's a superhero, his psychiatrist, and the teenager he befriends.

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!
Super Reviewer
April 19, 2010
A remarkably original, surprisingly effective and hugely entertaining film that's a brilliant new twist on the superhero genre. A wonderful balance of riveting poignant drama and hysterical dark comedy. A fun, hard-boiled, very funny and outrageous good time. A great film that's way better than expected. It's a well-crafted, superbly performed and sharply written film with great depth and emotional honesty. Woody Harrelson is absolutely fantastic, he gives one of his best and most engaging performances ever. Harrelson is just a joy to watch, you love him in every moment in this film. Sandra Oh is terrific. Michael Kelly is excellent. Elias Koteas is amazing. Kat Dennings is wonderful.
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2009
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 portayed 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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