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Super's intriguing premise and talented cast are drowned in a blood-red sea of graphic violence, jarring tonal shifts, and thinly written characters.
All Critics (123)
| Top Critics (30)
| Fresh (60)
| Rotten (63)
| DVD (3)
As black comedy, it works reasonably well some of the time, with plenty of black but not much comedy.
Offers genuine empathy with the put-upon protagonist's longing for justice, yet plays the bloody ramifications for cartoonish fun.
Super just doesn't fly.
This movie is too pedestrian for camp, and too scattershot for an action comedy.
"Super" could use the certitude of its hero, but the weapon it wields instead is a scalpel to see what's inside us.
A sense of style can make up for a lot at the movies. But James Gunn's brutal new comedy-thriller, "Super," succeeds only in demonstrating that without it, you may not have much of anything.
In Super, the ingredients just don't mesh.
This critic recommends this idiosyncratic film -- as long as you aren't too bothered by the sight of men getting the life beaten out of them.
Super has confirmed that [Ellen Page] is indeed one of most talented young actors around.
It's difficult to tell if director James Gunn really is trying to play for laughs, because so much of the one-liner humor is inconsistent.
If I hadn't foolishly gone and saw Sucker Punch a couple weeks ago, this would be the worst film of the year.
Gunn's movie is an ingeniously nasty concoction that feeds the cult of superhero fandom back into itself.
Working pretty well as a sympathetic character study centered on a righteous man who believes he is on a divine mission from God, this inspired movie is like a sassy brother of Kick-Ass: oddly funny, amusing and making no concessions regarding its amount of violence.
The best of the "why-doesn't-someone-suit-up-and-go-fight-crime-like-Batman" genre of film, capably sold by the sure hands of the director James Gunn and the solid casting of Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. As with Guardians, Gunn's soundtrack is kick ass (sorry, I couldn't help myself) as well.
As we reached double figures in the early 2000s decade there seemed to be a little influx of off-kilter superhero flicks. In 2009 we saw 'Defendor' and then in 2010 we got both 'Kick-Ass' (by far the biggest and most successful) and this little gem starring Rainn Wilson...apparently named after a weather condition but they added an extra 'N' to make it not look too stupid.
The plot isn't too unfamiliar, in fact its hella predictable really. Frank is a plain and simple, unfit, kinda ugly blue collar guy who works in some dingy diner as the cook. Somehow he is married to a pretty sexy girl Sarah, (Liv Tyler). Unfortunately Sarah becomes a druggie early in their relationship and (somehow) gets involved with the sleazy strip club owner Jacques (Kevin Bacon). This causes Frank to spiral into depression behaving recklessly and stupidly, he challenges Jacques and his goons (he has his own strip club goons), tries to get the police to arrest Jacques for stealing his wife and...almost buys a pet rabbit. Eventually his madness leads to supernatural/spiritual visions where he thinks God tells him to become a superhero, so that's just what he does, become a crazy violent vigilante superhero of the people.
So yeah I think you get the gist of this right, the lonely, kinda chubby loser, thinks he's a superhero, makes his own silly costume and runs around the town trying to foil crime. Of course the twist being the movie is grounded in reality and of course Frank isn't a superhero at all and he doesn't live within a comicbook world. You do get all the usual quirks you'd expect in a real origins comicbook flick, the design and creation of his trademark costume, his superhero name, the help he receives from his future sidekick (another lonely blue collar worker who just happens to be a cute as buttons female), his weapon acquirement and his early missions.
Naturally being based in reality you can guess what happens, yes its an easy guess but it is rewarding none the less. Frank confronts typical street drug pushers and such only to find its not as easy as he thinks. Yeah you could say the baddies he confronts are racial stereotypes but the movie is only being honest here, I'm sure they did their research. Anyway it is funny how he dives into action only to have the shit kicked out of himself, it then dawns on him to get a weapon. The following night he does it all over again with the same guy, but now he has a wrench which he uses to beat the guy half to death. Yes it sounds awful but it is actually quite amusing because of the fact its so horrific, and the way he thinks he's doing a good thing. Yeah sure he's stopping a perp selling drugs on the street, but he pretty much kills the guy with a big metal wrench!
As things progress and he half kills more bad guys, he gains a reputation as a nasty vigilante...naturally. This is highlighted in one sequence where he, yet again, half kills a man and woman for cutting in line to a nightclub. The quick cut of him walking off to his car to change into his outfit, which is clearly suppose to take at least 10 minutes and shows him struggling in the backseat with his white Y-fronts on, is brilliant. There are other such superhero mockery moments like Frank waiting around all night behind a dumpster for a crime to occur. A very sweet little scene which shows him talking to himself, keeping a little superhero audio diary, kinda reminds me of the comicbook 'The Tick'. Its moments like these that make the film work on so many levels as it mocks the typical superhero format we all know.
Is the film dark? why yes it is, not quite at first, but it sure does get emotional towards the finale. For starters Frank is clearly in his late 30's maybe early 40's, whilst his sidekick Libby, played by Ellen Page, is around 22 I think it was. Now this isn't an issue at first, Frank doesn't really want her to become his sidekick but she talks him into it, but when she kinda rapes him one night...well that's a bit questionable don't ya think. Talk about gender role reversal! I wonder what the feminists thought about that. Other dark and weird moments involve Franks visions which turn out to be a blend of religion, spiritual and alien abduction. I guess it shows how warped and delusional Frank must be to have these visions which come across as something from 'Hellraiser' mixed with a Holy intervention, and he sees it as positive.
Most of the other dark moments obviously revolve around the violence which is pretty darn bloody at times, this isn't a tame comicbook parody. There isn't anything outrageously over the top like 'Kick-Ass' though, its all quite acceptable and believable stuff, but graphic. Yet we do still get funny superhero mockery in the form of Frank turning up to fight bad guys only armed with his wrench and fists, he brings a wrench to a gun fight, and has to run away sharpish. I think the hardest and most gut wrenching moment is the ending for Libby, I won't ruin it but its actually heart-breaking, horrendously graphic and shocking...did I give that away? Its at that moment the movie really does shift up a gear into serious territory and becomes quite the adrenaline rush, its also where Rainn really shows us his talents.
It certainly fits the bill of a dark comicbook, at times highly amusing, at times highly violent and sick, and at times very emotional. The ending is odd because Frank manages to achieve his goal but at what cost?? it doesn't really seem like a happy ending, especially after the slap to the face revelation about Sarah at the very end, huh! Its a very well acted movie and very engaging I must say, didn't think it would be but it certainly is, you feel for Frank and Libby, and you want them to succeed. Alas you kinda forget all about Sarah even though she is the main target and goal for Frank. You really want him to ride off into the sunset with Libby, the film confuses you there, toys with your emotions. Still its a solid makeshift superhero/vigilante movie with a heart of gold? Well shocking depressing nastiness aside I guess it is, but its more like a rollercoaster for your emotions and moral compass...but still fun.
Director James Gunn has a knack for making genre films that go outside of regular film conventions. With "Slither" he made an old time monster movie that coupled with horror and thrillers. Here he takes on the superhero milieu, and in the same way as "Kickass," easily subverts the traditional hero. While that film was more about teenaged angst and hardcore violence, "Super's protagonist is much darker, very prone to violence, and he definitely does not have his life in order. Frank (Wilson) is a very confused man who has his wife taken away from him by violent individuals who have drugged and re-addicted her to drugs. He has acted as her rock for so long that when she is powerless to even save herself, he jumps into action and takes on the unique catchphrase of "Shut up crime!" Frank has his own virtues and creed, but he oftentimes takes justice too far but without repercussion. Instead of finding the character repulsive and his actions incomprehensible, the film celebrates the blood and sometimes gore. Frank fights tooth and nail to save his wife, and his sacrifices, whether physical, mental, or emotional, are all brave and heartbreaking to watch. The film gets much darker when he takes on sidekick Boltie (Page), who has a violent streak that runs deeper than anything Frank could imagine. Her rage and lack of common sense seems to work well with his naiveté and need to crusade for justice. The film is also laced with black comedy, and it works well with what the film is. The relationship between Frank and Boltie is both obviously flawed and always entertaining. The action has some bloody battles, but what makes these scenes really interesting is how excited Frank is to burst into battle, and yet it's so painful and frightening for him. It's not just a film about bloodletting of course; it's also about a man who takes on everyone, to save the one person he has always protected.
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