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Super (2011)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The problem with unnecessary films is that they have to be really good to win you over. And Super simply wasn't that good.

Super is a 2011 film, directed by James Gunn (who also recently directed Guardians of the Galaxy) and starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon. The movie is about a man named Frank, who leads a fairly normal existence, until his wife leaves him for Kevin Bacon and drugs. He must become a super hero to get her back, the only problem being that he has no super powers.

From early on, Super goes out of its way to be odd and lots of this oddness comes from the movies repeated attempts at satire and irony. Some of these attempts work, but some really do fall flat. For example, when Frank gets the idea to become a super hero, it comes from God, but he doesn't just get an idea. No, God cuts off the top of his skull to insert it directly into his brain. Ignoring how disgusting that is, the scene wouldn't have been so odd if God hadn't poured Barbeque sauce on Rainn Wilson's brain and rolled a corn dog in that sauce before placing the idea in his head. This kind of thing doesn't help the movie, it just gives the viewer a "what the hell?" expression on their face.

Now I'll get to the concern most people probably had with this movie: It really doesn't need to exist, because Kick-Ass, an infinitely superior version of this movie came out a year before it. Although clearly the script was written before Kick-Ass was released, Super can't help but feel like a studio trying to capitalize on the (relative) success of another movie. Although this happens all the time in Hollywood, the main problem is in the way Super went about trying to be different. Most of the time it seems to be attempting to be a more violent version of Kick-Ass, with an adult lead. However, the world simply doesn't need a more violent and bloody version of Kick-Ass (a pretty violent and bloody movie itself), so Super comes off as a rather pointless movie. If the movie had actually been good, maybe it wouldn't have felt so pointless, but alas, it was not.

It's also very hard to sympathize with Frank as the main character at some points. He leads a mundane existence, and acts like it; he never seems to be having fun or have any sense of joy. Wilson's performance reflects that, he has a perpetual scowl on his face and never seems to break that mold. I'm not sure if it was more Wilson's fault or the screenwriters, but Frank never becomes particularly interesting. Of course this is supposed to show the transition from sad sack to super hero, but the character doesn't have to be boring for this to succeed. It's also difficult to have sympathy for a guy who bashes someone in the head with a wrench, just for cutting in a movie line. Although people who cut in line piss me off to no end, it's not exactly an offense that warrants death.

However, the movie is not all bad. Some of the actors turn in decent performances, most notably Ellen Page as the wannabe sidekick Libby, and the runtime is kept to a crisp 96 minutes, which both keeps the film from dragging on and the audience interested. For it's other faults, Super is not a boring movie. Some of the quirks actually work well, such as the AJN (All Jesus Network), which effectively parodied how ridiculous religious zealots can be. The opening credit sequence was rather clever, and the script was usually decent.


However, I really had a problem with the very end of this movie. The final action scene when Frank goes ham on Kevin Bacon and his crew is solid, but after he recovers his wife Sarah, he addresses the question the audience has been wondering: Why is he better than the people that kidnapped his wife? In his final monologue, he essentially states that he's in the right because he did everything for a good reason. This is a pretty shitty explanation; the Ku Klux Klan also thought they were doing the right thing by killing blacks, but that doesn't mean their opinion was correct at all. What I'm saying is that everyone thinks they're doing the right think, but that doesn't make them right. So not only is this reason rather dull, it also doesn't offer any legitimate validation, which irritated me.

CONCLUSION: In the end, Super has some good things about it, it's idiosyncratic nature is often effective, Ellen Page and most of the supporting cast did well in their roles, and it was paced fairly effectively. However, the main character wasn't interesting, it often goes over the top in its weirdness, the very end kinda pissed me off and moreover, the movie simply doesn't need to exist.

Score: 4/10