Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Dark Comedy, Action/Adventure
Opens locally Friday, April 15th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes, Not Rated (but definitely for mature audiences)
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon
Written & Directed by James Gunn (Slither)
Did you ever wonder why their aren't real super-heroes? Well first, we're all only human with the inability to fly or possess other-worldly strength, and only airport security has X-ray vision these days. Examining "real" super-heroes has been done countless times in movies, as recently as last year in the film "Kick-Ass." That film made being a super-hero look, well, kick-ass. "Super" though, is a violent and torturous version of this previous film, and is not for everybody. Don't be fooled thinking it's a "comedy" just because it stars Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page: "Super" borders on torture porn, glamorizing violence with a smirk on it's face...much like comic books that glamorize the same sort of destruction and mayhem, but somehow are dismissed as "fantasy."
The Plot. Wilson plays Frank, the sort of loser dweeb that he made famous in his roles on Six Feet Under and The Office. When his drugged-up wife (Liv Tyler) is abducted by Kevin Bacon (more of a "ham" in this role), Frank has a vision, leading him to create for himself an alter-ego...that of the super-hero called Crimson Bolt. He decides to fight crime to rid the streets of the same scum and filth that his wife succumbed to, even gaining a sidekick, Boltie (played by Ellen Page), along the way. His mission: To save his wife and make the world a better place. His motto? "Shut up, crime."
Have you ever laughed at something only to realize that it wasn't meant to be funny? That's the overwhelming experience you'll get when watching "Super." The tone of the film wants you to laugh, only you find yourself laughing at people getting beaten, murdered, and massacred.
It spends too little time in the realm of "what would someone have to do to become a super-hero in real life?" The homemade costume, the occassional butt-kicking that the hero must take. Frank finds himself in comic book stores searching for inspiration, and doesn't have a ripped six-pack and bulging muscles. He's just a normal guy, fighting crime.
Clearly someone who decides to fight crime renegade-style is a bit crazy...and Frank is definitely nuts. The movie is strongest when it shows Frank's transformation from lowly nerd to lowly nerd with a costume, but unfortunately the film doesn't spend much time there.
It is too focused on Frank's revenge mission. It points out, rather violently, that guns don't go "bang!" and when you hit someone over the head with a wrench, a bubble doesn't appear saying "whap!" or "thud!" Nope, blood spurts out and it's rather gruesome. It's the tone of the film that makes these violent later sequences seem oddly out of place.
Bottom Line. There was a scene in "Billy Madison" years back, when a clown falls over at a party. Everybody laughed because clowns are funny, and it's funny when people fall down too. But then they showed the clown on the ground with blood coming out of his mouth. It makes you stop laughing and segues into an uncomfortable chuckle.
"Super" is a 90 minute long uncomfortable chuckle.
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