‘Super’ Movie Review

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Paige, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillion

Plot: Frank (Wilson) has been pushed around and humiliated his entire life, with his only bright spot being his lovely wife Sarah (Tyler) whose recovery from drug addiction crumbles when she runs away with drug dealer Jock (Bacon). Unable to cope with people doing the wrong thing and losing Sarah, he becomes masked vigilante Crimson Bolt.

Review: Comic book movies have gone beyond being a trend and have settled into a sub-genre of their own. With that we have also seen films riffing on the established conventions of the comic book movie. ‘Kick-Ass’ took the angle of geeky kid living out his comic book fantasies, whilst ‘Defendor’ and ‘Griff the Invisible’ handled the notion of superhero persona’s being an escape for mentally damaged or limited individuals.

Now we have ‘SUPER’, which sits precariously in between, depicting a mentally limited individual living out the comic book fantasy in order to fulfill a personal journey. Of course, when I say “now we have” I mean those who have bought a copy on import because no distributor has felt the need to make money of Australians and no-one has planned a distribution in this region yet. This is why film piracy happens. Anyway…

Rainn Wilson, a talented comedic actor (best known for ‘The Office’), has never had a role that he’s stretched his abilities before. In the role of Frank/Crimson Bolt he shows more range than usual, saving his physical comedy for the crime-fighting and giving Frank a surprising amount of heart. That said, this is far from a drama – the violence is shocking and will cause plenty of cringe. As sympathetic as Wilson is, his inability to deal with the world around him is the crux of the character and it’s hard to back him when he loses his temper with a guy cutting in line at the cinema and belts him in the head with a wrench (looks and sounds plenty painful).

The rest of the cast also manage to work well. Liv Tyler is surprising because I’d forgotten she existed while Bacon smarms with the best of them. Standing out from the crowd is Ellen Paige, the young comic book worker who attaches herself to Frank to be his sidekick, Boltie. She’s as funny and quirky as usual but with a psychotic undercurrent that produces some of the most shocking moments in the film. Seeing Juno laugh gleefully while slicing up goons is only the tip of the ice-berg – she takes on some pretty twisted scenes. It’s a decent performance that puts her well outside of her typecast roles. Plus, Nathan Fillion as a religious themed TV hero is a worthy cameo.

From the blisteringly funny crudely animated musical number that makes up the opening credits through the blood soaked finale, this is a unique film in a market of wannabes and copycats, and anyone who can appreciate some dark comedy along with their brutal violence should ensure they seek it out.