By Ryan Casey
Writer and director James Gunn’s take on a normal, everyday person changing themselves to become a spearhead in the crusade against crime, ultimately through the creation of a superhero alias. The movie Super was always going to draw comparisons with the hugely successful movie ‘Kick Ass’. However, In short, I was hugely disappointed with ‘Kick Ass’. Now it’s not as polished as ‘Kick Ass’, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Super sparked my initial interest, as it seemed to offer a more accurate presentation of what would actually happen to someone who decided to don a mask and fight the forces of evil.
The film stars Rainn Wilson as the odd-ball Frank D’Arbo, who other than helping a police officer in the pursuit of a criminal and marrying his wife Sarah, played by Liv Tyler, has only experienced personal torment and mediocrity in his life. Sarah (who is way out of Frank’s league) is a recovering alcoholic and drug user and she is eventually enticed away from Frank by a sleazy drug dealer called Jacques (Kevin Bacon). This leads him into a serious bout of despair, to which he tries to escape through the help of God. Franks prayers seemed to be answered when a God hallucination encourages the idea to make his own superhero alternative, so he can fight crime and save Sarah from the evil that took her from him.
The Crimson Bolt is born and Frank immediately begins using his superhero creation to catch any wrong doers and dish out his own form of justice, namely beating the shit out of people with a monkey wrench. Frank is eventually joined on his quest to eradicate criminality by his young, eager and extremely horny sidekick Boltie, with an excellent performance from Ellen Page. The super team ultimately turn their attention to Jacque and his gang of lackies, embarking on a mission to eradicate their reign of terror, and bring the corrupted Sarah away from the dark and into the light.
Super certainly does have a very unique style, profiling the quirkiness and bizarre imagery that is synonymous with director James Gunn. Frank’s personality and the limits of his abilities are truly believable, his journey towards redemption is presented with a dry charm that highlights he is simply a man in a suit trying his hardest, an everyday man. With humorous catch phrases like ‘Shut up crime!’, whilst adding humour to Franks character, help identify him as a un-spectacular man who is blunt and direct about his ultimate goal. Though Super does get bogged down in places and can make you think ‘What on earth is going on?’ at times, the story rarely veers off track and possesses a bluntness and drive that keeps you hooked throughout.
The fight scenes in Super are extremely violent, featuring a healthy portion of blood loss, dismembered limbs and exploding bodies. This could be seen as unnecessary, on the other hand I found them very satisfying, seeing Frank crack someone’s head open because they jumped the queue for the movies and drop a breeze block on a thieves head from the top of a stair well is not only amusing but profiles a raw aggression that I’m sure most people wish they could exert on people who have pissed them off.
Other performances in Super are worth a mention. Kevin Bacon plays the creepy, intimidating adversary Jacques with a cockiness that really makes you want him to suffer a gruesome end. Ellen Paige as Libby is a little difficult to grasp at the begin, but when she transforms into Boltie, her performance is nothing but pure entertainment. Her somewhat evil cackle of contentment when she deals out suffering to criminals is very endearing, as it highlights her immaturity and is hilarious.
Although Super didn’t receive the fanfare that accompanied ‘Kick Ass’, I found it’s story far more believable and entertaining. I reckon The Crimson Bolt would win in a fight over Kick ass any day. 3.5 Stars out of 5