Super (2011)

Director: James Gunn
Cast: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon

Before you read this review, I want you to take a second to watch the trailer, just up there ^^.
Go ahead, watch it, I’ll wait………..ok watched it? Pretty good right? Seems pretty funny. Now you know what to expect. Now prepare to have that preconception sand blasted to oblivion.

The Plot:
Frank (Wilson) is a below average guy who has pretty much one light in his life: Sarah (Tyler) his seemingly angelic wife, who is a recovering drug addict. However, when she meets a local drug dealer, Jacques (Bacon), she leaves Frank for him. In a effort to save her from what he believes to be an evil plot, Frank decides to don the superhero pants to become the Crimson Bolt. With the help of a semi-insane comic book store clerk, Libby (Page), he takes his crime fighting to the streets, to clean up the town and, ultimately, save his wife.

The comparison is there, so let’s just get it out of the way. Super can easily be confused for another Kick Ass. The plot is very familiar. And it’s going for a bit of action with a lot of laughs. What’s different? Well for one thing, the sense of humor is radically divorced from that of Kick Ass. It is very much an indie film. And, if I’m being completely honest here, a lot of the humor doesn’t quite seem to land. *

*(There is a very strong possibility that people will disagree with me when they see this film! Everyone has different senses of humor, and obscure humor will always appeal to a certain crowd. The popularity of films like Date Movie and Sex and the City is a testament to this.)

Here is my issue with this film. I was all geared up to watch a film that would have me, if not laughing hysterically, then at least chuckling fairly constantly. I had seen the trailer, and that was my expectation. Yet this is not the film I was hoping for. It has its moments. There are one or two genuinely excellent laugh out loud points where I laughed…out loud. But there isn’t nearly enough to carry the whole film. A lot of it seems funny in theory, and may have looked great on paper, but the execution just does not seem to work.

Humor aside, the film is still an intriguing watch. It feels more realistic than most superhero movies because it is about as violent as a cat in a cement mixer. The Crimson Bolt isn’t Spiderman, who ties the villains up for the cops to find. He smacks the bejeebus out of them with his trusty wrench, and it is quickly apparent why this is rated an 18+ movie. A surprisingly large amount of blood flows in this film as a seemingly deranged and dangerous man in a costume runs riot about town. And the finale, for an indie film, is as explosive as you could hope for in any good action film.

Regardless of how you feel about the film itself, there is little, if any, fault to find in the performances. Rainn Wilson is incredible as Frank! He nails the deadpan comic, and he has a number of sad and reflective scenes throughout the film which can be genuinely touching (despite the attempted humor which usually accompanies them). And when he dons the mask of the Crimson Hood, his furious rage is an incredible contrast to his deadpan Frank and serves for many of the films best comic moments.

Equally as impressive is Ellen Page as the clearly deranged Libby. The vast majority of the humor in the film comes from her. And yet she is not just the comic relief, as you’ll find yourself grown quite attached to her by the time the credits roll. Liv Tyler also does very well. She doesn’t get an awful lot of screen time, but this is clearly intentional on the directors part. And Bacon, who seems to be enjoying a great comeback into mainstream films lately, clearly has a lot of fun playing Jacques, the quirky villain of the piece. You are left in no doubt about his morality or shallow nature, yet he is still casual and light hearted throughout.


It’s a tricky film to try and sum up because it shatters any expectations you had of it and then replaces it with something you never saw coming. It ends on a poignant note, the kind where you scrunch up your face and go “….huh”. The humor is more than a little off key, even if it does manage to supply the odd laugh. Effectively, what the film achieves is a light hearted examination of what is a good, but clearly disturbed, human being trying to exact justice while on a journey of self discovery.

Awful Rating: 7/10

Shut up Crime!” – Frank/The Crimson Bolt


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. If you saw this, admit it, it was a bit of a letdown. I was expecting comedy, not deep complex characters! I was eating pizza, no one likes complexity with pizza, it tastes awful!!

  2. I won’t watch the trailer because I don’t want my expectations hyped up. However, I am going to see this film, absolutely, based simply on the quote “Shut up Crime!”

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