8 July 2011
Super is the story of Frank, a devout Christian who's as happy as can be for someone who believes happiness is overrated. That all changes when his wife Sarah, a recovering drug addict, leaves him and shacks up with Jacque, a charismatic dealer and crime lord. Distraught, Frank becomes convinced that he has a higher purpose. To wit, he believes that God wants him to dress in costume and deliver His wrath as The Crimson Bolt. As you do.
If this film makes you appreciate anything about Kick-Ass, it's just how restrained Matthew Vaughn's film actually was, despite all of the moral hoo-ha it engendered. That film is a crowd-pleaser, and surprisingly appealing. The other counterpoint, Defendor, appealed to many, but didn't have nearly as much popular goodwill as Kick-Ass. To me, Super is closer to the latter than the former, but it does have Kick-Ass' sense of humour and tendency towards quite alarming hyper-violence.
Yes, that's Rainn Wilson from the US version of The Office, best known in cinema for his roles as the "funny" best friend in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and the "funny" astrophysics professor in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. He proves his mettle as Frank, equally capable of collapsing in gut-wrenching angst as he is when spouting deadpan one-liners like "Shut up, crime". The parts of Super that unequivocally do work, and there are more than a few, hinge entirely on his performance as a well-meaning psychopath.
As Jacques, Kevin Bacon was another highlight. He's pretty detached and cool for the most part, but Bacon is always wired, giving the character that edge of jittery danger that makes him a good baddy to root against in a film as subversive as this. If anyone suffers for that aspect, it's Ellen Page. She's reliably excellent as Libby, a comic book fanatic with clear self-esteem issues, but I could never be sure how to feel about that character. She's a deranged nymphomaniac, who's either a great comedy creation or a conflagration of numerous personality disorders we really shouldn't be poking fun at.
Either way, her character arc makes the film feel somewhat padded to feature-length- her evolution into Frank's kid sidekick, Boltie, comes at a point where the film seems to be running on empty. The main story distracts from her, but her arc may actually knock the wind out of the film's ultimate resolution. After a climactic showdown, a cracking fight on which it seems much of the budget was spent, the film comes to a dramatic and heartfelt conclusion that links better to Frank as we first met him, than it does to where we've seen him go in the last 90 minutes.
Super is now showing in select cinemas nationwide, and arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on August 1st.
If you've seen Super, why not share your comments below? Lucky
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.