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Super

by

Jeff Nelson

This is a fun little flick that's worth checking out for those who are interesting in this genre and are able to overlook its flaws.

Super
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Every summer, there are a bunch of superhero films released as they're always expected to rake in the cash. However, there have been more than a few independent films that take a more humorous approach to the genre by having people who are motivated to take on becoming a superhero, of course without the super powers. Kick-Ass succeeded with flying colors and many audiences seem to agree with my opinion on that. It's almost impossible to watch Super without thinking about Kick-Ass since there are some scenes that feel so similar. However, the motivations are completely different and the messages that the characters are portraying differ as well. We're supposed to root for the protagonist, but I could imagine some viewers unable to do so given the character in Super. With all of the violence and quick jabs at superhero flicks, Super fights to be the next Kick-Ass, but does it succeed?

When his wife leaves him for a drug dealer, average guy Frank D'Arbo, decides to become a superhero. He calls himself the Crimson Bolt and tries to keep a tagalong comic-book store clerk from becoming his sidekick. It's hard to be a superhero when all you've got no weapons or powers other than a pipe wrench. It isn't too difficult to walk away from even the trailer understanding that Super isn't meant to be taken too seriously. What sets Super apart from many other non-superhero vigilantes is that Frank and the comic-book clerk are anti-heroes. The film displays how the superheroes can be just as cruel, brutal, and relentless as the criminals. This is why I believe some audiences had difficulty being sympathetic towards Frank. However, my issue isn't with the character, but what he stands for. The filmmakers are clearly attempting to make a statement with this movie and the Crimson Bolt. It feels as if the creators got confused and then switched the message. The screenplay could be described as a bigger budgeted Troma film. There's a lot of over-the-top violence and gore, as well as a lot of transitions between moods. One second, Super is melodramatic and the next, it switches to comedy. There are times that this method proved to work, although there are a lot of moments where it actually hurts the fluency of the feature However, there are most certainly laughs to be had here. Unless you accept over the top filmmaking, you might be turned off by what Super provides. There are times that this movie is fun, but it ultimately has an average plot that gets messy.

Despite the many flaws scattered across the screenplay, there's a great cast still attached. Rainn Wilson plays Frank D'Arbo. He's truly the ideal actor for this role. He's believable in the character both physically and in the way he delivers dialogue and body language. Libby, Boltie, is Frank's sidekick. The marvelous Ellen Page performs in this role. As always, she absolutely nails the character. She's funny, sexy, and is sure to be a favorite of the feature. Libby's personality is so out there, although she has a completely different motivation for fighting crime. Even Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon are present in supporting roles. Tyler is Frank's wife, Sarah, who is the entire reason why he started fighting crime. Bacon is the main antagonist. He steals every single scene he appears in. He's awesome in the villain role here. No matter what you think of the movie itself, the cast is definitely impressive.

The budget for Super isn't very large, but it's a big fish in the smaller fish tank of movies known as Troma films. Director James Gunn has definitely given Super a comic book and independent atmosphere to the motion picture. There are a bunch of visual references to comic books throughout. When it comes to the violence, everything is way over the top. However, the visuals themselves look fine. There are a few gross gags that have been pulled off on a relatively small budget. Audiences will be pleased to know that the effects were done in front of the camera and when it comes to the bloodshed, there isn't CG work. Superhero movies usually get some fantastic treatment when it comes to the audio quality. Super doesn't quite have the impact that the others do in the genre, although it isn't bad. The dialogue is never difficult to hear and the audio comes through the speakers loud and clear. The surround channels aren't utilized as much as I was hoping for them to be. The subwoofer definitely makes its presence known when called upon.

I can definitely see audiences splitting on Super. It isn't for everybody, but I don't see very many people sitting in the middle. Most viewers will either love it or hate it. I had to let this movie set for quite some time before reviewing it. I had difficulty really deciding how I felt about the picture as a whole. It's very violent, has its moments where it's hilarious, but then also appears to be very confused with what it's trying to get across. Unfortunately for Super, everybody will be comparing it to Kick-Ass. One thing that I'm clear about is that this motion picture doesn't break any new ground. However, it's still a fun movie. The cast is great and the technical aspects of the visuals are solid as well. Super appeals to a very specific audience and if you're not one of those viewers, then it simply isn't for you. I'm not much of a fan of this movie, but I didn't hate it by any means. This is a fun little flick that's worth checking out for those who are interesting in this genre and are able to overlook its flaws.

My Rating = Three Stars

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