Movie Review: Super


After his wife leaves him for a drug dealer, an ordinary man decides to become a superhero.


James Gunn, 2010

When he meet Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson), he is a mopey fast food worker whose quiet life has just been thrown into chaos. His wife Sarah (Liv Tyler), a drug addict, has left him for a dealer named Jacques (Kevin Bacon). After seeing a vision that he believes is from God, Frank decides to become a vigilante superhero. He visits a comic book store where he meets Libby (Ellen Page), an enthusiastic comic book fan who helps him find comic books on heroes without powers. Frank becomes the Crimson Bolt, putting his suit together himself and using a wrench as his weapon. He goes after people he deems to be wrong, from criminals to line cutters. After learning his secret, Libby becomes his sidekick Boltie.


I actively disliked almost every minute of this movie. I wanted it to be over so badly that I groaned at least twice when it wasn’t. Every single character is distinctly unlikeable, with the possible exception of Sarah, who makes bad choices but isn’t necessarily quite as awful as the rest of them. I had pretty much no sympathy for the entitled, whiny Frank, whose propensity for violence is nasty. Ellen Page brings a lot of vibrancy to the deranged Libby, which makes her the most interesting character, even if she is batshit insane and a horrible person. Kevin Bacon seems to be having fun as the Sarah’s drug dealer/pimp (who Frank calls “Jock”, which I thought was really his name – it’s pretty unclear that it’s actually Jacques). Nathan Fillion’s Holy Avenger scenes are pretty much the funniest parts of the movie, PSAs from a religious superhero in a hilariously extreme high school. He makes the most of his badly-costumed part.

The movie looks terrible. It’s shot like a home video, with ugly contrast and a lot of handheld stuff; I know it’s indie and made on the cheap, but that doesn’t make it any easier to look at. There’s also a nastiness to it, a mean-spirited view of humanity that makes it distinctly unlikeable. The violence is seriously appalling, and there are several rapes that are treated much too light-heartedly. It seems like an interesting idea that was never fully fleshed out – the characters weren’t developed, the beats weren’t hitting. It’s too cruel to be funny, too dark to be fun. It seems more in the vein of James Gunn’s Troma days than the more polished and fun (if still video nasty style) Slither. The concepts are there, the examination of what kind of person would really put on a costume and violently attack criminals, and it has a few insightful moments. It’s just not a pleasant movie experience, and definitely not for me.

Super on IMDb


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