SUPER kicks ass, but it is NOT Kick-Ass!

SUPER kicks ass, but it is NOT Kick-Ass!

Worth It
Aug 28, 2011
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This indie superhero movie virtually passed by the theatres and pretty much went straight to VOD. That’s a shame because SUPER features an all-star cast–Rainn Wilson, order Ellan Paige, stuff Liv Tyler and yes, even Kevin Bacon. Wilson stars as, Frank D’Arbo, a boring nobody who’s wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a shady douchebag (Kevin Bacon). As a recovering addict, she falls back into the seedy underworld of drugs and crime, compliments of Jacques (Bacon). This not only deeply pains Frank, but enrages his need for justice in an evil world. Through a series of bizarre and funny “events”, Frank decides to become a superhero — The Crimson Bolt. He designs a very homemade costume, equips himself with a massive plumbing wrench and adopts an overly enthusiastic side-kick (Ellen Paige). From there he sets out to battle all forms of evil-doing, including brutally punishing those who butt in line at the local movie theatre.

Many people have compared SUPER to Kick-Ass and consequently dismissed it as a copy-cat wannabe. But they are sooooo wrong. Sure the basic premise is similar; a regular joe with no super powers attempts to be a superhero and bring justice to the evil and corrupt. Batman did it, along with a dozen other plots ranging from Defendor to Kick-Ass. But SUPER is also very different. It is far more quirky, campy and off-beat than any of it’s predecessors. And the fact that it has a fantastic cast makes the ride all the more satisfying.

This is a tongue-in-cheek, outrageous, risk-taking movie unlike few films I’ve seen. It’s not perfect. In fact, it has many flaws. The screenplay is rough around the edges and the directing is a little uneven at times. But for all it’s blemishes and shortcomings SUPER is chalk-full of critical commentary on the genre while keeping the subjects extremely human and vulnerable, and the atmosphere painfully real.

As much as I loved Kick-Ass, it really did give you that sense that the heroes had attained super-human abilities. Sure they couldn’t fly or melt steel with their eyes, but by the end of the film they had developed an incredible ability to fight and avoid death. This is where SUPER is different. Frank really has no powers. In fact, it’s his intense passion for justice that not only makes him capable of “shutting up crime”, but also makes him blind to wisdom and common-sense. So, in a way, this is the truest film in it’s sub-genre.

I will warn you that SUPER is extremely graphic with its violence. Even for me, there were a few moments that were pretty shocking. Yet it’s not gratuitous or used to gain cheers. I believe that writer/director, James Gunn, paints these ultra-real moments of violence to make the point that while many of us wish to be superheroes and beat the bad guys, the journey is not glossy and clean like so much of the genre portrays. Rather, violence is grim. The emotional pain that turns ordinary people into vigilantes is dark and disturbing. Both evil and the punishing of the unjust is ugly and messy.

I highly recommend this film to those out there who enjoy off-beat, dark comedies and appreciate an honest, fresh take on the superhero story. But while you’re watching it, remember that while Frank D’arbo is kicking ass, he is NOT Kick-Ass. He’s more like…Dwight Schrute with a broken heart and a large wrench.

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Craig the Critic

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