Sunday 4 September 2011

Review: Super

Year: 2011 (U.K release 2011)
Director: James Gunn
Screenplay: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon

Synopsis is here

So James Gunn's Super rears it's head upon whining that it's just the same as Kick-Ass by people who didn't read the memo on Defendor and Special which both slipped under the radar. Hell even at a stretch you could bemoan that Mystery Men is almost kinda like Kick-Ass but only at a stretch. That's aside, it's no surprise to see that with similar material Matthew Vaughan brings a slick piece of gloss to the big screen, while Gunn's Super is a little darker, murkier and reminiscent of his twisted Troma roots. Super appears to us with a much more visceral look to the beatings on screen and a more troubled insight to the psyche of some of the tortured minds of these wannabe superheroes. Needless to say, Kick-ass doesn't have a squid like creature opening up a characters skull in order for the finger of god to poke the brain inside.

If that last sentence piqued your interest then you will be more than fine with Super, I know I was. I reacted to the film in the same way I reacted to Observe and Report in that you shouldn't laugh at what's gong down but the timing and absurdness of it all makes it hard not to. It revels in it's irrelevance but it also works as it has a  Rainn Wilson performance that towers over his great comedic work in The American Office. There's a softness in his quieter moments that helps elevate the performance as Wilson balance his troubled character with equal amounts of pity and pathos.  The humour is there too as his zealous yelling of "SHUT UP CRIME" were always able to make me crack a smile.

Wilson is joined by a game cast with Liv Tyler and Micheal Rooker being underused but solid enough while Kevin Bacon takes a sleazy bite of scenery once more, as he did in recent comic-book feature X-men: First Class. Ellen Page lets loose in a bizarre little role as a geeky side-kick to Wilson's Frank. However despite the film clearly being an offbeat character piece, the moments with her character seemed underwritten. I get the feeling that Gunn could have done even more with such a character, unfortunately Page's Libby is left a little to the wayside, as it a plot strand with Gregg Henry's Detective role who quickly loses important once his main scene is done.

This doesn't distract from the main fact that Super; with it's over the top violence and dark comedy, is still an entertaining distraction. While Kick-Ass lightened some elements of the original material to make it a bit more palatable to those who didn't read the comic, Super keeps things as black as it can giving the film a weird super hero, king of comedy vibe. A guy like me who knows of Gunn's z-list beginnings, found it easy to get on board with the offering we get here. For others I give you the litmus test: Ellen Page talking about her "gushy" genitals while donned in a super hero costume. Not liking that? Best avoid the movie.