Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Super (2010)

“Shut up, crime!”

Director: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon
Writer: James Gunn

(Warning: I do talk very briefly about the end of this movie. No details but the general feeling. If you want to be completely spoiler free then do not progress.)

James Gunn, comes back to movies with Super. After Slither I really wanted more from the man, but he seemed to disappear for a bit. Since I’ve learnt he went to TV and did a few pilots and episodes, not to mention a fair chunk of writing. With a welcome return, he puts his sight on the superhero world. I can only hope at the twisted stuff he comes up with for this movie.

Well if I was hoping for a twisted take on the superhero genre, I got my wish and then some. This movie is pretty damn dark, and I can see many people getting turned off by what they are seeing. I myself was watching this with someone and they were turned off by the demented world Frank (Rainn Wilson) lives in. While the story is quite simple; husband becomes a costumed crime fighter to get his wife back from a drug dealer; it’s all the side character stuff that is very interesting. Questions or morality, right and wrong, sanity and finding happiness are all dealt with but never forced. We are asked to witness some brutal dark actions, and then be asked if the end justifies the means.

Taking that question of ends justifying the means, James Gunn weaves this into the action pacing and break down of the movie. As I said this movie gets into some dark territory and yet I can say has one of the most joyous endings I’ve seen in a while. The funny thing is an ending like this wouldn’t have worked in another more mellow movie. We need the darkness of the brunt of the movie, to be won over by the light at the end. In the end James Gunn makes a movie that asks us if we can enjoy a happy ending if it has come from such a twisted and horrid place.

Of course a movie that’s trying to operate as a piece of trash cinema and a thoughtful look at heavy themes, needs actors who can ham it up, but also give enough moments where we can see the message written in their faces. Rainn Wilson is more hit than miss, but sometimes he skirted too close going over the top. It doesn’t destroy the movie; in fact Rainn Wilson needs to be congratulated on such a great effort in such a tough role, but I do see room for improvement. Ellen Page as Libby is just awesome. I’ve enjoyed Ellen in all her movies, and this particular role is great as it has her playing very against type. It shows diversity that just makes me excited for the future roles she will take. In Libby she strikes a perfect balance of villainous insanity with a certain level of sympathy. Liv Tyler as Frank’s wife Sarah is a little weak, but she doesn’t have to do much, and is more a plot moving device rather than a character. Kevin Bacon as drug dealer Jacques shows once more that he is the man. While being the villain, and doing some horrendous stuff, he comes of as normal when compared to Frank and offers a guy who you could be friends with if he wasn’t such a douche bag.

Visually the movie works as like a Troma film. If you don’t know what that means then maybe this is also a sign this isn’t a movie for you. But basically everything seems to be done on the cheap, and yet at the same time there is a visually aesthetic that just screams gross out fun. However when the movie takes those dark turns it makes sure that the violence is more realistic to really hammer home the impact. In one particular scene I was squirming a lot, such was the realism used.

Super was a great experience, and is a movie I want to have in my DVD collection. Even though this was a great film in my opinion, I can see this just not being to everyone’s taste. Sure the ending in my mind justifies what I’ve just sat through, but others will not agree. If you have a love of Troma films then dive right in as I see Super as a Troma film with a heart and intelligence. Otherwise maybe move on to other things.

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