DVD Review - Super

Rainn Wilson (The Office) stars as Frank D'arbo, a regular guy who decides to become a costumed, crime fighter like out of a comic book. Several critics have made comparisons to Kick-Ass. That film was the most mainstream of non-comic book movies that attempted to have a main character become a comic book-like hero in a realistic way. Except, Kick-Ass was based on a graphic novel and in the end wasn't that realistic. While it has its moments of implausibility and things that are over-the-top for comedic effect, Super is a great step up in realism.

What writer-director James Gunn presents is the idea that a person who would actually dress up in a costume and fight crime, almost like a vigilante would have to be a person who is psychologically damaged or unstable. That person may not be the most well-trained or possess the skills and the finances to do what Bruce Wayne did, so what results would most likely be boring or extremely crazy.

Frank is married to Sarah, played by Liv Tyler. Sarah is a beautiful woman, while Frank is a slub of a man. If you're wondering why a girl that gorgeous would marry a man that meager, the fact is she's a recovering alcoholic and drug addict whom Frank saved. He was there for her. He cared for her and a kind of love developed between the two.

Whether that love is sustainable for an  entire lifetime is brought into question when a local mobster named Jacques, played by Kevin Bacon, literally steals Sarah away. Inspired by an obviously fake superhero, played by Nathan Fillion (Firefly and Castle) who looks like an uber-Christian version of his character from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Frank becomes the Crimson Bolt.

He really knows nothing about superheroes or costumed crime fighters, so he seeks the help of Libby, a young girl who works at a comic book store. Libby is played by Ellen Page (Juno and Inception). She like anyone with eyes and half a brain learns his secret identity and asks to be his kid sidekick. Frank reluctantly agrees and finds that while his methods are questionable, his motives most often aren't. Libby, however, not only has questionable methods but also questionable motives. She's like a time-bomb ready to explode.

Frank explodes and goes off on berserk and brutal fits of rage, but it's always out of frustration, frustration over the crime and the mere inconsideration of others. He never enjoys it. Libby, on the other hand, revels in it. She revels in the violence. As an audience member, I couldn't help but be disturbed by that, as Frank comes to be disturbed, but, in the end, the filmmaker isn't trying to make that point. Ultimately, the audience is left with the ends justify the means.

I believe I made this recommendation when Kick-Ass was released, but a better film of this type is Mirageman starring Marko Zaror, a Chilean film that has a far better message.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.


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