Skip navigation

Ten Word or Less Review:  Super? Not so much.

Comic book culture has spent the last ten years becoming the corner stone of popular culture, to the joy of many but the dismay of some.  Comic book movies are often standard action vehicles tied into black and white morality, they reinforce overblown fantasy scenarios and besides being bankrupt of ideas they’re an over used cinematic event which always promise everything but often deliver nothing.  None of which means I don’t love a few of them.  Super wants to be the satirical, low budget anthesis to these inflated gas bags of over priced movie action.  More Taxi Driver, less Wolverine. But ambition aside Super roundly disappoints on many levels.  It isn’t particularly funny and its insights are fleeting.  It’s also so poorly executed that whatever message it’s sending lands with a comic book styled thud.

Rainn Wilson (The Office) is Frank, an unspectacular man in just about every way.  If ever an actor could reflect the everyday sub par human, Wilson is the man.  His unchin, his weird hair and big brow, his barely average physic, they all scream schmo.  Wilson’s wife, dubiously played by Liv Tyler, is a recovering addict who leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), the fallout of which leaves Frank destroyed, hallowed out and mentally unstable.  After a freaky vision from God, Frank decides he must become a crime fighter.  Who?  The Crimson Bolt ! His slogan?  “Shut up , crime!”  His methods?  He hits people in the head with a wrench.  Frank begins a misguided quest for vengence against the drug dealer who’s bamboozled his wife from him and wrong doers in general.  He even reluctantly aquires a gung ho sidekick, Boltie (Ellen Page), a deranged comic book store employee who’s way to excited to mame her fellow citizen.

While Super has a lot of ambition it’s shoddy and painfully low budget.  Some low-budget flicks simply use what’s around to establish a believable sense of location, others seem to divorce themselves from reality through total lack of engaging environment.  I.E. it looks dull.  Super is the later type of low budget experience.  It feels like it takes place in an abandoned reality where no real people actually live. People have simply been shipped in to witness shenanigans.  Wilson routinely clobbers his victims in broad day light but never once does anyone seem to call the cops.  He flees the scenes of his crimes in his own vehicle in full view of scores of people, but no one writes down his licence plate number or takes his picture.  It’s things like this which sabotage any sensation of realism that Super should be striving for.  Director James Gunn is too hamfisted and budget constrained to give his idea any credibility or style.  A few scenes spark but most feel awkward, misshapen and strange.

Wilson is supposed to be the show piece here.  It’s a difficult part that requires him to fluxuate between sympathy and unhinged barbarism and we’re too often left somewhere in the middle due to Gunn’s uneven screenplay.  It never feels clear about how serious the viewer is supposed to be taking the material.  Sometimes it’s an outrageous joke.  Other times it’s critique of people too wrapped up in fantasy.  At some points it’s sincere, at some points its not.  Ellen Page really strains things as her hyper violent character throws herself into her sidekick role as if she had no life to embrace previously, something the movie makes quite clear isn’t the case.  And then in the end the film takes the oddest turn of all and somehow validates Frank’s outrageous behavior without a wink or a nod that it’s a put on.  Travis Bickle’s post massacre wrap up in Taxi Driver is often viewed as an end of life fantasy as he dies.  Frank’s crimes against people, and they are crimes, are never redressed.  He doesn’t get everything that he wants, but he does move onto a better and more fulfilling life thanks to his adventures in clobbering people with his mighty wrench.  Intent or not, it feels like a fulfillment of a weird, sick fantasy.

Super is so at odds with itself that it’ll probably leave most people flumoxed and put off.  Fans of schlock and oddball movies will embrace it for its no budget aims and anti-mainstream sensibilities, but just being odd is no real accomplishment in this day in age.  Super may be a unique and individual thing but it’s also cheap and in many ways just plain bad.  A better director with a more coherent idea could’ve nailed Super and turned it into something subversive.  As it is it’s just a strange movie about a weird guy who hits people with a big wrench and gets away with it.



  1. I should have realized you wouldn’t like this, because I did, and we can’t seem to agree anymore…I still hate Scott Pilgrim (I know, my internet card is in danger of being revoked for that)…
    By the way, it is “Boltie”, dumbass 🙂

    • Boltie. Voltie. Shot in the head for an obscure purpose all the same.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] ancestor Taxi Driver and more a psuedo twin to last years disappointing Rainn Wilson vehicle Super. That too was a movie about a lone man gone off his nut trying to single handedly right societies […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: