Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shut up crime!

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

As an inhabitant of the great Pacific Northwest (WA), I've always had a love for Rainn Wilson. His work on the Office is nothing if not memorable and I've always wanted to see him have a big starring role that I could gush over and be proud of, almost like a "He's from here dontcha know" kind of moment. Well James Gunn, the guy who wrote Dawn of the Dead and created Slither has made that moment happen with the film Super. Now I doubt Super will catapult Rainn into instant stardom like superhero films have done for other actors but Super definitely shows off a side of Rainn we've never seen before and that's both good and bad.

Super is a conflicting film. On one hand it is this black comedy that deals with a man so fed up with criminals he decides to become a superhero, something that takes him a while to learn but on the other hand it is this really dark drama about a man who is at his wits end and has probably lost his mind. I mean Nathan Fillion is talking through the television to him. I think we are witnessing a man slowly go mad. So in that sense it's a film that never lets you get comfortable and while I appreciate that, sometimes Super is hard to swallow.
Frank (Rainn) is a cook at a local diner who claims that only two good things have ever happened in his life: marrying his wife and helping the cops out (that helping consisted of basically pointing and going "He went that way officer."). Well sadly one of those things is taken away when Jacques, this drug lord and all around douche (Kevin Bacon oddly enough) gets Frank's wife hooked on drugs. Frank's wife is already a recovering addict and is now in a state of constant high. Because of her basic inability to function Jacques makes the executive decision on her behalf that Frank and her are no longer together. No matter how much he begs, or throws himself on the car or threatens Jacques, he can't seem to get ahead. It probably doesn't help that they are loaded to the teeth either.

Soon Frank descends into darkness as he spends his time crying, mumbling to himself and watching Christian public access TV. One of the characters, the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion) seems to speak to him and soon enough he is literally touched by God (Rob Zombie) and decides to become a superhero called the Crimson Bolt. It's not soon before a sadomasochistic comic store clerk named Libby (Ellen Page) decides that she has to join him as his sidekick Boltie. Armed only with a wrench, the Crimson Bolt protects the city from crime with the ultimate goal of getting his wife back.
The story is an odd one for me. The first half an hour are very engaging and very well told. But then it's not really until an hour and 10 minutes (into an hour and a half movie) that the movie gets good again. For a good 40 minutes the film is kind of in this constant state of limbo with where it's going. Part of it is this dark comedy with him going out trying to fight crime in the streets and then there are times where he literally sits and waits for something to happen, and we sit there with him. That or he tries to take on Jacques only to go down in flames in minutes. When Page's Boltie is brought in there's a little more energy but at the same time there is a lot more of the same. And there is also a weird sexual undertone between Libby and Frank and towards the end it gets really uncomfortable to watch.

Even when the movie gets better again it's still uncomfortable to watch. It's hyper realistic in what happens and in a way I applaud that for keeping the movie grounded in reality but some parts leave a bad taste in your mouth. It's also over way too soon and before you know it, it's over. And the ending is terrible. There is SOME closure but it's still bittersweet. And that could too be a part of the whole reality thing but still.
On the acting side everything is good. Frank is never really happy in the movie, and doesn't show much emotion besides anger, frustration and sadness but Rainn does his best and does a good job with what he's given. Page is good as well and you can tell she definitely had fun with her role. Bacon's Jacques is good but it's more of a caricature instead of a real character. It's the evil douche drug lord. We've seen it before and Bacon does it well. Everyone does well. Nobody blows anyone away and certainly not audiences (except maybe Fillion but he's more of a cameo) but it's competent.

Overall Super is an uneven movie with almost as much bad/weird as there is good. I suggest seeing it if you're interested but this hyper realistic, ultra violent and mostly uncomfortable and bittersweet movie might not be for everyone.


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