I love superheroes and superhero films but if you had to make any argument against them, there are too many now. We are about to enter another cycle of The Avengers movies. That means each of the Avengers that got a first film are due a sequel (except Hulk) but also we have at least two new superhero film linked to the franchise, Ant Man and The Guardians of the Galaxy.
Add that to the Justice League movie which has been announced, Man of Steel which we will see next year, a new X-Men and Wolverine movie, a new take of the Fantastic Four, a sequel to The Amazing Spiderman and whatever else the comic book world is going to produce and we have a situation where we can expect at least one superhero film a year. It’s no wonder people complain that Hollywood has run out of original ideas.
It’s refreshing to see the superhero genre being mocked slightly or at least adapted, with indie comedy Super. This follows the story of a “real-life” superhero, Frank Darrbo, who dresses up as the Crimson Bolt after he has a religious experience. What follows is a violent, gory and quite funny film which sees Frank bash his way through crime with a huge wrench.
The first major positive the movie has is the cast. Frank is played by the brilliant Rainn Wilson. Wilson is better known as Dwight from the American Office but he is perfect as an average man who has snapped and wants to take control. His wife, the trigger for the superhero transformation, is played by Liv Tyler and her new drug dealer boyfriend is the underappreciated Kevin Bacon. The cast is all very able and adds some credibility to the indie movie.
You can tell its indie because, for starters, Ellen “independent movie queen” Page plays Frank’s sidekick. She does a decent enough job here but its nothing we haven’t seen her do before, being cool and alternative and getting to shout, incredulously, a lot. You can also tell its an independent film because the opening credits are animated. This makes more sense considering its superhero film but this ridiculously clichéd aspect of indie movies still irritates me whenever I see it.
The film itself is a very good attempt at a twisted take on the usual superhero movie. You would probably argue that it isn’t actually a superhero film at all but a movie about a man’s mental illness and spiral into depression. The superhero element of the movie is a humorous by-product of his mental breakdown.
I say humorous because as much as the cast is very good at comedy and the premise is ripe for jokes and satire, it’s never really that funny. It has some entertaining moments and surreal aspects which raise a smile, but these soon get tired. Its funny the first time you see Frank hit someone with a wrench, clearly over-reacting and going too far considering the minor crimes he’s fighting, but even that joke loses its edge and appeal when the blood and gore comes thick and fast.
The story did surprise in places. The final act has a “twist” that I wouldn’t have predicted and it kept my interest throughout but I couldn’t help but feel that this had already been done before, better. Kick-Ass is in the same area as Super, although much more a superhero film that this one, and manages to get across the message of a “real-life” superhero and the absurdity of it in a much better, funnier and more entertaining way.
Overall, Super is a nice variation on the superhero movies that have become a staple of the summer blockbuster season. It is gory, quite funny and has a great cast which tells a very good story which is much more about depression and a breakdown than a man wearing a mask. Even though its different to most other superhero movies, it’s still been done before and unfortunately, Kick-Ass is better.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)