Sunday, January 29, 2012

DVD Review: Super

To say that Super is a strange movie is to understate mightily. To say that it's a great, or even most successful movie is to overstate mightily. It's not bad, mostly, but it's frustrating, schitzophrenic and weird and I'm not sure it's sure what it wants to be, much less how to be it. But it's a unique specimen and well worth a look.

The plot is concerned with Rainn Wilson as Frank, a poor, pitiful man married to an absurdly hot woman (Liv Tyler for fuck's sake). She is a recovering drug addict and very quickly leaves Frank to begin dating her dealer. He, after a failed attempt to get her back and either a holy vision or a hallucination, he decides that the best course of action is to become the superhero, The Crimson Bolt and fight crime with a wrench.

The best thing about this film, by far, is the acting. The film, as a whole, is a near perfect example of how to use Rainn Wilson in...well anything. He gives a fantastic demented performance that suggests that A, he's being wasted on The Office and B, if he survives the (often difficult) transition from TV to Film, he might be someone important. Of equal import is Ellen Paige as his fangirl and eventual sidekick (that's not a spoiler, it's in the trailer). I can't tell you WHY it's so good, but the film is almost worth watching to see the weird and twisted places she goes with this role. Oh and Nathan Fillon is in it. Not a LOT of it, mind, but hey it's always nice to see him.

The script is fine, a little blunt at times, but it works. The big problems come in with the tone, and by extension direction. Simply put, this movie doesn't know what it wants to BE. Does it want to be a dark disturbing commentary on the superhero genre, ala Watchmen (landmark comic, not shitty movie)? Does it want to be a sick, depraved and darkly comic parody of superheroes, ala Kick Ass? Does it want to spoof the 'called by God' aspect or play it straight? Does it want to mock sentimentality or actually try to tug on our heartstrings occasionally? This is usually a question one answers before starting the script and somehow this one managed to get through post-production without them answered.

It mostly manages to overcome these issues for the majority of the film, where they manifest as some jarring shifts in tone and the occasional odd directorial flourish. They only really come to a head in the big finale when the multiple things it wants to be start colliding and several moments that could have either been funny or deeply moving get hamstrung by it's presentation and result in the moving ending with a whimper instead of a bang. But, that said, it's still a unique and ambitious effort and if you think you can stomach the weird places it goes, it might be worth a rent. I'm going to call it...recommended, with reservations. See you next time.

Elessar is a 21 year old Alaskan born cinephile and this is his last review as a 21 year old. Probably.

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