Monday, August 11, 2014

Movie Review #29: Super

After watching Guardians of the Galaxy I heard that the director, James Gunn, got the gig after someone saw his previous film, Super. That combined with the fact that I recently listened to a WTF episode with Rainn Wilson led me to find Super on Netflix. (Afterward I realized that Gunn also wrote and directed Slither, which I also enjoyed.)

Short review: Super is a strange, intense film that can quickly go from hilarious to horrific, sometimes both at the same time. It's wild, unpredictable, and raw. It is the very definition of a dark comedy.


Rainn Wilson plays a seemingly boring man who breaks down when his wife leaves him for a drug dealer. Eventually he focuses his frustration into becoming a masked vigilante.


It's hard not to compare this movie to Kick-Ass, which is also about a normal, inept, awkward person donning a superhero outfit to fight crime. That's the extent of their similarity, though.

In Kick-Ass, you're kind of rooting for the main character. He's dorky, but his cause is just, and he's just having fun. It's Big Daddy and Hit Girl that ramp up the violence for the cause of revenge.

The Crimson Bolt is neither of those things. Instead he's misdirecting his anger toward "villains" ranging from child molesters to people cutting in line. While it might be kind of fulfilling to see a child molester get hit upside the head by a pipe wrench (maybe?), even in that case by the second hit you're cringing. And then he hits them again. And again. And again. It's legitimately surprising that none of his victims died.

That said, I was laughing throughout that segment because it was way over the top.

In the end, the movie did nothing to romanticize the violence. It was awful and horrific, and I think that was the point. The reality of someone who might don a mask and deliver vigilante justice is frightening.

The rest of the movie is filled with awkward interactions that are at times fascinating, thoughtful, or hysterical. Also, much like in Slither, there's a very strange, awkward sex scene that really basks in the strangeness of the situation. In Slither, the heroine sleeps with the alien creature thinking he's her husband; an act which causes the creature to fall in love with her. In Super, the main character is raped by his young, far less-reserved sidekick; an act that directly leads to his decision to assault the drug dealer's compound.

In the end, the Crimson Bolt accomplishes his goal of saving his wife from the drug dealer, but at great cost. There was no way that the movie was going to end happily but, as the movie points out, happiness is overrated. Instead the movies ends as well as it can: reserved and thoughtful, yet optimistic about the future.

This movie was something I had never seen before, and I'm excited to see what James Gunn does next. Apparently that's going to be Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which is cool, but a little disappointing. I don't think Marvel or Disney will let him get away with the things he did in Slither or Super, but it's cool to know that at least Guardians is in competent hands.

1 comment:

  1. I just watched this movie a little while ago and remembered you wrote a blog post about it. Apologies for the necromancy.

    At the beginning, I was thinking this movie could be superior to Kick-Ass - it did a great job of illustrating the escapist fantasy aspects of super-heroism. The main character is weak, filled with self-loathing, and has lost control of the most important aspects of his life. It's a little surprising that he's not already into comics at the beginning of the story, honestly.

    But by the end, the movie had gone off the rails a bit, I think. I think it'd be a better movie if Ellen Page had been cut out entirely (as much as I love her in nearly everything else). Solely for structural reasons. And also, yeah, they kinda put two rape scenes uncomfortably close together.

    It had a pretty uplifting ending considering the ridiculous levels of violence it got to at the end. It was pretty touching that most successful social interactions he had were on par with the best moments of his life before that, and thus deserving of recognition on his wall.

    Also, holy shit, I recognized EVERYONE in this movie.