Saturday, 30 July 2011

Film Review: Super

Super understandably must distinguish itself in the everyman crime fighter conception following last summer's Kick-Ass, which set the bar for this genre. They are pretty big footprints to follow, but fortunately Super carves out its own style as a black comedy, offering a brilliant twist in one of the most original and heartfelt endings you will probably have seen in a while.

Greasy-spoon chef Frank D'arbo (Wilson) returns home one day to find his wife, Sarah (Tyler), has left him for a psychotic drug dealer (Bacon). Consumed with rage, Frank transforms into the spanner-wielding Crimson Bolt, skulking the streets in search of crimes he can stop. When fruitloop comic-book store clerk Libby (Page) discovers his secret identity, she convinces Frank to let her become his sidekick, Boltie. The two set out to fix society and regain Frank's stolen wife.

There's a lot going on underneath the bonnet of Super. It constantly shifts tones, being subversively funny with dark undercurrents one moment, then offering genuine empathy inducing moments for the protagonist's quest for justice. It is incredibly hilarious in places, particularly one scene where Frank has a vision where he is molested by tentacles inspired by hentai before being touched by the finger of God which tells him to become the Crimson Bolt. And yet, it also remains incredibly sombre, particularly when dealing with Frank's damaged, heroin-addicted wife. There's also the shockingly brutal, yet sadistically funny violence as Frank runs around clobbering people who piss him off with a spanner yelling "shut up crime!". Normally this would get you arrested, but because Super is set within the realms of comic books the real world need not apply here.

Wilson's antihero in Frank is brilliant as the self-loathing wretch of self-pity, harbouring curdled rage after a lifetime of victimisation. He's the 'ticking time bomb' you might expect to explode into an unbridledly distasteful tragedy. But it is Frank's years of injustice, established at the start of the film, that keeps the audience sympathising with him even though he's clearly a nutcase. Page is delightful as a perky, if not kooky little pixie, however the story of her descent into Frank's madness and why her enthusiasm suddenly manifests into a lust for unconscionable bloodlust is never really fully explained. Bacon once again shows how adept he is at playing villain after X-Men: First Class as a drug-dealing kingpin which oozes sleaze and slimy charm.

One may squirm at the film's ultra-violence and while it can be harrowing, it's also hilarious. Super may bear some hallmarks of Kick-Ass, but it stands well on its own to deliver the enigmatic outcome associated with an everyday-man trying to be a superhero. It's easy to see that Super could quite conceivably offend all host of sensibilities, but if there's a twisted bone in your body chances are you'll quite enjoy this.