Movie Review - Super (***)


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SUPER.  89 mins.  R.  Written and Directed by James Gunn.

Despite being released in the marketplace about two movies too late (after the similarly themed  (and plotted) Defendor and Kick-Ass), the twisted new superhero spoof/deconstruction Super (from Slither writer-director James Gunn) has cult classic written all over it.  I didn't care for it much on first viewing, but something tells me a select group of midnight movie vultures will latch onto it.

The movie veers wildly from comedy to dark psychodrama to gory action, which, while keeping the audience on its toes, prevents it from ever really gelling as a whole.  Rainn Wilson does an effective, impressive job in the lead as Frank a/k/a The Crimson Bolt.  Frank is a well-intentioned, yet probably psychopathic vigilante who dons a costume, wields a pipe wrench, and spouts awesome catchphrases like "Shut up, Crime" after his wife (Liv Tyler) falls into drug addiction at the hands of a gleefully evil Kevin Bacon.
Joining him on his crusade is an equally psychopathic comic book clerk, played to the hilt by Juno's Ellen Page.  She gets a little too excited about the prospect of shedding blood, and relishes the opportunity to kill some bad guys (even if they're not all that bad).  It's an in-your-face performance, but a weirdly likeable one.
I appreciate Gunn's attempt to avoid the easy route to this story and inject some moral ambiguity into the mix.  I just wish he had kept things consistently entertaining.  Super is brilliant in spurts, but it's prone to long intervals of mediocrity, where the events on screen aren't funny, dramatic, or intense.  Scenes just kind of play out - granted, against one's expectations, but not in an entirely satisfying manner.  Big props on the unorthodox ending though - Wilson's performance in the last few scenes is a thing of haunting beauty and really shows his range as an actor.
Most of you won't know what to make of Super, and, for that reason, I can't really recommend it across-the-board.  But a few of you - especially the cult hounds who appreciate alternative cinema - should be able to find something to like here.  And if Super really does reach its cult classic potential in the years to come, I have no doubt I'll have the opportunity to revisit it - probably at some midnight screening at the Music Box or something.  
Super is now playing in theaters and On Demand.

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