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What is it all about?
When Frank (Rainn Wilson) ex junkie wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) leaves him for the arms of sleazy drug-dealer Jacques (Kevin Bacon), Frank decides to take the law into his own hands, becoming his own cime fighting Superhero The Crimson Bolt. What Frank lacks in superpowers he makes up for with his trusty wrench in his one-man war on petty crimes.
Powers or not, every superhero needs a sidekick, Enter Libby (Ellen Page) a cute psychopath working at the local comic book store. Transforming into Boltie, Libby teams up with Frank to bring Jacques down in his quest to win back his wife!
THE HUGHES VERDICT
The ghost of Kick Ass lingers over this film even before a scene is shown. I mean its about a normal man who wakes up one day and decides to be a superhero. With no powers or weapons and walking the streets with a bright coloured all in one suit, you can hear the “rip off” shouts from the die hard fans of that film after the first fifteen minutes of this being on.
Even for me I was hoping for something like that film, a rip roaring actioner with sly gags and enough superhero homage’s to pleasantly pass the time, I have to be honest and admit I was not expecting much from Super even though it has a quote on the dvd cover that brags that its better than Kick Ass. Even the first twenty minutes nothing much happens. We introduced to the world of Frank, a loser who has somehow managed to get married to the beautiful Sarah but cracks are beginning to appear in their relationship. Her past as an ex druggie emerges into the now on the arrival of sleaze bag Jacques who introduces her back to the life she tried best to get rid of.
With Sarah gone and Frank heartbroken, he has a vision to become a superhero, a vigilante to save humans from the despair of the evil on the streets. Dressed like a poor version of the Flash and with a wrench in his hand, he starts to fight crime, but even to get to this stage of the film, some fans wanting the same vibe and energy that served Kick Ass while may reach out and press the off button. Super takes a lot of determination for the viewer to stick with it, because this is not only following in the path of a film that I have already mentioned a few times in this review but also of the Woody Harrelson film The Defender which this shares a lot with. But just when you think Super has nowhere to go and really fails to offer something fresh to this new genre, something amazing happens, and its the arrival of the quite brilliant Libby who is played wonderfully by Ellen Page
Working in a Comic Book store and having showed Frank the best magazines into how to become a superhero, she quickly figures that he is the guy on the news, and after he gets shot by the gang who he believes are keeping Sarah hostage, he ends up in the apartment of Libby and after she helps him recover, she quickly becomes his sidekick Boltie, and this is when the film quickly picks up into a different beast.
Libby is a quite stunning creation and it helps also that Page looks stunning in that suit. When we first see her dressed up, its here we see the first hint that there is something quite damaged in her personality as she poses in slow motion and touches herself to a bewildered Frank. Its from this moment that Super becomes a dark comical tale that you can not take you eyes off. Its wacky and surreal with enough blood and action to keep the viewer happy. Its also morally wrong on so many levels, you will not believe how black the comedy goes, all summed up by the quite wrong yet hilarious sex scene that will make you want to look away.
Super carries performances that better anything Kick Ass or The Defender could ever manage. Wilson is brilliant, he looks totally wrong for the part of a superhero but yet because this is supposed to be real life, it fits the film perfectly and while he becomes psychotic at times, you do feel sympathy for him. Bacon as the bad guy is his usual self but its Page who steals the show in what for me is the second best performance of the year by a female actress. I know that is a bold statement to make, but if it was not for Natalie Portman in the Black Swan, then Page would walk it. Her over-the-top reactions to their crime fighting exploits are so damn funny that I instantly fell in love with the character.
Anyone who gives this a go will be surprised at the film, make no mistake and I can see why many reviews have lavished praise on the whole show. After a slow start it turns into a beast, some scenes are so dark that you laugh but feel disturbed and there are also moments of genuine shock that will stay with you long after the credits roll. There is one particular moment that deeply upset me, and I guess if you fall in love with this film then it will for you too. Its unexpected, totally out of the blue and a real take your breath away moment.
The question is then to wrap this review up, is it like the quote says “Better than Kick Ass?”.
Its totally pointless to even compare, because they are both different movies. While Kick Ass ripped the comic book formula up, Super simply does not care what it does or is, the film has the most darkest of black hearts I have had the privilege to watch for many years. Its cross breed between Grosse Point Blank and Juno with two people trying to be Superheroes, its funny and wonderful and one of the most surprising watches of the year for me.
Highly recommended to all HCF readers: