As an ordinary-guy-turns-superhero film, Super offers more depth than last year’s Kick-Ass. James Gunn’s film deserves more attention than it so far has received.
Frank is a regular guy working at a diner and living with his wife Sarah. When Sarah leaves him for drug-dealer Jacques, Frank is distraught. After a vision, Frank decides to become superhero Crimson Bolt. Although he lacks prowess, Frank is determined to fight crime and win back Sarah…
Super combines action with drama and comedy. Written and directed by James Gunn, the film has an unusual tone. It can quickly leap from humorous to sad. In this way, is has more heart than Kick-Ass; it lacks the whimsical nature of Matthew Vaughn’s film. Instead, the film offers a narrative which is more relatable, and a character who is in turmoil.
That is not to say that the film is entirely serious. There are a number of amusing incidents in Super. However, these tend to be quite darkly humorous. Some of the violence, for example, is comedic in its grotesqueness. Elsewhere, it becomes clear that Frank doesn’t know what he is doing in terms of behaving like a superhero. The cinema scene illustrates this well, and is one of the film’s most memorable sequences.
The mix of live action and animation is effective. Although the film is set in the real world, these animated sections allow it to indulge in fantasy. Moreover, the visceral effects in Super work well. The level of gratuity seems to be more for comic effect than for shock value.
Characters in the film are not typical of the comic book genre. Frank is not a typical superhero in terms of either looks or personality. There is a real sadness to the protagonist, which gives the film an emotional core. Sarah is not a archetype damsel in distress either. Rather than the helpless victim captured by the ogre, Sarah is a drug user who first comes into contact with Jacques through her habit.
Rainn Wilson is excellent casting as Frank. Wilson really embodies the character, and is thoroughly believable in his anguish. Liv Tyler is decent as Sarah, while Ellen Page is suitably energetic and annoying as Libby. Kevin Bacon is decent as Jacques, providing both charm and danger.
Super balances the emotion with humour effectively. For those prepared for something a little dark, it is well worth the watch.
Super is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on 1st August 2011.