- Reviewed by: 00Dylan
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Super is a dark comedy from underrated filmmaker James Gunn. Gunn started out making films for Troma Entertainment, the effects of which can be felt in all of his films. Once you're exposed to something like Troma, it never really washes out.
Super tells the story of Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson), a short order cook who may or may not have a screw loose. I'm leaning towards may. He's married to Sarah (Liv Tyler), and although he considers their wedding day to be one of only two good memories in his entire life, we quickly get the impression that there's trouble in paradise. This is more-or-less confirmed when the shady Jacques (Kevin Bacon) shows up at the house looking for Sarah. Soon after, Sarah disappears, along with all of her belongings.
Any sane person could see that Sarah has left Frank. And yet Frank is not any sane person. He insists that she was taken. The thing is, he's not totally crazy. Sarah is a recovering drug addict and Jacques may have coerced her back into the habit. She still left Frank all the same, but his insistence that it wasn't entirely of her free will is not that far-fetched. It's things like this that make Frank a good person and a likable hero, if not misguided.
With no kidnapping having taken place, the police can do nothing. After a vision in which God cuts open his head and places a finger upon his brain, Frank decides it's up to him to rescue Sarah and, with the help of Libby (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt is born. Using this persona and his fancy new costume, Frank takes it upon himself to confront criminals. This initially gets him into a literal world of pain. He wises up, gets himself a wrench, and begins beating bad guys senseless in violent displays of "justice".
What sets Super apart from superhero films is how intensely personal it is. All films of this kind are personal to an extent. These heroes are people, usually moved by tragedy. But you get the sense that Frank is in denial about fighting for the greater good. He's fighting for himself, taking out his personal frustrations on those in need of punishment. The world may still be a better place because of it. He is, after all, taking out some pretty bad people. But he's not doing it for justice, as he claims, but as part of a vendetta, with a hero complex thrown in for good measure. That's alright, because we're all human. Frank's just a little more human than others.
There will be comparison's to Kick Ass, which also featured everyday citizens donning homemade costumes and fighting crime in a brutal fashion. There will also be those that accuse Super of ripping off Kick Ass, but I'll have you know that both films were being developed around the same time. Super is not as over-the-top as Kick Ass, among other differences. And where Kick Ass was a lot of harmless fun, Super is something much, much deeper. The journey is intense and the pay off is nothing short of fantastic, making Super one of the best films I've seen in a while.
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