Using words like bizarre and dark don’t seem adequate. This is a weird one, folks! Weird in a good way. Weird in a fun kind of way. Super is crude, crass and cheesy. And a certain segment of the film going population is going to love it! While an even larger segment is going to hate it.
Frank D‘Arbo (Rainn Wilson – from television’s The Office) has always been something of a loser. He was tormented as a child by the kids in school and his father. Now that he is an adult things haven’t changed much. He works as a cook in diner alongside his friend, pretty much his only friend, Hamilton (Andre Royo – Shaft – 2000). His life changes almost overnight when recovering addict Sarah (Liv Tyler – Armageddon, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) comes to work at the diner as a waitress.
A perfect day happens for Frank the day he and Sarah are married. An awful day happens the day she leaves him for drug dealer/strip club owner Jacques (Kevin Bacon – Footloose, A Few Good Men). Sarah is back on drugs and doesn’t want anything to do with Frank. And Frank is powerless against Jacques and his goons.
In the midst of his agony Frank has a vision of God, not the first one he’s had in his life, and it seems to him that God has told him to stand up for the downtrodden by becoming a superhero. Tired of being the person that is always picked on and being powerless to stand up for himself, Frank does what any man would do. He goes to the local comic shop to do some research. The young female clerk, Libby (Ellen Page – Juno, Inception), helps him find the comics he is asking for.
He sews himself a costume and calls himself The Crimson Bolt. The Crimson Bolt begins his vigilante surveillance of the city. Anyone who sexually attacks a child, sells drugs or even butts in line at the movies gets a wrench in the skull in retribution.
After he tries to free Sarah from Jacque’s clutches and just gets shot in the leg for his efforts, Frank goes to see Libby. Figuring out that Frank is The Crimson Bolt, Libby – now Boltie – joins him in his quest to get his wife back.
Filled with laughs (many of them due to uncomfortable situations) and gory violence, Super, directed by James Gunn (Slither), is a film that flits between genres like horror, parody, comedy, drama, and thriller. But never does it allow expectations direct its path. This is a film that tries to blaze its own trail.
Strangely, though the blazing its own trail is kinda the downfall of the film. It’s just a little too everywhere and ends up being no where. That plus the fact that Rainn Wilson totally underplays his role; he is actually dull. Anytime he was on the screen I just wanted to see the other actors. Any of the other actors. I began to occupy myself with thoughts of “Is he playing the character as mentally disturbed?” or “Is he just a man who has been pushed too far?” When you start asking these types of questions is when the whole thing starts to go down the drain. We really don’t know what to think of this so-called hero morally and that is the crux of the problem. Do we like him?
The reason to watch this film, as usually is with any film she is in, is Ellen Page. She just takes her oddball part and runs with it. Our little Canadian gal really knows how to make geeky cool. In her role of Boltie, Page is just a bunch of energy, all twitchy and way too into her new gig as a superhero. Her insatiable lust for violence and blood is actually quite funny in a weird sort of way.