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Super - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Super - Movie Review

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2 stars

From beneath the super-hero movie flotsam has arisen a sub-genre of sorts. One that explores what might happen when ordinary Joe suits up to turn the tables on his intimidators.

Though last year’s critically acclaimed Kick-Ass turned the super-hero genre on its head with one of the most blatant indulgences in irreverence and over-the-top flash and bang pleasure, writer/director James Gunn’s Super goes it one up. But unfortunately in this case, a ramping up of self-appeasement does not equal a proportionate hike on the likability scale. Yes, Super is dark, twisted, funny, and insolent, but finding success by putting an audience in an uncomfortable place is a tricky gimmick to pull off with success. The maneuver worked in Kick-Ass, not so much in Super.

Personifying the fantasy of every nerd that has ever read a comic book – or that will see this movie – is hapless, short-order fry cook Frank (Rainn Wilson), a toadish imp playing way out of his league with the beautiful Liv Tyler as his wife. She’ll be stolen away by a drug-dealing sleazeball named Jacques (Kevin Bacon), sending Frank into an emotional funk that can only be righted by the touch of God – aided by Japanese anime tentacles that peel his skull wide open. Yes, we see it all. Clad in a cheesy, homemade costume, wielding a pipe wrench, and crying “Shut up, crime,” Frank becomes a righteous avenger, the Crimson Bolt.

He’ll eventually set out to rescue his wife, but not before a rigorous training regimen that involves bashing in the heads of random petty thugs, line-butters, and car-keyers.  Finding ourselves initially charged by Crimson Bolt’s vigilante tactics, we’re soon squirming uncomfortably in our seats at the unbridled violence and the level of “deranged and demented” to which Wilson takes his Frank. Playing perfectly into Gunn’s hands, we cheer Frank on, while at the same time cringing at such realistic depiction of brutality. Pulp Fiction‘s got nothing on Super.

Seeing his vigilante story on the news, a young comic book store clerk named Libby (Ellen Page) joins Frank’s cause as The Crimson Bolt’s crime-fighting sidekick, Boltie. Together, the dynamic duo concocts a deadly arsenal of weapons and tactics with hopes of eventually rescuing Frank’s now drug-addicted wife from her “captors.”

At times surprisingly short on humor but always long on violence, Super finds most of it success in the dynamic of its two leads. Page introduces a much-needed surge of life to counter Frank’s deadpan chronic depression. She nearly steals the entire show in a couple of scenes, one with a hyper, whirling-dervish display of dumb super-hero flips, cartwheels and flops; another that plays into every nerd’s dream by performing a costumed semi-striptease while talking dirty. Total nerd catnip.

But even Bacon’s scene-chewing performance as the oily drug-dealing villain isn’t enough to save the film from its rampant inconsistency and failed attempts at having something great or visionary to say about the dynamic of good vs. evil. “All it takes to be a superhero is the choice to fight evil!” is about all Gunn has to say with regards to Frank’s ultimate vision, in spite of its intended corniness. Well, that and something about one man’s relationship with God and his journey to fulfill his side of the relationship.

There’s something good to be said about a director’s ability to manipulate an audience. Gunn puts us in a queasy place where we are sometimes only able to watch through our fingers.  We don’t know why we want to watch, just that we do. But failure to follow up with anything bigger than just more violence is missing the grand opportunity to be something great.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Super - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: This film has not been rated by the MPAA.
Director
: James Gunn
Writer
: James Gunn
Cast:
Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page; Liv Tyler; Kevin Bacon; Michael Rooker
Genre
: Comedy
Memorable Movie Quote:
"All it takes to be a superhero is the choice to fight evil!"
Distributor:
IFC Films
Official Site:
www.thecrimsonbolt.com
Release Date: April 22, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
August 9, 2011

Plot Synopsis: In Super, Frank's (Rainn Wilson) wife leaves him for a seductive, psychopathic drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), Frank is transformed and the Crimson Bolt is born. With a hand-made suit, a wrench, and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife (Liv Tyler). The rules were written a long time ago: You are not supposed to molest children, cut lines or key cars; if you do, prepare to face the wrath of the Crimson Bolt!

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Super

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 9, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs:
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Playback: Region A

Adding to Crimson Bolts‘s two perfect moments is Super’s 1080p transfer. Filmed on the Red One camera, this is another notch for his superhero-sized HD belt. Colors are spot-on and a little stylistic washed-out, yet remain bold and dazzling at times. Black levels are even, inky, and strong throughout. Never once do they overbalance the picture and its colors.  Ratcheting up some bonus points is the film’s animated credit sequence which is an exciting bit of colorful art. Detail is sharp and layered and consistently fine. The soundtrack, presented here in a rich lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, is both clever and exciting with what it does to the field of surround sound.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The commentary is supplied by director James Gunn and Rainn Wilson.  It’s infectiously fun and filled with nuggets of information about the making of the film.  The film is a low-budget affair, but the love these two have for the project makes it feel like a million dollar production.

Special Features:

With only one deleted scene, the supplemental material, as far as it concerns the film, is a little on the weaker side of things.  There is an interesting behind-the-scenes featurette with a bit of Rainn on the shooting range and a careful deconstruction of the film’s animated title sequence, but not too much else.

  • Behind the Scenes (20 min)
  • Making of the Main Titles (5 min)
  • How to Fight Crime at SXSW (4 min)
  • Deleted Scene (1 min)
  • Trailer (2 min)
  • TV Spot

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