Rainn Wilson’s SUPER Premieres On DemandApril 13, 2011

Rainn Wilson’s SUPER Premieres On Demand

IFC Films

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SUPER (IFC Films).


Rainn Wilson's SUPER Premieres On Demand
By Chris Claro

 

James Gunn’s work as a filmmaker stretches from the low-budget ghetto of Tromaville to the money-printing machine known as SCOOBY-DOO. With titles like SLITHER and DAWN OF THE DEAD on his resume, Gunn’s work is shot through with a pop-comic ethos that’s heavy on both humor and viscera. Gunn’s newest film as writer/director, SUPER, speeds along that same trail, telling the story of a misguided hero on a quest for his wayward wife. 
 
At once utterly befuddling, gloriously gory, and quirkily jerky, SUPER is a fanboy’s dream. From it’s pencil-animated opening titles to the pop-art inspired “BLAMS” and ‘WHAMS” that punctuate its fight scenes, Gunn’s film celebrates its comic-book roots but ups the ante with copious amounts of too-real violence, horrific beatings, and dismembered limbs.
 
Displaying a subtle melancholy that makes his character more than just a weirdo, Rainn Wilson stars as Frank, whose world crumbles when his addict wife takes up with a dangerous drug dealer. Rather than bemoan his fate, Frank chooses to fight to get his woman back and does so as the Crimson Bolt, a superhero whose powers are anything but.
 
Rainn Wilson / SUPER (IFC Films)
Rainn Wilson / SUPER (IFC Films)
 
As the Crimson Bolt rampages through the unnamed city – actually Shreveport, LA – he changes into his homemade costume in his car and uses whatever he has at hand – usually a pipe wrench – to mete out his brand of justice to every kind of “criminal,” whether child-molester, car-keyer, or line cutter; he even has a catch-phrase: “Shut up, crime.”

 

When his travails start to make the news, Frank finds himself the object of an obsessed fan who is willing and able to be his sidekick, hoping to help Frank rid the streets of every brand of venom as he pursues the lowlife who stole his wife.
 
Ellen Page plays Libby, the comic book store employee who longs to play Robin to Frank’s Batman. Hot for both Frank’s body and the adventure his alter ego can offer, Libby slaps together her own crime-fighting get-up and hits the streets with Frank, doing her best to help but muddying Frank’s mission along the way. Page’s performance is a highlight of the film and as she straddles the line between girl-geek and vixen she makes Libby a little loony but easy to root for.
 
Ellen Page / SUPER (IFC Films)
Ellen Page / SUPER (IFC Films)
 
Kevin Bacon is typically dependable in a stock villain role as the nefarious dealer, and Liv Tyler tries hard as Sarah, the wife with whom Frank is obsessed with rescuing. It’s also nice to see low-budget stalwarts Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker, and William Katt playing to type and keeping SUPER true to its indie roots.
 
Wilson is a revelation as the driven, religious Frank. Abhorring profanity, yet handing out some of the most brutal beatings imaginable, Wilson credibly shows how a mild-mannered milquetoast such as Frank could bifurcate his personality and be driven to such extreme acts in search of some semblance of justice.
 
It’s a good thing Wilson is able to bring some humanity to SUPER, because without his character’s introspection and self-examination, the film would be a nihilistic gorefest without a redeeming hook on which to hang its action hat. With its severed limbs, mangled faces, and fountains of spurting blood, the violence is funny – until it’s not. Gunn’s point seems to be that we all want superheroes to rid our streets of scum, but if when those avengers start targeting scofflaws instead of felons, things get dangerous for everybody.
 
Ellen Page, Rainn Wilson / SUPER (IFC Films)
Ellen Page, Rainn Wilson / SUPER (IFC Films)
 
Though it’s not a perfect film – the balance of comedy, action, and human drama sometimes feels out of kilter – SUPER is a unique, perceptive look at the nexus of heroes and villains. Wilson’s nuanced performance and Gunn’s fast-paced, action-heavy direction make it an enjoyable journey into the panels of a comic book. If you’re up for action and have a strong stomach for gore, SUPER is for you.
 
DEMAND IT

 

- Chris Claro

Chris
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com

 

SUPER is available on IFC FILMS on your cable systerm's Movies On Demand section.

 

 

See Chris' Other Reviews...

THE MAN FROM NOWHERE - DEMAND IT

PEEP WORLD - SKIP IT

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COLD WEATHER - DEMAND IT

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THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS - DEMAND IT

INHALE - RISK IT

XXY - DEMAND IT

HEARTLESS - RISK IT

 

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