Monday, February 13, 2012

MR James Gunn's SUPER

If there were superheroes in real life, and I mean actual "realistic" vigilantes not comic book-ysh-super powered flying people, how far would such individuals go?
Could they make a difference? Wouldn't they be considered just nutjobs, "psychopaths" by our society standards?
How detached from reality would one go to be able to live such a fantasy?

That's the kinda question director James Gunn tried to ask, amongst many others in his superhero/comedy/drama Super.
Be warned, this is a film strictly for a mature audience only!

Movie: SUPER aka Super (2010) or James Gunn's Super and also A James Gunn Film: Super
Directed by James Gunn
Release date 2010
Genre Indie comedy/drama
Country USA

In development since the early 2000s, Super is an idea James Gunn has been trying to develop and put to screen since a very long time.
Mostly due to a lack of investors and no interest from producers.
One of the earlier versions even ended up as a non-Gunn directed film called The Specials in 2000, directed by Craig Mazin.
Finally thanks to the success of his 2006 scifi comedy/horror film Slither, James Gunn was finally able to produce this 2002 script into a low-budget independent film.

Written and directed by Gunn, it features an all star cast of such actors as Rainn Wilson (The Office,.), Ellen Page (X-Men 3,..), Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon and even a cameo from Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly)!

What is it about exactly?

Super tells the story of this cook from a little local dinner called Frank D'Arbo (Rainn).
Frank never had much going on in his life.
The movie opens with Frank telling the audience he actually only had two relevant moments, two good memories in his entire life. (which he is putting up on the wall as lil' drawings he made)
Marrying this beautiful girl Sarah. And that time he helped the police catch some thief.

Sarah is a recovering addict.

One day, Sarah leaves Frank for this mysterious guy named Jacques (Kevin Bacon) who owns a club (and some other "less legal" businesses).
Frank loses all interest in his life, things don't make sense for him anymore..until one night when he's literally touched by the hand of God in a terrifying (and very graphic) dream. Was it only a simple nightmare or an actual divine intervention?
Inspired by another local TV "hero" from Jesus Network called the Holy Avengers (Fillion), Frank decides to become an actual superhero.
Frank believes he was chosen for a purpose. He goes at the nearest comic book shop for research. There he mets Libby (Page)...

Frank finally dons a secret identity as the Crimson Bolt and armed with a wrench, starts to fight crime in the streets.
Simple drug dealers, child molesters and even more trivial law-breaking persons all suffer the wrath of a Crimson Bolt on a criminal-punishment spree.
As he slowly starts to use his vigilante persona for more random reasons (and gradually acting more like a psychopath than anything), he is finally joined by Libby who goes as his sidekick Boltie...

Super is a sort of R-Rated deconstruction of superheroes.
While it originally didn't make much sense to make a movie out of this subject back in 2002, nowadays, with all these Marvel and DC movies on screens, it is a much more interesting form of analysis of what makes one "super" hero or not.

While other movies use the usual secret origin story to base future installments of on-going franchises, Super uses it mostly for the personal journey-aspect.
Super tells this journey of self-discovery Frank undergoes. Frank isn't really an altruist person, he uses this mask the costume provides for more selfish reasons.
Harmful purposes.

In a way it may start from the same premise as Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass, but it only shares the same concept at the start. It deconstructs the superhero myth and genre.
Frank is closer to an actual psychopath when your really think about it. He goes on this crazy journey.
What his right and what his wrong - Frank's logic which we follow through the movie might tell us one thing, but then we met Libby who's go her own perceptions of right and wrong.
Libby makes a great contrast with her mentor, with her love for violence and profanity - in opposite to Frank's ideals. 

It is also a spiritual journey.
The movie as a lot of relgious content.
"Some of his Children are Chosen" as Frank put above the closet in which he hides his costume.
It's nothing new  really, superheroes always had their own share of religion-inspired themese (Superman has often been seen as a Christ figure, and Batman as a martyr figure). The difference is that here James Gunn is quite explicit about the kind of themes you can decide to read superheroes. (the Crimson Bolt has his own disciple, Boltie,..).

It also mocks the glorification of violence surrounding this type of action movies/superhero characters.
Quite violent, often graphic but mostly stylized with onomatopoeias.
The Crimson Bolt goes awry playing superhero, using this freedom Frank never had, imitating superheroes. There's a danger in date.

The film ends in a bloodbath, in a spectacular crazy Grindhouse-style climatic battle.
(in which the director doesn't forget to remember us and our hero death is real)

It's a great interesting movie for fans of the genre.
Tyle Bates provides a simple but epic enough score (alongside various music from divers artists).

Overall, it's a very fun ride.
A black-comedy like you don't see much of anymore.

James Gunn asks various questions and take us on a darker more violent analysis of the genre than Kick-Ass. (probably closer to the original comic book than Kick-Ass' live adaptation)
Mark Millar (Kick-Ass' writer) actually defended Super of not copying Kick-Ass.

The movie features an high-range casting, including fun cameos from Nathan Fillion as this parody of an actual "costumed hero" called Bibleman in real life.
It's a fun, gore and trash movie. Similar to the old Toxic Avenger movies from Troma Entertainment (Gunn actually worked there for a long time and wrote several pieces there).

A great exploration of the genre.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Films!

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