A Special Hero

We all know superheroes without powers are a bit touched. Wealthy playboys, Batman and Ironman, are ego-maniacal head cases with psychotic tendencies. The comic books and movies give us shades of their instability, but mostly gloss over neurosis in favor of some good, old-fashioned good vs. evil action and adventure. So long as they’re taking the bad guys to task, we forgive them their psychosis.

SUPER, James Gunn’s nerds-gone-wild origin story about the Crimson Bolt (Rainn Wilson), his sidekick, Bolty (Ellen Page), and their efforts to take down a wife-stealing, egg-lovin’, drug dealer (played with maximum sleaze by Kevin Bacon), gets that self-made-men in costumes are nutzo. Wilson’s Frank (a nice departure from Wilson’s omnipresent Dwight) is clearly crazy, masking his insecure insanity with a righteous belief in the purity of good, but the movie’s uneasy tone has us unsure whether we should be smiling and cheering him on or cringing and worrying about the uber-violence on-screen (which can’t be good for anybody, self-appointed super heroes included).

Not that any of this is a bad thing. Though SUPER doesn’t know if it’s a comedy or a jet black vigilante piece, I rather liked the off-kilter approach. I like that nothing feels safe (a few scenes had me gasping loudly). I like that the movie wants to have its cake and eat it too. I like that it’s as insane as its wrench wielding lead.

At long last, here’s an original film that kept me on my toes with its unpredictable nature.


(SUPER style!)

Let’s not get into the plot (google as needed), instead, let’s talk about a few things that make SUPER kind of special.

For one, it’s a very well-made indie. Director, James Gunn knows his stuff. He’s been working in genre films forever, cutting his teeth on micro-budget Troma fare (TROMEO & JULIET) before moving on to studio films like DAWN OF THE DEAD (writer) and SLITHER (director). SUPER, with its stylized bursts of color, interesting fades and cuts, and a rousing, animated opening, functions as a nice, little piece of pop art. Big ups to Gunn for getting the balance right. The movie looks great.

While SUPER falters somewhat in the emotional connection department (all of the characters are way out there), I appreciated the presence of True Menace. Once things get going (that is, once the Crimson Bolt is born and begins taking action), ancillary characters are dispatched brutally. The fight scenes are tense and uncomfortable. I appreciated it even more that during these barbaric moments, this True Menace, this percolating danger, this razor’s edge, doesn’t arise from Kevin Bacon and his evil henchmen, but from Wilson’s, cagey, nerdy avenger.


(Taking care of business…)

We can usually find safe harbor in a strong, good, super hero, but when the Crimson Bolt vanquishes evil, he usually does so with a heavy lug wrench (bombs and gadgets come in to play eventually) and the resulting mess isn’t pretty. The clunky hunk of metal, swung with blind, nerd-rage, clumsy and wild and deathly sure, does major damage to evil-doers and the semi-innocent alike (cutting in line gets you a broken skull, buddy). The Crimson Bolt’s willingness to destroy (however petty the crime) is a fearful thing. It keeps us on edge.

Many, many movies would benefit from a healthy dose of this True Menace, don’t you think?

Anyway, Loyal Reader, seek this one out. You’ll dig it.

Highly recommended!

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One Response to “A Special Hero”

  1. portland seo Firm

    A Special Hero | Michael Louis Calvillo Must Be Destroyed

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