Starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker, Andre Royo, Sean Gunn, Stephen Blackehart, Greg Ingram, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, James Gunn
Directed by James Gunn
Expectations: High. I loved Slither, Gunn’s previous film.
Super is a superhero movie for the indie crowd with a lust for bold violence. It’s a small group, but man are they going to eat this shit up. For everyone else, I’m not sure exactly how they’ll react to it, should they see it. There were a couple of thirty-somethings that brought their elderly mother to the screening and I can only imagine the interesting conversations they had on their ride home. For all I know though, she brought them and secretly wishes to bash motherfuckers that cut in line with a wrench. You never can tell with these quiet types.
My main beef with the film is that for all its frank (rimshot) depictions of violence, there isn’t nearly enough gore to satisfy me! I had heard this was pretty violent, and the animated opening credits feature The Crimson Bolt busting through dude’s stomachs, showering the screen in guts and gore. Unfortunately, the rest of the film just isn’t that gory. Sure, there’s blood and the violence is very hard-hitting and shocking, but I expect more from an unrated film coming from a Troma alumni. Obviously, this is mostly my expectations clouding my enjoyment, which is never a good thing, but there were a number of good setups for a classic Troma head-crushing that went unused and I was sad. Oh well. I guess it’s hard to make non-gorehounds care about this guy if he’s stomping on criminal’s heads. Whatever. I would argue that the level of wrench-to-face violence is already turning off most people so you might as well crush some heads. Sometimes I wonder that I’m becoming rather sadistic watching all these gory horror movies, and when most reviews of Super seem to note how repulsively violent it is, and I’m arguing that they didn’t push it far enough, perhaps there’s some truth to that. Even if there weren’t any Troma-style head-crushings, at least Troma president Lloyd Kaufman got a small cameo.
Super is filled to the brim with all kids of wacky shit out of every part of the field. It’s hard to pin this movie down because it jumps around a lot between tones. The violence is hilarious, but gross and disturbing at the same time. If you can connect to Frank, his rampages as the Crimson Bolt will fulfill some of your own mental fantasies, but his actions rarely seem heroic or glorified. They are what they are, a crazy guy with a wrench trying to dish out justice, one swing at a time.
Overall, Super is a perfect movie for some, but I think most will find it too strange to really get behind. The tonal shifts throughout will throw a lot of people as well, as the film goes from uproarious laughter to stark violence very quickly and sometimes at the same time. It is a challenging movie in this way, but a bold one. It is a unique ride that should definitely find its audience once word gets around. Shut up Crime! The Crimson Bolt is in town!