The 5 Obstructions Blogathon: #3 Super
I don’t do a whole lot of blogathons on this site, but Nostra over at My Film Views often comes up with some great ones, so it’s no surprise that I decided to take part in this multi-month blogathon called The 5 Obstructions. Basically it’s a series of 5 challenges, 1 a month that creates a writing challenge, or obstruction. It’s designed to take bloggers out of their comfort zone and think outside of the box when it comes to writing. The first one was to write a review of a movie that was the opposite of how you really felt about the movie, a positive review of a bad movie or vice-versa. The second one was the easiest for me as it was merely to include an interview along with the review and while I regularly feature interviews, most bloggers don’t. And that brings us to our third obstruction: write a review that consists entirely of sentences copy & pasted from other reviews of the movie. I chose the polarizing movie Super, or at least I thought it was polarizing. As it turns out, every review I picked mainly out of sites that I follow were quite positive. I did make a small handful of changes to pronouns to help readability a bit, noted by [brackets] and all the reviews I pulled these quotes from are linked at the bottom for your reading pleasure.
Super remains an interesting examination of geek power fantasy, and some of the more sinister undertones of the conventional superhero narrative. It’s the total opposite of everything you’d expect from a superhero movie – the characters are all deeply flawed, the humour is super black and is contrasted with some full-on bone-crunching, brain splattering violence. This is a flick that wants you to laugh at some seriously dark and weird material, but it also has the audacity to challenge the viewer to delve a little deeper. Super is a surprisingly smart and extremely funny dark comedy that will have you looking at the superhero genre in a whole new way, after a few hours had passed, I found myself contemplating the flick’s darker and considerably more serious side, always making us question our enjoyment of the film.
By day [Frank] is a depressed chef at a lame diner, by night he is the Crimson Bolt, a feared masked avenger. He believes the day he married the very damaged (and way too hot for him) Sarah was one of the two perfect moments in his life. Most superhero movies are aware that the hero is a little unbalanced, but their behaviour is always demonstrated as justifiable. Super wonderfully plays up many of the superhero conventions, including having a secret identity, finding a place to change in public, etc. for big laughs. Super maintains a certain level of realism throughout the film. Sure there are some over-the-top moments, especially the scene where God touches Frank’s brain and inspires wisdom, this film shows off Mr. Gunn’s Troma training, and the result is a slightly uneven but thoroughly engaging piece of pitch-black comedy. The humour is twisted and black with a deep, dark streak running through the movie – very awkward, offbeat, black, but really really funny. Anybody who assumes to target those guilty of wrongs outside the law while dressed in a body stocking is probably on some creepy ego trip. Super explores that idea quite thoroughly, and – while it doesn’t really say anything new – it does makes its arguments in a compelling manner.
On paper Super looks like another Kick-Ass, but everything about it is different and unique, which makes this a little indie belter that stands out from the copy/paste films in the superhero genre. Rainn Wilson is [the] movie’s secret weapon. he plays the obviously troubled Frank with a sincerity that is almost appealing. Despite the character’s obvious disconnect from reality, his self-centred morality and his questionable application of his trusty monkey wrench, Frank is hard to hate. [He] is downright magnetic. He is the heart and soul of Super. Frank (and eventually Libby) go around town in costume and fight crime, beating people nearly to death for anything from drug dealing and pedophilia to cutting in line at the movies. But, as most things go in these cases, things get out of control pretty fast. Where most so-called revisionist superhero movies still end up being, like, totally badass glorifications of the vigilante lifestyle, Gunn’s film makes you squirm. He rightfully recognizes that the kind of person who would suit up to fight crime would have more in common, emotionally, with Travis Bickle than Superman. I sat stirred by how savage the film behaved even outside the inevitable action scenes. It wears a crooked grin even while it blindsides us with rape, child molestation, substance addiction, and endless foul language that would please Judd Apatow. It does this by juxtaposing the action with freeze frames and animated “BOOM”s and “WHACK!”s that look like scribbling from a teenagers own private comic book creation & I loved the “in between the panels” bit. The final showdown between Jock and Frank is guaranteed to shake you up even if you have found the rest of the film despicable.
Frank’s moral compass is questionable at best, but the movie seems to really deconstruct the superhero archetype with Libby. She seems to enjoy the pain Frank feels as she examines his bullet wound, holding the pliers with a sense of anticipation even after he tells her it was a through and through. [She] is super cute and spunky, so it’s easier to find something to like about her–and then she shows how her character is a sociopath. Her response to the carnage unleashed is near-orgasmic joy, squealing excitedly like a six year old going to Disneyland. If Robin is Batman’s moral centre, and the only thing that keeps him from slipping off the edge, then Libby is The Anti-Robin. With a vengeance.
I set up my expectations knowing it was incredibly dark and violent–and I still felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. I honestly don’t know if I like it or dislike it. I know I don’t love it, and I know I don’t hate it. Full of dark humor, James Gunn’s Super manages to turn on a dime emotion-wise, leaving viewers at a loss whether to laugh, cry, cringe, be horrified, or all of the above. [It] is just simply not a film for everyone. If you are in the target audience, you’ll have a blast with it. If not, you will just walk away shaking your head and wondering why Hollywood doesn’t make more wholesome movies like they use to. Either way, it will get a reaction out of you and that is what good cinema should do. [It] never really settles into a genre, the raw violence is juxtaposed with moments of surprisingly light comedy, and throughout the movie there is a constant struggle in trying to balance the tone. It never quite succeeds at finding a happy medium, but I must admit I did quite enjoy the result.
Paragraph Film Reviews 9/10
The M0vie Blog Positive
Nicholas Jobe at Man I Love Films Unsure
Flickering Myth Positive
Scott Weinberg at Moviefone
Big Thoughts From A Small Mind Positive
Ben’s Basement 5/6
Anti-Film School B-
The Matinee Positive