Superhero movies are more popular than ever. But that doesn’t mean that they are better than ever.
Modern technology is ruining the genre. The power of computers allows a director to have his superhero perform death-defying feats that no human being – even a stunt man – could ever equal.
The result is that boys of all ages are wowed by the nifty-looking action sequences. But adults leave the theater disappointed because we wanted a relatable human hero but instead we got an indestructible cartoon.
“Super,” ironically, goes back to basics and takes the ‘super’ out of ‘superhero.’ It is a sincere attempt to show what might happen if a real man became a vigilante.
When I say REAL MAN, of course, the first name that comes to mind is Rainn Wilson – the geeky, gawky actor who plays desk jockey/beet farmer Dwight Schrute on “The Office.”
Unfortunately, the terrific casting didn’t lead to a terrific film. “Super” is off-beat, unpredictable, ultra-violent, and just plain weird. And these are the virtues.
The picture is also inconsistent in tone and unclear in its message and meaning.
Wilson stars as Frank D’Arbo: an awkward, depressed fry cook. His life goes from bad to worse when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a sleazy drug dealer (Kevin Bacon).
Desperate to bring meaning to his miserable existence, Frank begins dressing up as a comic-book style superhero called The Crimson Bolt. Instead of spending nights in his bedroom crying, he hits the streets looking for villains to vanquish.
Girls tell him “you’re a good guy.” And he believes it.
But Frank is NOT a good guy. He is a delusional, self-righteous loner who is inspired by a religious program aimed at middle-schoolers to don a costume and bludgeon strangers with a pipe wrench.
I was quite sure that writer/director James Gunn did not intend for Frank to be a hero. Until the ending. The terrible, terrible ending. The sappy happy ending to “Super” is so horrible and so inconsistent with the rest of the movie that I predict it will be edited out when “Super” is released on DVD.
“Super” is a strange, poorly conceived niche film. It is entertaining but deeply flawed. Comic book nerds (not guilty) will like it. People who enjoy unnecessarily brutal violence (guilty) will like it. Everyone else will hate it.