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Blu-Ray Review: Ellen Page, Rainn Wilson in Clever ‘Super’

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CHICAGO – “I thought it would be interesting to write the story of the superhero who wasn’t super at all,” says writer/director James Gunn on his behind-the-scenes featurette on the underrated “Super,” an imperfect film with more than enough interesting ideas and strong performances to justify a look now that it’s on Blu-ray and DVD.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

Like an odd hybrid of “Taxi Driver” and “Spider-Man,” James Gunn’s “Super” fails to live up to its title, but just barely. It’s a film that I actually like more now than when I covered it in theaters as its qualities have grown in memory and its flaws have faded. This is a daring comedy that examines the pain behind the mask. What if a truly damaged soul copied that aspect of the costumed avenger and became a vigilante even crazier than the crime he’s trying to fight? And what if said man had no perspective at all on one crime being worse than another?

Photo credit: IFC Films

At its core, “Super” is a tale of mental illness. It’s about a man pushed beyond the limits of his own sanity and the co-dependent relationship he forms with a similarly-damaged soul. The dynamic duo in Gunn’s film are the schlubby Crimson Bolt (Rainn Wilson, doing effective work) and the antisocial Boltie (Ellen Page, arguably never better). The Crimson Bolt used to be Frank, a sorrowful soul pushed over the brink when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for the clearly-nefarious Jacques (Kevin Bacon, who makes every movie a little bit better). Inspired by a religious superhero (Nathan Fillion) that he sees on TV, he has a vision in which his brain is literally touched by the finger of God and he becomes Crimson Bolt, determined to fight crime and win back his love.

Super was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 9th, 2011
Super was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 9th, 2011
Photo credit: IFC Films

To start, Crimson Bolt is not unlike a tight-wearing Dexter, dispensing justice against those certainly deserve it from drug dealers to child molesters. The public even seems to support him. Until he starts to beat them up for little things like cutting in line. And when he teams with the truly-insane Boltie, things get increasingly out-of-control. The final act is more like a horror film than what most have come to expect from movies about superheroes. Sadly, that final act gets away from Gunn a bit in its tonality as the piece lurches from dark comedy to extreme gore to near tragedy, but the ideas at play here along with the great cast make the inconsistency easier to take, especially on Blu-ray.

Rainn Wilson (who has one of the most entertaining Twitter feeds out there) makes a great interview subject and an even-better choice for an audio commentary track. He’s joined by the just-as-entertaining James Gunn. The commentary track is the only truly worthwhile feature (the deleted scene is short and wisely deleted) but it’s a great one for a movie that I think history will regard as deserving far more attention than it got during its brief theatrical run.

Special Features:
o Trailer
o TV Spot
o Deleted Scene
o Behind the Scenes
o Making of the Main Titles
o How to Fight Crime
o Commentary with James Gunn and Rainn Wilson

“Super” stars Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, Nathan Fillion, and Michael Rooker. It was written and directed by James Gunn. It is rated R and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 9th, 2011.

Pre-order the fantastic “Super” now at LOVEFiLM.com as well as a huge number of other great new and old DVDs. Also sign up today and receive a two-week free trial! What are you waiting for?

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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