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Review: Super (SXSW)

Super (SXSW)
Mar. 16, 2011by:
3 10

PLOT - A down-on-his-luck short order cook (Rainn Wilson) has about one thing going for him in life. His out-of-his-league beautiful wife (Liv Tyler) loves him. Only she no longer loves him. She's rekindled an old drug habit with the sleazy strip club owner (Kevin Bacon) and left ex high and dry. Desperate to rid his town of drugs and win back the heart of his wife, he takes on the ultra-violent superhero alter-ego The Crimson Bolt and starts crackin' skulls. Literally.

REVIEW - The early buzz on KICK-ASS, Matthew Vaughn's 2010 DIY superhero action-comedy was nothing short of overwhelming. I still remember asking someone who had seen the movie if it was overhyped and being told enthusiastically, "You can't overhype this movie." A few months later I caught up with KICK-ASS and mostly hated it. A year later, James Gunn debuted his own take on the DIY superhero genre to positive buzz as well. A few months later I caught up with SUPER at SXSW and.....?

...Mostly hated it. SUPER is, to be very fair, a far different movie than KICK-ASS. OK, not a far different movie - they both feature geeks making their own superheroes and hyper-violent young girls - but the problem with SUPER isn't just that it's a retread of KICK-ASS. There enough different stuff going on here to allow the film to stand on its own two legs. It's just that those legs are limp as wet noodles.

Tonally, SUPER is all over place. It's at times an extremely dark comedy (a violent and bloody beating is played for laughs) and other times as goofy as online sketch comedy. It tries to be sad and dramatic and bizarre and scary and essentially tries a little too hard to be too many things. Jack of all trades, master of none, as they say.

As I'm sure you've seen on "The Office," Rainn Wilson plays demented very well and his character in SUPER is far more demented than anything he's played before. In fact, he's very likely insane after years of torture throughout his life (he says there are only two happy moments in his entire existence) and has violent and disturbing hallucinations brought on by Japanese tentacle porn. Wilson plays the character well in a dramatic sense but the character is more scary than funny. You sympathize with him and would almost feel bad for laughing at him. He's a kindred spirit with Seth Rogen's Ronnie from OBSERVE AND REPORT.

The film has a very lo-fi feel to it, shot primarily handheld and a saturated look. It limps along making fairly obvious jokes and relying on a lot of shock value humor until it gets a shot in the arm from Ellen Page. I haven't much appreciated Page's work in the past (openly loathing JUNO) but she's so good as the maniacal sidekick in SUPER, I found myself far more interested in her backstory than anything that was happening with The Crimson Bolt.

Sadly, by the time Page arrives on screen as her costumed alter-ego, SUPER had mostly lost its steam. But I will say this for SUPER: It is absolutely the work of James Gunn. The man had a vision and this is 100% his film on screen. It takes audacious chances and makes bold moves and while they didn't work for me, I can respect what Gunn brought as a writer and director because at least this is a movie you probably don't see very often.

SUPER is a movie that doesn't pull any punches or offer any compromises. It's an in your face style that will turn off some viewers (this critic included) but will certainly find a very devoted cult audience elsewhere.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:15PM on 03/22/2011
This was probably one of the worst reviews i read on joblo so far. very one sided and close minded. First off you state that you hated Kick-Ass then juno so no wonder you didnt like this film. You obviously went into the movie with a bad mindset. You say its bad and give it a 3 out of 10 without really explaining why. Pretty bad dude i mean 3 out of 10 come on there is no way this film is worse than Battle: LA i saw that film unfortunatley and it was by far one of the worst films id ever
This was probably one of the worst reviews i read on joblo so far. very one sided and close minded. First off you state that you hated Kick-Ass then juno so no wonder you didnt like this film. You obviously went into the movie with a bad mindset. You say its bad and give it a 3 out of 10 without really explaining why. Pretty bad dude i mean 3 out of 10 come on there is no way this film is worse than Battle: LA i saw that film unfortunatley and it was by far one of the worst films id ever experienced in a long ass time.
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+3
7:35PM on 03/16/2011
I wouldn't really take offense to what Mike is saying, but I think mentioning Kick Ass early on is a double edged sword.

You compared this to Kick Ass saying it was identitcal and mentioned hating Kick Ass. This is immediately does the job of the review: we know we're either going to want to see Super just based on this. So, you've possibly turned a lot of people off from the review, but also made up people's mind in just that paragraph.

Also, don't front Mike for his opinion, as he did
I wouldn't really take offense to what Mike is saying, but I think mentioning Kick Ass early on is a double edged sword.

You compared this to Kick Ass saying it was identitcal and mentioned hating Kick Ass. This is immediately does the job of the review: we know we're either going to want to see Super just based on this. So, you've possibly turned a lot of people off from the review, but also made up people's mind in just that paragraph.

Also, don't front Mike for his opinion, as he did have good things to say about the film. He just said it wasn't for him.

I'm still planning on seeing this film, and if it really is anything like Kick Ass, then I'm sure I will enjoy it.
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6:38PM on 03/16/2011
Chris Bumbray appears to be the regular reviewer for the site and I'd really like to read his take. It seems like it'd be more useful for people who are interested in Super as he was a big fan of Kick-Ass.
Chris Bumbray appears to be the regular reviewer for the site and I'd really like to read his take. It seems like it'd be more useful for people who are interested in Super as he was a big fan of Kick-Ass.
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+3
5:31PM on 03/16/2011
Just sounds like you're not a fan of this kind o movie. Nothing wrong with that, but I think the reviews of other critics with tastes similar to mine will be more helpful.
Just sounds like you're not a fan of this kind o movie. Nothing wrong with that, but I think the reviews of other critics with tastes similar to mine will be more helpful.
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5:01PM on 03/16/2011
First bad thing I've read about this movie.
First bad thing I've read about this movie.
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3:35PM on 03/16/2011
Stevemoto said everything I had to say. So I think I am going to like this movie.
Stevemoto said everything I had to say. So I think I am going to like this movie.
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3:29PM on 03/16/2011
i thought Kick-Ass was great, and I'm looking forward to this. (and it helps that ellen page looks great in that pic...)
i thought Kick-Ass was great, and I'm looking forward to this. (and it helps that ellen page looks great in that pic...)
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3:23PM on 03/16/2011

Uhhhh

I think you can tell by other comments, you're review doesn't seem to be taken too kindly. Why start this off by saying you hated Kick Ass? Do you ever read the strikeback section? I think Kick Ass was liked by most on JoBlo, so starting off a review by stating you hated probably turned most JoBlo patrons off immediately.
I think you can tell by other comments, you're review doesn't seem to be taken too kindly. Why start this off by saying you hated Kick Ass? Do you ever read the strikeback section? I think Kick Ass was liked by most on JoBlo, so starting off a review by stating you hated probably turned most JoBlo patrons off immediately.
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+16
2:51PM on 03/16/2011

Poor Sampson

You hated Kick-Ass, I loved Kick-Ass. You hate Paige, I love Paiges work. You hated this movie, which means I'll love this movie. Thanks for the review.
You hated Kick-Ass, I loved Kick-Ass. You hate Paige, I love Paiges work. You hated this movie, which means I'll love this movie. Thanks for the review.
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1:59PM on 03/16/2011
This review, especially the hating Kick-Ass part, makes me want to watch Super even more. I loved Kick-Ass, hopefully this will be just as awesome.
This review, especially the hating Kick-Ass part, makes me want to watch Super even more. I loved Kick-Ass, hopefully this will be just as awesome.
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1:19PM on 03/16/2011
For a person who hated Kick-Ass, this review does nothing to me.
For a person who hated Kick-Ass, this review does nothing to me.
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12:59PM on 03/16/2011
You already ruined this review and perhaps any other Mike Sampson review by saying you hated Kick-Ass. Why bother watching a movie if this genre isn't for you? That's like 100% of the problem with every movie critic. Don't watch stuff that isn't in your wheel house!
You already ruined this review and perhaps any other Mike Sampson review by saying you hated Kick-Ass. Why bother watching a movie if this genre isn't for you? That's like 100% of the problem with every movie critic. Don't watch stuff that isn't in your wheel house!
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1:40PM on 03/16/2011
Stop whining. Kick-Ass was crap, and thats an objective point of view. Nothing to do with "watching stuff that isnt for you"
Stop whining. Kick-Ass was crap, and thats an objective point of view. Nothing to do with "watching stuff that isnt for you"
3:00PM on 03/16/2011
Read enough critics and you'll get someone who agrees with you on something. Don't read critics and don't get contradicting opinions.
Read enough critics and you'll get someone who agrees with you on something. Don't read critics and don't get contradicting opinions.
12:11PM on 03/16/2011
I don't know about it being a tired concept. I mean, there was Kick Ass but that wasn't even much of a 'real' superhero movie as Hit Girl runs up walls, reloads guns in mid air..There's a jet pack..Then there's Defendor which won't be as dark and bleak as Super..So I don't think it'll feel like 'oh, seen this a million times before.'

A lot of the reasons cited for not liking Super in the review could be easily reasons for liking it. Characters that you're not sure what to make of. Drastic
I don't know about it being a tired concept. I mean, there was Kick Ass but that wasn't even much of a 'real' superhero movie as Hit Girl runs up walls, reloads guns in mid air..There's a jet pack..Then there's Defendor which won't be as dark and bleak as Super..So I don't think it'll feel like 'oh, seen this a million times before.'

A lot of the reasons cited for not liking Super in the review could be easily reasons for liking it. Characters that you're not sure what to make of. Drastic tonal shifts..I really enjoyed Observe & Report for straddling the line between laughing and being sickened and only having a psychotic racist as your main character. That's interesting to me.

Still really psyched to see Super. I'm kind of glad it has a divisive humour that people will either hate or love.
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11:52AM on 03/16/2011
How could such a tired, beaten into the ground concept only get 3 out of 10???
How could such a tired, beaten into the ground concept only get 3 out of 10???
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11:37AM on 03/16/2011
Despite the bad review, I am still excited as hell to see this. I love movies like this.
Despite the bad review, I am still excited as hell to see this. I love movies like this.
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+7
11:14AM on 03/16/2011
No surprise.

Although disagree about Kick Ass; it is a solid 7/10-movie.
No surprise.

Although disagree about Kick Ass; it is a solid 7/10-movie.
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+8
10:56AM on 03/16/2011
I was getting worried until I saw that you also hated Kickass. Oh well. It's not that Kickass was perfect, but it was pretty great, and even if it's uneven, I bet Super is at least partly great too.
I was getting worried until I saw that you also hated Kickass. Oh well. It's not that Kickass was perfect, but it was pretty great, and even if it's uneven, I bet Super is at least partly great too.
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10:36AM on 03/16/2011
I have a different stance on the career of Ellen Page. She's my favorite actress but her only movie I "openly loathed" was Inception because A) it wasted her and B) I found it to be very boring from beginning to end. I LOVED Hard Candy, Juno, Smart People, and Whip It. Especially, Hard Candy, that was her best movie and performance in my opinion. As for Super, I was initially looking forward to it for the cast and the premise but after reading more about it, it strikes me as the type of
I have a different stance on the career of Ellen Page. She's my favorite actress but her only movie I "openly loathed" was Inception because A) it wasted her and B) I found it to be very boring from beginning to end. I LOVED Hard Candy, Juno, Smart People, and Whip It. Especially, Hard Candy, that was her best movie and performance in my opinion. As for Super, I was initially looking forward to it for the cast and the premise but after reading more about it, it strikes me as the type of movie that is immensely immature and primarily concerned with shock value and audience reaction. Those types of movies do absolutely nothing for me.
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