On the surface of it, Super might sound to many almost exactly like Kick-Ass, albeit with a much lower budget.

The premise of the two films does, superficially (no pun intended), sound very similar. Both films feature an ordinary guy without any powers that goes about trying to stop crime. And this similarity means that Super has typically been compared, generally unfavourably, to Matthew Vaughn’s film. But don’t let this put you off, because the two films are very different, and both are excellent in their own right.

The comparison between them is one that has been fairly extensively made by Super’s critics, and thus it only seems right to start off by addressing the issue. Beyond that basic premise of an ordinary guy fighting crime in a slightly ridiculous costume, Super is a really different film; darker and a little more graphically violent it really earns its 18 rating.

Rainn Wilson takes the lead in this film as Frank, a.k.a. the Crimson Bolt. Before donning his costume for the first time, we see his regular life married to Sarah (Liv Tyler), an addict whose recovery is spiralling downwards. When she leaves him to be with Jacques the Jock (Kevin Bacon), a local drugdealer, Frank gets a vision he believes to be from God that tells him he has been chosen for a bigger purpose, to become the Crimson Bolt. And so begins his crime-fighting days with the excellent and ridiculous catch phrase, “Shut up, Crime,” and his weapon of choice, the wrench.

Unlike Kick-Ass, the Crimson Bolt is not a comic book fan, and he enlists the help of local comic book store employee Libby (Ellen Page), a.k.a. Boltie, in becoming a superhero. She convinces him to be let her be his sidekick, and the pair go about violently and bloodily fighting crime. The Crimson Bolt’s main aim is always saving Sarah from the Jock, and the film reaches its climax in a firefight rescue operation for his wife.

Having now seen Super, I struggle to understand why the comparisons between it and Kick-Ass have been made so often, because the two are sincerely very distinct films. Super is a brilliant mix of comedy, action, heart, and insanity all rolled up into one excellent movie. Writer and director James Gunn managed to gather together a great cast for his film, with Wilson playing the role of the Crimson Bolt well. Page is my personal favourite of all the characters, because she plays Libby/Boltie absolutely perfectly. Her character calls for a healthy dose of crazy, and that truly comes across on screen. She’s a brilliant actress in everything she does, and this film is exemplary in its demonstration of her talents.

We also get a great cameo from Nathan Fillion (Firefly), who worked with Gunn on his last movie, Slither, playing The Holy Avenger, and one from Linda Cardellini (E.R.), playing a pet store employee that has an adorable collection of rabbits.

It’s a real shame that this movie was released like it was. It had a limited run in America back in April this year, and an extremely limited run in a handful of cinemas here in the UK at the start of July. Just two short weeks after its American release, it became available on Video on Demand, which couldn’t have helped its box office takings, but thankfully it’s been better received through this medium. Now that it’s been released on DVD and Blu-Ray, hopefully it can find an audience here in the UK; it really deserves one. It was filmed back in late 2009/early 2010, and I’ve been looking forward to it for about as long, and it was worth the wait.

It probably won’t be the best film you see this year, or the best superhero film you see this year, but it’s nonetheless an enjoyable watch. The music works brilliantly to complement the action, which isn’t something you often get when the soundtrack isn’t an original score; the dialogue will make you laugh and cringe; the effects will impress you given its low budget; and the plot will both make your eyebrows raise in confusion and surprise and keep you entertained for a great ninety minutes.

Is its premise similar to Kick-Ass? Yes. Is it the same film? Not even close. Does it deserve to be watched? Definitely. Bottom-line, Super is a lot of fun, and stands firm in its own right as a great film.


Special Features:

  • Behind the Scenes – Running at eighteen minutes, this behind the scenes is not the best, but certainly not the worst. We get some nice interviews with the cast and crew, some moments of Wilson trying (and, in my opinion, failing) a bit of ad lib comedy on camera, and a bit of insight into the run-up of the film’s development. One of the highlights has to be the on-set footage of a stuntman being set ablaze, and the fire extinguishers that immediately follow the ‘Cut!’ which was good fun to see. Something that comes across from cast and crew alike was the enjoyment of shooting the film in just over three weeks. In a clip talking to Gunn, he explains how he hoped the fast pace and energy that you need to make a feature-length film in three weeks would translate to the final product, and it really does. Super doesn’t slow down for a second, which is one of the things that makes it so enjoyable, so Gunn’s hopes were certainly successful.
  • Trailer

A commentary with Gunn and some of the cast would have been nice to fill out the extras a bit. Having just a Behind the Scenes and a trailer for the film seems a bit empty in the Special Features menu screen, but given the low price of the film immediately upon release (online, you can get change from £10 for the Blu-Ray), I’d say it’s fairly reasonable. Despite the lack of many extras, I’ve taken into account the price and the brilliant detail you get in Super on Blu-Ray into my rating, certainly making it worth the slight extra on top of the DVD price.