So rumors about Super have been floating around for quite some time and Wonder Con had a panel featuring writer/director James Gunn and lead actor Rainn Wilson. The panel itself was good and yours truly was made fun of by Rainn Wilson, it was the most glorious moment of my life. While there they announced a special screening that evening with another Q&A with James Gunn. So that evening fellow Babblers Johnny, Tony and I went to watch this much anticipated film. We were not disappointed.
This movie is good, no, make that great, that is if you aren’t squeamish about a lot of violence and language (Even more than a Quentin Tarantino film). I am warning you right now, it’s chop full of some intensely violent scenes. If you can handle this stuff then go see it.
The story is about a poor, down on his luck loser named Frank D’Arbo (played by Rainn Wilson). As far as he is concerned he has had only two happy moments in his life. One, when he helped stop a crime and two, when he married his wife Sarah (played by Liv Tyler). When Sarah leaves him for a high rolling drug dealer named Jacque (Kevin Bacon) something inside him snaps and through a divine vision he believes he has been chosen to become a crime fighting super hero called The Crimson Bolt, all in order to save Sarah. Of course to be a super hero one must have super powers, of which Frank has none. Instead, he decides to use a trusty pipe wrench as his weapon of choice.
During his adventures he picks up a crazy sidekick, Libby (Ellen Page), who goes by the super hero name of Boltie and he gains spiritual inspiration through a Bibleman spoof named The Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion). Chaos definitely ensues and culminates in an epic battle at Jacques’ estate.
Rainn Wilson is great as Frank/Crimson Bolt. Think Dwight Shrute with a mental breakdown. Ellen Page is hysterical as the overly eager side kick who just can’t keep her mouth shut or get enough violence. The rest of the cast was great as well, and Nathan Fillion made a very good religious super hero.
There are several reasons I love this movie. It’s a smart, clever dark comedy which I am a sucker for. There are several hysterical scenes (even amidst the violence), the intro is great and James Gunn shows a panache for playing upon the clichés and nuances of the super hero genre.
Another reason I love this movie is that the cast and crew really believed in it. James Gunn explained that movie was made for virtually nothing (a couple million) and the cast wanted to make this film so bad that they worked for the bare minimum allowed. When was the last time you ever heard of any actors, let alone this big names, work for virtually nothing because they loved a story? In this day and age of 100 million dollar special affect extravaganzas, their commitment to the art of story is refreshing.
I also love this movie for its surprising and insightful spirituality. The movie makes fun of Christian culture, clearly spoofing Bibleman and Christian comic books (rightfully so) but in doing so reveals a very candid and sincere spirituality in the character of Frank. He wrestles with his idea of destiny and if God really is calling him to be the Crimson Bolt. There are a couple of very profound scenes of Frank praying to God that could only have been written by somebody who has done some spiritual searching of their own. At one point during a prayer Frank cries out something to the effect of, “please give her (Sarah) back… I hate you God. Please, please help me!” showing the love hate relationship so many have with the Almighty. Ironically enough during the Q&A James Gunn stated that Hollywood was scared to make any movies that deal with spirituality or God. They are too afraid of offending anyone.
Another spiritual theme is that of destiny. Frank believes he is chosen by God to be the Crimson Bolt but wrestles with whether or not the call is real. Through this alter ego he eventually finds healing and peace of mind, but not necessarily how he expected it.
There is a lot of depth to this movie. I could go on and on about it. Ideas of justice, the challenge to each of us to try and make the world a better place, themes of what we want versus what we need and much more, but I digress and this is getting long.
This is an indie film and in limited release but hopefully it will gain ground. If it shows in your area go see it. Show Hollywood that story does matter, that spirituality, when done in a candid and sincere way, is appropriate. You will definitely be in for a treat as you watch a movie that is as funny as it is poignant.
I give this movie 4.5 Babbles.
On a side note we got to meet James Gunn afterwards. Pretty cool guy. Here is a picture of me and him. Also, if I ever dress up for Comic Con I am going as The Crimson Bolt.