Rainn Wilson in SuperThe atypical superhero movie is gaining more popularity with each release. But unlike Kick-Ass, Super did not emerge from comic book origins. Instead it was the brain child of writer/director James Gunn, who intended on developing a short film but couldn’t stop expanding the story. The result is a tale about a man who is a person first and a hero second.

When loser Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself unable to cope. Instead, Frank decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. To get his wife back, he must first fight his way up the criminal ranks. He begins by taking a monkey wrench to the heads of a couple who cut in line at the movies. When Crimson Bolt starts to make headlines, a young woman from the local comic book store (Ellen Page) joins in on the fun as his sexually charged sidekick, Boltie.

Wilson is impeccably casted in the role of Frank/Crimson Bolt. At the start of the film, when the character discusses his two perfect moments “which offset a life of pain, humiliation and rejection,” Wilson is believable as that guy – someone whose been pushed around a lot, but is still capable of being intimidating given the right circumstances and motivation. His The Office co-star Jenna Fischer recognized this quality in him and recommended Wilson for the role to Gunn, her ex-husband. He agreed and the pair went about confirming Page and Tyler.

This is a side of Page we haven’t seen before; she’s manic, unstable and highly aggressive. Her likeability is somewhat reduced, but her character is attention-grabbing; not quite the draw of Hit Girl, but interesting in its own right. Tyler is not unfamiliar with addiction and losing control, but she’s also incredibly sweet, which is a combination the role demanded. Bacon is genuinely sleazy, oozing manipulative magnetism. In addition, Nathan Fillion flawlessly plays the “The Holy Avenger,” who inspires Frank’s vigilante path.

The animation sequence that plays in the beginning of the film is very entertaining – “the finger of God touching your brain” is amusingly visualized. It looks a little rough or unpolished, but that’s entirely appropriate since the same can be said about the movie’s protagonist. He also has a very vivid imagination, which matches the wild reality he creates. However, colourful wordart like “Blam” and “Pow” filling the screen feels out of place. It’s very sporadic in the first half of the film, then unexpectedly consecutive at the end.

To say the ending is unconventional is somewhat of an understatement. It’s surely bittersweet in that Frank is content despite the untraditional end; but the epilogue presents a conclusion that is definitely not your typical happy ending. Nonetheless, it does tie up any loose ends.

When asked what their favourite part about playing a superhero was, Wilson replied, “The tights,” while Page enjoyed getting to kill people. Wilson was having a lot of fun answering questions and teasing his cast mates, but one of his best quips was when he referred to Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes as his “Canadian doppelganger.” I can see it.

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