Super (2010)
By: Devon B. on February 19, 2014 | Comments
Koch Media | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker
Screenplay: James Gunn
Country: USA
I'd rather have a nice edition of a movie than a Blu-ray loaded with extras, because so many extras are dull or self-congratulatory that I have a hard time caring about them. That's not to say I don't want extras licensed by local distributors, because I live for equality and think everyone should get the same thing, but normally I would never even consider upgrading a Blu just for more extras. So, it was fairly unusual when I imported a Blu-ray of Super simply because I wanted to know more about the film.

I've previously reviewed the film on this site (here) and I don't want to repeat myself too much, so I'll do a very general synopsis. Essentially, Super is a family film about a man (Rainn Wilson) that risks his life for the betterment of society. Feel safe to watch this heart warming tale with your kids!

Super is not a simple film, and will challenge a lot of viewers. The first time I saw the movie I thought it had a few lulls early on and shifted tone, but on my second viewing I didn't agree with myself anymore. Knowing what was coming I didn't think there were any dull moments, and the movie's tone does shift, but it's not the fractured swing that I thought it was. What the film does is generate a few moods at once; it's an odd film in that it manages to be bleak and uplifting at the same time. Different people will see different things and have their own interpretations and reactions to the film as a whole, let alone individual scenes where the tone might morph. The movie is also brimming with insanity which just makes it harder to pin down the feel.

A case in point is the movie's stance on religion. A driving question in the film is whether Wilson's character is insane or really having visitations from God telling him to fight crime as The Crimson Bolt. Wilson's character has a religious upbringing, and is inspired by a Xian superhero called The Holy Avenger. I would say that because Wilson's vision includes a crappy Xian hero it's probably not really God talking to him, because surely God could come up with something better than The Holy Avenger? I also doubt even the strictest God could endorse The Holy Avenger's asinine ethical stances. I mean, The Holy Avenger claims school food is evil…actually, maybe he is right there. I guess it could be God talking to Wilson after all. Honestly, while Super has digs at religion, I think the film leans more towards Wilson's faith being justified.

With a strict moral code backing him up, Wilson is at odds when he meets up with a sociopath, played by Kevin Bacon. Bacon's the perfect arch nemesis for this character, and in an interesting move The Crimson Bolt's sidekick also has sociopathic tendencies, which makes her a character foil as well. Gunn explains in the commentary that at least one character dies because of a moral choice he makes, and applying that type of thinking to the film is fascinating, but I don't think it's possible to discuss without spoiling the film, so skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven't seen Super. Taking the premise that those that live are in the right, Wilson's black and white view of good and evil is validated. He's doing the right thing because even when he's dispensing brutal justice to a queue jumper he's still operating within his own sphere of morality. If Wilson's character was to have a tragic flaw it would have to be his inability to see degrees, but in the end he survives, so the film seems to be suggesting he was doing the best he could and that's all that can be expected. This idea of realising potential also helps explain why one character dies that hasn't violated any moral guideline, because he really hasn't done all that he was capable of. What initially sets Wilson on his quest is a desire for perfection, or recapturing "perfect moments" within in his life, so maybe the film is ultimately more about potential than ethics, and Wilson's triumph at the end is to have significantly more perfect moments than when he started. I guess it could be argued that The Crimson Bolt in effect dies, and the man that he was before is also gone, so maybe I've interpreted the movie wrong, but as I said about 4000 words ago people will see different things in this film.

Last time I watched Super, I noted an impressive yet understated performance by Michael Rooker, but everyone involved in the film is exceptional. It really is an actor's movie and Wilson, Bacon and Ellen Page all excel, and even Liv Tyler, who I hate so much I've never seen all of Lord of the Rings, didn't bother me. Wilson carries Super effectively, and it's a unique quality to be able to be both a ridiculous and a fearful presence. Gérard Depardieu has that ability (at least in his French films, not the English language rubbish he's in), but not a lot of people can capture both like Wilson does here.

With its unflinching violence and ambiguous mood, Super is not a movie for everyone, but if it sounds even slightly appealing then for fuck's sake watch it because it's amazing.
The Disc

As with the local release, Super looks fantastic. There're a few moments that look odd, but I think that's a lighting issue. There is some slight trailing and a little bit of noise, but this is a superb transfer overall.

The audio is available in German or English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. The German track has a higher bit rate and is a touch louder, but the English track is still top notch. The score sounds fantastic, and the surrounds kick in when appropriate, though this is a character driven film so it's not action from go to woah.

In photos the Mediabook edition looks like it has some big ass logos on the front, but I'm happy to report that is just a printed slip that sits over the book's cover. The actual Blu-ray cover doesn't have the FSK rating or the Intro logo. Inside the book contains The Holy Avenger's comic, in English; some German language facts about those involved in the film that are things like what Wilson played in his high school band; and a German language letter to Gunn from someone who's very inspired by his work and wants to become a hero called The Gunnslinger. I'd like to see that eventuate because the author suggests the costume will include a Michael Rooker mask.

The Blu-ray has a German language trailer, an English language TV spot, a 19 minute behind the scenes and a commentary. The behind the scenes is the same featurette available on the domestic release, and while it's engrossing, it just made me want to know more. The commentary is with Gunn and Wilson and it's great. The movie wasn't easy to get made, even with the names attached, and despite those names it was still low budget. The commentary covers the trials of getting the financing, the filming itself and what the pair think of the film they've made.

The Mediabook edition also has a bonus DVD where all features are in English with removable subs. There's a 33 minute interview conducted with Gunn while he was in Berlin, where he specifically praises Rooker and says his performance would be underrated except a lot of critics picked up on how good it was. By that, I can only assume he means that Rooker has all the kudos he needs because we noticed his acting here at Digital Retribution. In the interview Gunn also has a dig at indie cinema, a gripe that comes up a few times. There's also a 10 minute featurette on Gunn visiting a German comic book store where he says Watchmen is one of his favourites, and I think its influence shows in Super, and he discusses Henry & Glenn Forever which deserves praise for its cover even though the content is wildly uneven. I'm sure comic nerds will enjoy this featurette, but because I'm not a comic nerd I couldn't even understand what sort of shop he was in. There're a few deleted/extended scenes, including an alternate version of one deleted scene, and these were probably all removed to give the storyline some more subtlety. A featurette on the title animation delves into its making of, and there's also a short featurette on how to fight crime that follows Wilson vigilanting for real, but not as extremely as in the movie. If you wanted to see more about that, there's an even shorter featurette on the making of the how to fight crime featurette. While that stuff's fun, the next large feature is a one hour convention panel from a Seattle comic con. Gunn and Wilson discuss the film and answer questions, though there is some weird editing. Mostly this happens to Gunn, so maybe he was being inflammatory, but sometimes a question will be asked and then the answer is cut. Anyway, some of the questions are dumb, but some are good, and some are irrelevant and about The Office. The highlight is the appearance of real life hero Phoenix Jones. The questions at the comic con were from people who hadn't seen the movie yet, so it's good that the 25 minute interview with Gunn and Wilson at the Southwest premiere is included because that interviewer has seen the film so can ask more detailed questions. There's also some red carpet stuff that includes Page. The Southwest feature is not 16x9 enhanced. The DVD also has the film's trailer, a poster gallery and all the episodes of Gunn's PG Porn series. PG Porn isn't directly related to Super, but it's nice to get these silly little vignettes on DVD.

With this many features information naturally repeats, but I enjoyed all of the extras and they all had unique elements.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I loved this fill when I first saw it, and loved it even more the second time. Knowing what was coming up made the film feel less disjointed, and I was more able to appreciate Super's balancing act. The film has moments of hilarity but also is endearing, and everyone involved should be proud of their achievement. Yes, even Liv Tyler. This German release shits all over the local Blu-ray and has all the extras of the region locked Best Buy exclusive Blu-ray except for a short promo, but it includes PG Porn and the Best Buy release does not. There is also a single disc German Blu that doesn't come with the bonus DVD, but that DVD's cool so only getting the single disc edition would be the work of an imbecile.
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