Super: Batman ain’t got nothin’ on the Crimson Bolt


Super wasn’t as good of a film that I thought it would be. I was expecting an indie-trip into the soul of superhero-dom and a quirky, middle-aged span on the Kick Ass formula. What I got instead was a story about a failing bloke, Kevin Bacon and his drug company, very spotty special effects an Ellen Page in a sex scene. Yeah. I was expecting it to be good in a different way but, regardless, Super delivered but I can understand where critics are coming from. I can see where the characterization fails, where Kevin Bacon’s character appears quite one-dimensional but I forgive Super.

The Dark Knight, to me at least, is the greatest superhero movie ever made yet Batman ain’t got nothin’ on the Crimson Bolt. This is a film exclusively about humanity whereas The Dark Knight is a battle involving inhumanity, they sound similar I know, but think of it in this way: Batman is a billionaire who doesn’t know where he starts and begins, the Crimson Bolt has a monkey wrench. Life is about these struggles, these conflicts and Super is a film that explores humanity in quite a very abstract way. There’s a certain argument to be had with the film’s dealings with spirituality and also some of its ideas on violence.

Super isn’t a perfect film and it’s not that spotty effects nor is it any note of cinematography that brings it down. It feels, however, a little too weird. The screenplay definitely feels first-draft and while all the performances are endearing, I can’t help but feel a slight feel of disappointment in Ellen Page. Kevin Bacon gets a Free Get-out-of Jail card given his monumental performance as motherfucking Sebastian Shaw up in that X-Men: First Class bitch. Proper up to his knees in glorious villainous attitude. There are little niggles of the script that just break my enjoyment in half.

Ellen Page’s character, a comic book shop girl, seems way too eccentric and yet quite… weirdly shallow in her tastes. When Rainn Wilson’s character comes in to buy comics based around superheroes without powers then she points at Batman and Iron Man among others. I hate to adjust my hipster glasses but I was expecting something alternative. Her character seems to live off of the alternative and I wouldn’t expect a psychogal like her to simply leave herself to the likes of Batman. Not that those characters are shallow but they barely cover the broad range of characters that have no powers in comic books. Interesting to think that this is way the gaming industry is going: an industry centred completely around one sole idea.

I’ll leave the gaming argument stuff to Game Critique Corner and generally all of my gaming writing stuff, back to Super. The soundtrack doesn’t take a shine, that’s something to whine about, but the whole ‘spotty special effects’ thing needs another look. The scenes involving the ‘finger of God’ are pretty good, but Frank’s projections on to reality aren’t so pretty. They all look like cheap photoshop jobs and, this being an indie movie, what else do I expect? Though it’s weird to see such images shift over Kevin Bacon’s face, a man who played a guy who cost a film production team several tens of millions of dollars.

Coming back to that point about the ending: quite an ending. It ties perfectly in with the beginning of the film and shifts away from the typical ‘get the girl’ approach, perhaps opting out for a more realistic approach. I do love the direction this movie takes but screenplay jitters, over-eccentric acting, spotty special effects along with the weird characterisation of certain people (Frank’s wifey for example) just don’t make sense. I like the film, hell I love it at times, but Batman still ain’t got nothin’ on the Crimson Bolt. This is a film about humility and self-destruction, not about sacrifice and tumbling chaos.

I should probably just write a goddamn essay on The Dark Knight or something given how many times I mention it every week here in Film Critique Corner. I don’t mean to be I end up cross-referencing, especially when it’s a film like Super. There are certainly ties to Batman actually: the brutality, the inhumanity of the acts and some of the violent tones stack up. It’d be interesting to see a comparison of the approach that each film takes to spiritualism. The Dark Knight is littered with hints and clues about the mind of Nolan beyond the post-9/11 commentary. Maybe that’s something you could write about? You. Right. There!


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