Super: DVD & Blu-ray review

Sunday, 07 August 2011 10:06

For those of you who have not come across “Super”, some delusioned reviewer tried to suggest it was in the same ball park as “Kick Ass” – a film with so much confidence that its marketing team didn’t see the point of sending this website a review copy (tsk, tsk). Not so with Writer and Director James Gunn’s low budget entry into the superhero realms. We were promptly delivered a copy, and noted the ‘18’ certification before proceeding – Amazon reckons it’s a ‘15’ which shows that this was a bone of contention somewhere in the approval process. More on this later.

The big difference with “Super” is that, with most superhero epics, the lighter moments, fun, and action are to the fore, and lead to an overall ‘feel good’ factor by the conclusion, despite darker moments and beloved character deaths en route. However, “Super” balances this the other way.  Dark humour is in the mix, but overall this is a movie tragedy of darkest Shakespearean proportions. It will leave you wondering about the balance of good and evil in the world, and that dark forces often will prevail.

Super - on DVD and Blu-ray - Squeamish should avoid!So, to the plot.  Frank (Rainn Wilson - Dwight Schrute in the American version of The Office) is an average guy who invents the persona of superhero ‘The Crimson Bolt’ to deal with the rough stuff in his life. His spaced-out wife Sarah (Live Tyler – Betty Ross in the 2008 “The Incredible Hulk”) has her head turned and leaves Frank for smooth-talking drug dealer and all round nasty piece of work, Jacques (Kevin Bacon – Jack Swigert in “Apollo 13”). It’s the last straw for a man sick of being down on his luck, and brings into play the catchphrase “Shut Up, Crime!”

What Frank lacks in superpowers, he makes up for with a trusty monkey wrench in his one-man war on petty criminals. Powers or not, every superhero needs a sidekick. Enter Libby (Ellen Page - Lilith Sandstrom in ReGenesis), a cute outsider working at the local comic book store, where Frank goes for inspiration. When she realises Frank’s secret, she transforms herself into ‘Boltie’, sidekick, who teams up with ‘The Crimson Bolt’ to take Jacques down.

Back to the certification disagreement.  The BBFC website had the following to say in its analysis of “Super”: “The BBFC's Guidelines at ‘15’ state 'Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. When the hero dresses up as a superhero, he initially uses an adjustable wrench as his weapon of choice, although other weapons are also used. In one scene, the hero deliberately smashes a man in the face with the adjustable wrench after the man pushes in front of him in a cinema queue. Bloody injury is shown when the man's face splits open. ... There is a further scene in which the hero fights one of the criminals, sitting astride his chest and repeatedly smashing the man's head back against the ground until his skull splits open. The man then dies and blood flows from the wound. These scenes either dwell on the infliction of pain or injury or feature the strongest gory images and are therefore more appropriately classified at '18'.”

So, one can surmise there was an attempt to get a ‘15’ certificate, as the analysis describes precisely why it won’t. The film was passed with no cuts made, which would have been necessary to get a more teen-friendly certificate.

As a moralising story of how fighting evil can make you more evil than what you have set yourself up to battle (that old moniker “what you fight, you become” flags itself up here), then “Super” has legs.  It is genuinely disturbing, and under no circumstances should be shown to kids.

If you’re wanting to feel spiritually uplifted at the end of a superhero movie, then this film is NOT recommended. If however, you have a penchant for Shakespearean tragedies, then this might light your fire.

The extras, which weren’t available on the preview copy, include a Behind-The-Scenes featurette and the trailer.

One tweak of disappointment to finally add - the end of the film notes the existence of the website - unfortunately, work on it was never completed, and it still suggests the full content is 'Under Construction' - it appears that ship has sailed, guys...

“Super” is out now, with an ‘18’ certificate, a running time of 96 minutes approx, and RRPs of £19.99 (Blu-ray) and £15.99 (DVD), or get either for less at

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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