Mini Reviews: Super and The Rite

Super

4/5
Writer/Director James Gunn who made his mark with a little film called Slither, returns with a different kind of superhero film. This is not something based upon a comic, so how does it fare with so many other superhero type films out there? Quite well as it turns out, Super is a unique entry, one that is very dark in every which way. It tells the story of Frank (Rainn Wilson), an unhappy man who only has two good memories from his life (directing a cop to where a criminal went and marrying his wife, played by Liv Tyler), and he keeps those memories in view as crayon drawings. When his wife suddenly leaves, Frank is distraught and finds out she is under the influence of club owner Jacques (scene stealing Kevin Bacon). He then has a vision from God and he goes out on a quest of self discovery by becoming a superhero called Crimson Bolt. This then leads him to be-friend Libby (Ellen Page) who becomes his sidekick. Is Frank able to rescue his wife and truly discover who he is? You’ll need to watch to find out.
There is a lot more going on with Super, it has themes of religion, self discovery and violence. Each has their own place within the film, and going through the layers there are a lot of different questions to ponder. Such as when is violence justified? is Frank right in his actions? how far is too far? and so forth. James Gunn does not answer these questions, but instead leaves the audience to decide these things for themselves. It is a cleverly written and directed film, Gunn is quite talented and I definitely hope to see more from him. Rainn Wilson delivers one of the best performances I have seen from him, he reaches all sorts of heights as Frank. He isn’t meant to be likable or unlikable, he is a normal person and someone that deep down we can all kind of relate to. Ellen Page plays it crazy, but again it is a believable crazy and I think we can all think of a person like her that we’ve crossed paths with. Kevin Bacon as I mentioned earlier steals every scene he is in, the man is so talented that roles like this he can do in his sleep. Great smaller roles from Liv Tyler, Michael Rooker and Nathan Fillion round this one out. It isn’t a perfect film by any means, and it certainly ventured into some very disturbing and dark places that took me out of it. But it is a brave film, with balls of steal and it is almost refreshing to see something so different (even if it is disturbing). I definitely recommend checking this out, it is quite the ride.
| Purchase on DVD | Purchase on Bluray |

The Rite

3.5/5
The Rite is an interesting entry into the sub-genre of exorcism films, it shares the same kind of themes as its predecessors but it feels much different in tone and execution. The film focuses on Michael (Colin O’Donoghue), who is the son of a funeral director (Rutger Hauer). He decides to join the seminary and become a priest as a way out of the life he no longer wants. He finds himself doubting his faith, however he accepts to go to the Vatican and enter into the exorcism program. Able to see his lack of faith and skepticism he is put under the guidance of a Jesuit exorcism priest Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins). It is there that he learns about the ritual and everything he has ever known is rocked in the face of what he experiences.
While the film does have some supernatural and genuinely creepy scenes, I do not consider it a horror film. There is a lot more going on, and the central conflict is the basis for the events that we see. While it is a scary thought to have your body possessed, I generally do not consider exorcism films to be scary. There is always far more going on, and it leaves me to think and wonder about the those things I cannot see. I was raised Roman Catholic, however at the age of 13 I basically abandoned formal religion and formed my own beliefs. I do find religion as a whole fascinating as well as what other people believe and experience. It is why I do enjoy these films, and the conflict within the main character is generally an interesting study. In the case of Michael, he has lost his faith and this is tested within the film. I found him to be an interesting and likable character one that I could get behind. Father Lucas was also just as interesting, and the two played off each other quite well. Both very solid performances from both actors, and for the most part Hopkins under plays it and it really worked well. It was strange to see the portrayal of the inner workings of the Vatican, oh to be a fly on that wall. This was loosely based upon a Priests experience with the exorcism course, written by the journalist he had contact with. It has certainly gotten me interesting in reading about the real experience. However that aspect of this film was the weakest, it was a far better story to see how Michael dealt with his faith and the events he suddenly found himself in, rather than what he did with Angeline the journalist (played by Alice Braga). Mikael Håfström did a solid job directing the film, I rather enjoyed this for the most part. It really would have had a far better impact if those so called horror elements were played down. It made for an interesting drama/thriller set within this secretive and disturbing world.
| Purchase on DVD | Purchase on Bluray |

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