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Blu-ray Reviews: SUPER

Originally published in Sound and Image, 2012
Last updated 30 August 2012

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2010 - Roadshow Entertainment
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon and Gregg Henry

Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:

(The following review was published as part of a combined review with Tucker and Dale vs Evil.)

I love it when a movie does a good job subverting one of the standard tropes, and here are two low budget ones that do a great job.

SUPER is a little like Kick Ass: a standard -- perhaps, sub-standard -- guy take on the mantle of becoming a super hero. He has no powers, but resolves to do good. In SUPER Rain Wilson (Dwight Schrute from 'The Office') loses his wife to a bad guy (Kevin Bacon). By 'loses', I mean that she has left him. With his identity concealed by an ill-fitting red coverall, and armed with a pipe wrench which he never fails to use liberally on the heads and faces of ne'er-do-wells, The Crimson Bolt picks up a side kick (Ellen Page) and resolves to retrieve his wife.

Sounds silly, eh? In fact it at times hilarious, and at other times remarkably moving. And you will never see what's coming. Note: this movie is rated R, and it is not for the sex.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil inverts the standard college students/city folk vs the hillbillies trope, familiar from Deliverance, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Wrong Turn and innumerable others. In this case the college kids mistake harmless Tucker and Dale as inbred woodsmen, and react quite poorly.

If you get a chance to see a trailer, do not watch it. It spoils much of the impact. This movie is rated MA, and it likewise is not for the sex.

Both of these discs are pretty barebones releases, not even using the full capacity of the single layer discs upon which they are encoded. SUPER tosses in an informative 19 minute featurette, while Tucker gets a photo gallery and 12 minutes of interviews. Tucker also opens with four trailers which have to be skipped one by one, which is a bit irritating. One point of storytime irritation: Smith and Wesson revolvers do not have safety catches, nor do they fire 11 or 12 shots without reloading.

The picture quality of Tucker was rather nice. Largely set in the woods, it was full of natural browns and greens, with other colours largely muted. The focus was generally sharp and detailed, and it seems that the camera spent much of its time on a tripod or other mount. With SUPER the picture was variable in focus, and most of the content was shot with steadycam at best. Quite a few scenes had crushing at the white end of the scale. It looked to me more like the cinematography rather than the encoding. Not to say that it was hard on the eye. Just don't expect a state of the art result.

Sound-wise, SUPER was competent, but unexceptional, with surround used mainly for a little ambience. Tucker was more artfully created, as is proper, since much of the soundtrack was designed to evoke the sense that you'd expect in a conventional woods-horror movie. Occasionally there was some specific surround action, such as during the nail gun scene.

Neither breaks any new ground on the tech side, but on a decent sized screen, Blu-ray is clearly going to offer quite a bit more. Fine viewing, both, but not when kids are around. Nor the adult weak of stomach.

Running time: 96 minutes
Picture: 1.85:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 19.99Mbps
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 16/48 3/2.1 @ 1884kbps (core: DTS 16/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); English Audio Descriptive: Dolby Digital 2/0.0 @ 384kbps
Subtitles: English for the Hearing Impaired
Extras: Featurette (1080i60 - 19 mins)
Restrictions: Rated (Australian rating); Locked to Region B

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo 0.5.7:

© 2002-2012, Stephen Dawson