Tribeca 2012 Review: DEATH OF A SUPERHERO
With DEATH OF A SUPERHERO, all the elements are there for a great movie. In fact, all the elements are there for several great movies and that may be the problem. Donald is an angsty high-schooler with terminal cancer who acts out his frustrations by drawing comic book art. This artwork tells the story of a superhero being tortured by a man with a Freddy Krueger / hypodermic needle type hand. He also sometimes sees his characters in the real world, which is when the audience is treated to brief animated segments. Donald starts seeing a shrink after he gets in trouble with the police for graffiti. Over the course of the film he also falls for the new girl at school, deals with family issues and has friends concerned with the fact that he may die a virgin. If that last one seems a little out of place, itâ€™s because it sort of is. However, that was the most original aspect of the film and also the part I enjoyed the most. In fact, I would have much rather seen an entire film dealing with that plotpoint.
The film comes across as a mashup of 50/50, GOOD WILL HUNTING, and THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTER BOYS. As a result, it doesnâ€™t feel cohesive. Certain story elements & relationships feel forced / rushed, problems seem to get solved too easily and characters disappear for too long. I am only guessing but since Anthony McCarten adapted the screenplay from his own novel, it could be the film does not offer enough time to flesh everything out but he didnâ€™t want to cut any important elements from the story. Again, that is only speculation since I have not read the book but that is one of the more common problems with book adaptations.
Visually the film is pretty interesting, especially when it jumps into the comic book style animation format. The acting is also quite impressive, including Andy Serkis who is not painted over with any CGI although he is buried under an oversized sweater most of the time. Thomas Brodie-Sangster does a good job as a confused teen handling each of the characters ups and downs, no matter how stereotypical they might be. Aisling Loftus also does well in a role that could have benefited from more screen time. Sadly, there just is not much originality in the film and the few moments there are feel out of place.