Sunday, April 18, 2010

Defendor (2009)


Well meaning, but delusional, Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) dresses up at night as the superhero Defendor, hunting down Captain Industry. After getting beaten up by some local thugs, he teams up with a young hooker, Kat (Kat Dennings), to take down a city crime lord.

Defendor is the kind of film that without blogging I would never get a chance to see. This small budget Canadian film would likely have not even gazed near my radar, and what a shame that would have been. A dramady centered around a couple of personally flawed individuals trying to find their place in the world, is a captivating, and emotionally griping tale.

A parody the loves the genre cheesiness, but at the same time truly cares about its characters. Much of the film really takes the time to develop Arthur. We get to see his past, what made him the way he is, and what he aspires to be. His tale is heartbreaking, and Harrelson handles it with a dimwitted charm that makes him beyond lovable. While Kat Dennings doesn't offer much, she provides a suitable counter balance to Arthur, with a well developed backstory herself.

It's the attention to its characters that really struck me about the film. The two main leads are the only developed ones, but they are well developed. And, at the same time, they provide a good amount of comedy to keep the film refreshing. The movie knows when it's funny, but it doesn't try to force it. Never halting the progress of the story to try and make it funnier. The characters natural actions take care of that.

The real downsides for the film lie in some mishandling. Above the main four actors the second tier performances are skiddish at best. And while Stebbings does a commendable job, during many of the key dramatic moments I felt he came up a bit short in writing and direction. Not really grasping the levity of the moment, and settling for an extra bit of cheese, when not necessary.

Regardless, Defendor is a perfectly entertaining affair. Grounded by solid action, absorbed in superhero mythos, and completely full of heart.

While far from perfect Defendor is the rare kind of parody that manages to be both amusing and heartfelt. A little gem of a movie, that definitely gets my recommendation.

6 better thoughts:

Simon said...

I've wanted to see this for a bit, actually. Glad to know it doesn't suck.

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

I actually rented this (haven't watched it yet though), funny to see you review it, because I had never even heard of it until I was browsing new releases. It look halfway entertaining.

Alex said...

Wow this sounds great! As a huge fan of Kat Dennings, Woody Harrelson, and superheroes, I am adding this to the top of my netflix queue.

Univarn said...

@Simon Definitely doesn't suck.

@MVP & Alex: Can't wait to see your take on it.

The Film Connoisseur said...

This movie came out of nowhere, I didnt know what to expect because normally when a movie goes that fast to dvd (was it straight to?) well, it means it probably wasnt that good. Or maybe it was too weird for mainstream audiences. Its probably why I havent rented it, the previews seem very uneventful as well.

But I guess as you said on your review its more of a drama film? The preview reminded me a bit of the vibe for Mystery Men.

Univarn said...

@Connoisseur it's a good blend of drama and comedy, but I think the drama stands out more (and better).

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