Death of a Superhero

Comic Book Guy – ★★½

A young adult dying from cancer doesn’t seem like a laugh a minute but with Death of a Superhero it’s the humour that makes the piece worthwhile. Donald Clarke (not the Irish Times film critic) is played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster and finds it harder to carry on with the illness feeling devoid of any control in his life. With what looks like attempted suicide, Donald’s parents call in the services of Dr. Adrian King (Gollum, sorry Andy Serkis) in an effort to get Donald to cope with his inevitable end.

One of Donald’s coping mechanisms is drawing his own comic book character; a nameless hooded figure and his nemesis The Glove, a representation of the cancer eating away at Donald. These are interesting segues into the film, making it more palatable to the audience and easily conveying the workings of Donald’s brain. Enter Shelly (Aishling Loftus) as the brilliantly smart and sexy new girl in school and we have the love interest. A concern of Donald’s is his virginity and the fact he still has it. This results in one of the funnier sides to the film when his friends embark on a quest to find a women to satisfy their friend. So when the first female to show an interest in him and not be scared off by his disease agrees to go out with him, things are starting to look up.

The supporting cast are good, we have Sharon Horgan and Michael McElhatton as the lost parents trying to fathom what is going to happen while remaining positive for their son. It’s nice to see Serkis in a recognisable form instead of as a CGI creation and we realise it was his acting ability that brought Gollum to life 11 years ago. Loftus puts in a good performance in spite of it being the most clichéd character in the film. Brodie-Sangster does an amicable job at conveying the frustrations bottled up within all teenagers and certainly earns our sympathy

The main flaw is it disappears into a cloud of cliché and imitations of films seen so many times before. Serkis is a mish-mash of the Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting.

Ian Fitzgibbon has submitted a well put together piece with no real flare and isn’t able to or doesn’t want to get into the meat of the issue which is understandable. However in doing so we lose any real weight and are left with a safe, at times touching but ultimately lost opportunity to look at teenage cancer.

Germany, Ireland  /  Directed By: Ian Fitzgibbon  /  Written By: Anthony McCarten  /  Starring:   Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus  /  97min  /   Drama   /  Release: 30 November 2012 (UK/Ireland)