HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
OnTV Today's Date:


If you walk past the DVD new releases at your local megamart, you'll see the image of a pugnacious Woody Harrelson wearing a black mask and helmet. You might notice the pull quote calling this movie "darkly funny," and in some places, perhaps, it is. If that entices you to pick it up, great, because whether you find it funny or not, you should find Defendor.

Written and directed by Peter Stebbings, Defendor is the movie that Kick-Ass claimed it was going to be. Harrelson stars as Arthur Poppington, an intellectually challenged man with a strong sense of morality shaped by comic books. By night he assumes his alter ego of Defendor, searching for an arch-enemy he calls "Captain Industry."

As a character study, it would have been enough, and in that sense it hearkens back to a 70's movie with a similar set-up called Nunzio. But of course Arthur happens to be right - and yet wrong - about the corruption moving through his city, and keeps coming back to tangle with the same corrupt cop, Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas, playing opposite his role as Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

In some ways, Defendor borrows from Taxi Driver, if Travis Bickle had worn a costume instead of shaved his head. Harrelson has long been an actor notable for being able to careen from childlike innocence to extremely dangerous, and Defendor makes full use of that skill.

However, the hooker Arthur befriends and defends, played by Kat Dennings, doesn't quite have a heart of gold, and Arthur barely comprehends what she actually does for a living. He wants to believe the best of everyone, pulling standards of behavior out of both comic books and at one point, The Rockford Files.

Stebbings gets it right, resisting the urge to give in to feel-good storytelling while still embracing the resemblances of Arthur's backstory to a typical superhero. Actually, young Arthur's (Max Dreesen) attention first gets caught by issues of G.I. Joe, which subtly explains why Defendor himself seems so paramilitary.

Though caught up in a typical police corruption story, the consequences for Arthur seem realistic. The film opens with him undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, after having been arrested for smashing up a store and assaulting someone he considered a villain.

As the story winds backwards, it's clear that he has guardian angels of his own, including Police Captain Fairbanks (the excellent Clark Johnson) who wants to keep Arthur from hurting himself, realizing too late how deep Arthur really keeps getting.

It is funny, particularly in Arthur's desire to sound like a real superhero and in the clever but believable defenses he creates. Stebbings plays with the audience's growing desire to see Arthur really succeed, but like Kick-Ass, keeps reminding us that violence has consequences.

On a small note, Stebbings also creates believable influences - the comics that influence Arthur don't really exist (besides G.I. Joe), but Stebbings seamlessly weaves the character's encyclopedic knowledge of these fake comics into the narrative.

Defendor turned out to be surprisingly effective and moving, playing lightly as satire without ever mis-stepping into parody.

Derek McCaw


Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites