Special (2006)

2012 #40
Hal Haberman & Jeremy Passmore | 78 mins | DVD | 1.85:1 | USA / English | 15 / R

SpecialA lot of praise was slung Kick-Ass’ way for being the first superhero movie genuinely set in the real world, showing the actual problems someone might face if they tried to fight crime behind a mask and a cape. But it wasn’t the first film to hit such a vein, just the most high profile.

One of the forerunners was this, in which a bored man signs on to a drug trial that, it turns out, gives him special powers — levitation, running through walls, etc. Or does it?

If you’re looking for comparisons, Special is more in line with Super than Kick-Ass. It doesn’t quite have James Gunn’s crazy surreal touch, but it shares the low-budget realist aesthetic and a surprisingly recognisable cast (albeit with smaller, TV-er faces here).

One might also argue it’s not strictly a superhero movie per se, more a comedy-drama about a man with mental health problems… though it’s less bleak or inappropriate than that might sound. That doesn’t mean it’s devoid of action or special effects, but they emerge largely in the third act and mostly serve a different purpose to the norm. Or, to put it another way, this isn’t as much of a sci-fi/fantasy film as you might expect.

That IS specialThose after a more genre-aware “real world superhero” movie would do better to stick with Kick-Ass or Super, but those who might embrace something a little different — especially something with an indie sensibility — would do well to take a look. Indeed, being a comic fan is certainly not a prerequisite for enjoyment here.

4 out of 5

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