• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Defendor

TITLE: Defendor

YEAR: 2009

GENRE: Superhero/Comics

With all the millions of dollars currently being gobbled up by the Hollywood machine on the creation of superhero flicks and other films based on comic books or graphic novels it was just a matter of time before the independent film world added its own spin on the cape and cowl genre. Since so many fresh ideas come out of the independent film world this is truly exciting to this reviewer: yes, the inde film world does not have the insane amounts of money that Hollywood spends on special effects and other visual wonders, but a quality storyline can compensate for the lack of technical wizardry. Defendor is a great film that uses the superhero genre to capitalize on the tragedy end of the comic book world to a rousing success.

Arthur Poppington (played by Woody Harrelson) is a not-so-bright and delusional man who has a history of drowning himself in the world of comic books to take his mind off of his boring job in construction and adolescence without proper parenting. In order to fill the void in his life Arthur goes out at night as The Defendor (with an “o” because Arthur does not know how to spell it correctly), a vigilante who fights crime with a crude baseball bat, marbles, bees, and limited mental skills as his weapons of combat and a black outfit complete with a “D’ that Arthur faithfully duct tapes on his chest nightly. While out defending the good citizens on the street he runs into Angel (Kat Demmings), a drug-addicted prostitute who takes advantage of the feeble minded hero. When Arthur runs across corrupt cop Sgt. Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas) and a Russian mob boss (Alan C. Peterson) he knows what he must do: become his alter ego and fight back against the darkness of crime.

This film was marketed as a comedy and at times has a funny moment or two, but Defendor is more of a dark study on the mentality of delusional people. Harrelson does a wonderful job playing the dim witted yet sincere and noble Arthur who firmly believes in his fight against evil although he really does not understand the politics of drugs and organized crime. Arthur sees the world in very black and white tones, and Harrelson plays these romantic absolutes in a credible and sincere light. Demmings is acceptable as the prostitute and Koteas plays a great corrupt cop who gets his comeuppance in the end. Sandra Oh also makes a convincing appearance as Dr. Ellen Park, a court appointed psychiatrist who spends a great deal of time psycho analyzing Arthur to figure out what makes him tick. Most of the crime scenes are filmed in a legitimately grimy cesspool of a set that gives Defendor a legitimately dirty feel and a gritty realism. I also enjoyed the end which was complex: somber in one way but gratifying in another, and in real life that is the way the world usually turns.

Defendor may be low tech compared to other comic book extravaganzas, but is a pleasant surprise in a lot of ways. The marketing of this film as a pure comedy does not do the film justice and Defendor is more than just another laugh fest: it is a study of sorts of the dark side of humanity seen through the eyes of a simpleton who does not understand the complexities of life and the criminal mind. I enjoyed Defendor much more than many superhero films that I have seen in the past and it is a real portrayal of what might happen if a man with an IQ of 90 donned tights and a cape. Defendor is not the same as The Punisher (2004) or The Dark Knight, but fans of both films may find something to like in the mind of Arthur Poppington.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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