Defendor (2009)

Peter Stebbings’ “Defendor” is a movie most people do not know of. It’s one of those films in the year that you never knew existed, and only some people have heard of, but all too often, those movies are some of the best of the year’s crop. “Defendor” is by far, not one of the best films of the year, there were some pretty good ones last year, and nor did it deserve a mention in the nominations for Oscar consideration, but it is in my top-ten for films that you should see that you’ve never heard of last year.

It stars Woody Harrelson, who is experiencing a boom in his career fresh off of Zombieland, and The Messenger, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It also stars Kat Dennings in a supporting role, who some of you who like movies that I like might remember from “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist”.

The plot is based on a character named “Defendor”. It’s a superhero movie easy on the super, but strong in the hero. Woody Harrelson’s character, Arthur Poppington, is a developmentally handicapped person who thinks he is a crime fighting vigilante superhero of the likes of GI Joe and Batman. His actions create a false persona for himself, and his interactions with the ones he loves and the ones who love him are blurred by his alter-ego’s personality. It’s really captivating when you watch him do the things he does because Defendor places himself in his own comic book so to speak, and goes on to play out common superhero arches present in vintage childhood stories of action and mystery.

Woody Harrelson’s acting is impeccable. Over the course of decades he’s been in the business, I think he’s honed his skill to the brink of sublime perfection. It truly seems as if he is the character who thinks he is the other. Kat Dennings provides a, I don’t know what else to call it but, love interest of all things for Defendor; his very own Lois Lane. It’s a joy watching Defendor on screen because Woody commits to all his scenes with so much faith.

There are scenes in the movie when I don’t know whether to laugh or whether it was a serious moment, and that is because of Defendor has qualities of both of naïveté and bravado.

If you want to watch a movie with some great acting, watch this one. I haven’t seen The Messenger, but after watching this one, I really want to see the film that gave Woody his Oscar nomination. That must have been good because he is a gem right now. Can’t wait to see what he’s in next. Hopefully, he doesn’t pull a De Niro and star in a “Meet The Parents” complete-waste-of-natural-talent movie in the prime of his career. We shall see, but in the meantime, see this.


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