Defendor Peter Stebbings

Defendor Peter Stebbings
What would happen if an ordinary person created the persona of, and lived like, a superhero? Not a charming millionaire with access to science fiction technology, but an actual citizen of this world? Unlike the forthcoming, hyper-stylized Kick-Ass, Defendor legitimately tackles the question in a realistic sense. Woody Harrelson is remarkable as Arthur Poppington, an intellectually challenged man with an inflexible moral code and the kind of selfless bravery legends are born of. He works construction for his friend Paul (a terrifically compassionate Michael Kelly) by day, by night Arthur is Defendor, wasp-jar-wielding, marble-flinging champion of the innocent. One of those innocents happens to be Kat Debrofkowtiz (Kat Dennings, laying on the charm in her meatiest role to date), a crack-smoking hooker being forced into favours by scummy cop Chuck Dooney (one of the kings of creepy, Elias Koteas). Defendor and his trusty trench club make temporarily short work of Dooney, paving the way for the film's emotional core to form around Arthur and Kat's fledgling friendship. Kat is the viewer's most direct link to Arthur's world, being admitted entrance to his secret warehouse base, and taken into the fold on his quest to find "Captain Industry." The film is also cut throughout with a psychological evaluation being administered on Arthur by Sandra Oh's Dr. Ellen Park. It's here that we learn most about Arthur's specific moral motives and through their discourse, writer/director Peter Stebbings explores the hazy ground between what's socially appropriate and what is right. Stebbings hits all the right notes in his directorial debut, carefully balancing drama, comedy and action with tasteful splashes of whimsy (love that score!), grit, class and style. The deleted scenes restore a minor subplot with a reporter, but the real goodies come with the rest of the features. "Outtakes" show a lot of goofing with Woody and five behind-the-scenes featurettes cover a lot of ground, especially in Hamilton, ON, where Defendor is set and shot, including a revealing interview beside the greatly missed music venue The Pepper Jack Café. Leave it to Hamiltonians to educate American actors on crack smoking and public knife fights. For the feature commentary, the chemistry between Stebbings, Dennings, Harrelson and the producer yields a plethora of amusing yarns and running jokes, with Dennings and Harrelson jabbing each other for not being "method" with crack or bacon. Defendor manages to be timely and timeless filmmaking of a quality beyond the boundaries of genre. (Alliance)