Arthur Makes a Difference
It would be fair to say that Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) is not the brightest spark in the room and in fact you might say he was socially immature. But at night Arthur puts on a disguise and becomes Defendor, a vigilante super-hero who is seeking to bring down Captain Industry with just the use of his guile, marbles and some trapped wasps. But in doing so he not only becomes involved with Kat Debrofkowitz (Kat Dennings), who takes drugs and turns tricks, but he also finds himself coming up against crooked cop Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas).
"Defendor" seems so amusing to start with as we meet Arthur dressed as Defendor with a black helmet, torches strapped to each side and a gaffa tape letter "D" on his chest. And the way he goes about tackling crime is just as makeshift with a handful of marbles, a jar of wasps and a wooden truncheon. Basically "Defendor" starts like one of those super hero comedies where a routine guy puts on tights and a cape to fight crime in an accident prone sort of way. You could even say that Arthur's slightly slow nature adds to that humour as being socially immature and almost unaware makes it amusing but not in a poking fun at him sort of way.
But the thing is that "Defendor" is not a comedy and this is a movie that the longer it goes on the more the tone changes to the point that it ends with some thing I didn't see coming. It isn't that this movie turns very dark and graphic but it becomes a little deep and finishes by trying to be profound. And it kind of works because I am not sure whether it was writer and director Peter Stebbings' intention but as you think about the final scenes you get the sense that he wants us to think that no matter who you are you can make a difference be it helping people in need or maybe in tackling crime.
The trouble is that because "Defendor" starts almost being a comedy before evolving in to something deeper and a little darker it kind of loses you in the middle with those transition scenes not being that interesting or entertaining. Even the combination of Woody Harrelson and Kat Dennings can't deliver enough character in those middle scenes to make the movie work but do well at either end of the movie delivering the humour of the opening scenes and emotion of the ending.
What this all boils down to is that "Defendor" is in truth a little curious because of it starting off in an almost humorous manner but then evolving to be kind of deep. But sadly that switching of emphasis ends up its undoing as the transition doesn't work with a middle section which ends up losing your interest.