Despite familiar plotting, Death Of A Superhero has a winning charm and a love story that will warm the cockles. It goes to show it ain't what you do, it's how you do it.
Fifteen-year-old artist Donald (Brodie-Sangster) is dying of cancer and no one knows exactly how long he's got to live. Obsessed with thoughts of suicide - he, not the disease, is going to decide the time he goes - Donald retreats into a fantasy world where he's a superhero battling the evil Glove and his army of scantily clad women. As he succumbs to depression, help arrives in the shape of his 'death specialist' psychiatrist Dr. King (Serkis) and Shelly (Loftus), the saucy new girl at school who surprisingly gives him the glad eye…
Death Of A Superhero marries the teenage coming of age story with a 'sick kid' drama (lobbing some Good Will Hunting into the mix) and joins the dots slickly. Brodie-Sangster (the kid from the creepy vignette in Love Actually) turns up with a spot-on Irish accent and a performance of some weight; bald and thin from the chemo, his outbursts carry more than your usual teen 'ah, yiz haven't a clue' angst. He has the delightful Aisling Loftus - another young Brit also delivering a perfect Dublin brogue - to bounce off. The two young leads often outshine their more heavyweight co-stars of Serkis, Horgan and Michael McElhatton as Donald's dad; the latter is responsible for the film's most touching (and funny) moment when a stoned confession unleashes a wave of pent up emotion.
Director Fitzgibbon (Perrier's Bounty, A Film With Me In It) can be guilty of relying on 'gentle guitar plucking' during the film's more heartfelt moments but he comes up trumps in the animated sequences.
Death Of A Superhero is a touching love story.