I rarely fly Air Canada. Not necessarily because its more expensive than other airlines, but because I dislike their seats. They’re hard on my back. The one thing they do have going for them is the best free in-flight entertainment system of any domestic airline. Each seat-back has a screen full of current TV shows and movies, and a random selection of classic movies.
This week, on the flights to and from San Francisco, there unfortunately wasn’t much worth watching. Having just read The Lovely Bones, I couldn’t make it through the movie of the same title because it didn’t do justice to the story. I thought about watching Invictus, but decided to save it for a better screen. So I decided to peruse the “Canadian” content section.
Most of it was about what you’d expect from Canadian cinema: a collection of artsy shorts that no one but film students would really want to watch. But the poster frame from one movie caught my eye, and since I had 4 hours to kill, I thought I’d give it a try.
The movie was called Defendor, misspelling intentional, and it was a full-length, Hollywood-quality production, made with a paltry $4 million, starring Woody Harrelson. It was also the best movie I’ve seen all year.
Defendor is the alter-ego of Arthur Poppington, an adult construction worker with a learning disability. At night he dresses up in a comical superhero costume, with a giant duct tape “D” stuck to his black shirt, accessorized with his grandfather’s World War 2 equipment. His helmet features two flashlights taped together, and a camera attached to a VCR strapped to his back which he uses to record criminals in action. His super-powers include lemon juice, marbles, and bottled bees.
With these dubious tools, Defendor goes about the city looking to protect the helpless and stop “Captain Industry” — the name and identity that he assigned to organized crime.
Its cute, and at times funny, except that, in typical Canadian style, there’s nothing glossy or superficial about the world that the tragic hero lives in. Defendor is just a mentally handicapped man in a costume, and the bad guys he’s after are real bad guys, who beat the snot out of him as his alter-ego, and terrorize him as a challenged individual. Arthur’s alternate reality doesn’t appear so comical when constrasted against real life drug trade, sex slavery and domestic abuse.
Much better than any comic book movie put out by Hollywood, this is an inspiring and touching story about good vs. evil. It would be in the vein of Spiderman, or the more gritty Batman movies, but because it was made here in Canada, the good guy isn’t extra strong, or extra intelligent, or armed to the teeth, or surrounded by voluptous women. Actually, he’s a less-than-average guy, who genuinely cares about other people, and in his simple mind, seeks to help them.
If you watched Dark Knight, and enjoyed the Hollywood’s latest rebootof the age old superhero story, why not give the Canadian take on it a try. The movie has a fair bit of swearing and shows some drug use and implied sexuality, but by today’s standards, totally watchable for a grown-up. It was filmed near where we live, and funded in major part by Telefilm Canada.
Check out the trailer here, or search for it online — its created a bit of an indie scene buzz.

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