Dances With Films Review: Superior


Edd Benda’s directorial debut “Superior” follows Derek and Charlie, two best friends and cousins set on taking one last adventure before their lives begin in the summer of 1969.

The opening scene quickly establishes the dynamic between the two friends; Derek, played by Paul Stanko, is riding in a hang glider attached to Charlie’s truck. Charlie, played by Thatcher Robinson, is driving. Their personalities are further reflected in the paths set before them. Both just graduated high school, but while Charlie is slated to register at Michigan Tech at the end of the summer, Derek’s path leads to the Army recruitment office to await the draft. While they both share an obvious bond and sense of adventure, Derek is the risk-taker—the embodiment of the invincible teenager who fears nothing. Charlie is more pragmatic and realistic, as he says later in the film “There’s a reason why you’re the one in the hang glider.” The difference in mindset doesn’t interfere with their bond, however. From the film’s opening moments the friendship is clear despite their obvious differences.

With the crossroads looming before them, Derek and Charlie embark on a trip around the perimeter of Lake Superior on bike after the hang gliding fiasco removes Charlie’s truck from the equation. As the trip takes the two to new places and introduces them to new people, it becomes clear that Derek’s path will diverge even further from Charlie’s than expected. Cinematographer Alex Bell captures the Michigan landscape beautifully, with repeated shots of diverging roads that emphasize the constant opportunity to take the road less traveled.

Death is omnipresent in the film, in the reclusive man Derek and Charlie meet in the woods who drops dead in front of them, in the mortician they meet who takes them in for the night (a night the pair spend sleeping in coffins), and in the shadow of the Vietnam War that hangs over the country. The inescapable air of death surrounding the characters serves as a reminder of the fate that awaits us all, but more importantly, that adventure must be seized in the present.

“Superior” debuted at Dances with Films Festival on June 5, 2015.

Written & Directed by Edd Benda

Starring: Paul Stanko & Thatcher Robinson

Grade: B


  1. badger

    June 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    … character “Derek” should have refused to lie down and sleep in that casket! (further portraying his determination not to conform to societal death). Nice review of a fun movie!

  2. Pingback: Dances With Films: Interview With The Cast And Crew Of ‘Superior’ - Hollywood Times Square

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