Thursday, September 21, 2006

Comic Book Movies

My favorite sci-fi/fantasy movies by far are comic book movies. I drag my husband and anyone else I can get a hold of and see most of them right when they come out. Some are better than others, as I am sure most fans would agree. So I thought I'd mention some of my favorites and see if anyone else wanted to share theirs... Batman Begins is the best to come along in a long time in my opinion. The earlier Batman movies were a bit campy. Obviously not as over-the-top at the TV Series, but Jack Nicholson can overact with the best of them. Michael Keaton wasn't terrible, but he never fit the part the way Christian Bale does. Again, only my opinion. I'm also pleased to see that Christian Bale will be coming back in Batman 6: The Dark Knight, which also stars Heath Ledger as the Joker, due for release in 2008. The best thing overall about the movie is the way they develop the character. We really see for the first time (at least in a major motion picture) how the Batcave came to be, how the Batmobile was developed and most importantly, how Bruce Wayne came to be Batman. I loved how they delved into Bruce's character, showing us his anger and his focus; not to mention where he got his fighting skills. Spider-Man is another comic book franchise that has done very well in recent years, and with good reason. I appreciated the fact that Tobey McGuire was cast as Spider Man instead of someone who might look more musclebound, but not really fit the part of Peter Parker. McGuire is believable in the role of the shy Parker which makes the movie more true to the comic book. I know there have been complaints about some of the tweaking the movie did with the Spider-Man story, such as Peter now having the innate ability to create the webs instead of having created a mechanical web-shooting device. I admit, I am not a complete purist, so this didn't bother me. But I don't read comic books as much as fantasy novels, so I don't have any particular expectations when I go to see a movie like Spider-Man. I don't know if that makes me less of a fan, but comic book movies still rank at the top of my movie lists. What I personally liked best about both the movies that have been released so far is that they show Peter's personal conflicts. His guilt over his uncle's death, and the difficulties in trying to maintain a normal life while trying to be Spider-Man. I did read the comic strip a bit when I was a kid, so I know that comes from the Spider-Man story, and I'm glad they included it. It adds a lot of realism to the story and gives us the illusion that this could, maybe, really happen. Of course, you can't talk about comic book movies without mentioning Superman. I grew up on the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and the TV show with George Reeves. Superman is probably the ultimate comic book hero with more lives on TV and movies than any other comic book hero. Smallville is also very good, though at this point I am going to just mention the movies. I loved the original movies, at least the first two. I don't remember the third being that good and I don't believe I ever saw the fourth. I'm a fan, but I do have my limits. I was a little disappointed the newest movie, Superman Returns didn't seem to make the impression I had hoped it would. I thought it was great, and Brandon Routh was an excellent choice as a new Superman. He often reminded me of Christopher Reeve in his Clark Kent moments, but maybe you have to be a little older like me to appreciate how charming that can be. I've heard from younger viewers that they didn't really like it as much as those of us who really remember the original. Fortunately, there has been enough interest to generate enough profit to ensure a sequel, which is due in 2009. I also enjoyed Kevin Spacy, Kate Bosworth and Parker Posey in their respective roles. Lois, as played by Bosworth, is harder edged and angry compared to Margot Kidder. But there is a lot more to the Superman/Lois history in this movie, which does change the relationship between the two characters. I look forward to seeing how the story is further developed. I wasn't familiar with the X-Men story until it came to the big screen. Of course I went right out to see it, it's my kind of movie after all. And I wasn't disappointed at all. I think the story line is one of the best that I am aware of in the comic book arena. Starting the original movie with scenes from the Holocaust really brings the new holocaust being shown in the movie to sharp focus. To me, the storyline is pretty sophisticated in that it not only gives us spectacular special effects and a multitude of amazing characters, but it deals with bigotry and fear in a way that makes the movies stand out. I found myself thinking about the movie beyond the theatre and not a little tempted to go pick up some of the comic books as well. I haven't been able to see the third one yet, but it's coming out on video in October and I look forward to it. Though I understand I should keep my expectations low due to the change in directors. I think I am especially looking forward to the new Wolverine movie. I am a little smitten by Hugh Jackman and won't mind seeing more of him in the role. It would be so easy to go on and on and... you get the picture. There are so many good comic book characters, though the quality of the movies vary. Daredevil had its moments, though Jennifer Garner was super annoying as Electra and Ben Affleck as a super hero? Well, I'll leave you to make that call for yourself. I thought Catwoman with Halle Berry was fairly awful. I love the idea and the character, but I haven't enjoyed a Catwoman since Michelle Pfeiffer took on the character in Batman Returns. Other's that I thought had potential were The Punisher and Hellboy. I know a Hellboy sequel is scheduled for 2008, and I hope it a bit better than the original. I can't put my finger on why the original didn't work for me as well at some other comic book movies, but I'd be willing to give a sequel a chance. I haven't heard of any other Punisher movies coming out, but I hope they do one, it's a story that can be continued well.Obviously, I've only given very brief thumbnails of only a few comic book movies, if I did anymore this post would go on forever. No doubt I've left out some very significant movies, so if there's anything that needs mentioning, by all means, mention away.


Clay Bethelbridge said...

That was such a coool post. I two love comic book character movies!!!!

SQT said...

Yaaaaa! Someone read my post and liked it. That makes me happy.

Comic book movies are the best. After I wrote the post I kept thinking of other ones, like Blade, The Crow, The Incredible Hulk and Sin City. But I think I did mention the one's I like the most, and I didn't want the post to go on forever.

astrid said...

I loved Batman Begins and X2 and Superman Returns. I think Batman Begins is a cooler and better scripted movie but I really have a soft spot for Bryan Singer movies. They really emotionally resonate with me (maybe because I also grew up as an alienated only child).

I know a lot of people felt SR was too slow and not enough action, but I loved how the movie touched on the first two movies. I think the next movie in the Superman and the Batman series will be fantastic.

I know I'm in the minority, but I actually like Bosworth's Lois a lot more than I liked Margot Kidder's Lois Lane. I do think she's a little young and she doesn't quite comfortable for the role, but hopefully she or another actress will mature into the role (and better Bosworth than Dunst's blah Mary Jane).

I won't spoil you on X-Men 3. Keeping your expectation low and enjoy the action. It wasn't bad or unbearable, but I did feel the story was rushed and didn't make much sense or have any emotional resonance. Definitely a rental or TV movie choice.

SQT said...

I just watched X3 a couple of days ago and was pleasantly surprised. I guess I kept my expectations low, so it was better than I expected. I am looking forward to Wolverine though. The more Hugh Jackman the better.

I liked Kate Bosworth too. I though Margot Kidder wasn't bad, but it was hard to see why Superman would be so interested. I think Bosworth will grow into the role. Hopefully they'll allow Lois to be less angry in the next one.

astrid said...

Yeah...but on the other hand, if I was Lois I'd be pissed too. If Superman was going to leave, couldn't he at least send a telegram? And did he expect her to wait for him for five years, without anything to sustain a hope of his return.

I don't think Lois will be as angry or as central to the next movie. I hope to see some good fighting and maybe Supergirl in the next movie. I really liked the SuperRugrat and would like to see where Singer takes this strand, even if the kid is rather improbable and hard to explain away.

SQT said...

I really liked the SuperRugrat and would like to see where Singer takes this strand, even if the kid is rather improbable and hard to explain away.

I hope they don't do anything to predictable. It seems like the kids are always threatened to use them agianst the parent. Hopefully Singer (or whoever writes the script) will be more original. I like Singer too, so I am hopeful the series will be pretty good.

Though the Batman Begins series is still the best IMO. I can't wait for that sequel.

astrid said...

Yeah, I definitely don't want the kid to take over any of the movies, but the kid was really cute in this movie and didn't piss me off at all. I really liked how he was more observant than the adults around him.

SQT said...

That's true. They did do the kid angle well. I must admit, I was suprised when the piano went flying across the room. I didn't expect that.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Batman Begins was amazing..LOVED it.
The X movies have not been that great...but also spoiled for me because I knew the behind the scenes stuff and the politics and bull ruined it.
I also met some of the cast at a party thrown by Ian McKellan who is TOTALLY cool. OH and they filmed the last one down the hill from my house and the noise kept waking us all up at night and I got on the local news about it! Hee.

Superman Returns....well. well.
Again, (met the writers)...what happens when the entire crew making a movie are gay. (same as X-men)..and I am NOT a homophobe and know many gay guys in the industry and this is THEM talking too.

Once...this was not a movie..this was a re write of the first two Chris Reeves movies. So it was more of a hommage. I think they totally blew by introducing a child..the comics haven't even touched that for gods sake.

If you figure out the timeline too Lois Lane is a slut who lied to her beau (weirdly Cyclops!) about the boy and Superman likes to spy on people.

But I like the atmosphere of the movie and the memories it brought back of when I first saw Reeve on the big screen.

The next Spiderman looks good too.

I can't talk about the others...movies like Daredevil make me itch.

Hellboy was fun.
They ruined League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta was good.

SQT said...

I am so jealous you got to meet Ian McKellan. I actually worked in Hollyweird for a bit and met a few minor celebrities, but no one I would say I idolized. I would have loved to meet anyone from those movies, but mostly Hugh Jackman. :D

I couldn't even begin to watch League of Extraordinary Gentlmen, it just looked ridiculous.

I pretty much figured Lois was lying to the boyfriend. Too bad Cyclops always kinds of ending up playing the loser boyfriend, I think he's cute.

The kid angle didn't bother me too much, but I am afraid that it might mess with future films. I'm hoping they kind of downplay it in the future.

I also see what you mean about the movie being an homage. It had that feel. I loved that it brought back memories of Christopher Reeve, he was special in that role.

Crunchy Carpets said...

I used to go down to LA with my hubby when he was pitching stuff and it was fun hanging with all the movie types and sitting in restaurants where Kevin Spacey was at the next table....we alwys tried hard to NOT geek out too much.

I miss those days.
I haven't been in LA for years.

SQT said...

I worked at Hollywood Center Studios about 10 years ago, so it's been a while for me too. They were filming Spawn at the time so it was kind of fun to see everyone running around in the costumes.

They filmed Everyone Loves Raymond there too. I used to see Peter Boyle all the time, but I never wanted to bug him. Though I'd have loved to talk to him since I've always loved Young Frankenstein.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Oh yah..I would have been giggling and yelling 'Puttin on the Ritz!'

I miss all the conventions and LA stuff...we used to have a riot.

We have a lot of good friends in LA.

Hubby was always pressured to move there but managed just fine from here!

Stewart Sternberg said...

I never thought I would write this, but I think the comic book hero genre might be overdoing it in film. Don't get me wrong, I love Spiderman and X-Men. I'm the guy who used to buy three or four comic books so I could read one and put the others in plastic bags to preserve them.

However, I think comic book movies started jumping the shark with The Fantastic Four. I don't think films like the upcoming Nick Cage "Ghost Rider" or the dreadful remake of Superman I, entitled "Superman Returns" helped any.

We'll see what the coming year holds.

SQT said...

Fantastic Four didn't really do it for me either, and Daredevil was just sad. I so can't see Nick Cage in a comic book movie.

I like the genre though. So I really hope for something better in the near future. But it may be a while before it gets any better. Once a genre catches on it tends to get overdone.