Monday, September 13, 2010

Comic Book Movie Round-Up (Part II)

Welcome to the second part of my round up of every comic book movie I've ever seen. Click here for the first part.

Iron Man: Nobody expected this movie to be as big or as good as it was, but there you go. I liked it a little less than most people, but maybe because I love Iron Man a little more than most people. All in all, it was a well done film with some awesome sequences, a good performance by Robert Downey Jr. (although not all that accurate a depiction of the character, in my opinion), and a great visual presentation of the main character. It didn't have a great villain or much of an ending, however, but it was still a lot of fun and one of the better Marvel Comics movies. I liked it, but I didn't love it so much that I saw the sequel. I'm waiting for DVD on that one.

Judge Dredd: Was this a good adaptation of the comic book character? Don't ask me. Ask somebody from England. I'm guessing no, but I have only read one or two issues of the comic. What I can speak to is that this movie sucks.

Kick-Ass: Fairly decent if overrated comic that was adapted into a fairly mediocre, justly overlooked film. Without the awesome artwork by John Romita Jr, the cliched story tropes and character types just seemed annoying. Skip it unless you loved the comic, since it wasn't really a bad adaptation all things considered.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: One of the most despised comic book films of all time, but I'll never understand why. I thought it was really good. No, it doesn't compare to the brilliance of the comic book, but it was still a really fun, good looking, exciting comic book movie in my opinion. It had nothing really to do with the comic other than that it was Victorian age period piece featuring literary characters teamed up to fight crime. But I liked it and thought it was fun. It was the second comic book film by director Stephen Norrington (after Blade), but it was such a huge flop that it all but ended his career. According to the IMDB, he is directing another adaptation of the Crow set to be released in 2011. I'll see it.

The Losers: You can see my full review here, but here's my opinion: This movie was pretty fun, but not entirely all that great. Worth watching.

The Mask: This movie, along with Ace Ventura, made Jim Carrey a star. It's a pretty funny movie, but I can't comment on its status as an adaptation because I've never read the comic. But the movie was cute and clever and a lot of fun. But I haven't rewatched it since, and I never saw the sequel. And neither did anybody else.

The Men in Black: Another movie nobody knew was based on a comic. I haven't read it. Have you? Anyway, awesome movie. One of the best from the 90s. A true classic of the action/sci-fi genre. I loved it. No sense talking about it since you've seen it too and feel the same way. Who doesn't?

The Men in Black 2: Not nearly as good, but still entertaining. But if you haven't seen it by this point, don't bother.

The Punisher (1989): Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher seemed like inspired casting at the time that got everybody excited. Sure, the Punisher in the comics doesn't talk with a Swedish accent, but who cares about the little details like that? But then we it turned out he wasn't going to wear the costume, we all got worried. And then it came out, and we all hated it. It's just not a very good movie and most of the action sequences were pretty lame. No budget, no script, and a bad performance by Dolph (sorry!).

The Punisher (2004): Fifteen years later they made another version of the Punisher, this time starring Thomas Jane and featuring the skull costume (!!), but it still sucked. All things considered, the Punisher just isn't an interesting enough character to carry a movie in my opinion. He just goes around shooting people. Not a whole lot of depth. Even his comic book series got real old real quick. He was a character best served as a guest star in the comics starring other characters. Anyway, this movie had the costume and a bigger budget, but Dolph was more fun than Jane, even though neither was very good. They also made another Punisher movie after this one with another actor, but I didn't see it.Life is too short to watch three different Punisher movies.

Road to Perdition: Maybe a good movie -- certainly a lot of people like it -- but I thought it was a huge bore. Great performances by Tom Hanks (playing against type as a gangster), Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig, but it just went nowhere and seemed more like an exercise in cinematography than in storytelling. Also, I never read the comic.

The Rocketeer: I love this movie. I know very little about the original comic book series other than that the art by Dave Stevens was wonderful, but this movie feels like a very authentic, heartfelt adaptation. It's a period piece that captures the feel of the 30s and 40s perfectly, has an amazing cast featuring Timothy Dalton as one of the best villains in movie history, and great special effects for its time. Just a great, fun, exciting movie that, unfortunately, was a huge flop. This film's director Joe Johnston is currently directing the upcoming Captain America film.

Sin City: Good movie based on a pretty good comic. Visually, this film is stunning and one of the greatest technical achievements in the entire genre. However, it falls a little flat acting wise and the stories written by Frank Miller are so dark and nihilistic it's really hard to care about anything that happens or any of the characters. But if you like that kind of thing, you'll like this. Incredibly faithful adaptation, especially since Frank Miller himself is credited as a co-director. I find a lot about this film to respect and admire, but little to love or even enjoy watching.

Spawn: In order to understand Spawn, you have to understand what was going on in the comics industry during the mid 90s, and that is something far too complicated and detailed to go into here. Let's just say that when Todd McFarlane created the Spawn comic book, it was a given that he would someday adapt it into videogames, toys, t-shirts, and movies. When Todd created Spawn, he wasn't starting a comic book, but an empire. Unfortunately, the comic was mostly unreadable and this film is mostly unwatchable. This film wasn't made because anybody loved the character nor because the story was so rich and full of ideas. This film was made because the comic book sold millions of copies. But what nobody seemed to understand is that the comic book sold millions of copies because Todd McFarlane was drawing them. Take away Todd's art, and all you have is a dumb character and a really stupid story. Throw into that John Leguizamo dressed up as a midget clown munching on maggot-covered pizza he found in a trashcan and you have just about the most unappealing movie ever made.

Spider-Man: Fairly good adaptation except for a few things: The awful depiction of Peter Parker, the terrible performance by Tobey Maguire, and the fact that Spider-Man now has organic webshooters. But the film was fun and the special effects were great. Also, the Spider-Man costume looked awesome. It's just too bad Tobey Maguire was so bland and annoying.

Spider-Man 2: Better than the first film, but still not that great in my opinion. Sam Raimi is a fantastic director of action and comedy, but I don't think he gets the best performances out of his actors, nor is logic or proper storytelling things he seems to care too much about. And still Tobey Maguire sucks. I didn't like this one very much so I never saw part 3. But a lot of people loved it.

The Spirit: Frank Miller followed up his Sin City film with this horrible piece of crap. Visually, it looks just like Sin City. In terms of story, dialogue, characters, and acting performances, it was also just like Sin City. Too bad it was based on Will Eisner's The Spirit. Horribly unfaithful as an adaptation and just weird and off-putting as a film. Skip it. In forget, forget it even exists.

Steel: Another film that's hard to understand why it was even made. After Superman died in the comic books, they introduced four different Superman-type characters who may have been his resurrected spirit... one of whom was Steel. Taken away from that context, he didn't have much of character all his own. Instead, they made him a generic superhero and cast Shaq. It was better than Kazam, but not by much.

Supergirl: Man, I haven't seen this movie in years, but I seem to remember liking it. Helen Slater was as good a choice as any to play the titular character, but nothing could've saved this film from feeling like an afterthought. Afterall, who really cares about Supergirl? No offense to the character, but even she has been retconned and changed and recreated so many times in the comics that I don't even know who she is anymore. But still, this is a cute, fun little movie that's worth watching if you can overlook the fact that it sucks.

And that brings us all the way the Superman films, which seems like another good place for a break. Tune in later for the third -- and I'm guessing final -- installment in my comic book movie round-up.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

The Rocketeer is one of the only films here that I own on DVD (the other being MiB). It's awesome. It's a film that I hope to be able to share with my kid(s) someday, because it so perfectly harnesses the sense of adventure and whimsy for which most people probably began reading comics in the first place.

I pretty much agree on the rest (some of these I haven't seen). Just a few notes:

I've never fallen asleep in the movie theater, but if I were ever going to, I would have watching Road to Perdition. I fully agree that this was a boring film.

I'm more or less with you on the Spider-Man franchise, except that I did find Spider-Man 2 to be really funny and ultimately kind of moving. SM3, however, was an absolute disaster, and if you've never seen it, you may as well keep it that way. It was so dumb, I don't even know where to start. My favorite bit was the emo Peter Parker sequence, which is the part that everybody else hated. It still makes me laugh, so I consider it to be one of the film's few redeeming pieces.

Supergirl is a film that I probably saw once as a kid. I don't remember anything about it, but I've noticed that a lot of comic book fans consider it with some fondness as a kind of quaintly innocuous film with good intentions. It's certainly not reviled like Catwoman or Superman IV.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

By the way, a little while back I noticed a link in your sidebar to Cinemassacre. The post was about the most underrated movies of all time or something. He had Spider-Man 3 on there. I really couldn't agree. He talked up the fights with the Sandman, for example, which I suppose might have been cool. But I just couldn't get over how annoying all of the characters were. And with regard to the Sandman in particular, it will forever bug the hell out of me that *SPOILER ALERT* (a) they retconned the films so that the Sandman killed Uncle Ben and (b) Peter forgives him and lets him escape at the end of the film. Thomas Haden Church is almost good enough that this works, but the film, itself, wasn't good enough to get this idea the rest of the way there.