Nice Guy Eddie's Political Blog
Still haven't seen AVENGERS--I'll probably be catching it second-run. The Marvel movies have been all over the board, quality-wise. Ang Lee's HULK, which wasn't actually made by Marvel, but belongs with the group, was the best of them. THOR was great. The first IRON MAN was pretty good. After that, one starts to hear a certain gobbling sound from the others. INCREDIBLE HULK and IRON MAN 2 bore feathers, and CAPTAIN AMERICA went beyond turkeyism, and switched to full-blown black-hole suction. I'm guessing AVENGERS is excellent.
Expanding on that, Marvel movies have been about as mixed as DC's...Spider-Man 1 was a decent action flic, and 2 was pretty good. 3 was... Well, how many good "part-3's" heve you ever seen? "Amazing" was pretty good as well.X-Men 1 was decent, and 2 was EPIC. 3 was... (see above) and the Prequels... Well, how many good Prequels have you ever seen?Daredevil, Punnisher and Ghost Rider were all FAIR, IF you go in with ZERO expectations. (And Michael Clarke Duncan made a pretty decent Kingpin in DD.) Both Fantastic Four's were god-awful, no matter how low your expectations were. Didn't see Elektra. (Won't)Avengers is comparable in quality to Spider-Man 1 and X-Men 2, with arguably significantly better interaction bewteen the principles. I would say it's the best of the Marvel's, actually, although it's hard to place Ang Lee's Hulk, as it's more of a study in charecter development, than a super-hero action movie. (Which makes it both AWESOME and disappointing at the same time, if you know what I mean.)For the record (DC)... I LOVED Dark Knight, Watchmen and V for Vendetta, LIKED Batman Begins, thought Constantine was disappointing (but would have been great if you replace Keanu Reeves with Willem DaFoe) and found Superman Returns to be... well, frankly just a ripoff off the first movie. Great performances, but a lousy, un-inspired plot. But Green Lantern looks unwatchable. (And I don't even COUNT Catwoman as a DC Property.)(Burton's Batman were FAIR. The two after his were comically bad.)It's hard to make a good Superhero flic and they're becoming rather formulaic. But Averngers is definitely worth seeing. Good fun. Kicks a lot of ass. ;)
Well, it seems I ran a bit over, so I'm going to break this reply into multiple pieces. The first:Yeah, when it comes to the larger body of movies based on Marvel characters (as opposed to the ones merely made by Marvel itself), Sturgeon's Law still applies.I really liked the first Raimi SPIDER-MAN, but hated the sequel, which, for some bizarre reason, was better regarded by critics (I reblogged an old article about it the other day). That's a situation I sort of regard as similar to what happened with SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and its first sequel. A lot of critics totally missed the boat on the original, vastly superior film, and made up for it by overpraising the significantly inferior second entry as better. SPIDER-MAN 3 is a waste.The Thomas Jane PUNISHER was godawful, but PUNISHER: WAR ZONE was incredible, and if you haven't seen it, I can't recommend it strongly enough. An absolute blast from beginning to end.The first two X-MEN are great, especially the second. The third and the Wolverine movie are embarrassments to everyone involved. I haven't seen FIRST INCLASS, but I'm told it's actually quite good.HULK is, well, incredible; just a great, great piece of work. The sequel, which actually uses "incredible" in the title, is most definitely not.Duncan was a great idea for the Kingpin in DAREDEVIL, and there were some other good ideas, there, as well (the visual conception of DD's radar sense), but the movie, overall, just sucked. It was crippled by the insistence on making it a big-budget special-effects spectacular that aped SPIDER-MAN. It could have been done on a miniscule budget. You put someone with the physicality of, say, Jet Li in the suit, and you shoot it as a film noir, a dark crime story. It could been turned into a franchise that released a new film every year for years and years. Instead, it's a big, loud movie with Hollywood stars, big special effects, and, most importantly, a third-rate hack director who was absolutely bereft of talent and made a mockery of the entire project. As a reward, he was allowed to make the same mess out of GHOST RIDER, which I don't believe I've ever even managed to finish. The second GHOST RIDER flick, which was sort of a reboot with a different director, actually looks a lot more like the comics, but I haven't yet seen it.The FANTASTIC FOUR flicks were just dogshit. I've been a fan of comics--and, in particular, the Marvel characters--since before I could even read them myself, and it saddens me whenever I see them dragged through the mud in bad adaptations, but in the case of the FF, it actually angered me. The movies were just awful, and there was no reason for it. The FF is as cinematic a concept as you could find; you almost have to actively try to make a bad FF movie. But that's what the studio did. Twice. It's being rebooted again, now--no one wants to lose those rights they secured before Marvel started making movies.
And two:DC has had worse luck. The original Burton BATMAN flick was a blast; the ones that followed in that run were godawful. BATMAN BEGINS sucked so badly I had no interest in seeing THE DARK KNIGHT, which everyone raves about--everyone raved about BEGINS, as well. So I haven't even seen the much-heralded TDK. Heath Ledger does look very impressive as the Joker. I suspect a lot of the film's popularity rest on the fact that he did well at it then died.SUPERMAN RETURNS was just awful, a bad retread of the Donner picture, to the point that even a lot of the dialogue was the same (Luthor barely has a line that didn't come from the Donner film) And what's with casting a 13-year-old as Lois Lane? Something that genuinely surprised me when watching the movie was how utterly anachronistic it seemed. The old Silver Age characterization of Clark as the bumbling non-entity was abandoned, in the comics, with John Byrne's MAN OF STEEL around 1986, and all of the subsequent Superman projects have been based on his revision. Seeing Brandon Routh playing Christopher Reeve playing Clark Kent seemed, to me, a lot like what it would be to watch a new Dracula movie and see an actor playing the title character by imitating Bela Lugosi. Absurd.GREEN LANTERN just looks bad. V FOR VENDETTA and CONSTANTINE belong alongside the absolute worst comic adaptations of all time-everyone connected with them--particularly with V FOR VENDETTA--should probably be rounded up and neutered.WATCHMEN, on the other hand, was excellent, which actually shocked me.Unless I'm forgetting one, SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE is really the only DC property that has ever achieved the level of an X-MEN 2 or a HULK. Warner Brothers has a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie in the works, to counter AVENGERS, but that seems like a dumb idea. They'd do better to build a universe in film the way Marvel does, and work their way up to JUSTICE LEAGUE (which could be awesome, if they use Grant Morrison's work on that book as a template).I don't think it's hard to make a good superhero flick. I think it's hard to make any good flick by committee, which is how most of them are made because of the budget-levels involved. The good ones are almost inevitably the result of those who are talented and have risen through the system and have gotten enough pull along the way to get their way about things. Even they can go wrong, though (witness Singer on SUPERMAN RETURNS). Most of them--like most upbudget films in general--are assigned to compliant studio hacks with as little vision as talent who will do what the money-men want.
"X-Men 1 was decent, and 2 was EPIC. 3 was... (see above) and the Prequels... Well, how many good Prequels have you ever seen?""X-Men First Class" was excellent. The direction was well done, but the casting and the plot were absolutely phenomenal. I recommend it highly.It would be nice to see some specificity regarding what makes the movies cited good or bad. Is it just expectations? I remember the reactions from people after Ang Lee's "Hulk", where people were disappointed because it wasn't what they expected, even though the movie was brilliant (an even better example, to get off of comic-book movies, was "Last Action Hero", where people were dismayed to see a movie with a sense of irony, parody and intelligence instead of the typical action flick). I have an affinity for comic-book movies, which may seem strange since I've never been into comic books at all. That may be why I like those movies, because I don't care if such-and-such character is true to the inked version. There are no expectations to be had, since I don't know if Doc Oc is precisely analogous to the comic book character, or if the Fantastic Four developed their powers the exact same way (just for examples, since I don't even know if there are any discrepancies there). I just look for a well-made, entertaining movie. "V For Vendetta", for example. I can't come up with much that was wrong with that at all, from a purely cinematic perspective.
One of the most popular pieces I ever wrote was about my own horror at the widespread reaction to Ang Lee's HULK--it was trashed for being far better than anyone expected.THE LAST ACTION HERO got its bad press because the budget went absolutely insane (which practically always nets bad press), and its creators couldn't decide what they wanted it to be. It was an affectionate homage to hardcore action pictures--anything but children's fare--but was done as a child's wish-fulfillment story. People found that a bizarre contradiction and didn't know what to make of it. I liked it.V FOR VENDETTA was an embarrassment to everyone involved. You'd have to read the comic to understand the full depth of the tragedy that film represents--it's much like THE WALKING DEAD in that respect--but--also like TWD--it's a wretched exercise on its own merits. V, in the book, is an anarchist--an anti-government socialist. That's what drives everything he does. The movie wasn't going to touch that with a 10-foot pole, and entirely stripped this away, but kept all the things V did that was motivated by his anarchism. In the movie, they're motivated by nothing at all, except, at times, opposition to the fascist government.This hits its lowest point when the movie maintains the sequence wherein V kidnaps Evey and repeatedly tortures her for an extended period, making her think she's in a government facility. The movie present this pretty much exactly as it's written, but without any rationale for it. In the book, V was forcefully impressing upon her an anarchist notion that everyone lives in a self-imposed prison of their own preconceptions; that her thinking things are just as they are and can't be changed are merely constructs that keep her in a cage. As he puts it (paraphrasing) "You were already in a prison. I merely showed you the bars." She finds one thing that is important to her in that situation, and chooses death over the death of her principles, and, at that moment, she is free. It's a rather breathtaking moment when she finally comes to understand and accept this. It changes her profoundly. In the movie, however, V isn't an anarchist, and has absolutely no reason to treat Evey this way. He doesn't even offer any, beyond a vague comment about helping her conquer her fear, and it doesn't work any real change in her at all.