This question seems pretty obvious to anyone who did not play Max Payne all the way through. Batman has taken down hundreds of gun toting thugs who look a lot like Max. However, as a fan of Max Payne I can say it wouldn’t be as clear cut as all that. Max, like Batman, is haunted by the deaths of his family. However, his deaths happened recently while he was an adult and included his child. This gives him a much more nothing to lose attitude that is almost a death wish. He, like Batman, has the ability to push through any level of pain and suffering to deliver more pain to his enemies. If you don’t believe me just replay the Baseball Bat chapter.
I do think Batman would triumph in this fight, but it wouldn’t be a easy or clean as most fights against normal civilians would be. Max has untested reserves and an unholy resourcefulness that might surprise the Bat. Plus he has bullet time.
This image I pulled from Dave’s Batman t shirt collection, another one where he has hundreds of shirts.
Why is it the only two villains the Superman movies can ever come up with are Lex Luthor and General Zod?
Dave’s not much into Superman but I am, and I have to say that I was really hoping for someone other than another old villain for the next movies.
Honestly, General Zod was never much of a villain in the comic, yet somehow he is the main bad guy in two different movies. I guess this is more proof that Hollywood cannot come up with anything remotely new for anything. It’s not like there aren’t other villains who can give Superman a run for his money. Brainiac alone makes for a really good story because he is so smart, and if you just want life threatening mayhem go with Doomsday. I just think General Zod was so well done in the other movie that there is no need to rehash his character again.
This cool Braniac picture comes from Dave’s DC comic t shirts. I think I am going to have to get one for myself.
Of course, really when you think about it I don’t know if Lex Luthor was really treated fairly in Superman Returns. Sure, he was pretty cool and I thought Kevin Spacey both did a great job and had the man parts to actually go bald unlike Gene Hackman, but Lex Luthor is supposed to have a ton of super science backing him up. I want to see Lex in a super powered armor suit flying around blasting Superman with Krpytonite autocannon shells. Also, what the hell was the deal with his secret plan? He wanted to raise a new continent, killing half the world population, and then sell barren salt encrusted rock real estate to the half that didn’t drown? I mean sure he might do some damage, but did he really think that no country in the world wouldn’t have an aircraft carrier survive the aftermath and wouldn’t air strike him to death? Also, while appearing before the UN to claim the land he just created don’t you think someone might have asked him some tough questions about the billions of people he just killed in order to make it? Just dumb, really.
Back on Zod. The question I always had at the end of the last one was shouldn’t Lois Lane have had super powers after the whole switcheroo machine went off? For that matter, if the three of them could have killed Superman why did they take the chance on him pulling some kind of fast one? I’d be like “Well, we could let him use his equipment in his Fortress of Solitude where ever single wall and piece of furniture looks alike, or we could just remove all his internal organs and launch the remains into the nearest black hole.”
Also, what is up with a human having sex with Superman? I mean, aside from the fact that he would most likely tear her in half in the first two seconds, how is it he feels any sensation from her? It would be like having sex with a woman made out of tissue paper.
Damn, I just wrote a Dave length post. Don’t get used to it. I did find this really funny blog cast of General Zod talking to his defense attorney before being sentenced to the phantom zone. It’s really good.
I have been reading a bit about the new Green Lantern sequel. Any fan of comics will tell you that the first one sucked. While I don’t pay attention things like writers and directors like Dave does it seems they are making a few positive changes and then a massive number of negative stay the sames.
The GL shirt I found in Dave’s DC comic t shirts, incidentally.
First off, they are apparently firing the director, Martin Campbell. Good move in my opinion. He really chocked it. However, they are keeping the same writers. How does that make sense? I mean, do they really think the writers from the first one did such a great job, or that they have some kind of connection to the Green Lantern story? If this was an original character they created that might be a good idea, but really the original creators all are the comic book writers. Get any lame hack in the world he he will have as much connection.
They say they are going to be relying less on CGI. Good move. There was way to much of it in all the wrong directions. But the biggest mistake they are going to make is they are keeping smarmy sleaze bucket Ryan Reynolds as the main guy. Is it remotely possible to hire someone who might take the part seriously and not smirk at the camera all day long? Maybe someone who understands comics. He wears a mask. He doesn’t have to be the biggest hearth throb in Hollywood. Get rid of him.
So I guess DC has announced that they are going to develop a prequel for the Watchmen and I ask the ultimate question, why? I think everything you ever needed to know about the events before the movie or comic were related in some of the best story telling possible, without a lot of extra crap. The montage opening at the beginning of the movie after the Comedian takes his dive is one of the best ever and managed to relate a huge sequence of impressions and events without even saying a single word. This image, by the way, is from the DC comic t shirts.
I guess the ultimate answer is, of course, money. I don’t really collect and read comics but I know Dave will buy one of these like the sucker he is. It will probably sell really well and lead into another multi million dollar movie, but really, do we need to see how Dollar Bill gets killed or Mothman loses his mind? All these things really become overexplained when delivered in detail. Honestly, I think this is another sign of big media doing what it can to suck as much money out of nerds pockets at possible. Anyone else feeling like a sheep?
Time to get into this. First of all, this is actually the best and worst movies of 2011 that I actually saw and reviewed, for the most part. If I missed something you think is supposed to be here, my apologies. I am going to do this Oscar style by listing the candidates for my fake awards and then let you know the winner. I think each post in this series I will give a few of my bitter joke awards and end up with one or two good one.
The “Who Brought This Guy Award” for the most unnecessary, worthless, or unasked for sequel of the year. The candidates are: the Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part I, Johnny English Reborn, Columbiana, and The Hangover Part II. Johnny English seems to be the obvious choice, but when you think about it the reasons for this sequel make total sense: ripping off as many foreign viewers as possible. The bitterness that resides deep in the heart of the voting Academy (one member, me) makes me inclined to go with the Hangover, but I think if the movie going audience had been poled prior to this abortion being released most people would have said a sequel was a good idea. Yes, the winner of the Who Brought This Guy Award goes to Columbiana. It was originally written as a sequel to the Professional, a film that in no way ever needed a sequel. Also it was pretty miserable as a stand alone movie.
The “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” award for the flattest, most robot-like emotionless performance(s) of the year. The candidates are Nicholas Cage for Season of the Witch and Drive Angry, Ryan Gosling for Drive, Robert the tire from Rubber, the dead cosmonaut from Apollo 18, and Atom the fighting robot from Real Steel. The winner, barely beating out the dead cosmonaut, has to be Nicholas Cage. Congratulations.
The “Accidentally drank from the Drano can instead of my beer award” (AKA the George Inman (my father) memorial award) for the movie that I thought was going be great and instead felt like I was being shot naked with a paintball gun for two hours. The candidates are The Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, Conan the Barbarian, Battle Los Angeles, The Hangover Part II, the Killer Elite, and The Adventures of Tintin. In terms of biggest level of anticipation followed by biggest fall, this Nerdy can only go to the Green Lantern. I had so much hope for this movie, and was so bitterly disappointed. (Green Lantern image courtesy of the Comic Book t shirt category)
The “Purposely drank from the Drano can” award for the movie that I totally expected to suck and it did. The candidates are New Years Eve, Jack and Jill, Footloose, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, What’s Your Number, the Change Up, and I am Number Four. This Nerdy is near and dear to my heart, as it is my chance to feel good about how smart and perceptive I am. Bucky Larson was a contender, but I have to give it to Jack and Jill, the movie equivalent of passing a baseball sized kidney stone.
The “Dave is an idiot” award for the movie I expected to suck and turned out great. The candidates are Fast Five, Bridesmaids, Friends with Benefits, Our Idiot Brother, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Warrior, and the Thing. Honestly, I am going to have to go with the Thing. I thought it was going to be another mediocre remake of a great movie, and instead it was a brilliant prequel to a great movie. Kudos.
The “I wish I had a hot car and girlfriend” award for the best driving movie. This year there were only three eligible. Drive, Drive Angry, and Fast Five. I am going to have to give this Nerdy to Fast Five. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. The other two were retrospectively a boring arsty noir film and a bad grindhouse spoof.
That’s it for today. Warhammer tonight and I have to compose a new list. More awards tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. By the way, I saw the trailer for the Hobbit and, while it looks decent like detecting a lump in my testicles I am starting to see signs that the cancer of remaking great stories to suit Hollywood creeping its way into this film. It’s been years since I read the Hobbit, but I don’t recall Bilbo Baggins spending a lot of time in Elrond looking at the Shards of Narsil. He was there, but it was pretty brief. Also, I couldn’t be sure but I think they stuck a human into the party besides Gandalf with the dwarfs. Also someone told me they managed to crowbar Arwen into the the story. You know, in a story as rich as the Hobbit I think it’s OK to not have a pretty face in there worthlessly. I don’t know if any of this is true, but I hope they aren’t going to ruin this in order to make a few more bucks. I’ll let you know what else I hear.
Better than the trailer makes it out to be.
I’ll admit, I enjoy cartoons and will see a movie that catches my eye, even if it’s made for kids. I do feel kind of creepy being in a theater with a bunch of children and bored parents, but this was nothing like the last Winnie the Pooh experience. As a rule, when I go to a kids film I sit by myself and don’t talk to or look at anyone in hopes no one notices me.
Actually, now that I think about it, that is my policy for pretty much all the movies I see. My life sucks.
Anyway, I was not really gung ho to see this movie, mainly because the trailers managed to unsell it for me. Another example of failure in marketing. The trailers really made it looks at the same time both sappy sweet and over the top silly. In truth it was neither of those. It was fun, clever, entertaining, and above all well executed. As a rule I suspend my usual star/black hole rating system for kids movies, as dropping black holes on a film designed to entertain seven year olds is a move that would give the Grinch pause. That being said, I honestly wouldn’t have found a lot of black holes to give it. Maybe it’s just a little too polished. Other than that it’s pretty good. It’s no Kiss Saves Christmas, but still fun to watch.
It started off on a bad note, however, by subjecting me and the soft brained impressionable youth of America to a “music” video by girly man/boy Justin Bieber singing a “rock” version of some Christmas carol. Is there anything remotely masculine about that guy? I know he’s like 17 or something but by the time was that age I had been in fights with more guys than I had friends, played football, wrestled, set fire to a shockingly large amount of private property, spent seven months in a Bolivian prison, and had facial hair. The ironic part is he is adored by girls his age while I was the dating equivalent of athletes foot. The other part that drove me nuts was during the video, when they were not performing their “dance” routine, they were treating us to clips from the MOVIE WE WERE ABOUT TO WATCH! Really? Is a blank screen and a cone of silence that much to ask for? Seriously, whoever was in charge of marketing for this film should be taken behind the woodshed and shot.
Anyway, once I got over the suck part and into the movie proper, it warmed up nicely. It is Christmas Eve and Santa is making his run around the world, delivering presents with the help of about 1,000,000,000 elves and a high tech super sleigh that looks like an Apple store threw up all over it. We are treated to high tech Mission Impossible cut scenes as the elves zip line down from the S1 and B&E their way through the world, delivering gifts to good children. Santa is really more of a figurehead, as the entire high tech operation is being run by his oldest son, Steve, a macho guy who runs things with military efficiency and all the warmth and holiday spirit of a roadkill. Meanwhile, his younger brother Arthur, a bumbling klutz, stumbles around messing things up while trying to read all the childrens letters and relate the relevant contents to Santa and Steve.
Steve dreams of being the next Santa (apparently, rather than being an immortal “jolly old elf” Santa is an inherited position, passed from father to son. Incidentally, the current Santas real name is Malcolm. Meanwhile, during a particularly intricate operation, a gift for a young girl named Gwen gets lost. No one realizes that until after everything is shut down. At that point both Santa and Steve kind of blow it off and it’s up to Arthur to deliver the gift. He recruits his grandfather, a former Santa and curmudgeonly old bastard, to help him. They find the old sleigh and reindeer, and head off. They are joined by Bryony, an elf who specializes in gift wrapping. She is actually my favorite character.
Anyway, Xmas chaos ensues. The world is convinced that aliens are invading. Certain characters are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. You end up feeling good at the end.
Like I said, I won’t do the whole stars and black holes for a kid movie. I will say that 3D, while normally horrible for the average film, works really well for CGI cartoons. The best way to judge a kids movie, IMO, is by how the kids in the theater are reacting to it and in this case they were laughing their asses off. Great movie for kids. It’s clever enough to keep the parents engaged, although I don’t think it has enough meat on it to be worth seeing without kids (unless you plan to review it).
Thanks for reading. I’m off to watch the Last Starfighter at Bad Movie Night. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu.
By the way, I’m hearing some seriously scary things out of the new Batman movie. As much as I am attracted to Anne Hathaway (and really, I am) I have said from the start I don’t think she could ever pull off Catwoman. Word is she is kind of butchering it, and wears a utility belt with an iPhone carrier. Also, Christopher Nolan is apparently channeling the spirit of Joel Schumacher from Batman and Robin by taking the highly intelligent South American super villain Bane and turning him into a muscle bound thug. Really, if you want a thug just do Killer Croc. It’s not rocket science. My best friend keeps telling me to keep the faith in that Christopher Nolan has yet to fail us, but this whole deal is really starting to smell of suck. Maybe he wants to ruin the Batman franchise for the next director, like Sam Raime did with Spiderman 3. I swear if Bruce Wayne goes emo and does a moody swing dance number while Catwoman sings I will beat the first person to tell me they liked the movie to a pulp.
I’m kidding about that, of course. I am a pretty non violent guy. Besides, why take my anger out on some hapless moron when I can use this blog to burn the director to my hearts content. I don’t know. It could be good. I’m just worried. I’ll try to keep up to date on what is going on, and talk about what I hear on future posts. Also, if the movie does both suck and blow, you can count on me to explain why and how in excruciating detail right here. Thanks again. Talk to you soon. Catwoman image, by the way, courtesy of the Batman T Shirt category.
Last night I was at a friends house perusing her DvD collection and came across a couple movies that sparked my interest on this topic. I love cartoons, and in many cases prefer them to real movies (and, to be honest, my own real life). My theory is any idiot can point a camera at other idiots to make a film, but the expense of creating animation is so high (at least for hand drawn) that they need to make sure the story is solid before even getting it going. Puts motivation on the writers, in most cases.
That is not to say there isn’t a lot of animated crap out there, but those movies usually fall into the trap of pandering to uptight kids parents (not the kids themselves, ironically). Also, this list has my own twist, so don’t expect to see a lot of smiley, happy Disney movies. Most of these have some kind of dark twist or complicated story.
10. Titan A.E. This movie wasn’t necessarily the greatest story ever told, but it was the very first movie to make extensive use of CGI technology. It was also a post-apocalyptic story (A.E. stands for After Earth) that had a dark theme to it. It explored some fairly cool themes as well. The movie has taken on cult status, but I feel I gain a lot of geek credibility by having actually seen it in the theater. This movie was also the straw that broke the camel known as Fox Animation Studios’s back, and whenever Fox suffers I feel good (still haven’t forgiven them for cancelling Firefly and about 10 other great shows).
9. Wall-E. I know I said no cute movies, but this one is definitely one of my favorite Pixar themes. Complex story, awesome animation, and when you look at the fact that humanity has continued it’s current trend towards grotesque, morbid obesity it has a dark theme too. I went into this film expecting kiddy pap and walked out seriously impressed.
8. Ghost in the Shell. I can’t really call myself an anime fanatic, but I enjoy the genre and any nerd worth his salt needs to see this movie at some point. Futuristic crime thriller set in cyberpunk Japan, it featured super cool cyborgs and high technology crime. It sparked all kinds of associated video games and manga series’s. Incidentally, the literal translation of the Japanese title is “Mobile Armored Riot Police”. Cool.
7. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. This movie really showed something important that most other films derived from tv shows fail at; it is possible to have a great stand alone film derived from a TV show. This movie did what South Park always does-pushed the envelope so far into the uncomfortable that it kind of pushed out the other side. Also, I happen to still love South Park, so this is kind of a personal thing.
6. Akira. Another great anime film, this one features cyberpunk motorcycle street gangs and dark, gruesome action. This one also does not pull back on the realistic violence, and ends in a level of mass destruction rarely matched in any other animated film.
5. Spirited Away. Woof. Talk about dark. Rather, talk about dark that masquerades as cute. Great story, as well as a great look into Japanese culture, this epic fish out of water story is one I will always watch given the chance. I have seen it multiple times and ever time I watch it I catch some other detail I missed entirely.
4. the Incredibles. Great story, great animation. Some might make the mistake of assuming this is a cute kiddy film, but let’s not forget the fact that Dash is killing Syndrome’s henchmen left and right and laughing the whole time. Also, remember the corpse of Gazerbeam? Or the fact that Syndrome gets sucked into a jet engine in what could be accurately described as one of the most gruesome death possible? Definitely adult themes here. Of course, the story rocks, the characters all rule, and in an ironic twist the entire film was intended to be a spoof of the Fantastic Four yet somehow managed to remain more true to the original FF than any of the actual movies.
3. the Iron Giant. This film was such a cool experience for me when I saw it in the theater. It started out as a cute ET giant robot film, with the Giant learning about what it means to be human and bonding with young Hogarth (I wish I was named Hogarth) while being pursued by a federal agent. Just when you are ready to pass out from so much sugar in your blood, the Giant thinks Hogarth is killed and turn into an UNSTOPPABLE, UNHOLY KILLING MACHINE! This is like going to see a community theater production of Hamlet and in the third act a bunch of strippers come out and perform. The Iron Giant kicks the crap out of the best military the US of the 1060’s can produce, only to revert to his kind self and save the day. My only real issue with the film is the ending. The Giant flies up to intercede the nuclear missile coming in to kill everyone. Couldn’t he just have whipped out one of the several dozen guns he had just been using and shoot it from a safe distance? Oh, well. Great film, and actually really good for kids.
2. the Nightmare Before Christmas. What a fun story. The twisted Christmas preparations Halloween town was making were great. Jack Skellington is awesome, and in one of the weirdest twists of my cinema life I actually like the songs. The only other musical where the songs didn’t have me chewing on the arm rest was Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. This story presents a character arc in the truest sense of the term, with Jack showing a steady, progressive character development throughout the film.
1. Batman Mask of the Phantasm. I guess I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a film on here odds are most of you have never heard of, but this is my all time favorite animated movie. What this story addresses that almost all other films and cartoons treat as peripheral at best is that Batman is not really about Batman. It is about a human being named Bruce Wayne who, in spite of all his wealth, has one of the most messed up and troubled lives you could possibly imagine. Haunted by the death of his parents (and secretly blaming himself for it), he will never find peace or love in this lifetime. Of course, the Phantasm is a great villain, the story is convoluted in the coolest way possible, and we get to see the Joker as voiced by the great Mark Hamill. Also, violent and dark as hell, without the happy ending most cartoons seem to look for. In my opinion this is one of the best Batman stories ever told, and from a script point of view will take it over any of the other Batman movies except maybe the Dark Knight. Of course that was about Heath Ledger as Joker, so from a strict story perspective Mask is superior. (Lightning Strikes image courtesy of the Batman t shirt category).
That’s my list. Feel free to disagree with me. I am sure I missed something really cool. Just don’t spam me with Disney stuff. I don’t care if you think Bueaty and the Beast or the Little Mermaid are the best out there. They are fun, but given that they are all derived from fairy tales and more or less star the same character and rely on cuteness to make the movie happen I can’t go there. Also, neither of them qualify in the “I actually like the songs” category.
Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. If you do you can send me your opinions directly. Or just post here. As long as you don’t cuss I’ll put it up. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.
So I saw One Day the other night and, to be honest, am still kind of depressed about it. Director Lone Scherfig has made my permanent watch list and I intend to be brutally honest with all her future projects until I get payback for the blatant and hamhanded manipulation of my emotions. Go back to Denmark.
Anyway, it got me thinking about other movies that have depressed me over the years. I kind of expanded to include comic books too, since the line between comics and movies is getting blurrier every year. Here is the list I came up with. Feel free to disagree with me and let me know what I missed.
10. The death of Borimir, the Fellowship of the Ring. I know he wasn’t a main character and traveled towards the dark side as the movie progressed, but he really redeemed himself in the last bit of the film and died a tragic, noble death. He also had a nice bit of personality and charm when we wasn’t stalking Frodo, so I was sad to see him die (even though I knew it was coming).
9. The death of of Superman. OK, I have my issues with Superman (haw!). However, he has always been a huge part of nerd culture and when DC wrote in his death at the hands of Doomsday it was a striking moment. I do have a pristine copy of his death in the original poly sleeve, as well as an open copy I read a lot. Of course, the problem with this death and most of the other comic book deaths I am going to list is you know there is no such thing as an actual permanent death and that the hero will return shortly, albeit often with a different alter ego. Death in comics is more of a time out. However, if you are the type who can immerse him or herself into a story and not let such things affect the mood (I am that way) you can really feel the punch when something terrible happens.
8. E.T. the Extraterrestial dying. Ok, I was young, but this one hurt. Gentle visitor from another planet shows up. His ride gets chased off by big guys with flashlights, and he gets hounded to death literally by scary government types after bonding with a kid about my age.
7. Leaving Las Vegas. I know. Not really a nerd moment. Still, pretty damned depressing.
6. Joker killing Robin. This one sucked, and it was one death that stuck. It wasn’t even a clean, pleasant death. Joker beat him with a crowbar and then blew him up. The saddest part for me is they left his fate a cliffhanger and let the fans vote. The slight majority of the fans voted thumbs down. (Joker image courtesy of the DC comic book t shirt category)
5. Bane breaking the Bat. While Batman had experience minor defeats and setbacks in the past, never had he been outright defeated. This moment was less about the physical damage done to Bruce Wayne and more about the destroying of Batman’s spirit (and, to be honest, ours).
4. Death of Gandalf. Yes, I knew ahead of time he came back thanks to having read the books about 100 times, but even so the scene of him falling off the bridge is pretty tear jerking. I had a friend who was listening to the books on tape and when Gandalf died he pulled his car over and called me asking if it was true. I did not spoil it for him.
3. The death of Captain America. Wow did this suck. Captain America, champion and symbol of all that is good and noble about the USA, branded a traitor and dying to an assassins bullet. Tony Stark, rot in hell.
2. Roy Batty’s death at the end of Blade Runner. Sure, he was sort of the bad guy, but such an engaging character with a massive thirst for life. All the replicants were cool and in their own way more tolerable than most of the humans. Rutger Hauer made the movie more than Harrison Ford in my opinion, and when he saved Deckards life as a last noble gesture before dying it really hit me.
1. The death of Spock in the Wrath of Khan. I will argue this to my grave as the saddest moment in nerd culture history, and am not ashamed to admit I cried like a little girl first time I saw it. In fact, I tear up every time I see it or even think about it. It wasn’t just the end of Spock (in a noble, tragic, and painful death scene) but the end of an era of adventure throughout space that gave me focus when I was getting my ass kicked in grade school for being a nerd. All that seemed good and logical in the universe was summed up in one character for me and with his death the world seemed just a little more stale. Yes, I know he came back and they threw a spoiler into the movie to make us think it was coming, but if you read my Star Trek movie retrospectives (I need to finish those, now that I think about it) you know I feel the movies shifted gears from the cool action characters we knew to a bunch of old men kind of bumbling across the universe.
You know, doing this list has actually helped me a lot with the one One Day depression. I actually got choked up talking about a couple of these, and it put things into perspective for me. I should have started a blot 20 years ago. Would have saved me a fortune in therapy.
New movies coming out this weekend, and I think I will pick up the Star Trek movie thread again. I have just been dreading doing Generations. I have a show to do this weekend but will try to get something done. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Thanks
So I did Captain America last week, and gave it a good review. I stand by that, as it was a decent movie with a good story. Generally enjoyable. However, I was talking to a friend of mine last night about it and he raised a couple points that got me thinking about the problems with origin movies in general.
Really, it all boils down to the fact that origin stories are really cool, but very few directors seem comfortable letting the origin run the entirety of the movie. In other words, about halfway through the movie they have introduced the superhero, told where he came from, explained his powers, and gotten his costume organized when suddenly the thought occurs to them “Oh, crap. What are we doing to do to fill the last half of the movie?”
This is not every movie. Thor more or less ignored the whole origin question entirely and just jumped into the action. X Men First Class let the origin story travel through the entirely of the film with great results. This was probably motivated by the fact that they had a dozen different characters to work with, but the net result was very pleasing. However, when I think back to Captain America I realize that the part of the film I really enjoyed was the first half. Once Steve Rogers got his team together and starting fighting as Captain America it kind of started to grind along.
I have been thinking about how to avoid this problem. Wolverine Origins labored under this (and about 10 tons of other crap). Even Batman Begins kind of had this going on. Green Lantern ground it face first into the ground, with a massive villain pulled out of their ass with all the active malice of a natural disaster, like a tornado. Even Iron Man kind of lagged after the suit was built. Episodes I-III was nothing but a six hour origin story that only focused on Darth Vader.
So what is the solution? Upon reflection I realized that the movies that do the origin story well (Spiderman, X Men, Kick Ass, Unbreakable, Hellboy, etc) all have one thing in common: they didn’t make the origin of a single hero the only thrust of the story. In Spiderman, while we are watching Peter Parker figure out his new powers, we keep cutting back to Norman Osborne transforming into the Green Goblin. X Men First Class had a dozen different characters developing. Kick Ass was mostly about Kick Ass, but at the same time you see Hit Girl and Big Daddy doing their thing. Unbreakable was more about Samuel Jackson’s character than that Bruce Willis, and that made the double origin story really cool. In each case the really good origin movies presents the origin of their hero, but don’t make it the entirety of the script. In other words, when they reach that halfway point and the story is in danger of lagging they have other elements to fall back on.
(Xavier Institute image courtesy of the movie t shirt category)
I don’t know if anyone from the movie industry reads this. In fact, I doubt it sincerely. However, I think that if by some weird coincidence one of my three readers is somehow involved in film production, or perhaps one day will end up working in film, try to remember what I just said. I really think it’s worthwhile.
The cool thing about saying something like that is, unlike most declarative statements in the nerd world, there are very few who can argue against you and those who do usually end up sounding like complete morons. Say something like “Kirk was the better captain” or “George Lucas is a sellout whore” and, in a group of three nerds, at least one will take issue with your statement. However, I have yet to have a true comic fan argue vehemently that Batman is not the greatest (or at least the one of the greatest) superheroes of all time (and if I did, honestly I think all I would hear is clicks and whistles).
So what is it that makes him so cool? Is it the costume? Yes. Is it the car? Yes. Is it the fact that he goes toe to toe with thugs who could kill him at any minute without the use of esoteric outer space minerals (cough cough Kryptonite cough cough)? Yes. All these and may other reasons make up that tapestry of coolness that is the Dark Knight. However, there is one reason that stands out in my mind more than others and that is because Bruce Wayne’s life absolutely sucks so much.
“Wait a minute!” I can here your feeble, movie fan based brain saying. “Bruce Wayne is a billionaire. He has houses, boats, cars, and is head of a major corporation. He dates super models and, when not wearing the cowl, is the life of the party.” This may appear to be true, but something you can only get if you read the comics (or perhaps watch some of the cartoons, such as Mask of the Phantasm) is that it is all a sham. Sure, it is part of his facade in the movies as well but when you watch them Christian Bale can’t seem to transmit the idea that secretly Bruce Wayne hates the fake lifestyle and considers it a massive waste of time. In the movie it seems like he is partying it up and in his free time is fighting crime (kind of like the Green Hornet).
Bruce Wayne has a miserable life. He is constantly tortured by the death of his parents. He also blames himself whenever one of his rogues gallery kills someone before he could capture him, especially the Joker (Joker image courtesy of the Batman t shirt category). Bruce sleeps like two hour a night and goes out night after night, in spite of the many injuries he suffers on a regular basis. He has no chance of any kind of real personal relationship with a woman, and never gets a break or a chance to rest.
Why does that qualify him a cool? Humans love tragedy. All the best stories involve tragic protagonists (Darth Vader from the original Star Wars trilogy, Sam Lowry from Brazil, Peter Parker from Spiderman, Mad Max, Dr. Morbius from Forbidden Planet, Harvey Dent (Two Face), Edward Norton’s nameless character in Fight Club, Testsuo Shima from Akira, the list goes on). Sure, a decent story could be told about a happy character, but those stories, while entertaining, are quickly forgotten. The stories that stick with you for years after you have seen them involve pain and suffering, not upbeat characters and happy endings.
By the way, anyone who tries to tell me that Superman started in tragedy because his planet blew up before he developed the mental capacity to remember it should go back to reading Richie Rich cartoons. The man grew up in Norman Rockwell picture perfect small town America with the Kents. Give me a break. Also, anyone who tries to cite Anakin Skywalker as a tragic character can go into the laundry room and drink whatever liquids may be located in the cabinets there.
I think that’s why the Joel Schumacher (burn in hell, jackass) Batman movies felt like such a betrayal of the franchise to me. It wasn’t just the Batnipples, the painfully crowbaring of so many villains into one film, the 46 continuity and editing mistakes in Batman and Robin, the bad writhing, the bad acting, the “diamond powered” freeze suit, or the obvious ploy to make a two hour long toy commercial. It was the fact that they portrayed a Bruce Wayne that was kind of light hearted and enjoyed his work as Batman. There is no part of his life that he enjoys. The only scene that had even a trace of tragedy was when Mr. Freeze was locked up and carved an ice statue of his frozen wife to keep him company. That was the most tragic scene in either of the movies and, consequently, it is the one that stick out in my mind the most (the entire rest of both films blurs together like a sewage smoothie in a blender). No wonder it is considered the worst blockbuster of all time.
Anyway, that’s pretty much it for my love of tragic characters and the bromance I feel with Bruce Wayne. If you disagree feel free to respond and I will happily ridicule your shortcomings physical, mental, and emotional.
I am going to see Pirates of the Caribbean at 4:20pm today (bong time, for you stoners out there) and write a review for it tomorrow. I expect it to be a product of the fail school of filmmaking, so I should be able to write some funny stuff. They based the story on one of my all time favorite books, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, so unless it is truly brilliant I will probably come to the blogging process full of betrayed bile. Talk to you soon.