Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Superhero Movies


I only truly love three "superhero" franchises:  Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and the X-Men series, originated by director Bryan Singer, who came back for the latest piece in the latest trilogy, which is easily my favorite since the original.

Now, let me be clear:  I am not big on superhero movies, or even traditional comic books, for that matter. It's just not for me. I am not a fanboy as far as this sort of thing is concerned. And I honestly haven't seen a superhero movie pre-Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989).

I fell in with the wave of new special effects extravaganzas, starting with the franchises listed above. Singer, Raimi, and Nolan revolutionized the genre and have made it what it is today. I'm pretty sure every superhero will have had a movie by the end of this decade. Maybe that's good. I haven't liked much of anything outside of these three biggies, except for I sort of liked the original "Iron Man" (2008).

And so we're back with another week in Wandering through the Shelves Thursday Movie Picks Meme...

This time...Superhero Movies, or (How the second film in the trilogy is best).


Here are my super Thursday Movie Picks:

Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi, 2004)


Sam Raimi's second outing has proven among most to be the best of his trilogy. It really is better. It is darker, but not too dark like the third. It is funny, but not campy like the first. The special effects are grounded and realistic and fun as hell. Kirsten Dunst is gorgeous and incredible. Alfred Molina is perfect as robotic arm wielding mad man, "Doc Oc," the most human of the trilogy's villains. And the end of this movie is so pleasing it's ridiculous. Bringing in novelist Michael Chabon as a screenwriter was a genius touch. You can so tell this film was cared about by the people involved in its making. 

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)


Christopher Nolan's second outing with The Bat Man has proven to be the best of this trilogy as well. It is of the best crime sagas ever made. Forget the superhero movie label. This is a real deal, serious piece of cinema. Heath Ledger's legendary posthumous Oscar-winning performance as The Joker will never be matched in any other movie of this kind. Christian Bale truly proved he IS the best Batman in this one. The replacement of Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal as A.D.A. Rachel Dawes is the smartest move of this franchise. The Batmobile and Batcycle set pieces are thrilling as fun and dark and just fucking awesome (sorry for the language)! And that final shot with the Gary Oldman voiceover. Goodness! 

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Bryan Singer, 2014)


In my review of last summer's latest piece in the newest X-Men prequel/sequel trilogy, I actually compared it, in my own enjoyment of it, to the previous movies I've discussed today. Despite a shaky, almost ugly, opening sequence, original X-Men helmer, Bryan Singer brings this thing back. Days of Future Past serves as the second part of a trilogy that sends the prequel element of 2011's X-Men: First Class on a collision course with the present-day characters originating in the first trilogy (2000-2006). This movie is fun! The casting is brilliant. McAvoy and Stewart. Fassbender and McKellen. Jackman. Lawrence. On and on and on. Then, there's Evan Peters as Quicksilver. His short appearance is the finest thing I've seen in an action movie in years. And, to top it off, all will be returning, plus more, for third installment, X-Men: Apocalypse. The one superhero movie I am truly looking forward to next summer. Suck on that, Zack Snyder!

Honorable Mention

The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)


I recently re-watched this one. Man, it's great! I forgot how perfect it is. This is a case where animation really works for me. I am not much for animated movies. I wasn't even into them as a kid. Brad Bird is a genius. Shooting this animated film much like a live-action superhero movie. The voice work from Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jason Lee is top-notch. Plus, Sarah Vowell's odd voice is so good for the daughter character, Violet. The mid-century set design and horn-heavy score...perfect. Then, the wit! This is a smart comedy and action movie. Love it!

22 comments:

  1. Great picks! Spider-man 2 was my favorite from the series, I need to re-watch The Dark Knight soon, and loved Days of Future Past. The Incredibles is awesome and I cannot wait for the sequel!

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    1. Thanks! Looks like we're right in line. Sweet!

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  2. Oh, I loved all your picks! Especially The Dark Knight. I picked The Dark Knight as well, for me, it raises the bar for other superhero movie, doesn't it?

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    1. Thanks! It really does. One of the best movies, not just superhero movies, out there.

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  3. The Dark Knight, now that is a film I expected to see. It's a great film, shame the third was quite disappointing. Quite liked the Days of Future past, found it better than the first, and nice bonus pick!

    Much like you I don't think much of Zack Snyder...

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    1. Snyder's Superman movie was one of the worst I've ever seen. I have no idea what the heck that movie was about.

      Thanks!

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  4. Even if it's shaky and ugly, I enjoy the opening sequence of DOPF.
    I only remember I like Spider Man and Spider Man 2, but I forget the content of the two fims.

    Great picks by the way!

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    1. It was interesting but just struck me as so random, that opening scene. They are both great. The third was majorly disappointing.

      Thanks!

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  5. I love the first two, but I hated DOFP. I'm not crazy about the new X-men movies as a whole, and even bringing back some of my favorites (though cutting Rogue SUCKED) didn't help.

    Still, Raimi's Spiderman for ever. I love the first two.

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    1. Really!? I like these new X-Men movies better than any since the original two. I would've like to have seen Rogue as well. But, come on! Fassbender as Magneto. That is so good. And I love Jennifer Lawrence. Her presence makes movies better for me.

      Webb's new Spiderman movies are nowhere near as good. People need to get over that shit!

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  6. I just re-watched The Incredibles too, and agree that the voice cast is really really good. Jason Lee as the villain was a great choice.

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    1. Such a great movie. Brad Bird is a genius.

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  7. Love all three (four) of these picks. Yup, the sequels are usually WAY better in terms of Superhero films, so I'm stoked for Incredibles 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which are already in the works!!!

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    1. Incredibles 2 is gonna be great! I can't wait to see Adventureland as well. Brad Bird will be hailed a treasure of American cinema when it's all said and done.

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  8. I'm embarrassed to say I still haven't seen the Raimi Spider-man movies. I'm not sure why, I just haven't.

    I'm not a fan of the Dark Knight films - I found the last two WAY too dark for their own good (the atmosphere is CRUSHING, especially when the run-time is so long), and TDK in particular has some spectacularly crappy editing (Jim Emerson's "In The Cut" video analysis of one of the chase scenes is essential viewing), despite all the visual splendor on display. But there is no denying Heath Ledger's flat-out brilliant work as the Joker.

    I thought Days of Future Past was a BLAST. The Quicksilver "Time in a Bottle" scene was the absolute highlight of 2014 for me. And The Incredibles more than lives up to its name.

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    1. They are good. Way better than the new ones, if you ask me.

      You are one of the only people I've ever heard of that doesn't love those movies. All good, though. I like the darkness and the seriousness. It takes away the silly, campy superhero stuff that turns me off and makes it into a real crime drama. As far as the editing, I've never noticed. And I usually notice stuff like that. I'll check out that video anyway. I love stuff like that.

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  9. The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie ever made. In general, you're right, the 2nd movie in Superhero franchise is the best. Still warming up to Days of Future Past. I liked it, loved everything about Quicksilver, just don't love it...yet. Can't say enough good things about The Incredibles.

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    1. Agreed.

      I instantly loved the new X-Men. So much fun.

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  10. Yes, the second superhero film is always the best, and the third is always the worst with only a few exceptions. And you know, since the X-Men films have such an odd timeline I hadn't even really thought about how DOFP is actually the second film in the prequel series (which may well continue on past just a trilogy) All three great picks, not much that can be said about the Dark Knight that hasn't been said already, and I think I need to re-watch it but I still enjoy the first X-Men film as my favorite. - Bubbawheat

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    1. It's funny how that works isn't it. I think what hurts the third film most in these cases is the huge success of the second. I don't think it's anything inherent in the storytelling, even though the second part is the biggest action/climax of the entire trilogy.

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  11. I preferred the first Spiderman slightly more but both that and the second are entertaining popcorn movies, the third is a miss though. I liked X-Men-DoFP but I'm growing a bit weary of the series. Somehow I've never gotten around to The Dark Knight, I don't much care for Bale so that has a lot to do with it, but some day. I'm not an animation fan so The Incredibles is one I'll probably never see.

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    1. I actually think 2 is the far better Spiderman movie, but I loved all three, even if the third was overblown in all the wrong ways. I really dig this new wave of X-Men movies. For me, they're way better than the Wolverine origin story ones. I hated both of those. The Dark Knight is a great movie period. I really think you should see it. Bale is irritating at times but never in this role for me.

      Hear this: I am not an animation fan either. Like, at all. But there are some that really work and this is one of them. If you do decide to give on a try, just watch the following Pixar films and nothing else: Toy Story and Toy Story 3, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, this one, and Ratatouille. All perfect movies. These movies are animation done right.

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