Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ranking the Comics Adaptations - Part VII - No Stink

Parts I, II, III, IV, V, and VI

More comic book movies in a reverse numerical sequence!

23. Man of Steel - This one is a tough one for me to place. As I said in my original review, I'm not sure if this is the best of the worst or the worst of the best. It doesn't quite get the whole thing right, but the great moments are really great. I found myself liking it much more on a second viewing - even enjoying the fight scenes a whole lot more. As a friend pointed out to me, this was the first time we really got to see Kryptonians fight the way you'd expect them to fight. Anyway, I'll probably change my mind about the placement of this one several times.

22. Thor - I'm conflicted about this one as well. The special effects aren't all that great, and the story is only okay. When I think about it, it's not that great of a movie, but every time I see it, I'm thoroughly entertained. I think that the God of Thunder is a tough character to pull off, and I think that they went about it the right way by adding just enough humor to move things along without devolving into campiness. Maybe the fact that this is an essential piece in the overall Avengers movie universe pushes this one higher up than it normally would have gone otherwise.

21. Watchmen - I probably would have placed this much higher after my first viewing, but it's gotten weaker with repeat viewings. Alan Moore said that it was impossible to make into a film. Did Zack Snyder prove him wrong? I'd like to think so. It was amazingly close to the original story, and the biggest change was a smart one to make. I know a lot of people, especially those who haven't read the comic, who didn't like it. I think that much of that has to do with the fact that it's such a cynical story, and usually one doesn't want to deal with that when it comes to superheroes. I admire the ambition of this one, and for the most part, I think they got it right.

20. V for Vendetta - Honestly, my ratings aren't based on how true to the comics a movie is, at least, I try not to have one influence the other. I guess it only bothers me when a movie seems to completely ignore the source material to the point where I'm wondering why they even called it an adaptation in the first place. When it comes to this film, and I know I'm not alone on this, I actually like the film better. Yeah, Natalie Portman's accent is pretty awful, as she seems to come from the school of "British people speak with soft voices" school of accents, but overall this movie tells a tight little story, utilizing elements of tragedy, satire, and some fun action scenes. It's like 1984 with a superhero that Shakespeare would create.

19. Hellboy - Speaking of not being much like the comics, Guillermo del Toro changes a whole lot from Mike Mignola's mythology, but I have little problem with that. It's obviously inspired by the comic, and the basic premise is exactly the same. The character is familiar enough to be recognizable as well. Anyway, this movie is a lot of dumb fun with Nazis, a resurrected Rasputin, monsters, and all sorts of craziness. There really isn't anything else like it, and while the plot suffers in the third act, it's clearly a labor of love. I wrote more about both Hellboy movies here.

18. Dredd - Better known as Dredd 3D when it was in the theater, I found myself liking this one more and more on repeat viewings. It's the sort of thing that might go dramatically down the list as time goes by, but right now it entertains the hell out of me. It's not as ambitious in its storyline as I might have liked it to be, but this movie doesn't compromise its vision in the slightest, which makes sense considering the lead character is a man who compromises for nothing and nobody. Here's what I thought after my first viewing.

17. X-Men: First Class - This is a movie that was better than it had any right to be. I was expecting absolutely nothing from it, but when the reviews started coming in, I had to at least check it out. I was surprised by the witty dialogue and pleased to see the characters wear outfits that were closer approximations to what they wore in the comic books than the outfits from the previous movies. The cast was good, and I cared more about Wolverine in his quick cameo than I did during the entirety of his first solo movie.

16. X2 - Also known as X-Men 2, this one doesn't hold up for me as well as I would have thought it would, but it's still pretty good. It takes everything that the first one got right and does it one better. All of the themes of bigotry are there - even with the great "Can't you just stop being a mutant?" line coming from Iceman's mother. The only really bad part though? Wolverine putting the cigar out in his hand. No, it's not that he did that, but that he grimaced as he did it. Wolverine is a badass. He wouldn't even blink.

15. Iron Man 2 - I remember being disappointed with this one when I first saw it, but in repeat viewings, it gets better and better. I think that it had a long way to fall, as the first one will rank up pretty high on this list. I don't think that the father/son storyline worked as well as it could have, and perhaps it juggled too many characters. Still, the performances are fun, the dialogue is snappy, and the action scenes might even be a bit better than in the original. Plus, I love when Sam Rockwell does his little dance at the Stark Expo.

14. Thor: The Dark World - I've only seen this one once so far, but I feel safe putting it up higher than its predecessor. Again, nothing dramatic or Earth-shaking about this one, but it does everything that worked well in the first one and kicks it up a notch. The relationship with Loki is great, including one particular scene where Thor calls him out on his bullcrap. More could have been done with the villain, and I know that some people didn't like the humor, but overall I felt like it was a satisfying ride. Oh, and the special effects were a big improvement, as I found myself more caught up in the world than being aware of the green screen. Now if only they'd stop treating these gods like they were aliens (although I know that has precedence in the comic book.) Here's my full review

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