Friday, January 10, 2014

Ranking the Comics Adaptations - Part VI - Little Stink

Parts I, II, III, IV, and V

I continue onward, knowing that I will likely want to change everything after thinking about it.

33. Blade II - This is probably my favorite movie that I don't actually think is good. There's some clunky dialogue (but to be fair - some really fun dialogue, mostly spoken by Chris Christopherson) and some bad special effects (but some good ones too!) The premise is ridiculous, and there are several silly moments. However, it just clicks with me. The two things that I think work really well is the villain, who's almost like something out of Shakespeare in his motivations. Also, Wesley Snipes manages to convey the one thing that is actually interesting about the character - he hates himself. Too bad that angle wasn't explored further, because we might have had something beyond dumb, fun entertainment. Check out Roger Ebert's review - he loved it.

32. Batman - A lot of the movies that are higher up on this list owe a debt to this one, and its influence is still pretty clear. It was the first time since the original Christopher Reeve Superman that Hollywood took a superhero seriously, even though that all started to fall apart as soon as the first sequel. The movie has a great look, and much of it still holds up. Still, the plot just doesn't have much momentum, and much of the dialogue sounds like a series of cool lines that sound good on their own but don't flow very well together. Read my full review here.

31. Batman Returns - I'll probably catch some hell for this one, putting it in front of the original, but I'll stand by it. The bad parts are worse than anything in the first one, but the good parts are better than anything in it. I guess I have a real preference for well-written dialogue, as there are a lot of really great moments in this, particularly every moment with Christopher Walken. It all unravels, and I probably like this more as a Tim Burton movie than a Batman movie, but I still have a soft spot for it. Here's my full review.

30. From Hell - This one gets a lot of mixed reviews, and it really isn't very true to the comic book - so much that I was tempted to not even include it. Still, it follows the basic premise of the original, and it was a fascinating look into the world of late 19th Century Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper, a subject with which I've been very interested in ever since I took the Jack the Ripper Walking Tour in London. I've read some reviews that complained that it wasn't very scary, but I'm not entirely sure that it was supposed to be - it creates a creepy, disturbing mood filled with conspiracies in a world of filth and corruption rather than try to jump out and scare you.

29. Spider-Man - The sheer fact that Spider-Man is my favorite superhero almost made me elevate this one a bit more. Don't get me wrong - there's a lot to like. However, once again, clunky dialogue spoils it a bit for me in repeat viewings. Still, as a fan of the comics, I felt like this was a good representation of a character whom I loved for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, the Green Goblin design looks lame whenever he gets off the glider, and I would have liked to see a Mary Jane whose personality was a bit more like that in the comics.

28. The Rocketeer - I bought this one recently when I saw it cheap on Blu-Ray, and I'm wanting to watch it again after doing this list. I got to see it in the movie theater, and one of my prized-possessions is a personalized, autographed collection of Rocketeer comics by the late, great Dave Stevens. The movie definitely captured the look and feel of the comics, and insert comment about how voluptuous Jennifer Connelly was when she was young (not that she's somehow unattractive now, but she definitely fit the part of a character who was essentially a visual homage to Bettie Page. There's nothing spectacular about this movie, but there isn't anything to really complain about, either.

27. The Incredible Hulk - This movie aims a lot lower than the previous Hulk movie, but unlike the other, it actually hits its target. Is there anything special about this? No, and later we were to see The Hulk done the way he REALLY should be done in The Avengers. However, everybody does a serviceable job in it. The Hulk looks good, and the action scenes are well done - even though he basically just beats up the Abomination at the end. (How the hell do they contain him once he wakes up?) I liked Edward Norton and was disappointed that he wasn't coming back until I saw what Mark Ruffalo could do.

26. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - Oh yeah, this counts, 'cause I saw it in the theaters. Yeah, the production values are only a degree or two higher than an episode of the TV show, but I said it back when it was out, and I'll say it again - at the time, it had a smarter story and better characterization than any of the live-action Batman films. (Keep in mind, this is before the "Dark Knight" trilogy.) It also had a really entertaining Joker - one that was more reminiscent of the comic book character than any we had seen before. Here's my full review, and check out Siskel and Ebert's review:

25. X-Men - A lot of the better superhero movies owe a debt to this one as well, and even though there are a few lame bits here and there, I still admire this one for its earnestness and how it remained true to the central theme of the comics. Bryan Singer admitted to not having read the comics growing up, and even though they didn't want to create too much of the look of the comics, it certainly was recognizable, story-wise, to long time fans of Marvel's mutants.

24. Iron Man 3 - After seeing this for the first time, I said that it was better than the second Iron Man movie. However, even though I was disappointed with that one, it got better for me when I watched it on Blu-Ray. With this one, the opposite happened. I still like it, and it has all the hallmarks of what was good about the other two movies, but it just has less of them. And the whole subplot with the kid, while not as bad as that sort of a thing could be, didn't quite work for me. Personally, I didn't have a problem with the way they handled The Mandarin because it was such an amusing concept.

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