4.28.2008

BG Roundtable: Love and Hate

by Liana

Here at the Bad Genious, we've got a serious case of Iron Man Fever. We're all tingly with anticipation for the May 2 premiere of what's looking to be a spectacular film. This got us thinking about past comic book movies and which of those thrilled us and which left us weeping into our pillows at night. And so, feeling inspired, your Friendly Neighborhood Editor set the task: Talk about a comic book movie you love OR one you hate. Pick one or the other (because it can get really long otherwise) and make it super lovey dovey or totally scathing. Oh, and let's try to keep it relatively short. A few sentences is all we need from each BGer.

What movies did everyone pick? Would any of them follow directions this time? Let's find out....


The General - When I first saw the trailer for the original X-Men movie in the theaters, I nearly cried. Literally. My friends, who knew my love of X-Men comics, turned to me and started asking: "Whoa! What did you think of that?!" But I couldn't respond to them. I was too choked up, too happy because I was finally seeing my favorite characters on the big screen. And done well!

In hindsight, X-Men isn't the best comic movie ever made. Heck, it's not even the best X-Men film. But, that was still my favorite comic movie moment.


Comic book movie you loved....comic book movie MOMENT you loved....practically the same thing, right?


Chris - Unlike a lot of people, I enjoyed Daredevil. I think there was a lot of passion for the character put into it. Ben Affleck was very good as Matt Murdoch and Jon Favreau nailed Foggy Nelson. Casting Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin was brilliant, if unexpected. The problem with the film is that there's too much going on. You've got Kingpin, Elektra, and Bullseye all fighting for screen time, when any one of the three would have been sufficient for one movie. I think the filmmakers were too ambitious with what they were trying to do and none of the stories had room to breathe. Still, there is a good film in there if you're willing to look past the shortcomings.


Oh dear, this is going to be long Roundtable. Well, may as well get Quixote's thesis over with now.


Jon Quixote - The Iron Giant is smart, funny, and it makes me cry like Chad Lowe every time I watch it. Yeah, it's not technically a comic book movie, but on the other hand it's kinda the best Superman movie to date - the Big S isn't technically a character, but his silver-age lessons about self-determination and sacrifice are at the heart of a movie that has a lot of it.


What? That's it?! Hey, maybe this isn't going to be so bad ater all....


Betsy - You know what a Hulk movie needs to make it work?



Ang Lee’s 2002 Hulk is an attempt to show the Hulk as a creature more complex than just a raging id, yelling “HULK SMASH!”

The movie spends a lot of time introducing us to Bruce Banner, the man behind the Hulk, his motivations, his…

Sorry, I fell asleep.

Hulk takes entirely too long to get us to any kind of payoff. This movie is so determined to rise above its comic book origins that it abandons them completely, leaving the audience with nothing to get excited about.

It is my hope that this summer’s The Incredible Hulk finds what was missing in Hulk. I’ll give you a hint as to what it is: it’s green.


Brandon - Frame for frame, From Hell is probably the worst comic-to-film translation thus far. It's as if they gave the nickel version of a plot to someone who hasn't mastered English yet, let alone any other language known to man. This was a comic book deserving of attention more akin to a Coen Brothers film than a teenage slasher flick. It is debatable whether the butchering of this classic comic with the film is just as egregious as the events that inspired it. A failure of a film.


Matt - 300 is my favorite Frank Miller work and one of my top ten graphic novels of all time. But 300 is not my favorite comic book movie. Yet, I do believe that it is the best comic book adaptation. Why? Everything that was in the comic series was presented larger-than-life on the movie screen and it was a joy to see Miller and Varley's fantastic artwork come to life. I think it is the best because of the faithful translation from book to screen. Snyder (the director) shot the movie panel-by-panel from the comic series. While there were some minor changes to the story, (Queen Gorgo asking for support for the army) these small changes did not affect my enjoyment of the film. I am not going to debate if 300 is a good movie or a stinker or discuss the merits of the movie itself. If you liked the book, you should like the movie.


Hey, this going pretty well!


Jon Quixote - The Rocketeer is an underrated adventure.


Waitaminute....Didn't we already hear from you?


Jon Quixote - The Rocketeer is an underrated adventure.


Sigh.


Jon Quixote - The Rocketeer is an underrated adventure. In fact, it’s one of the best comic book movies ever made. Basically, it's Green Lantern translated as Indiana Jones meets Iron Man. If you don't speak nerd, I'll translate (although what are you doing reading this blog?): A WWII-era stunt pilot finds an experimental jetpack and uses to become a super-hero. He saves troubled aircraft. He fights Nazis. His sidekicks are Jennifer Connelly's boobs. And Howard Hughes (as played by John Locke) makes a cameo. Doesn't that sound like fun? It is. A lot.


At least it wasn't 500 words.


Dan - X2 is the perfect comic book movie. We've moved past needing to introduce the main characters and the film opens with a spectacular Nightcrawler scene. The villain is a truly evil, hateful, anti-mutant bastard just like the best X-Men stories, with our heroes fighting those who "fear and hate them." Also, there’s the great, sad, Empire Strikes Back-style ending. It’s a rare case of the sequel improving on everything from the original and, in fact, becoming the best comics-to-film translation yet.


Bill - One might be able to give Superman IV a pass due to the major budget cut (reduced over 50% of original to a paltry $16M) were it not for the transgressions against the iconic characters.

The most serious offenses include making Clark ridiculous and incompetent rather than klutzy and reserved, and Superman's direct and forcible interference in world affairs. The story focused on its agenda for disarmament at the expense of the characters.

A close second to the total disregard of icon is Jon Cryer's inclusion. Well, not Cryer per se, but the character. "I'm breakdancing!" really is not a line to ever be uttered in an action, superhero film.

And rounding the top three reasons Quest for Peace is a tragedy and abomination: the anything-but-special effects. Wait, no, it would need to be the lapse in story elements (they cut 45 minutes of footage -- thankfully, yet at the cost of making sense). Wait, no, it would be the stealing of scenes from prior films and just jamming those in. No, wait, it's "Nuclear Man". No…wait, the real point is there's so much wrong in this film that it's unforgivable and unwatchable.


*headspin*

Your FNE is breakdancing right now.

*buttspin*

Oh yeah!



Coolgirlsar - When I first saw Transformers I was maybe a little biased against it because, for the past never ending months, I had been enduring repeated viewings of the original cartoon movie and tv series, not just because of my four year old son, but also my 30-something husband! I think I was Transformer-ed out. Turns out I wasn't! Sure it’s never going to be the most thought-provoking, edge-of-your-seat film, but it's going to be fun and kids are going to love it. The CGI is amazing, the Tranformers look fantastic and their transformations are expertly captured. Before seeing the film I'd read how much it had cost per second to film each Transformer, so I wasn't expecting to see a lot of them on the big screen. But this isn't the case and you feel as though you get to see plenty of them and not just one character but a variety. Sure Megatron could have had more screen presence, but I have a feeling they were holding out on that for a sequel. By far my favourite Transformer was Bumblebee. He had been altered from his original humble old yellow Beetle to a Camaro, but I think he looked cool and in the context of the film it made sense. The scene of Bumblebee getting caught had me with a frog in my throat much like in the Spiderman 3 movie when Sandman pummeled Spidey. By far the Transformers steal the show, but the acting from Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox isn’t awful. All in all I loved this film. It’s good plain fun.


Doug - American Splendor isn't just a comic book movie; it's a movie about comic books and the slightly insane people who make them.More importantly (to me), it's a real and honest love story, a movie that makes me say "Hey, if Harvey Pekar can find love, then there's somebody out there for everyone.” The heartwarming icing on the cake is the way Harvey and his wife took in that little girl and raised her as their own daughter.


Cindy - I’ve always been a sucker for the loveable tough guy. And few comic book characters are tougher than Hellboy. A clear case of nurture over nature, he’s a demon reared to do good instead of evil. The trouble with a lot of comic book-based movies is that they sexy up the characters to make them more palatable to general non-fanpeople audiences. The 2004 Hellboy doesn’t alter the giant red monster much at all. He’s faithfully depicted, nasty horn stubs and all. He’s shown eating piles of food and smoking cigars. Icky, right? But at the same time, his very gentle and convincing yearning for Liz Sherman actually makes him a little sexy. Hellboy is the perfect balance of action film and romantic comedy, and for those of us who care, the movie is a fairly faithful rendering of the actual comic character.


Mr. Jackazz - What could have been? That's the question I ask myself every time I see Superman Returns. The film had all the necessary ingredients to make it great, but couldn't pull them all together and wound up being easily forgettable.

Poor casting (Kate Bosworth), over-the-top "cartoonish" villains and a story that was just too long and boring hurt any potential this film had. I blame this all on the ego of Bryan Singer.

You could just tell the guy had final cut with Superman Returns and he was going to take full advantage of it. There is way too much fat in Superman Returns and it seemed like no one was wiling to trim it. What made the X-Men films so great was that while the films were different from the comics, Singer still remained faithful to the ideas and themes of the comics as well as the personalities of the characters.

With Superman Returns, Singer decided to use Richard Donner's movie as influence and not the comic. Donner's film was great and all, but I was hoping for a more serious version with a Lex Luthor that actually seemed like a threat and not a two-bit criminal. Luthor and his gang come off more like comedy relief than serious threat and that's where the biggest problem of this movie lies. (Well, that and the horrible Kate Bosworth casting decision. I blame that on you, Kevin Spacey, since it seems that Ms. Bosworth conveniently shows up in all your recent films.) By having a villain who isn't really threatening, you remove a lot of the tension and conflict in the film. We all know that Superman is eventually going to win, but if I believed the villain actually had at least a shot at winning, I would be more interested. This Lex Luthor just didn’t cut it.

The worst part of it all is that Singer teases you in the beginning of the film with an action scene that captures everything that makes Superman so cool. You see the potential is there, only to be totally let down with the rest of the film. I would rather have the film suck from beginning-to-end than have that enticing nugget thrown in my face, just to have it followed up with ideas like Superman having a baby and Lex Luthor as a two-bit gigolo.

Superman Returns is the perfect example of what an uncontrolled ego can do to a film and a reminder to all filmmakers interested in making a comic adaptation what to stay away from.


How many words was that?


Vocal Minority - I've got a nice long document on my computer detailing the problems about this film. It's over a thousand words long. This film is that wrong. But we're supposed to be succinct here, so allow me to surmise:

John Constantine is a cynical, world-weary, morally questionable Brit. In this film, John Constantine is an American.

John Constantine doesn't like guns; he solves his problems with trickery and lies. In this film, John Constantine kicks ass with a crossbow.

John Constantine's world is one where the lines between Heaven and Hell are blurred, and morality is a complex and debatable thing. Here, John Constantine kicks ass for the lord.

John Constantine is a complex, contradictory character. In this film, John Constantine is played by Keanu Reeves.


This film isn't a Constantine flick. This film is some rubbish about fighting demons. It has nothing in it that makes the name attached to it worth having. It's one-dimensional, obvious pap, where it could have and should have been dark, shocking and compelling. Note to Hollywood: when your source material is awesome, you should try not messing it about.


Thanks, VM, for sparing us those thousand words this time. Your FNE promises to to let you post your rant in its entirety another day.

And there you have it, folks. Everything that matters to a great comic book movie and everything that can ruin it. Let's all hope that Iron Man lives up to its potential and that next week's BG Roundtable is full of joyous reviews.

Until next time, this is your Friendly Neighborhood Editor hoping filmmakers remember that Iron Man HATES magic.

11 comments:

The General said...

Next debate: Who hates magic more: Iron Man or Dan?

Oh, and congrats to Jackazz for blowing Jon's word count record out of the water.

And finally, John Locke as Howard Hughs? Now I REALLY need to watch the Rocketeer.

Brandon said...

It's been years since I watched The Rocketeer. Maybe I should revisit it...

Steve Wasser said...

The comments on Singer's Superman are spot on. Between my expectations and the clunker reality, you could have fit that entire stupid kryptonite iceberg.


My least favorite superhero movie has to be X3. Between Cyclops's confusing off-camera death, Xavier's anti-climactic onscreen death, horrible special effects, muddy Jean Grey characterization and lame final battle, there is little to actually enjoy. It's a classic example of cranking out product.

Vocal Minority said...

I think Dan hates magic more. If Iron man was as hate-filled as Dan he'd still be making weapons to kill the masses with.

Matt said...

Like Chris, I did like Daredevil more than most people did. Rocketeer definitely is one of my faves! Kudos!

Brandon said...

I actually liked Superman Returns. I hate Superman in general. Maybe that's why I liked Superman Returns.

The General said...

And just to continue he contrary opinions (and undermine my own comments on X-men in this entry), I actually liked X-men 3.

Brandon said...

I also liked X-3. It was just a comic book movie. Period. Consider the source material. Was it any better or worse than anything Claremont did with the X-Men? It was cheesy and fun as long as you weren't trying to make Mozart out of Metallica. Could it have been better? Certainly, but that's a commentary apt towards nearly everything Hollywood churns out.

Dan said...

While I wouldn't go so far as to call X3 the most disappointing comic film (that's definitely Superman Returns), I walked out of X3 wondering what happened to the great story telling and tight casting and character selection of the first two X-Men movies.

X3 was just a big ol' mess of disappointment and silly story and directing descisions.

Dan said...

Oh, and I totally hate magic more than Iron Man.

Chris Ware said...

X3 was lame-o.