the avengers

Movie Review: Iron Man 3 (2013)

image

I must admit that as much as I loved IRON MAN I probably could have been done with the series after IRON MAN 2. I didn’t hate the sequel, but aside from the racing sequence it seemed like nothing more than a clone of the first film with an equally if less satisfying finale. It took nothing more than one trailer for IRON MAN 3 for me to change my tune completely, granted THE AVENGERS did soften the blow immensely. With all due respect to comic nerds, IRON MAN 3 delivered on almost every level for me and I dare say it could possibly end up being my favorite of the series thus far.

Following the events during the finale of THE AVENGERS, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who we all know also as Iron Man, is struggling to sleep- in fact when he does he has terrible nightmares. A lack of sleep has also lead to a series of equally distressing panic attacks as he is terrified of the potential that he cannot match the power of his opponents and thus cannot protect the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). While Stark struggles the world is looking at a global terror threat in the form of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who has been causing lots of tension with a series of mysterious bombings of which there is no evidence of an actual bomb at the scene. When Stark’s interest in the matter becomes personal he can’t resist the urge to call out terrorist which sparks an intense confrontation where Stark must alone face a threat unlike anything he’s seen.

It’s true that I have never read an Iron Man comic in my life and it’s been made abundantly clear that because of that I cannot comment on how a comic lover would enjoy IRON MAN 3, but as a fan of the first film and the character as portrayed by Downey Jr. I have to say this movie straight up rocks. I am aware of an Extremis plot within the comics, which this film explores and Shane Black’s film works for me in every way. It isn’t perfect by any means, but the personal conflict Stark faces along with the way it ties in with THE AVENGERS all hit me in a way that I enjoyed greatly.

I did have some questions with some of the logistics of certain scenes and the fact that this takes place in a post Avengers world how at some point none of them might have been called upon, but at some point I just was okay with brushing aside those thoughts and enjoying how fun and exciting the film is on its own. Shane Black’s script had enough surprises and flip flops to keep me on my toes and interested in the outcome of any given situation to almost make me forget how let down I felt after IRON MAN 2. I am not quite sure if it really stacks up with THE AVENGERS in terms of total enjoyment, but as an Iron Man film it delivered in every way for me.

The special effects are great and when integrated into some of the central action sequences they are easily the best the series has seen. The climactic battle is alone better than the first two film’s final fights put together. Aside from the finale there are two really epic action sequences that are equally impressive in terms of visuals and overall quality of filmmaking. Don’t get me wrong because I love THE AVENGERS, but the plane rescue in this film at times beats many of the action set pieces featured in Joss Whedon’s film.

It was a breath of fresh air to see a new face behind the camera for the third IRON MAN, but I must say that Black’s script doesn’t always take full advantage of its characters in spite of some really fun surprises. I also don’t find the use of 3D to be necessary despite the fact that it works incredibly in the plane rescue and a few other moments, but felt wasted in many other scenes including the finale.

IRON MAN 3 is bound to have a crowd of detracts, but then again what movie doesn’t these days. Shane Black did more than enough to restore my faith in the franchise and in the process directed a film that could close it out in a satisfying way and be the most enjoyable of the series. Robert Downey Jr. continues to knock it out of the park as the wisecracking billionaire and eccentric genius while carrying everyone around him. IRON MAN 3 also shares some of the villain woes from its predecessors, but makes up for them in ways the previous films didn’t. This non-comic enthusiast may not have the knowledge that most nerds have, but I still give the film two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Rating: A-

Advertisements

Best/Worst Movies of 2012

It’s that time of year once again- the time to make new friends and enemies. Top 10 lists have the tendency to makes eyes roll and bring people’s blood to a boil either for leaving their favorite movie off the list or including a movie they hated. It never stops there though because omitting a pick is one thing, but placement is a whole separate issue because God forbid you love something a smidgen more or exponentially more than someone else. That being said, to each their own and below you can see my favorite movies of 2012 along with some honorable mentions.

As always, if you want to disagree with me even more then feel free to check out my Top 10 Horror movies of 2012 and new for this year just because I’m a glutton for punishment you can now check out my first ever 10 Best So-So Movies of 2012. Enjoy!

(10) Killing Them Softly – Kicking things off with one I don’t expect to cross over with the majority of lists you might see online is KILLING THEM SOFTLY. I believe I was clear in my indifference with the unflinching material in this film revolving around the state of the American economy which still sort of surprises me when I think about how I can still love it so much. The fact of the matter is that I still think the script is strong, just excessive in the economy talk, Brad Pitt is great and the sound design is pretty awesome as well. For me this one an extremely entertaining hitman flick that missed being just one slot higher only to the upcoming hitman flick with an even better performance from a well known actor.

(9) Killer Joe – Easing up the list we have a film not all that different from KILLING THEM SOFTLY, except that William Friedkin’s film doesn’t want to beat you over the head with economy issues and instead wants to make things real weird at the dinner table. KILLER JOE like the previous film features a killer that comes on scene and does his thing except I found Matthew McConaughey’s performance to be much more haunting, disturbing and uncomfortably hilarious. The brutality and weirdness of the final 30 minutes here isn’t as graphically disturbing as it is mentally troubling given the events that are going down. I am a movie fan that feeds on the art of performance and in terms of performers that carry their film’s KILLER JOE’s ensemble may just be the best among the list, it just falls lower on the list due to how often I think I would ever want to put myself through it again.

(8) Wreck-It Ralph  Changing pace from dark hitman thrillers to extremely light family film. I wrestled with two different animated movies to include on the list, but ultimately one I chose to include on a different list and settled on WRECK-IT RALPH to represent the animated features of 2012. Sure this isn’t quite up to par with that of the best Pixar releases, but I still found this to be a whole lot of fun. The voice actors are all cast perfectly, the animation is fantastic and there is a great balance of sweet and funny moments in the script. As a guy who falls for nostalgia on a regular basis there’s a lot in WRECK-IT RALPH that had me giggling and feeling like a kid again.

(7) Looper  If you aren’t on the Rian Johnson bandwagon, then there’s never been a better time to hop on. LOOPER is Johnson’s third effort and shows all the signs of a filmmaker with limitless creativity and a voice that I look forward to hearing from for many more years to come. This time travel drama/thriller wasn’t even what I was expecting going in and what it ended up being I loved maybe more than what I was expecting. The dual performances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis are great and the awesome diner scene showcases that point. It may not be the balls to the wall actioner the trailer makes it out to be, but the action that’s there is a lot of fun and the script is one of the smartest of the year. If not for a few moments in the middle that it drifts off then LOOPER could have been battling for the top spot.

(6) Skyfall – It’s come to my attention just this year that I should really make time for a lot of the older Bond films. I’ve been meaning to, I just never really seem to have the time to fit them in between my regular TV and movie consumption. Thy being said I loved CASINO ROYALE and I chose not to mention the second film and loved SKYFALL even more of the more recent Daniel Craig lead films. Javier Bardem is genius as the villain here and the action scenes are fantastic. To some it may become tedious, but I had nothing but fun with this one.

 (5) The Avengers – If I’m being perfectly honest, I really love THE AVENGERS, but I feel a little weird including it on a best of list this high. The truth of the matter is that not at any moment do I recognize this as hard hitting meaningful cinema, but instead this is nothing but a no holds barred fun blockbuster with few things for me to complain about. The special effects are great, the actors are great, it’s funny and there is no end to the excitement it gives me watching it. So while I feel a little guilty including it so high with all the emotionally resonant films out there this year, I also don’t due to how much fun I had with it.

(4) The Cabin in the Woods – If you read my Top 10 Horror list before this one, you may have been asking yourself why THE CABIN IN THE WOODS was missing from it. I generally do not like to repeat movies on separate lists so that is the short answer. I also like to include AT LEAST one horror to represent the best of the year and while there was another candidate, I felt that THE CABIN IN THE WOODS was the more obvious choice. This is a great send up to the slew of horror films we’ve seen over and over and over again that embodies then turns upside-down the conventions we are all too used to. If you can’t at the very least crack a smile in the last half hour of this film than I have no hope for your ability to enjoy much of anything.

(3) The Dark Knight Rises – Say what you will about THR DARK KNIGHT RISES, but each time I watch this movie I feel like I love it more. I too am not without my nitpicks and certain dumb elements of the film which is why I decided to not put it higher on the list let alone the top spot. I thought Tom Hardy was phenomenal as Bane, the score still gives me chills and in what might be the least agreed upon view of the film I thought every scene was filmed incredibly- that includes the fight scenes. The cinematography is just another gorgeous aspect of this film and I have no plans to file this away on the Blu-Ray shelf anytime soon.

(2) Argo – I went in a few weeks late on dishing out my love for ARGO, but I’m a firm believer in the “better late than never” statement. Ben Affleck, while not at his strongest on camera is brilliant behind it as this film is full of tense memorable scenes. I agree with those that feel the screenplay and most of the finale can feel incredibly manipulative for the sake of the plunging the audience into deeper terror more than it may have been in real life, but then again I have no issues being manipulated when it comes to my movie excursions.

(1) Django Unchained – I specifically wanted to get out to see DJANGO UNCHAINED before wrapping up my year end lists- not because I knew I would love it and would make the list, but because it was one film that I was extremely excited for that I wanted to see to at least consider for my list. Lucky for me, I love this film and as I stated in my review I have my reservations about the racial elements in the film, but rather than focus on them as a reason to not like I want to just focus on the things I loved. The script (minus excessive racist remarks) is hilarious and sharp, the performances are phenomenal, all the music choices worked for me and I thought the cinematography was great. It may not be as tightly edited as it could have been and falls short of being my outright favorite Tarantino film, but even a lesser Tarantino is enough to top my list.

Honorable Mentions:
Magic Mike, The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook, Friends with Kids, 21 Jump Street, Goon

Worst Films of 2012 Roundup (In no particular order)
Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
The Watch
Dark Shadows
One for the Money
ATM
The Hole
Total Recall
Chernobyl Diaries

What’s Missing?
At this point you are probably asking yourself “How come this one particular movie isn’t on the list?” This would then be the time I eventually say maybe I didn’t feel the same way in the comments or you can browse the following list of movies from 2012 I haven’t had a chance to see yet. To give a little extra layer to these movies the titles in bold are films I really want to see and those not highlighted in bold are ones I may check out at some point, but I’m not tripping over myself to do so.

Life of Pi
Lincoln
Seven Psychopaths
Moonrise Kingdom
The Sessions
The Imposter
Holy Motors
The Master 
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Les Miserables
Zero Dark Thirty 
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Impossible

And The Best Movie of Mid 2012 Is…

Maybe I’m just getting fooled left and right, but I have been extremely impressed with the quality of movies so far this year. There are several releases just within the first few months that I cannot wait to own on DVD/Blu-Ray and watch on loop days after purchase. Some movies as much as I loved them and may end up on my end of the year top 10 sometimes lose a bit with multiple viewings while others get better and better every time I watch them. An example of a movie I really loved and was surprised about when I left the theaters was FRIENDS WITH KIDS and is one I’m referring to that could end up on my top 10 of the year once I’m able to watch it again, but one I wondered how it would hold up on a second or even third viewing.

Going further, I rarely have time to see movies more than once in theaters and so far this year I have managed to see one movie twice, even though it won’t be holding the torch as my favorite halfway through 2012 and that’s 21 JUMP STREET. Admittedly I was extremely and maybe overly enthusiastic about this when I got out of it the first time, which was evident when people I know including my wife felt a little let down when they didn’t love it nearly as much as me. I do stand by my opinion though as it is still the comedy to beat so far in 2012. Some other notable releases that deserve some love as standouts of 2012 so far are films like THE HUNGER GAMES, PROMETHEUS, GOON and CHRONICLE. Of those last few I’m not sure if they will make the list at the end of the year, especially if the quality keeps up as it’s been, but anything is possible.

So when I sat down trying to think of what movie I would call my favorite of the year so far in 2012 I came down at almost a three way tie. It was so incredibly hard to narrow it down to just one and in the end I think I have one that I can say is my favorite so far this year while the other two should not be slighted because as I said, once I can watch each of them one or two more times it could change. Of the three I have only seen one of them for a second time and that has only been because one was just released on DVD. Before I get to that thought the other two films I have also been extremely enthusiastic about since seeing them and reside in vastly different genres.

I’ll start with THE CABIN IN THE WOODS- here’s a film that floored me in the end, but it took me on a ride that for the first part I wasn’t exactly sure what was so special. Once the third act kicks in everything just sort of fell into place and I started to fill in the gaps and loving the first half more than I did at first. It’s bound to be one of my favorite horror movies of the year, however should I decide to ditch a horror list and go with a best of the year overall, I’d be shocked if this didn’t show up somewhere. Coming in second is another film with Joss Whedon attached, only this time as the director, THE AVENGERS. I am still head over heels in love with this movie, but without a chance to go back through and pick out some of the things I may have overlooked due to my utter enthusiasm for the film I couldn’t bring myself to say that this is my favorite of the year so far let alone if it will be there for an end of the year list. Regardless, it is still one of my favorites and if I had to put a number on it, it’s easily number two right now.

Last but not least my favorite movie so far this year. To give a little context, I expected nothing from this movie when I sat down to watch it, based on the sheer popcorn fluff his precious film ended up being. What I did expect was wall to wall wolf punching- needless to say sometimes expectations can be exceeded and that they were with THE GREY. I dug THE A-TEAM, but let’s be honest, it’s a ridiculous movie. Joe Carnahan set us up to knock us down with THE GREY- the marketing sold it as a thriller featuring an epic scene of Liam Neeson throwing down with a wolf and then what we got was a survival thriller with deep introspective themes such as dealing and coming to terms with death. I wasn’t expecting a superbly acted drama/thriller which is why when that’s what I got I was hooked and even the somewhat let down of an ending didn’t sway me- I prefer the restraint at the end rather than Carnahan calling his shot and swinging for the fences, when there is a severe possibility of that swing whiffing hardcore and illicit violent boos from the stands.

There you have it, my favorite movies of 2012 so far. Trust me, we have a long way to go and there are still a lot of movies I just haven’t had a chance to see. Keep your eyes peeled for reviews posted throughout the rest of the year to stay up to date and possibly placing bets on what will be in the ranks of the top ten lists at the end of the year. Till then feel free to weigh in with what your favorite movies of 2012 are. Maybe even what you consider to be the worst. Luckily I haven’t been supremely let down by a ton of flicks this year, but if I had to pick, the distinction belongs to DARK SHADOWS- yet then again, I wasn’t holding my breath that it was going to be the second coming of movies.

What are your favorite movies of 2012 so far? Worst?

Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)

image

This movie is awesome! There you go that’s really all I have to say- but at the risk of wasting space with just a short sentence I’ll indulge further. THE AVENGERS isn’t just the best action movie of the year- so far- it’s better than all of the previous Marvel superhero movies released to date. So good in fact that it almost seems pointless to make any sequels to the previous films or spinoff hero films because people will probably just wish the rest of the Avengers showed up and wrecked shop. It’s also safe to say that I think Joss Whedon should be tapped to direct every superhero movie from here on out- maybe even every action movie from here on out. So hopefully his schedule is clear.

By now everyone is likely aware the film combines the heroes from previous Marvel films to form what are known as The Avengers. Thor’s brother Loki has conspired to bring an army, the Chitauri, to Earth in hopes of ruling the planet with the help of a cube of energy, the Tesseract, which opens a portal that summons the army from another world into ours. It’s up to S.H.I.E.L.D. to assemble a handful of heroes- Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain America and The Hulk to stop the threat from taking over the world.

Enough of that though, I’d rather just take time to go on and on about how awesome it was to see each of these heroes working together in all their unique ways. Each character is introduced perfectly, with the exception of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who comes and goes here and there till the end when he has a bigger role. The film doesn’t lean on any one of the characters specifically and instead does something even better by showing them together as a group as much as possible. What’s even better than that is showing them at odds with each other which makes them uniting to fight Loki and the Chitauri even more satisfying.

THE AVENGERS is extremely action packed and when it’s not its laugh out loud funny. The script is incredibly smart and clever in the set up for action but also with very funny jokes. During the action there are also moments of snarky comments from none other than Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man while he’s taking out enemies or funny physical gags- the best involving The Hulk and his massive physical presence and brutal strength. The relationships between the characters build so well that their chemistry by the end is incredible which is remarkable in and of itself with the star power involved and the amount of screen time it takes to get each character time to shine.

The special effects are top notch- providing several money shots within the action scenes themselves and often blending seamlessly with the environments. Good special effects being key for a movie with such fantastic ideas and out of this world characters, but the entire movie plays out like what a child would vision in their head while playing with their action figures, except maybe even more imaginative. Even the more intimate of action set pieces have elements of pure adrenaline and excitement- which comes across in large part due to how connected we are to the characters which is just another way to praise Whedon and company for how well everything is fleshed out.

We couldn’t have asked for a better cast- even if most were obligated to reprise their roles based on their previous appearances. Downey is hysterical as always as the billionaire playboy, Tony Stark/Iron Man; Evans is phenomenal once again as the soldier with a heart of gold, Steve Rogers/Captain America. I guess the only real question mark for me was bringing in Mark Ruffalo to play Bruce Banner/Hulk- but my worries were needless because his turn as the green beast with serious anger management issues was my favorite use of the character in film yet and his green Mr. Hyde side gets plenty of applause inducing moments.

I’d hate to sound overzealous, but the truth be told at the moment I can’t think of a single aspect of the film I didn’t like. I also hesitate to call it perfect because in all honesty I don’t believe in calling any film perfect. THE AVENGERS though is one of those exceptions I believe is rating proof as one I can give my full approval and not feel bad about it. Even as long as the film is it moves like a freight train and is always fun and exciting to watch. I fully expect the film to play extraordinarily well on multiple viewings even once it is released for home video consumption.

On spectacle alone THE AVENGERS would have my full recommendation, but as a whole the film is a smart, funny, exciting and even dramatically engaging summer blockbuster- and one of the best in recent years. Anchored by an all-star cast that turn in fantastic work, amazing special effects and a script that is paced perfectly allowing for a long but always exciting runtime t and when it was over I was ready to plant myself in my seat and watch again. THE AVENGERS is a midyear marvel that is one of the brightest shining stars of an already promising year of cinematic adventures.

Rating: 10/10

Movies To Watch For In 2012

No sooner than 2011 comes to a close does it come time to look ahead to the vast number of hyped and anticipated releases of the new year. The first few months usually offer little in terms of extremely high quality movies that will be discussed come best of lists in December unless one just comes out of nowhere to surprise everyone. Below is a list of films that I personally am looking forward to seeing in 2012. They are in no particular order minus the first film as it’s my number one most anticipated movie of any coming year at this very moment.

At the end I will give a brief rundown of films I am not looking forward to seeing but will likely end up seeing at some point. Don’t write off these films completely though since my list of least anticipated movies last year included the FRIGHT NIGHT remake which is a film I really enjoyed once I got to see it.

MOST ANTICIPATED 2012 RELEASES

The Dark Knight Rises – Much like THE DARK KNIGHT before its release, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES countdown to release haunts me every single day with how intensely I want to see the film. The vast amount of spy footage we’ve seen so far does not satisfy my thirst of content I want to see from this movie and the teaser posters and trailer only torture me more. I remain unconvinced that Bane will be a better villain than Heath Ledger’s Joker, but only time will tell if Tom Hardy can join the ranks of unforgettable villains.

The Cabin In The Woods – After being pushed back for quite some time this film was screened in front of the BNAT crowd to lots of rave reaction and has since been screened for critics that have also been quite kind to the film. The bad news is that they also say to avoid all trailers and footage and to go in fresh, which doesn’t help me and countless others who watched the trailer which surfaced well before any screenings. Regardless, I think the trailer was awesome and I cannot wait to see this one finally.

The Hunger Games – I have quite a bit of reservations regarding the big screen adaptation of the popular young adult series, but after the initial theatrical trailer I have to say some of them were eased a bit. I really like Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, but we shall see if everyone else stacks up. The book series was pretty satisfying minus a pretty soft and unsatisfying ending, so I am pretty excited to see how this plays out on the big screen.

The Avengers – We’ve been building to this movie for the last few years with all the separate superhero movies like IRON MAN, THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA- now they are all combined and ready to work together to save the world. The trailer for the film was pretty cool and I’m hoping by the time this comes out I won’t be completely sick of superhero movies- Batman is usually the only exception I can always go for a Batman movie the others can be hit and miss.

The Divide – 2012 may be the perfect year to hit us with all these end of the world apocalypse movies given the hype that we will be exposed to come December. THE DIVIDE has been getting a lot of good buzz from the screenings it has had at film festivals and the trailer looks to hint at some pretty tense and crazy activities in store for us come release day.

World War Z – I’m still in the process of finishing Max Brooks’ novel but of what I’ve read so far I have to say I’m pretty excited about the possibility of the film version. Granted it sounds like the film is going to be vastly different from the book, but on the concept alone I believe this could end up being a pretty great zombie apocalypse film. Reading the book I can easily tell why they would stray from filming the text as is but I do hope they do the novel justice.

The Corridor – Here’s a movie I knew absolutely nothing about until recently. I was skimming through some best of lists where some were listing best of 2012 movies they’ve already seen rather they be from film fests or screeners but this one stuck out. Similar to that of CABIN IN THE WOODS the set up seems to be somewhat generic but by the sounds of things this one could end up being something of a sleeper hit or destined for a cult following.

Kill List – Not a year goes by that I don’t buy into buzz from film festivals of movies getting great reception from the audiences. KILL LIST and YOU’RE NEXT are just two of the many movies buzzed over at film festivals that I cannot wait to see. Will the hype kill it for me, too early to tell. One thing is for sure, based on the trailer there’s really no way to adequately predict where KILL LIST is going to end up at the end, which from reports is pretty out there. From those who have seen it, the trailer doesn’t give too much away but most recommend knowing very little about it going in.

You’re Next – Lionsgate was nice enough to pick this one up and even nicer to make us all- who have not attended a film festival- wait until a likely October theatrical release in order to see it. Lots of people have had nothing but good things to say about YOU’RE NEXT- things like how funny it is or how gloriously violent it can be and how surprisingly fresh it is for a home invasion film. Lionsgate has a history of mishandling great titles when it comes to release unless it has SAW in the title or was made by Tyler Perry so we shall see just how wide YOU’RE NEXT goes later this year.

Livid – If you’re an INSIDE fan then you know why this one is here and most likely have included it in your own most anticipated list (if you make one that is). Another film fest movie that unlike KILL LIST and YOU’RE NEXT was met with lots of mixed reviews, but for those that liked it have had some pretty flattering words for it. LIVID looks to be a very different monster compared to INSIDE but the trailer has a lot of pretty insane looking things going down within it.

Prometheus – Last but not least Ridley Scott’s is-it-an-ALIEN-prequel-or-not, PROMETHEUS. The teaser was pretty awesome and I haven’t seen a whole lot of evidence that leads me away from believing this could be a prequel to ALIEN and on that possibility alone I’m pretty stoked. Add in a phenomenal cast including the awesome talents of Michael Fassbender and PROMETHEUS is either going to end up being a huge success or a heartbreaking disappointment- I’m not predicting much of a middle ground on this one.

MOVIES I’M NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO

Scary Movie 5

Battleship

Men In Black III

Resident Evil: Retribution

Wrath Of The Titans

The Three Stooges

Strip To Script: Comic Book Heroes On The Big Screen

The summer of 2011 marks a big time of year for the superhero movies that will be bursting through theater speakers to fans all over the world. Each of these superhero characters were born on the pages of comic books and not with the camera. Each year the superhero movies draw large crowds and I’ve always wondered if every single person in the theater is turning out because they read the comics as kids or adults, they were dragged by a fan or if they like me are mostly associated out of context and have a natural curiosity. I didn’t take a poll on this subject, my curiosity is the inner workings of my mind as I’m a product of a sole interest in the visual are of movies, even though I’ve enjoyed the occasional comic here and there.

I’ve sat and thought about all the comics I’ve read in my life and I can really only think of a few. Yet, I find myself liking if not loving a lot of the comic based movies that get released. I love Batman and I get asked all the time what my thoughts on who the villains should be in the upcoming movies when they get made and I’m always going back to the ones I grew up with in the original Batman movies like Catwoman, Bane, Two Face, The Riddler and of course The Joker. Everyone once in a while I absorb information from articles I read or videogames where characters I was previously unfamiliar with are discussed and my memory bank grows a little bit. I often wonder if not being well versed in the source material makes me a less discerning viewer of the films and I would agree if someone said my opinion isn’t fully valid, but only to a small extent. I may not know all the characters and backgrounds but I am able to learn and can make distinctions of their ability to work on film, even if that distinction is not always going to be gospel. I am a member of a specific audience demographic that will see just about anything if it looks agreeable enough up to and including superhero movies that I may not have a thorough frame of reference on. Comic book aficionados may face palm whenever someone like me tries to talk about a comic book universe, but that doesn’t make my opinion any less valuable to someone who might have the same mindset as me.

As I mentioned, I’ve read only a few comic books in my life that include Batman, maybe one or two Spiderman stories and the entire series that makes up the Watchmen graphic novel. I would never even pretend to come off as knowing even slightly more than any random fan about any comic book character. The information I’ve retained over the years comes almost entirely from pop culture information that includes movies, video games and just random information I’ve picked up from friends and people I’ve had conversations with; none of this qualifies me as an expert in anything comic book related. So why is it that these comic book movies appeal to someone like me?

When directors approach the comic book stories they always begin with the origin story. If they were looking to appeal ONLY to the comic book lovers there would be nearly no point in pandering to the uninitiated. As a fan of movies and the possibility of grand special effects along with a hero’s journey, these superhero movies appeal to me a great deal. The opposite end of the spectrum is if the movies appeal to me, why don’t I feel the need to seek out the comic books that they originate from? I wish the answer was complex and controversial, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t actively avoid comic books; the plain boring truth is I just don’t rush out to get them. Movies have always been my escape and the most attractive form of entertainment. Reading always stimulated my imagination, being able to visualize the words on paper, but movies push things a little further by showing you the potential of one’s imagination. All forms of entertainment that includes books, movies and even radio serve as outlets of imagination and have always inspired me to explore my own thoughts and ideas; the choice from there is the medium that fits my personality.

As a kid movies completely captured my imagination. The technology involved and the way they made me feel when one connected with me emotionally or perfectly portrayed how fun going to the movies could be. My allegiance to movies is traced back to those days as a kid, cherishing those moments in the movie theater and waiting in excitement for the next trip to the theater. Reading also has a special place in my heart since I can create the printed world in my own head and in a sense direct the events with my own visual style. Comic books combine the print aspect with the visuals the book represents, giving one a little less control over the images your imagination would conjure up. Movies being my first love (entertainment wise that is) has remained so over the years, because I can connect with it more than I can in the time it takes me to read a book. I am not a fast reader; therefore, it takes me a little longer than most to read a book from cover to cover. Time consumption also factors into my love for movies over books; I can absorb the story told in a movie in the span of an hour and a half or more where a book could take me day, weeks or even a month to find the time to finish from beginning to end. In a world where most people are strapped for time between work, family and any other hobbies that take up time, sometimes finding hours of spare time to read is scarce. I do read books; it just takes a very determined mindset in order to do so.

Comic books are tricky for me. Comic books tend to be much shorter than a full on book, therefore take far less of a time commitment, yet I’ve read far more books than I’ve taken for comic books. If I were to be handed a comic book, I would easily sit down and read it and not feel guilty about what I could have gotten done in that amount of time. Over the years the comic book community to me is a very small but dedicated group of people that are very passionate and loyal to the work they read on a regular basis. In my opinion they are the people that have migrated to that medium in the same way that I migrated primarily to movies. However, more often than not the comic book readers probably love going to the movies just as much as any other person, which mirrors my attitude where if I’m given a comic book I’ll read it and I’ll either enjoy it or not. I’ve never felt the pressure that I must like a movie because that’s the popular consensus or hate a movie because people say that I should. Yet when it comes to comic books, because I am so out of my element in that community I wouldn’t be able to decipher quality from complete crap and the comic book fans would tear any opinion I had either way apart with due precision. Do people that enjoy movies as a secondary source of entertainment feel the same kind of scrutiny if they love or hate a movie?

This argument merges into the point of this piece because of the sheer amount of superhero movies exploding into theaters this summer. Each of them being heroes that I have not read a single comic of, yet will likely see and weigh an opinion on once I do, but without the comic book reference. This is topical because comic book lovers often read movie reviews like anyone else and will weigh their opinions of people’s knowledge of the character to their enjoyment of a movie about a character they were not previously connected to. If I liked a movie like THOR but didn’t read the comic and had critiques of something that a comic lover might have really enjoyed, does that mean that I might have liked it if I had read the comic, or had more bad things to say if it didn’t live up to a comic I might love and then hate how the movie represents it. I won’t lie, the argument I am presenting even gives me a headache.

The first movie I ever saw that was based on a comic book character was Tim Burton’s BATMAN. For the longest time that was one of my all time favorite superhero movies. Nowadays, superhero movies are frequent and thus audiences have much more to choose from. BATMAN BEGINS stole the thrown from BATMAN for me when it was released and then THE DARK KNIGHT came along and the changing of the guard continued. I’ve also enjoyed the likes of films like SPIDERMAN, IRON MAN, KICK ASS, THOR and most recently loved X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Many of the universes certain characters inhabit have not clicked with me and I had no previous knowledge of, even just listening to friends talk about them. With THOR, the name and the hammer were the only recognizable characteristics and I know absolutely nothing regarding the mythology behind GREEN LANTERN. The upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA film is another character I have little back story on beyond name and look of the costume. So for me the business behind comic book movies relies heavily on appealing to non-comic book readers and possible even converting those people in order to get them to KEEP coming back for sequels and/or prequels.

The question studios face with these movies is how do they make these superheroes appeal to people that may be looking for more realism than fantasy in their theater escapades. When I see a trailer for a superhero movie I do not always worry if the character’s background will connect with me; I can make the distinction of rather or not I like the mythology once I watch the movie. What I look for is a movie that at least looks like it will be fun, interesting and with enough substance that I will feel the need to see it opening weekend. If it goes down a path that resembles darker grittier tones like THE DARK KNIGHT it has more chances of getting that opening day ticket, but fun absurd superhero movies are not a deal breaker. I am a lover of gorgeous special effects, so when I see a trailer that shows me great special effects, I may not always see it with urgency, but I WILL see it at some point or another. Non-stop action is not always a must, and with the first film in a superhero franchise I expect that there will be a certain amount of character development, but that’s not a free pass to skimp on decent action here and there and a satisfying finale. People that read the comics already have the benefit of all the different character development stories and variety of action beats; the initiated don’t and studios know this so they can’t always please both the readers and the people going in blind.

My biggest problem with some transitions from the illustrated pages to the big screen is dialogue that doesn’t find my ears well. This is a personal preference and in no way reflects all moviegoers, but certain cheesy dialogue just doesn’t appeal to me. I love cheesy dialogue in certain movies, but it has a penchant for making me cringe as well. One example is a line from SPIDERMAN in which the Green Goblin is flying off after a battle with Spiderman and shouts “I’ll get you next time Spiderman,” followed by an over-the-top villainous laugh. In the right movie I’d be ok with that type of delivery, in that one though, I cringed; I can already hear the keyboards furiously typing to refute and berate my dismissal of such a line.

Comic book movies don’t always have to be superheroes though; SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and 30 DAYS OF NIGHT for example. Of course, we’ve seen what ended up happening with the minimal theatrical success Edgar Wright enjoyed with his effort. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD was a film I really loved but for whatever reason the idea just didn’t click with mainstream audiences. Was it because of the marketing? Was it because it wasn’t a superhero movie? Whatever the reason, it was a film that I feel had a wider appeal than any sales numbers reflected. The ratio of heroic movies to not so heroic movies is generally lopsided as is the box office.

It might seem pointless to state at this juncture but the point of this isn’t merely to force my views on anyone or even to make an overall point to begin with but just as a means to spark the debate. A debate as to rather or not reading the comic book of a character in a movie we are going to see heightens the experience hinders it or has no effect. My personal belief is that as long as the filmmakers deliver a fun well rounded movie, the source material is inconsequential. The argument then is that in the process filmmakers can betray the source material and alienate the comic fans. As I’m not a comic book reader I cannot comment on any film that has stayed true and complimented its source material, but I have heard opinions of movies that actually improved the source material (i.e. KICK ASS).

Over the next few years as these films continue to vary in quality and ticket sales it’s likely we will continue to see more and more hit theaters especially with THE AVENGERS being set up with a series of films (IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THOR etc.). It will be interesting to see if attendance increases or decreases with the barrage of films as audiences either embrace or shun the efforts of Hollywood. With the sheer number over the course of the last few years the Hollywood machine appears focused on an unending assault of films based on previous works, board games and comics. On principle alone it is quite disheartening to see such a lack in creativity with the films begin churned out to make a quick buck instead of throwing money behind high concept original works, even if they don’t all succeed. Realistically the gamble would be equal on both sides since original movies like AVATAR and INCEPTION broke bank at the box office. Not everything is going to be a homerun, but at least with original movies the pitches are random enough to surprise us instead of hurling fastball after fastball till it becomes predictable and boring until one comes along every once in a while with a little extra zip to it.

What are your thoughts on this subject? What are your favorite comic book movies? Least favorite? What are some you’d like to see get made? What are ones that should never get adapted?