Monthly Archives: April 2013
Okay show of hands, who loves movies based on comic books?
If you raised your hand, I thank you for playing along. You are a mensch.
If you didn’t, that’s okay. I guess you’re too cool to humor an old man who has so little in life. Who also may be coming down with a cold. I hope you’re happy.
Anyway, in a few days another installment of one of the greatest comic book movie franchises ever: Iron Man 3 will hit the multiplexes. Throw in a brand new Superman movie (Man Of Steel) and another movie starring everyone’s favorite X Man Wolverine (The Wolverine) and the summer of 2013 is chock full of exciting superhero films that will make hardcore fans and casual movie goers across the world jump for joy.
But as we all know, in the world of movies, they all can’t be gems. For every blockbuster, there’s a box office bomb. For every hit, there is a dud. For every Dark Knight, there is a Ghost Rider. And a Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance. What I’m trying to say, is the Ghost Rider movies sucked on toast. But they are (sadly) not alone. There have been many cringe worthy comic book films over the last few decades, movies that I would gladly give a sock to the chops if they were standing right in front of me and had a face I could sock. Let’s take a look at a few of these sockable films:
On paper, Catwoman had three things any red blooded comic book fan would want in a movie: 1) Halle Berry. 2) Halle Berry dressed like a Pussycat Doll. And 3) Halle Berry dressed like a Pussycat Doll and carrying a whip. But amazingly those things couldn’t prevent this movie from dropping the ball of string big time. Not even Sharon Stone’s triumphant return from oblivion to play the diabolical villainess Laurel Hedare could save this turkey. Good thing Miss Berry still had her Storm costume in the closet.
“My city screams,” the masked crime fighter known as The Spirit says at the beginning of the film. I know how the city feels. I started screaming about ten minutes into this movie and didn’t stop until the DVD was ripped from the DVD player and crushed onto a fine powder thanks to dozens of blows from a ball peen hammer. Awful, awful movie. You know what? Two punches in the face for The Spirit! My blog, my rules.
CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990)
Think Captain America’s first big screen appearance was the 2011 blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger? WRONG!!! Sorry, I’m still a bit angry about The Spirit. Jeez, what a terrible movie. Anyway, Cap’s first big screen adventure was way back in 1990, when Captain America barely hit the theaters. See, a few decades ago the movie rights to a lot of superhero characters were pretty much up for grabs to anyone who felt like making a comic book movie, so the guys behind the Cannon movie empire produced this low budget cheapfest. How cheap was it? It was filmed in Yugoslavia! Cap’s headpiece featured plastic ears! It was filmed in Yugoslavia! Comic book fans should have known not to expect a lot from a movie prodced by the guy who brought you the break dancing sagas Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
JONAH HEX (2010)
Jonah Hex is basically Ghost Rider with horses, which means this movie also sucks on toast, but with horses. This supernatural western dud co-stars former Transformers hottie Megan Fox, who has had so much plastic surgery she’s starting to look like Kira the Gelfling from The Dark Crystal:
Ben Affleck in a red leather gimp suit. Ew.
SKYFALL (2012) Director: Sam Mendes Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Dench Rating: PG-13 for gunplay and explosions and martinis being shaken.
Unless you’ve been under a rock and headless for the last fifty years, you’ve probably heard of James Bond. Created by author Ian Fleming, agent 007 has appeared in novels, radio dramas, video games, not to mention the longest running movie franchise in the history of ever, and has been thwarting super villains and bedding femme fatales since before Jason Bourne was playing with his Hot Wheels.
James Bond has been portrayed by several actors over the last half century; Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Remington Steele to name a few. Daniel Craig is the current Bond, and the three Bond films he’s headlined are an awesome mix of globe trotting adventure and good ol fashioned ass kicking. The last Bond adventure Skyfall came out last year and made over a billion dollars worldwide, which means James Bond is now as rich as the evil geniuses he does battle with every movie. He should buy a hollowed out mountain fortress! Always a good investment.
As Skyfall opens, Bond is chasing an assassin who has stolen a list of secret agents and all the secret things they’re doing at that moment (which is something that should be carried around in some dumbass’s laptop), and in usual Bond fashion the chase devolves into mayhem and destruction as motorcycles, trains, and construction equipment wreck most of Istanbul. Bond is wounded, falls off a bridge and is presumed dead by the MI6. But before MI6 headmistress M (Judi Dench) can put up a help wanted sign in the window, the window (and a good chunk of MI6 headquarters) is destroyed by a bomb. Someone is targeting M and the other secret agent men!
Oh, if only James Bond were still alive to track down the culprit!
Oh wait, he still is.
Turns out Bond was just laying low and pretending to be deceased. When he hears about the attempt on M’s life, Bond decides that hanging out on a beach drinking and having casual sex is not the a good retirement plan and springs back into action!
Bond finds out the assassin who eluded him earlier in the movie is working for a strange blonde guy named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem in a strange blonde wig), a cyber terrorist with a major league bone to pick with M.
Maybe M never gave Silva the positive reinforcement he craved when he was a top agent at MI6; like a little chuck on the shoulder and an “atta boy Silva” after finishing a really important mission or a positive performance review in his personnel folder – these things can make a difference between a good employee who works hard and is respected around the office and an unhinged megalomaniac who steals lunches from the breakroom fridge and tries to take over the world.
Happens all the time.
Skyfall deftly moves from one action sequence to another as Bond chases Silva in, around, and under London, trying to thwart his cunning plan to take out M. When Bond realizes Silva is really crazy and really well armed, he takes M to hide out at his family’s ancestral home Scotland where he sets a trap for Silva and his soldiers that involves improvised booby traps and a pissed off Albert Finney. Can Bond save his boss and keep the world safe from the deranged cyber terrorist who refuses to let go of the past and live in the now?
Spoiler alert! Bond. James Bond. That means yes.
I give mega props to the folks behind Skyfall for doing away with the usual Bond movie cliches like an overly complex plot that usually has to do with a mysterious evil organization led by a bald guy in a Nehru jacket and giving me what I really like in a Bond movie – James Bond chasing, then beating the crap out of bad guys.
Less talking, more punching. It’s a philosophy that I’ve lived by since I watched A Room with a View back in ’85. It’s made me the man I am today.
PREMIUM RUSH (2012) Director: David Koepp Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Wole Parks Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, and guys on bikes breaking traffic laws willy nilly with the speeding and the driving on the sidewalk…
According to the opening narration of Premium Rush, there are 1,500 bicycle messengers in New York City, and speaking as a former New Yorker who was nearly run over more times than he can remember by these two wheeled hotdogs, I’d say that number is probably right.
Day in and day out these fingerless glove wearing warriors zip through heavy traffic on their beat up cycles, delivering important documents across town because E-mail, instant messaging, the USPS, UPS, and Fed Ex are for bike hating squares!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) stars as Wilee, a guy who dropped out of law school to be a bike messenger because lawyers have to wear suits and aren’t allowed to ride bikes in the courtroom. He’s having a bad day because things with his on again/off again girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) are off again and another messenger named Manny (Wole Parks) is trying to take away Wilee’s title of most awesome bike messenger in the history of forever.
Wilee is dispatched to Columbia University to pick up a very important envelope from Vanessa’s roommate Nima and deliver it to Chinatown right away because it’s very important to the plot and we won’t find out why until later in the movie. Unfortunately the envelope is also wanted by oily NYPD detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon with a fierce New Yawk accent) for reasons we will also learn about later in the movie, but not as later as Nima’s thing.
The race is on as Monday chases Wilee through the streets to get his hands on the envelope. But Monday soon finds out his career as a corrupt cop is not all fun and games because Wilee (who as we know is the most awesome bike messenger in the history of forever) is able to elude him with his slick riding skills and total disregard for the safety of every pedestrian and motorist in the greater New York area. Things get even more complicated when Vanessa, Manny, and the entire NYPD get in on the fun. Can Wilee get the super important envelope to Chinatown by 7PM and collect the thirty dollars he’ll get for the delivery?
That’s right. He’s risking his life for thirty bucks. Probably should have stayed in law school there Wilee.
Premium Rush is a slickly made film with plenty of thrills and breakneck stunts. Oh, and pedaling. Lots and lots of pedaling. How much pedaling? Compared with other bicycle themed movies, Premium Rush has more pedaling than American Flyers, but not as much pedaling as Breaking Away.
But wait, how much pedaling does Premium Rush have compared to the other big screen movie about bike messengers – the 1986 Kevin Bacon drama Quicksilver?
I’d say the advantage goes to Premium Rush. Man, I’m so glad I spent years taking carefully detailed notes on how much pedaling is in every movie that featured bicycles and bicycle riding. It finally paid off. Awesome.
WHO’S THE LOSER NOW, CYNTHIA!!!!