Posts Tagged ‘Superman’
Director: Craig Gillespie
Length: 1h 46m
Synopsis: Charley (Yelchin) is a normal teenage boy whose suburban town has recently welcomed a new neighbor named Jerry (Farrell), who Charley’s friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse) is convinced is a real-life vampire. Ed tries his hardest to convince Charley of this truth, but the absurdity of the accusation is just too great. Soon after pleading for assistance in killing the preternatural being Ed goes missing, and with little hints here and there Charley cannot help but come to the incredible conclusion that his missing friend was right. Unsure of what to do he consults a Las Vegas stage celebrity named Peter Vincent (Tennant), whose forte is the magical and the gothic. Vincent, it turns out, has long since been obsessed with vampires, and so he agrees to help Charley in his dangerous mission to rid his quiet town of the undead predator who threatens to feed on everyone he cares for. Jerry’s cunning and resilience are not to be underestimated, however, which makes Charley’s and Vincent’s task all the more dangerous.
Back at the beginning of Summer we gave a preview of three films that were to come out that have something in common. What these films share is a focus on a tight-knit group of ex-military soldiers who work towards a shared goal of some kind. With The Losers it was about getting revenge, with The A-Team it was about living up to one’s duties as a patriot, and with The Expendables it was about serving the human condition. As you may have noticed, the motivations of the groups got progressively nobler, from serving selfish incentives to fulfilling an intangible obligation to heroic morals; namely the moral that the strong have to protect the weak. The three movies, and by extension the three groups in these movies, may share a similar basic premise, and may interact within their respective contexts in a similar way, but their differing motivations distinguish them from each other more so than we may have anticipated. Likewise, they also shared more in common than we previously thought. What exactly, though, can we learn from comparing them further?
With Iron Man 2 opening this weekend, marking the biggest comic book movie since 2008′s The Dark Knight, we thought it would be appropriate to consider what the best castings have been since the genre began. There have been a lot of cases where the actor/actress fit the role like a glove. Some choices seemed obvious at the time, while others worked out unexpectedly well. A perfect example is Michael Keaton as the caped crusader in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, a casting which few supported before the film’s release but which many now consider the best casting of the character to date. But not even that sweet surprise made the Movie-Thoughts Top 5 Best Comic Book Castings. See which actors we thought fit their comic book characters best, and then send us your Top 5! Later we’ll tally the totals and see how close we came to the fan consensus.
And the Top 5 are…
5. Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark/Iron Man
Downey Jr. wasn’t so much a casting of a super hero as a casting of a super ego, but nevertheless his quick-witted line delivery and narcissistic on-screen persona transfer perfectly to a character we’re meant to believe is bizarrely brilliant and grossly spoiled (at least before his capture). Once the narcissism was exchanged for just an inordinate amount of pride and confidence, the heroic nature of the character was able to shine through and RDJ flowed from the former to the latter flawlessly.
4. Christopher Reeve – Clark Kent/Superman
As good as Brandon Routh was as his replacement in 2006′s Superman Returns, Christopher Reeve has been immortalized in the iconic role of the Man of Steel for good reason. Not only was he able to look the part, which is harder to achieve than you might think, but he was able to expertly play both the awkwardness of Clark Kent and the self assuredness of his alter ego. Those who know Superman know that that alter ego is not a psychological rock, and when it came time to display the requisite humility and vulnerability the character sometimes shows he was able to pull it off without missing a beat. Mr. Reeve helped prove to us that even the impenetrable are not invulnerable.
3. Patrick Stewart – Professor Xavier
Not only is Mr. Stewart perhaps the best known bald actor thanks to his role as Star Trek‘s Capt. Jean-Luke Picard, which helps match the look of the character, but all else about him as an actor fit this role perfectly. The low but friendly timber of his voice, the air of wisdom and sincerity, and the hyper-disciplined demeanor all amalgamated to Stewart actually being Professor Xavier. The role called for someone who could convince us that he is the ultimate confidant who always knew what’s best, and he pulled it off with flying colors. Imagining anyone fitting this role better seems impossible.
2. TIE: Jack Nicholson/ Heath Ledger – The Joker
Admittedly, we’re cheating with this one, but we just could not decide who fit the role better based on the versions of the character that they played. Nicholson as The Joker in 1989′s Batman fits perfectly because the character as it was envisioned for the film drew inspiration from earlier Batman comics, when the character was more goofy and aloof. During this period the villain took a primarily sociopathic persona but was not nearly the intellectual foe that he later became. Ledger’s Joker, as it was written, was clearly based on the more sinister version displayed in the comic series decades after the earlier version. During this era, which still continues, the character proves to be frightfully brilliant in his scheming to battle Batman and Gotham City, manipulating various peripheral characters to exact his will. Nicholson’s devilish grin and menacing stare made him look the part to a “T”, and his maniacal laugh effectively made him The Joker. Ledger’s actual look relied more on makeup, but his healthier physique allowed him to be a more competent combatant with Batman in physical terms and not just psychological. Much of his success with the character was due to his outstanding performance, but that everything about him fell exactly in line with the version he was portraying makes this a one in a million cast.
1. Hugh Jackman – Logan/Wolverine
The character of Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men movies, we would claim, is based from the version portrayed in the comics of his own series. For unlike his portrayal in the series that involves the entire X-Men crew, there he has considerably more depth and foundation (as one would expect). Jackman’s physical stature and hair styling made him believable from a purely aesthetic standpoint, but his ability to range from all requisite mindsets (tenacious, tortured, paternal, romantic, etc.) allowed him to convey all aspects of the character as needed. The arch of the character in the films is thanks in large part to the writing, but we here find it downright unfeasible that anyone possesses the mix of physical likeness and acting skill to pull off the role of Wolverine better than Hugh Jackman.
We don’t doubt that our Top 5 list is controversial, and we’re hardly married to it, but we feel it certainly captures five of the best castings of any comic book character yet seen on the silver screen. Based on the submissions you all send in to us we’ll likely feel inclined to make a revision or two, but until then we stand by what you see. When you narrow down your own Top 5 lists, try to keep in mind that it’s not about ranking your favorite movie/comic characters but the quality of the casting of those characters and how the actor/actress fits so well in their respective roles.
Here is a list of roles that we hated to leave out but had to (in no particular order): Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus, Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Willem Dafoe as The Green Goblin, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor.
Perhaps some of these roles will make your list. We’re interested to see, so let us know!
This upcoming summer movie season there are three movies that will be about a group of well trained special ops-type fighters who don’t “play by the rules,” starting with this weekend’s The Losers. This film, inspired by the comic book series of the same name, deals with a group of individual CIA black ops operatives who band together to find and kill whoever betrayed them and left them for dead. The other two films similar to this are The A-Team and The Expendables. The former is, if you don’t know already, based off of the TV series of the same name that first aired in 1983 about four ex-military men who were framed for a crime they didn’t commit and go about trying to clear their names, and the latter deals with a group of mercenaries hired to overthrow the vicious dictator of the small South American country of Vilena.
Well what’s so interesting about the fact that these films are releasing within a couple months of each other? Everyone one knows that Hollywood is a copycat town, right? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, studios like to hang their hats on proven formulas and trends, but that some trends appear at all is often reflective of the cultural mood of our country. Over the past few years there has been a heavy influx of films dealing with individual heroes, many of them being of the “super” variety. But aside from Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man, there were John McClain, Rambo, Indiana Jones, and James Bond. Obviously, none of these rogue stand-alone men did everything by themselves (Batman had Alfred, Iron Man had Pepper Pots, James Bond had MI6, etc.), but by and large they did all of the most difficult and dangerous things by themselves. Americans love heroes that are individualistic and autonomous. They’ve loved them like that for decades and will continue to love them for decades more. What seems so peculiar about The Losers, The A-Team, and The Expendables being released in one summer season, then, is that the team concept stands out so sharply from this crowd of actioners.
These three movies are hardly pioneering new ground, of course, as the X-Men trilogy made the point during the middle of the first super hero wave of the new century that working as a team for a common goal is the real and only way to make progress. However the three films in question seem to have their sights set a lot lower than achieving social understanding and ridding the world of prejudice. In the case of The Losers, for example, the goal is simply to get revenge on the group’s would-be assassinators. So, because the scope is miniscule and the benefits gained from the group’s success are specific to just them, the individualistic sense is still ever-present. And, the same might be said of The A-Team as well. Because the goal in The Expendables is to overthrow a dictatorship it can be argued that the benefits of the heroes victory would not be exclusive to just them but would also include the entire citizenship of Vilena. So, you could say the sense of individual empowerment would at least not be the same variety found in the other two films. However, it is interesting to point out that The Expendables are a group made up of mercenaries, who are a breed of people not known for their team mentalities.
What do you all make of this? Is the concept of working as a team against evil going to become the new wave in action movies, or is it just a phase? Do you expect to see these films come close to enjoying the type of success that Iron Man 2 will no doubt garner? Which type of hero do you emulate the most? Which do you enjoy watching the most? Voice your opinions and let it be known what you think a true hero really is.
We’ll revisit this topic once all three films have been released (which will be mid-August) and ask you these same questions again. Then we’ll compare your responses to try and come to some sort of conclusion. Till then, just enjoy the movies!
“Godzilla is one of the world’s most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise,” said Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary. “Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop culturally relevant for as long as it has.”
… Added Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, “Godzilla is emblematic of the kind of branded, event films for which Warner Bros. and our partners at Legendary are best known.” – Hollywood Reporter
The films Robinov is referring to are such films as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Superman Returns, and the soon to release Clash of the Titans.
Nothing is known about the possible plot at this point, as things have yet to reach any sort of pre-production. Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes), Roy Lee (The Strangers, Quarantine), and Brian Rogers are producing.
Quick Opinion: It will be curious to see whether Legendary and Warner Bros. will try to seriously revive the Godzilla brand in the United States (where its popularity has been demoted to cult status) like they did for Batman and tried to do for Superman, or if they will make it a self-aware romp that pokes fun at itself. The 1998 Godzilla directed by Roland Emerich made close to $400 million worldwide despite terrible reviews, so even if they model the next film after it perhaps they feel the monster is still popular enough to enjoy the same type of success. I have my doubts, though. Â
David Goyer, who helped write Batman Begins and The Dark Knight with Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, is in negotiations with Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures to pen the script to the next Superman movie. Goyer’s help in making the Batman brand so financially valuable is no doubt the reason behind the studios’ decision, but he is also recognized for his efforts with the Blade series.
Actor Brandon Routh and director Bryan Singer will not return due to Warner Bros.’ dissatisfaction with how much Superman Returns earned at the box office (costing about $270 million and grossing $391 million worldwide according to BoxOfficeMojo.com). Despite the film’s respectable totals they apparently thought that a character as iconic as Superman should have earned much better numbers.
Goyer’s pitch regarding the Superman script dealt with lots of action and battles with arch-nemesis Lex Luthor and super villain Brainiac, which must have appealed to both studios.
Warner Bros. is in kind of a hurry, as they must create a finished Superman film by 2013 because that is when their copyright on the character of Superman expires and all rights go to the heirs of co-creator Joe Shuster.
Quick Opinion: I’ve said this before with regards to Warner Bros. beef with Bryan Singer and I’ll say it again – the problem with Superman Returns‘ returns was not Singer’s fault. The character and brand, while certainly still iconic in the United States, is not nearly as popular outside of the U.S. because he was birthed from WWII patriotism. People around the world got behind Superman because what he stood for – in essence – was the might of the U.S. army and allying forces against the Nazi regime. Superman was pro-American justice and anti-tyranny. Such a character does not fit with modern America, who loves to root for the little guy (Spider-Man) and tortured soul (Batman). Anymore, Superman is thought of as being too powerful to like. Batman and Spider-Man, though special, are viewed to be more on the level of the everyman, which is a position that has been the most popular with superhero audiences since before 2006′s Superman Returns and continues to this day. The next Superman movie might earn more money because it will supposedly be more action-packed (attracting the large Transformers-type crowds), but if they invest the same amount that they did for Bryan Singer’s film they’ll be whining about returns again in 2014.
(For more elaboration on this topic, see Movie-Thoughts’ Deep Thoughts “A Different Look at ‘The Dark Knight.’” Comments on Superman being unfitting with modern times are near the end.)
The Dark Knight: Batman Becomes a Westerner
The character of Batman as presented in director Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film The Dark Knight represents many of the iconographic elements that comprise what is known as the Westerner. The caped crusader can more accurately be distinguished as being more medieval (that is, consisting of character traits more attuned to medieval literature) in most of his filmic representations, such as Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), and such a connection does not completely stop with Nolan’s most recent feature as even the film’s title outright labels its hero a “knight.” But despite this, Nolan has introduced the character of Batman to the world of cinema in a new way that displays him more as a western idol reminiscent of the days of John Wayne. American audiences gorged themselves on this newest version of the classic superhero, amassing a domestic box office revenue of over $530 million (second only to Titanic‘s $600 million+), and the reason for this may be found in the social structure of its viewers. Read the rest of this entry »