Comic Book

Superman II

Year: 1980
Directed By: Richard Lester
Written By: Mario Puzo, David Newman, and Leslie Newman. Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel (characters created by)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now this is a Superman I can at least get into a little more. There are real bad guys for Superman to fight this time around. Not to take anything away from Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in the first film but he isn’t necessarily going to come to fisticuffs with Superman is he? In this movie we have the villains initially set up with the first film. It’s a sequel so tied into the first film that it recounts it during the credits. I like that because in the future, should I ever watch these movies again, I can just skip the first film and catch the recap here.

I am an interested spectator in the conflict that was the Cold War. Let me just say I like seeing this movie where it’s firmly at rest. That’s obvious from Zod’s crony carrying both the U.S. and Russian flag after they crash the party on the moon.

Did I say this was a Superman film I could get into more? I’m not so sure anymore. I added these movies to the collection about 15 years ago, rescued them in fact from a shelf where they would only collect dust. I originally had all four of the Superman films but eventually ditched the last two because I straight up didn’t like them. Having watched these two first movies now I find myself wondering what it was I saw in them.

I hate the scenario where a super hero quits being the super hero and or loses his powers. The whole world is falling to it’s knees in the face of a trio of Kryptonians and Superman is ditching his powers to get in bed with a woman like a horny boy going through puberty. Rash decision much Superman? I like that the first thing he does afterwards is try to pick a fight with a trucker. It backs up my prior argument that Superman is a chump because with out his powers anyone can pretty much beat him up. It was all a waste as Superman runs right back to his fortress of solitude to get his powers back. So Superman is like a horny teenager who will do anything to get some but then realizes he made a huge mistake.

I think Terrance Stamp is great as General Zod. The villains are about the coolest part of this movie. Ursa is a cool villain with the taste of blood in her mouth. She feels all these powers and really gets off on them. I specifically like how she collects badges and pins them on her uniform. She is the scariest of the three because she is the most unpredictable. Zod carries himself like the badass but he is more patient and reserved than Ursa. The muscle is Non who apparently doesn’t have the ability to talk, or think very much for that matter. He may be the muscle of the trio but he’s the weakest of the bunch.

These guys are at their best when they are destroying towns and taking over the White House. Once the fighting with Superman begins it’s pretty lame and disappointing. In fact the scene actually put me to sleep and I only caught bits and pieces of the rest of the film. I remember that Superman tricks them in the end to depower them with red rays from the Kryptonian sun. Weak, I don’t think I missed anything nodding off in this one and I don’t think I’ll be diving back into it again.

I really don’t think I like Christopher Reeve as Superman and I really can’t stand him as the bumbling buffoon Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne would never try to pass himself off as an idiot or fool to keep people guessing #Batmanisbetter. I know it’s a horrible thing to say because Christopher Reeve was a real life hero but I just don’t think he was very good. He looks the part in the whole Superman get up but I don’t think he has the acting skills to blow anybody away.

This movie is not better than the first film and if I’m being honest I don’t really think the first film was that great. It was a terrific achievement and it set the bar for plenty to come but I just don’t care for it. I think Terrance Stamp and Gene Hackman carry this movie as far as it will go. Hackman has the benefit of playing the part this time around without Ned Beatty hanging around as an over the top idiot.

I can’t say with a straight face that these movies aren’t worth your time. I think they need to be seen as an important part of film history but I don’t think they are all that likable. I think they served to carve the path that would branch out into a network of films that have followed. The genre has grown to greater proportions now and I don’t think that these movies stand the test of time.

I don’t own the third or fourth sequels in this series and I don’t own the attempt to start a new series with Superman Returns. I have strong feelings about that one that I have written about before. It lured Bryan Singer away from the much cooler X-Men franchise for a crappy version of a lame superhero. I do think Man of Steel was a really cool movie. I think it was much better than people give it credit for. It’s hard to make a good Superman movie because Superman sucks, but I think Man of Steel did a very good job at it. I liked Henry Cavill’s performance in Batman vs. Superman as well. I thought that movie kind of sucked but not because of the performances of Cavill and Affleck.

So this is it, I’m not seeking out the other Superman movies and I won’t be writing about him again. I did my time riding a sinking ship when I did the entire Star Trek franchise. If you’re a big Superman fan I apologize. Feel free to present your arguments and I’ll entertain the discussion. I guess I’m just more of a Batman guy, to the extent that I’m a DC guy at all. I’m interested in it and I think it’s got some great stuff out there but in my heart I’ll always be a Marvel fan.

Check out the first film and watch this one because they directly tie together. Do it because you should. There is plenty to appreciate if not like in these two movies. I think I have sufficiently rambled on about this movie long enough. If anybody out there wants to make a case for the third or fourth film in this series by all means let me know.

NEXT MOVIE: Suspect Zero (2004)

Superman

Year: 1978
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Mario Puzo (story). Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (creators)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have never really been a big Superman fan but I have deep respect for this movie. It’s been almost forty years since this film came out and it still manages to be influential in an industry that can’t stop pumping out comic book films. This is a legendary movie and the real first comic book movie blockbuster.

The only time I really like Superman when I’m reading a comic is when he’s getting his ass kicked by Batman. Yes they fight frequently and the Caped Crusader always manages to best the impervious pure of heart hero. I’ll get to why Batman always wins in a minute but I’ll start by explaining why I don’t like Superman. He’s too super powered for his own good. He’s an all powerful superhero and that’s totally lame. He has all the damn powers, it’s too greedy. In this movie he even reverses the rotation of the Earth and travels back in time. I’m willing to look aside from the mere fact that the whole thing doesn’t even make sense in the movie (he reverses time but the earthquake still stops?). It’s still just too much.

What makes a hero badass is the fact that he overcomes obstacles, odds, and weaknesses. Superman doesn’t overcome anything, he overwhelms every thing with his sheer power. As long as the sun rises in the morning Superman is going to be just fine and win the day. Even with Doomsday there is no doubt, and certainly none in this movie as he wrangles cat burglers and cats. I know, I know there is some thing about heroes saving cats from trees but Superman doing it is merely a waste of his (and our) time. It’s no accident that Lex Luthor is his main bad guy. He’s just a man but that doesn’t matter because anybody can beat Superman, so long as you outsmart him.

Batman vs. Superman

Now I’d like to talk about this at some length. Let’s first discuss the two:

You have:

A) Batman-Just a man but an intelligent and skilled man. He’s a fighter who knows many different forms of combat. He’s a tactician who plans ahead and knows his enemy. He has the equipment for any problem that arises, even once breaking out the “Shark Repellent Bat Spray.” He is a man who overcomes the odds, a hero in the truest sense.

B) Superman-An alien from the planet Krypton. On Krypton everyone is the same but the sun is red. Put one of them on Earth with its yellow sun and the power of a God is granted. On Earth Superman has super speed, strength, stamina, motherfucking everything. Oh and he also has the power of flight, laser vision, frost breath, X-ray vision, and apparently according to this film the power of time travel. There is a catch though. A rock from his homeland makes him vulnerable, albeit completely vulnerable. Also rays from his native red sun render him average. There is also a villain that somehow holds the surviving people of Krypton hostage and uses it as leverage against him, but that’s beside the point and not in this movie.

Now you put these two together and things should be pretty simple. The super powered alien pummels the costumed human into dust but it never works out that way. Being the badass he actually is Batman is always prepared and he figures out a way to level the playing field. Be it Kryptonite or somehow utilizing the rays of a red sun he depowers Superman. Without his powers Superman is nothing but a guy who doesn’t know how to defend himself. He becomes chump change for Batman, who doesn’t just beat him but beats the shit out of him.

I remember it being a hot topic of debate when Batman VS. Superman came out a couple of years ago. How could Batman ever fight Superman? I’ll admit once as an outsider in the comic world I would have been perplexed as well and agreed with the naysayers. Now I know better though and I always ask them name the vulnerabilities of both. Batman may be just a man, but nobody would ever accuse him of being vulnerable. While Superman falls to his knees in the presence of a green rock. Of course the gazillionaire Bruce Wayne/Batman has Kryptonite. The man literally has all the resources imaginable at his fingertips. Oh the Kryptonite didn’t quite do the trick? Here are some red sun rays for you. Not enough? Here are some of the most super powered weapons available to man to hit you with. That didn’t do anything but weaken him? Batman is more than willing to roll up his sleeves and duke it out with a guy who knows nothing of fighting because he relies solely on the power that’s been taken away.

To sum it up, Batman=badass, Superman=chump. I haven’t even touched their alter egos either. Clark Kent makes it a practice to appear as lame as possible so nobody looks past the glasses. Great disguise Superman. Bruce Wayne on the other hand may be just as cool if not cooler than Batman. He’s super rich, super powerful, and he is just as likely to beat you up as Batman is. While Superman is bumbling around trying to get the attention of Lois Lane Batman is chillin in a hot tub somewhere surrounded by gorgeous ladies, and he only does that for appearances. Clark Kent may kick a football pretty far when no one is looking but Bruce Wayne is the cool guy that drove off with all the cheerleaders.

Getting back to the point… 

I don’t love this movie but I respect it. I think it was quite an accomplishment in 1978. It’s written by one of my favorite authors, Mario Puzo, though the experience might not have been great for him. I know nothing about the experience he actually had during the making of this film but if any of his other books are to be taken into account he did not have the highest regard for Hollywood. Still, he wrote a story that was great for the time and groundbreaking in its material. I love how the sequel was set up from the get go with Zod and his cronies being imprisoned in the phantom zone. You know they will eventually get out of it and Superman will have to deal with them.

They don’t get out in this movie and I think that is the problem with the film. Or at least why it doesn’t hold up. Yeah this movie introduced a wider audience to a character and blew them away with special effects. In hindsight though this movie is lacking in excitement. Superman has no foe to fight with. Yeah there’s Lex Luthor outsmarting him at every turn but you don’t want to see a superhero fighting nature i.e. time or earthquakes. You want to see the hero fighting someone who is an equal match, or the counter opposite. In this movie Superman is saving cats for crying out loud. There’s also that bizarre man scaling the side of the building, which is an awful lot of trouble to go through for a robbery. A superhero always needs someone to fight, cats are for the firemen with their ladders and cat burglers are for the cops. Let those heroes do that work and let the superhero fight the supernatural bad guy threatening the world.

I for one think Henry Cavill is a terrific Superman, and I like him in the role. That being said, he will never be the real Superman. That’ll always be Christopher Reeve, just as Michael Keaton will always be Batman, for my generation at least. Reeve wasn’t the most incredible actor but he was an incredible man. The tragic accident that he suffered was really unfortunate. He didn’t give up though and remained an inspiration to people both in a similar situation and outside of it. While Superman may be a lame hero, Christopher Reeve was a true hero in real life. May he rest in peace.

I think special mention goes to Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. I fear I have seen the last movie Gene Hackman will ever act in and that hurts my heart a little. I don’t think this was a particularly good movie but if I had to sound off what I liked about it I’d start with Gene Hackman. I am a big fan of him as both an actor and a person. Several years ago I heard a story about him being in a fist fight, the man was 70 years or more and fist fighting someone! That’s a real badass and I will get more into him as an actor when we reach Unforgiven in the collection.

I don’t know that special mention is really deserving but if you didn’t notice Marlon Brando is in this movie as Jor-El. He wouldn’t want you to miss that, but truthfully the presence of the Godfather is a big deal. Yet Brando caused such a problem on set and in the aftermath of the film’s success that he was cut entirely from the sequel. On set he was reading his lines off the diaper of baby Superman because he refused to learn them. After the film proved to be a success at the box office he sued for royalties. He ended up making an awful lot of money for a short part and even received first billing for what basically amounts to a cameo.

There is little more than “look what he can do!” in this movie and it’s not enough for me. Maybe it’s as simple as I’m not impressed with what the character can do. This was a big hit when it came out but Superman has regularly failed to be a success as some of the other famous film heroes have. He doesn’t rake in the money quite like Batman, Spiderman, or now Wonder Woman. This was the most successful effort as it was the first of four films and a financial success at the box office.

There was a time when I thought this movie should hold a place in the collection. I still think it deserves a place in the collection but I don’t know that it’s getting a ride in the DVD player again. I respect this movie and like some things about it but overall it is not for me. I think this movie is worth your time because it deserves your time, but I don’t think it is worth anymore of my time.

NEXT MOVIE: Superman II (1980)

Spider-Man 3

Year: 2007
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Alvin Sargent. Based on characters creasted by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Everybody hated this movie but I always liked it because it was everything I wanted out of a Spider-Man movie. I am a sucker for the effects. I love to see that cool Spider-Man shit and this movie is overloaded with cool Spider-Man shit. Yeah Topher Grace was a lame choice for Eddie Brock but beyond that I don’t know what everyone hated so much. I liked the black suit, I liked the story overloaded with villains, and I loved seeing all these characters together again for a third go round. The biggest problem I had with it was that some of the fight scenes featured Peter doing the fighting instead of Spider-Man.

They put too much thought into the second movie for me. Yeah it was cool but I loathed sitting through all the slow moving character development while I was waiting for Spider-Man to be swinging through the streets. This movie featured three villains, and because of that there was tons of Spider-Man swinging around and being awesome. Of the three films this movie featured some of the coolest Spider-Man sequences and that’s all I have ever really cared about in this franchise. In 2007 if I wanted to see a serious movie I’d check out No Country for Old Men, when I wanted to see something fun and awesome I went to see this one. While plenty were disappointed I was pleased cause I got exactly what I wanted.

This movie still preceded the MCU and while plenty of movies were trying to recreate the success of Spider-Man nothing came close to this franchise even the third time around. Even though this movie wasn’t well received it still managed to be the highest grossing film of the year. That’s the number one reason they shouldn’t have rebooted this franchise but followed through with the idea for a fourth film. There was no reason to scrap a successful franchise in favor of a reboot nobody wanted. It still frustrates me to this day. While the character would have needed to be rebooted eventually in order to enter the MCU we still could have gotten another couple of cool films before that took place.

People can hate on this movie all they want, I will always think they are wrong. Spider-Man was already awesome enough but when they put him in that black suit he got even cooler. In the black suit his movements are so fluid and so much more powerful. I love when he is doing back flips on the side of a building and I love when he nosedives straight toward the ground before swinging up at the last second. This movie is full of awesome Spider-Man moments. The visuals of him saving Gwen Stacy from the crane accident are simply spectacular.

I think we can all admit that where this movie went wrong was casting Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. While I’ve read Topher Grace put on an impressive 20 something pounds to play the part that hardly matters when you only weigh 100 pounds to begin with. Eddie Brock is supposed to be a bulky and intimidating figure. Grace just didn’t fit the bill, but I still thought Venom was cool. He was forced into the story by the studio but I wasn’t disappointed by it. It only meant there was more Spider-Man action to be had.

I have also heard many people criticize the scene when Peter is dancing around the streets. Yeah it’s totally lame but it wasn’t so bad it sullied my opinion of the film. I looked at is as “oh, Peter is being dorky again, even when trying to be cool.” I saw it as part of the character and never gave it a second thought. That didn’t annoy me near as much as being forced into seeing The Sandman as kind of a good guy. I like bad guys to be just that, bad guys. Why am I supposed to feel sorry for this guy? The Sandman proved to be a pretty cool bad guy when the action started but far too often we are having his stupid sob story shoved down our throat. He keeps talking about not being a bad guy but then keeps breaking the law, totally lame.

It’s pretty cool to finally see Harry step up and take over his father’s mantle as the Green Goblin. I thought he was great as a bad guy and as a good guy in this movie. While we’re supposed to feel sorry for this criminal sob story of a Sandman Harry manages to win us back by actually doing the right thing. In the end of the movie the Sandman is still wreaking havoc for some disillusioned reason while Harry swallows his pride to fight the good fight. The action scenes with he and Spidey fighting in tandem are really exciting.

I remember that following this movie the studio did have a fourth film planned with everyone reprising their roles. If I remember correctly the story would have features John Malkovich playing the Vulture. I think the pressure the studio was putting on Sam Raimi had something to do with him pulling out of the project and then it all fell apart. When Raimi left the project the whole thing was scrapped and they announced the reboot. The rest is history as the new franchise never achieved the success of its predecessor and ultimately Sony decided to throw in the towel and start over again in conjunction with Marvel.

I miss this franchise and would have loved to see it continue beyond this third film. However this turned out to be the end of it and while plenty of people were disappointed I still stand behind it. I thought it was a good movie and I think it’s worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stargate (1994)

 

 

 

Spider-Man 2

Year: 2004
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Four different writers, based on characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

RYAN’S REVIEW

This has always been acclaimed as a really exceptional sequel but I have always thought it was overrated. It’s a cool movie but it has too much story and not enough action. It does a great job of character development and takes us deeper with all the main characters but that’s never been what I wanted. It makes for a great story but I always want more excitement in a sequel. I want any sequel to equal more of everything you loved about the first. I have simply never felt like this movie capitalized on that opportunity.

In the world of sequels this movie is much more Godfather II and not enough Terminator 2. By that I mean that it’s boring, at times in this case at least. This is a long superhero movie and there is not nearly enough action to break up the long retarding points. The Godfather II is impossibly long and devoid of action whereas I have no idea how long Terminator 2 is. Nobody knows how long it is without checking the runtime because it’s so exciting the time flies by.

This movie has some really fantastic fight scenes but there just weren’t enough of them. I criticize this movie but that’s not meant to suggest I don’t respect it. This movie has some seriously awesome Spidey action. You just have to sit through all his internal struggles in order to see them and that takes forever.

I know that it came straight out of the comic but I have always hated the segment when Peter quits being Spider-Man. It’s great for Peter to get his life in order and it makes for a nice story but it only gets in the way of Spider-Man time. I don’t care if Peter meets his personal obligations. I want to see Spider-Man swinging through the street and webbing up bad guys.

I think one of the most important themes in Spider-Man has always been that it’s hard to be a superhero. It takes sacrifice to do what’s right and an honorable character to make the decision to do it. This movie really captures that quality of the character. Not only is it hard to be a superhero but nothing ever goes Peter’s way. Poor Peter, the love of his life is marrying someone else, his best friend is mad at him, people can’t walk by without bumping into him or knocking his stuff to the ground. Big deal, you have to counterbalance all that stuff that sucks with the fact that you get to be Spider-Man.

While everybody else was beaming over this movie I was twitching with growing frustration because I just wanted to see Spider-Man doing his thing. However, when the movie finally does get to the action it does not disappoint. When I was in college I would sometimes pop in the DVD of this film and just skip to the fight scenes. I would watch the battles between Spidey and Doc Ock over and over again because they were awesome. As frustrated as I have been with this movie I still deny it nothing. It was better than the first one and when it got going it went somewhere exciting.

This movie was just as impressive as its predecessor when it came to box office returns and that was an exciting thing to watch. The first film had set records and this one broke them as Spider-Man proved to be the most lucrative franchise since Star Wars. I have always had an interest in box office statistics and that interest made this movie even more exciting for me as a fan.

While my overall tone here has been disappointment that isn’t altogether accurate. Do I wish the movie had more action? Yes, but I think the action that is on the table lived up to my expectations as a fan. This wasn’t my favorite Spider-Man film but it was a good movie nonetheless.

Alfred Molina made for a great Doctor Octopus and it was awesome to see the character on screen. The effects used to make his tentacles move were very well done and he looked fantastic in fight scenes with Spider-Man. I do wish they had given the character a different ending because it would have been great for him to have the potential to return. It sucks seeing the same thing done again but I would still love to see a new version of Doc Ock eventually. He’s just too cool a villain to sit on the sidelines forever. It would be great for him to be a new villain introduced into the MCU.

Aside from the lack of action the only problem I had with this movie was Spider-Man takes his mask off far too much. Spidey was unmasked frequently in the comics but everyone always assumed he was an impostor when they saw Peter Parker. This would explain to them how Spider-Man was defeated at all because it wasn’t the real Spider-Man. In this movie he is just taking that mask off far too much. Spider-Man’s secret identity is one of the most important aspects of his character because his villains are always after Aunt May or one of his girlfriends.

For most people this sequel outshined the original and they loved it. I like it but do not agree. That isn’t to say it’s not a good movie though, I personally just wanted something different. Nevertheless this is a movie that is worth your time to see if for no other reason than to see some really awesome fight scenes.

NEXT MOVIE: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

 

Spider-Man

Year: 2002
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: David Koepp, based on character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie changed everything. Not only in the movie industry itself but for me personally as well. It’s arguably one of the most influential movies of the new century because everything we see today started here. I was working at the movie theater part time when this movie came out doing my Tyler Durden impression and it was a very exciting time. It meant more to me because at that time and place I felt very involved in the experience. As an avid observer I got to see it all unfold and the aftermath has been nothing short of spectacular.

When I was 18 I had a very unique job at the movie theater in which I showed up once a week and built the movies for play in the theater. In a story for another time I actually inherited this job and wasn’t even officially on payroll. It was so cool because I would simply walk into the theater once a week, bypass all the real employees and go straight upstairs. There I would chat with management and then get to work splicing movies together in the projection booth. This allowed me access to screening the movies before hand as well as free entry to any movie I wanted to see which I took advantage of fervently in my teenage years.  It was a fun time in life and I watched a lot of movies. The reason I bring it up now is because throughout that time the most significant movie I built and watched was Spider-Man. I used to save a frame from each movie I built and the frame for Spider-Man was one I actually carried around in my wallet for years. I must have watched this movie in the theater eight times and I eagerly watched the box office returns everyday as it rose to one of the then highest grossing movies of all time.

I grew up as an X-Men fan. Since as far back as I can remember I was watching the cartoon, playing with the action figures, and reading the comics when I was allowed. I had somehow never really been exposed to Spider-Man though. I was aware of him but I had never really gotten into the character. Somewhere along the line as I grew out of being a kid and into a teenager I grew out of my beloved childhood comic characters as well. I was older and too cool for such things as I entered the rigorous social hierarchy of High School. Nevertheless I was really pumped when the X-Men came out and I loved it, but I have always admitted and known it was nothing next to this movie.  This movie was different, and the audience responded in turn. It changed everything for me as the fanboy within was woken and emerged full on in my late teens. I, like many people, became a Spider-Man fanatic. Suddenly it was cool to be into comic book characters again. I ended up reading like the first nine volumes of the original running of Spider-Man in the aftermath of this movie. It gave me a juvenile taste for what would eventually become a healthy appetite in reading comics as an adult.

Would there be a Marvel Cinematic Universe if this movie hadn’t been so successful? I don’t think so and I’d point to that as the number one reason that makes this one of, if not the, most influential movies of the century. This movie seems like an afterthought fifteen years, two reboots, and six movies later but that doesn’t change what it meant for movies going forward back in 2002. Technically X-Men really started the trend a couple years prior but it wasn’t nearly the success Spider-Man was. That X-Men franchise may have had more longevity but it didn’t start the noise about how much money could be made with comic book films. There were more than 400 million reasons to keep banking on superheroes after Spider-Man and in 2002 that was good for fourth highest grossing film of all time domestically if I’m not mistaken. Also important to understand about this movie was that Kevin Feige was an uncredited executive producer on the film. Six years later he would spearhead and oversee the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe one movie at a time. Now Marvel is putting out about four movies a year with no end in sight to success or the creative crossovers that fans have come to love.

It was a wild idea that nobody thought would work but it has worked beautifully. So much so that other studios are scrambling to create their own cinematic universes. Be it with DC superheroes, Transformers, or even classic monsters. All of which have trouble finding similar success but trying nonetheless and too far past the point of no return to stop. Nobody has been able to do what Kevin Feige has done, and would any of it have been possible without the success of this movie? I don’t think so and I think for that reason this has to be considered as one of the most influential movies of the 21st century.

As of this moment we are a couple of weeks away from the newest version of Spider-Man. Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the third version of the character we have had in the last 15 years. It seems like too much even for one of the most popular characters ever but this time will be different. This first franchise has always been my favorite of the Spider-Man films but I’m wildly optimistic about the new film. The main reason being that this film will fully immerse Spidey within the MCU where he belongs. Sony seriously damaged the image of Spider-Man when they rebooted the character but were at least wise enough to throw in the towel before it was too late. They now have a shared interest in the character with Marvel and at least for now we can all sit back and enjoy the magic they make together. We have character after character coming out with his own film and everything working toward one common goal, Avengers: Infinity War. It’s the most ambitious effort to date by the MCU and thanks to this new rendition of the character Spider-Man gets to be part of that party. In a perfect world the same thing would happen with X-Men and Fantastic Four but sadly that is just wishful thinking.

I have always thought Tobey Maguire was the perfect actor to play Peter Parker. His frame and demeanor have always had him cast as kind of a dork and that’s what made him perfect for the part. Peter Parker was a dork, he was the guy who got picked on in school by everybody. That’s what makes him such a great superhero because as a victim of bullying he is out to protect everyone selflessly. The jury is still out on Tom Holland but he is playing a much different Spider-Man. I couldn’t stand the hipster cool guy portrayed by Andrew Garfield in the short lived Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Just like Michael Keaton will always be Batman, Tobey Maguire will always be Spider-Man. I think Tom Holland will be awesome as Spider-Man and I look forward to seeing it, but Christian Bale was a cool Batman too and that still couldn’t take the title away from Keaton, in my opinion anyway. I would have loved to see Tobey Maguire don the suit for a fourth time and was really disappointed when that fell through.

I didn’t hate the overloaded third film like everyone else did and would have easily shown up for a fourth film but studio plans got in the way. The MCU was not only in full swing at the time but it was flourishing as The Avengers was huge. Sony wanted their own universe and they were showing up late to the game. They had plans to make like 6 movies or something like that and build their own universe centered around Spider-Man. There was a really cool idea about making a Sinister Six movie. I was so disappointed in the quick reboot that I was never too interested in what they were doing. I thought it was ridiculous to retell the origin story in the reboot. Had they started this franchise with him already being Spider-Man that would have made more sense. Expecting the audience to watch a rehashed version of the same thing that came before was ridiculous. I don’t even think I saw the second one in the theater, but not many people did.  I quietly relished in the failure of this franchise as an angry fan who still hadn’t gotten over his woes. I feel differently this time around because at least the character is in good hands. I have no doubt the new film will be very good and I can’t wait to see it. I like Tom Holland as a younger Spider-Man, I think it’s awesome they got Michael Keaton to play the villain, and I love that Iron Man is in the film and it’s so immersed in the MCU.

To get back to this movie specifically I think the rest of the cast outside of Maguire deserves a lot of recognition. While there are many great performances to consider you simply can’t top J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. He was perfect with everything from his performance to his look as the character. He was so good in fact that there hasn’t even been an effort to recast the character in any of the new renditions.  I am a big fan of J.K. Simmons and I like him in everything he is in. I am also a big fan of some of the other actors in this movie. I have loved Kirsten Dunst since her amazing performance as a child in Interview with a Vampire. I don’t think she ever quite topped that performance or lived up to the expectations it started but I have always liked her nonetheless. I thought she was a great Mary Jane Watson. I have also been a long time fan of Willem Dafoe who was not the first, second, or even third choice for the part. He has such a menacing and goblin like face already that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. When he smiles he can look so sinister and his voice is laced with intimidation. A great actor who always delivers.

Writing about this movie has been like a trip down memory lane for me and I have really enjoyed it. Making the experience even more exciting was that when I sat down to watch the movie I had my kids watch it with me. After a lot of initial protest from my eight year old daughter the movie won her over quickly. That says everything you need to know about this movie. It will win you over. It’s an awesome movie that still stands up to the next generation fifteen years later. No matter how good Spiderman: Homecoming turns out to be there will always be a place for this first film. A film that changed so much and opened the door for an entire genre of films, and ultimately a universe of them.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea I haven’t forgotten that Superman and Batman came first, but they simply didn’t change things the way Spider-Man did. If you haven’t seen this then you have missed out. It’s worth your time to watch what started it all. I love this movie and think it should be appreciated by everyone. Even if you don’t appreciate the super hero genre you have to at least respect what this film was able to accomplish.

NEXT MOVIE: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Logan Take 2

I finally took the time to sit down with this movie for a second time. While I stand by everything I said the first go round I do feel a bit differently after seeing it again. I was incredibly disappointed when I watched this movie in the theater and I was so befuddled by my reaction I could hardly ascertain what the reason was. I don’t love this movie after seeing it for the second time but I am at least willing to admit I have much more respect for it. While personal disappointment can’t be overlooked I don’t think I gave the movie a fair response when I first wrote about it.

I’ll admit it, I got caught up in the hype. The media heavily promoted this film and when initial reviews came in they were overwhelmingly positive. My expectations were already dangerously high but by the time I sat down in the theater to see it I expected something bordering on the impossible. I expected the best Wolverine movie to date, I expected all the stops to be pulled and for there to be a no holds bar approach to this one. Obviously I had allowed myself to get to a point where nothing would be satisfactory. While I went looking for the best yet I hadn’t at all prepared myself for it to simply be winding down and closing out the character. Yeah I knew this was it, Hugh Jackman made it very clear he wasn’t doing it again, but still I didn’t expect that finality to be so central to the story line.

I don’t know what I was expecting but the writing was on the wall. There was no premier actor cast as the villain in this movie because while there were villains the ultimate villain was time, and self. It’s the smart way to take the story if you’re looking to create a closing chapter for your central character. I don’t like it personally but I don’t have to. It wasn’t what I wanted but plenty of people really loved what they did. I would have rather seen WolverShane ride off into the sunset with the fate of his life uncertain. I would have loved a Wolverine who was still strong while all those around him had grown weak. Wolverine as an old man still disappoints me but in the confines of this story it was appropriate and Jackman gave a terrific performance.

I think another problem with this movie is the fact that Wolverine is a bit out shined by his clone. Not only was X-23 a total badass throughout the whole movie but the actress that brought her to life was really exceptional. I don’t know what kind of future Daphne Keen has as an actress but she was perfect for this role. X-23 was an incredibly badass little girl. I love how she was able to speak but didn’t until late in the film. I love that scream she unleashes when she is attacking. I love how fearsome and incredible of a fighter she is. I think the casting department did a great job finding this girl and I hope she has a bright future ahead of her.

I would have liked this movie much more had they brought back Liev Schreiber for a significant role as Sabretooth. I think vendettas are such an important part to the Wolverine character. He is so old that he has enemies everywhere and his personal grudges are part of what always made him appeal to me as a kid. As I mentioned earlier the real villains in this movie are time and self. Time is against Logan as he has finally reached a breaking point in age, and ultimately the big be all villain was Logan himself. He has always been fighting who he is in the Wolverine movies but in this one it really gets interesting when he is killed by a clone of himself. See what they did there? Yeah it makes for great symbolism but I still think it could have been done differently and it could have been better.

It’s true with nearly any movie that it could have been better but right now I’m simply here to acknowledge that this one isn’t as bad as I felt after seeing it for the first time. I gave myself time to cool off and went back in with an open mind and found that there was plenty to like about this movie. Personal expectations can be powerfully influential in forming opinions and mine poisoned my perception of this movie. Having seen it a second time I think that it is worth your time to see it.

ORIGINAL POST  3/6/2017

I had really high expectations for this movie; so much so that I was willing to sit at the front of the auditorium in a sold out show on opening weekend just to see it. I had something personal invested in this one as a long time Wolverine fan. This one wasn’t going to be the let down the others were and I wholeheartedly believed that. I was so excited for this final film to have a hard R rating and I was pumped after listening to early reviews that raved about it. Calling it not just great but one of the greatest comic book films ever made.

Maybe that was a bit too much of an overstatement. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe too much of the film was shown in the trailers. Or maybe it was just too late to try to do Wolverine the right way. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but this movie fell way short of my expectations and not even all the blood or fucks in all their R rated glory were enough to tip the scales for me.

I’ll be careful here because I don’t want to spoil anything, as if trailers didn’t spoil the whole damn movie for us already. I also have no interest in discouraging anybody else from seeing it because I still want the movie to be successful. Success for Logan means there is more potential for more R rated comic book films. It was liked by all I attended the film with and watching it a second time I may feel differently after expectations are held firmly in check.

Without spoiling anything I’ll simply say I didn’t care for the old Wolverine. If they were going to legitimately adapt the Old Man Logan comic that would have been one thing but that isn’t what they did in this movie. In this movie Wolverine is simply old, and he couldn’t physically capture the violence necessary to deliver on that R rating. Not for me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he has plenty of great scenes in this movie but where was this R rating when Wolverine was in his prime? Where was the final end all be all villain for Wolverine to fight? Be it Sabertooth, Omega Red, or any of the many villains he has personally had a vendetta with over the years? This film really could have used a legitimate villain and what we got simply wasn’t good enough. This movie wasn’t a Wolverine story though, it was a Wolverine ending and too much of the film simply led to that ending.

I think for this movie to have been as good as it was promised to be it had to top all of the other Wolverine performances from the past. I simply don’t think it did. I think the film easily beats out the Wolverine we have seen in his solo movies but it can’t top his roles in X2 or X-Men Days of Future Past. I feel like we needed to see a cooler Wolverine for the final ride and what we saw was an old and defeated Wolverine.

I have been lost on what to think about this movie because I want so bad to like it but I simply can’t. I have accepted my disappointment and will hope I feel differently once I see it a second time. I just think with any hero you have to work the cool factor. If you can’t make Wolverine cool you did something wrong and I don’t think there was anything cool about Wolverine in this movie. Not only was he not cool I wouldn’t even call him likable as the disgruntled old man who doesn’t have it in him to be a good guy anymore.

I didn’t hate this movie and I wouldn’t argue with anybody that liked it. It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be and I found that so disappointing as a fan. Ultimately, even at a PG-13 level I thought Wolverine had better fight scenes in X2 and I thought he was at his coolest in X-Men Days of Future Past. For either of those things to be possible this movie wasn’t what it was supposed to be, for me anyway.

We love Wolverine because he is a badass, but he wasn’t badass in this movie. He didn’t have his iconic look at all, featuring neither the awesome hair or the sideburns. He grabbed cigars at one time but I don’t remember him smoking any of them. He spends more time getting his ass kicked than kicking ass. While Logan is usually gruff I’d call him more ornery and pissy in this rendition. This guy had feral rage and claws that popped out of his hands but that’s about it.

Unfortunately I think the coolest thing about this movie was the Deadpool teaser at the beginning. It was a fun little short that reminds us Fox still has something going for it in the comic book department. I thought Patrick Stewart was great as always and I really liked X-23 and thought the actress playing her was exceptional. Donald Pierce seemed like he was going to be a really cool bad guy but he sort of just fell off as the movie progressed.

Bottom Line: Go see this movie for yourself and form your own opinions. I was the exception when walking out of the theater and plenty of people probably won’t agree with me here. It’s blasphemous I know to criticize Hugh Jackman on his final go around and I’m sorry. I was not impressed with what he and James Mangold did with this opportunity.

 

 

Logan

I had really high expectations for this movie; so much so that I was willing to sit at the front of the auditorium in a sold out show on opening weekend just to see it. I had something personal invested in this one as a long time Wolverine fan. This one wasn’t going to be the let down the others were and I wholeheartedly believed that. I was so excited for this final film to have a hard R rating and I was pumped after listening to early reviews that raved about it. Calling it not just great but one of the greatest comic book films ever made.

Maybe that was a bit too much of an overstatement. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe too much of the film was shown in the trailers. Or maybe it was just too late to try to do Wolverine the right way. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but this movie fell way short of my expectations and not even all the blood or fucks in all their R rated glory was enough to tip the scales for me.

I’ll be careful here because I don’t want to spoil anything, as if trailers didn’t spoil the whole damn movie for us already. I also have no interest in discouraging anybody else from seeing it because I still want the movie to be successful. Success for Logan means there is more potential for more R rated comic book films. It was liked by all I attended the film with and watching it a second time I may feel differently after expectations are held firmly in check.

Without spoiling anything I’ll simply say I didn’t care for the old Wolverine. If they were going to legitimately adapt the Old Man Logan comic that would have been one thing but that isn’t what they did in this movie. In this movie Wolverine is simply old, and he couldn’t physically capture the violence necessary to deliver on that R rating. Not for me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he has plenty of great scenes in this movie but where was this R rating when Wolverine was in his prime? Where was the final end all be all villain for Wolverine to fight? Be it Sabertooth, Omega Red, or any of the many villains he has personally had a vendetta with over the years? This film really could have used a legitimate villain and what we got simply wasn’t good enough. This movie wasn’t a Wolverine story though, it was a Wolverine ending and too much of the film simply led to that ending.

I think for this movie to have been as good as it was promised to be it had to top all of the other Wolverine performances from the past. I simply don’t think it did. I think the film easily beats out the Wolverine we have seen in his solo movies but it can’t top his roles in X2 or X-Men Days of Future Past. I feel like we needed to see a cooler Wolverine for the final ride and what we saw was an old and defeated Wolverine.

I have been lost on what to think about this movie because I want so bad to like it but I simply can’t. I have accepted my disappointment and will hope I feel differently once I see it a second time. I just think with any hero you have to work the cool factor. If you can’t make Wolverine cool you did something wrong and I don’t think there was anything cool about Wolverine in this movie. Not only was he not cool I wouldn’t even call him likable as the disgruntled old man who doesn’t have it in him to be a good guy anymore.

I didn’t hate this movie and I wouldn’t argue with anybody that liked it. It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be and I found that so disappointing as a fan. Ultimately, even at a PG-13 level I thought Wolverine had better fight scenes in X2 and I thought he was at his coolest in X-Men Days of Future Past. For either of those things to be possible this movie wasn’t what it was supposed to be, for me anyway.

We love Wolverine because he is a badass, but he wasn’t badass in this movie. He didn’t have his iconic look at all, featuring neither the awesome hair or the sideburns. He grabbed cigars at one time but I don’t remember him smoking any of them. He spends more time getting his ass kicked than kicking ass. While Logan is usually gruff I’d call him more ornery and pissy in this rendition. This guy had feral rage and claws that popped out of his hands but that’s about it.

Unfortunately I think the coolest thing about this movie was the Deadpool teaser at the beginning. It was a fun little short that reminds us Fox still has something going for it in the comic book department. I thought Patrick Stewart was great as always and I really liked X-23 and thought the actress playing her was exceptional. Donald Pierce seemed like he was going to be a really cool bad guy but he sort of just fell off as the movie progressed.

Bottom Line: Go see this movie for yourself and form your own opinions. I was the exception when walking out of the theater and plenty of people probably won’t agree with me here. It’s blasphemous I know to criticize Hugh Jackman on his final go around and I’m sorry. I was not impressed with what he and James Mangold did with this opportunity.