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Tag: Spider-man

The Rise of the Comic Book Movies: Some Marvelous, Some Don’t Cut It

by on Jul.09, 2011, under comics, movies

Though I haven’t written a movie review here in some time (partially due to a lull in actual theatrical visits to anything worth reviewing), most who know me are aware that I am a movie aficionado – comic-book themed movies being high on my list of favorites.  Time was that these types of movies were few and far between, and for each one that was well done there were a half a dozen that were half-baked or overcooked.  Lately though, this genre seems have evolved both into a talent-draw and the blockbuster formula.  I for one can’t find much reason to complain so long as the end results are worth watching.

This genre has been tackled from numerous directions by numerous players.  DC has been playing this field for decades now, but most of their attempts to continue something successful has only come back to bite them (e.g., the Superman, and Batman movies prior to Batman Begins).  Marvel has also attempted to plant their flag and, at least I think, has succeeded in doing what Douglas Adams is famous for stating we as humans are capable of but nearly always fail to do – learn from the mistakes of others.  After hitting some snags letting other studios mung things up, they’ve taken the reins back and brought to the big screen what has always made their comics great – continuity.

Not to say that DC can’t get it right – Batman Begins & The Dark Knight are clear evidence that they can.  But their big screen floundering with any reasonable Superman reboot/continuation hasn’t been confidence building, nor has their 180 on bringing Wonder Woman back to the small screen.  Unlike seemingly most of the critical world, I greatly enjoyed the recent Green Lantern movie … up until the mid-credit bonus scene ruined it (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but honestly the only way that scene makes sense is as a teaser trailer for the next film, otherwise it goes against the relational dynamics and apparent character stances they built throughout the movie).  And outside of those properties I haven’t seen much to indicate they are putting any significant efforts into any other properties, which is disheartening given that I think they have a pretty deep bench from which to pull.

I also would be remiss to say that Marvel has been pitch perfect.  Clearly they have had faults in the not too distant past (e.g., X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spider-man 3).  But their recent efforts with Iron Man and the converging storyline with other future members of the Avengers have been spectacular.  Not only have the stories themselves stood on their own, but the semi-subtle use of character cameos and post-credit bonus scenes give them even more dimension.  As a result, each of these have been movies that can easily be enjoyed by both hardcore fans and the uninitiated.

So far I’ve caught all of the comic-book genre pics released this season and I have yet to be significantly disappointed.  If you are interested in my grading of these, here is the report card:

  • Thor B – I enjoyed the complexity of this story arc and how they were able to give the characters more depth than I’d anticipated.  Though I have to deduct points on behalf of my kids who found the villains a bit too scary (especially in 3D), and the delayed hero-gratification off-putting.
  • Green LanternB- – As I said, I really enjoyed this take on this origin story.  Aside from a few flat supporting characters, it was as true to canon as would have been believable and staged things for strong potential continuation of the title (aside from the ruinous mid-credit scene).
  • X-Men: First ClassA+ – This proved to be much better than I had expected and depicted an intriguing starting point for the eventual path of Profession Xavier and his long-time nemesis and friend, Magneto.  I really felt the characters were well developed and depicted and that the film did an excellent job of retconning itself into our own historical events.  I look forward to any future development of this franchise.
  • Captain America: the First AvengerA? – Obviously I cannot grade a movie I haven’t seen yet, but if the previews and my own speculations on the gaps based on canonical knowledge are any indication, this one is going to be a winner.  I have a feeling, though, that following this movie (or more likely, during) I will have to explain some of the historical context to my daughter.

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My Childhood, Repurposed

by on May.07, 2009, under comics, Entertainment, movies

I guess I’m somewhat of a purist. I don’t particularly care for the use of samples from great rock songs in rap and hip-hop music (I don’t think it is wrong, it just isn’t to my tastes). Though I am a fan of a decent remake or mixing that seems artfully done. In the same sense, I’m not a fan of seeing (or in this case hearing) pop cultural elements that I respect being reused in a manner that I cannot respect. So you can imagine my chagrin when I heard a radio commercial this morning do precisely that.

On my morning drive as I was attempting to ignore an unusually long commercial block waiting for some more interesting programming, I heard a spot that featured none other than Peter Cullen doing his best Don LaFontaine impression to shill some initially unnamed product. Not long into the commercial, I find that it is none other than Coors Light who has employed the voice of Optimus Prime in order to promote their color-changing bottle-label and taste-preserving bottle-cap technologies. I was beside myself to say the least. Let me explain why.

See, if it was winter – in the heart of football play-off season, I wouldn’t really take issue with it. It would be a prime beer promotion season and reaching for that “in a world” vibe for their marketing would be completely viable. But it is not football season and Coors is not trying to reach the tailgaters of America with this campaign. This marketing decision was made with the upcoming release of the Transformers sequel in mind. Coors is specifically trying to reach my generation with these ads (there is apparently a TV spot as well) – they are exploiting the sci-fi/comic book geek generation with this casting choice. If you doubt my claim, you need only hear the commercial’s tagline to know I’m correct: “With great beer comes great responsibility.” (If you are not one of us, you may not recognize this phrase, but we know!)

So in this blockbuster movie season when many of the hot titles to see are of the science fiction and comic book genre, it seems that a beer company has opted to capitalize on this market. And it disturbs me. Because while I hate to see such childhood heroes as Optimus Prime and Spider-man have their visage tarnished promoting adult beverages, I have to commend them for their efforts. I don’t like it, but it is well played.

I will try to avoid hearing this commercial again. And I will try to rationalize in my head that neither Hasbro or Marvel had any part in the creative licensing for this campaign (after all, Peter Cullen is not acting as Optimus Prime and the tagline is different enough that they didn’t likely need sign off to use it). As I said, I’m a purist, and I plan to try and keep it that way.

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Unapologetically Fanatic

by on Nov.17, 2008, under comics, movies

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a huge fan of the recent comic book film adaptation movement.  I was raised on a formula of Superman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies.  Matured to the Batman and Spider-man series’.  And in my adulthood have enjoyed both fleeting and sustained relationships in the comic book movie genre.  But this article sent chills of pleasure down my spine (which I came across via a Slashdot post). (continue reading…)

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