Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Top Comic Book Movies Of All Time

In the last twenty years, comic book properties have been bought up by major motion picture studios everywhere. Nerds from every corner have flocked with their less nerdier friends to catch the special effects, the A-list celebrities playing their favorite heroes, and to catch whether or not the movie is true to their favorite comic book. Some movies have followed the comic book nearly scene for scene, where as some merely seem to rewrite the world of the superhero. I submit my choices for the top comic book far.

1. Batman Begins: Christopher Nolan rebooted the franchise to a higher degree than anyone could have expected. The first in a series of Batman movies started by Tim Burton did not follow storyline/timelines of the Batman comics and also came off as cartoon like by the time actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze. Christopher Nolan started off by casting the most obvious choice for Batman/Bruce Wayne...British actor, Christian Bale. Bale ended up being a great choice, along with fellow great choice Michael Caine as Alfred. Other great choices such as Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and Gary Oldman followed as well. Not only was casting great, but Nolan made sure to give Batman a darker tone. He kept the movie plausible, even with it's comic book technology. Also Nolan thought ahead and viewed the movie as a trilogy and didn't introduce The Joker as the first villain Batman faces, but instead the one that had something to do with his training, Ra's al Ghul. Throwing in Scarecrow as a more local to Gotham villain was also a good idea on the Nolan crew. Overall, this movie ressurected Batman in cinema and produced an even better sequel and another highly anticipated one.

2. The Dark Knight: Speaking of Batman, the Christopher Nolan sequel was even better. With a lead in from Batman Begins when Gordon hands Batman a joker playing card. Casting for The Joker was widely speculated and at one point a rumor floated around that it was Crispin Glover. Then a more grittier version was leaked when a picture of Heath Ledger as The Joker appeared on the internet. Heath Ledger threw himself into this role and played it better than anyone could have imagined. The unfortunate result was drug overdose that Heath Ledger died from. Though I don't like when movies and television shows change the actor/actress playing a role in the middle of a run, Maggie Gyllenhaal played a better Rachel Dawes than Katie Holmes did. Throw in the build up and fall of Harvey Dent and the gruesome special effects they used to give him his Two Face half and the movie definitely revealed itself as argubaly the best comic book ever produced. Ending with Batman on the run and even nods to Batman comic fans with appearances by the original OMAC computer and the third in the series, The Dark Knight Rises will have a lot of heavy expectations.

3. The Crow: Based on the graphic novel of the same name written by James O'Barr, this movie also had fatal consequences for it's star Brandon Lee. Some speculated that the Lee family curse was involved, but whatever the case, it was a gunshot wound sustained during an action scene. The movie has a dark tone and is based on the day, Devil's Night. After being killed along with his girl, Eric Draven's soul is brought back to avenge their deaths. Excellent performances by Brandon Lee and the CG team who planted his face on a stuntman's body to complete the movie, as well as one of the best soundtracks in movie history (Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Violent Femmes, Rage Against The Machine, Pantera, Henry Rollins, etc) set a tone that gives the viewer the feeling that anyone in the movie can die any moment.

4. Sin City: Perhaps the best graphic novel turned movie based on how true to the novel the storyline is. Based on four of the seven graphic novels written by Frank Miller, Sin City even used the graphic novel as the scene by scene storyboard that Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and Frank Miller used to make this movie. Cinematography was excellent with a near black and white movie that mirrored the look of the graphic novel. Casting could hardly be better with perfect casting done on Dwight (Clive Owen), Gail (Rosario Dawson), Nancy (Jessica Alba), and Marv (Mickey Rourke). The only thing that this movie left in the air is the knowledge of whether or not Robert Rodriguez will ever get Sin City 2 made, based on the final three graphic novels.
5. Tank Girl: Campy in nature, this movie dates itself to the nineties decade with it's style, music, and even fashion. The movie was well casted, as Lori Petty looked the part better than most can and legendary Malcom McDowell playing the villain. Little known Naomi Watts also played sidekick, Jet Girl that helps Tank Girl bring down Water & Power. The only downfall is The Rippers. In the comic book, they were a race of mutated kangaroos, but in the movie, they are a genetically modified race of super soldiers. Still, without a lot of public knowledge of the exact storyline of Tank Girl, this fact about The Rippers falls lost of most of those that watched the movie. The movie is upbeat, energetic, and fun, which can be a trait lost on many other comic book movies. It also seemed to represent a decade (the nineties) better than other movies. The movie was released shortly before celebrities such as Gwen Stefani became nationally known (if cast later in the decade, Tank Girl could have been played by Stefani), the rebirth of Ice Tea's career (new to acting), and the foreshadowing of Jaime Hewlett's music project, The Gorillaz. A rumor of a reboot of Tank Girl has floated around, as another script has been floated around the movie studios.

6. Iron Man: The best of the movies based on a Marvel property. This movie is the perfect example of a lead actor perfectly casted. Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. Also Terrence Howard was a great James Rhodes. The script was well done, showing Tony Stark's original Iron Man costume to save himself from those whom kidnapped him. Later on after returning to America, Tony develops the Iron Man costume that we all know. In his process of developing the updated suit, a bit of comedy is portrayed when Tony Stark tries to refine the flight systems on his suit and he has trouble controlling it. The only downfall was Gwyneth Paltrow playing Pepper Potts. Her performance did not match the energy, humor, or the charm that Robert Downey Jr. brought to the screen.

Many other comic book movies were entertaining as well, but had flaws keeping them from this list. Casting such as Jessica Alba as Sue Storm didn't make sense, while she was a great match for Nancy in Sin City. On the other end of the spectrum, Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine were perfect jobs of casting, but flaws in storyline hurt the movie.

Anticipated movies such as Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers could very easily move themselves onto this list of great comic book movies by next year. Other movies were also borderline on this list such as The Watchmen and Road To Perdition. With major motion picture studios buying up properties, I'm sure this list of movies will be ever changing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Underrated Film: Four Rooms

In a topic I will call, "Underrated Film," I will introduce you to movies that are well written/acted/directed, but are fairly unknown for various reasons. In this post I will review...

Four Rooms:

Four Rooms is a movie based on a bell boy's first day on the job, on New Year's Eve night, at a hotel that used to be a hangout for Hollywood celebrities during the Golden Age. It's broken into four separate anthologies, which are directed by four different directors (Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino), but have the common element of Tim Roth in each piece as the bell boy. This movie showcases the talent of these four new directors and meshes their styles together to make a chaotic, but fun movie.

In the first room, a coven of witches gather to resurrect their Bettie Page-esque goddess. Starring Lily Taylor, Alicia Witt, Ione Skye, Valerina Golino, and Madonna fashioning a black rubber dress during her Bedtime Stories time period. This piece is titled The Missing Ingredient, set in the Honeymoon suite, and directed by Allison Anders.

Out of the four rooms in this movie, the first one is the one that least fits in with the other three. Funny on it's on, it's a little out of place, but still enjoyable to watch. Tim Roth stands out the most in this piece, even with the little dialogue he has.

In the second room, Tim Roth's Ted character is mistaken for a man looking to rendezvous with a married woman played by Jennifer Beals. Walking into the room with a bucket of ice that was ordered, David Proval plays an angry husband of Beals who is waiting for Ted with a gun. Ted walks in to find Jennifer Beals gagged and tied to a chair. Most of the dialogue is between Proval and Roth, but even gagged, Beals is very expressive with her eyes, grunts, and facial mannerisms. She steals this portion of the movie called The Wrong Man set in room 404 and directed by Alexandre Rockwell. Out of the four rooms, this is the one with the best dialogue and even at that, Beals steals the scene in this room.

In the third room, directed by Robert Rodriguez, Rodriguez favorites act in this piece including Antonio Banderas and a brief cameo by Salma Hayek as a burlesque dancer seen on the television. Antonio Banderas plays a rich man who is going out for the night with his wife played by Tamlyn Tomita. With no baby sitter service available, Banderas enlists Ted to watch his two children. Reluctant, Ted agrees after an extremely large tip is given to him. The majority of the dialogue is between Ted and the two children, with Banderas and Tomita bookending the anthology. This anthology titled The Misbehavers set in room 309, provides the best laughs and the children are the scene stealers in this skit.

In between the third and forth rooms, Ted calls his boss at home only to reach a stoner played by Marisa Tomei. After a brief dialogue, Tomei hands the phone off to Ted's boss played by Kathy Griffin, whom convinces Ted not to quit. This part of the movie basically acts as a transition to the forth and final room.

The forth room, called The Man from Hollywood set in the penthouse of the movie, is directed and also stars Quentin Tarantino. Also making appearances is Bruce Willis, Jennifer Beals untied, and Paul Calderon. Quentin plays a famous director who makes a bet with a friend of his, on whether they can recreate a scene they saw in a movie. Ted, bringing the key components they ordered to attempt to recreate this scene, is also given a large amount of money to also act as a referee to judge whether this movie scene can be recreated. This anthology is the most clever of the four and and wraps up the four rooms nicely.

Four Rooms was released as an indie movie by Miramax, to showcase their four new directors. Definitely worth a watch, despite the lack of public awareness of this piece of cinema.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pieces of Entertainment

Well, as if I don't have enough blogs, I am starting a third one now that I believe I would be more apt to update more often. This one will be on anything pertaining the the entertainment industry, that should gain more attention. Anything from cinema, television, games, and music. So I start this first blog with something I believe I will do often on here called....

Things I Learned From...

80's entertainment

1. The rhythm is going to get you (Gloria Estefan)

2. I can drive a car in reverse to make the mileage disappear (Ferris Bueller)

3. Driving 88 MPH is a key factor in traveling in time (Back To The Future)

4. You can eliminate ground dwelling monsters by inflating them until they pop (Dig Dug)

5. Greek family members will crash at your home forever (Full House, Perfect Strangers)

6. Giant sand worms are all over deserts (Dune, Beetlejuice)

7. Aliens love junk food (ALF, E.T.)

8. Michael Jackson started the decade as a black man and ended the decade a white girl

9. Alien robots will use Earth for their wars (Transformers, Go-Bots)

10. Ducks will eventually take over the world (Howard The Duck, Duck Tales)

11. You will die from diarrhea (Oregon Trail)

12. Communism works (The Smurfs)

13. Still wondering where is the beef (Wendy's Commercials)

14. Ninjas are mortal enemies to talking turtles and rats that know karate (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

15. It was hip to be square (Q-bert, Rubbick's Cube, Huey Lewis And The News)