TOP 15 Favorite Comic Book / Superhero Movies!! Updated 2012 list!!

So where does Joss Whedon’s AVENGERS rank on the list of best comic-based movies?

Pretty high actually.

Well here’s my biased list of my 15 favorite Comic based movies. The ones I find… re-watchable.(Only caveat being I tried to list only one film per series, the best film of the series, to leave room for others).And it’s pretty much in order of re-watchability. Which film can I view at anytime because it’s that… good and timeless?

Well it starts with SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, still not just one of the best comic book films, but one of the best… films. My top 5 are movies I can leave on repeat in my house and grow not sick of.



HANCOCK (horrible title, horrible marketing, horrible poster, saved by a fantastic 2nd half)
DOLPH LUNDGREN PUNISHER (The best of the Punisher Films. Fun, ninja-decimating flick. :))
MATRIX (Has not dated well, but still strong enough to make the list)

And a few honorable mentions, BATMAN (1989), DARK KNIGHT, HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, DARK MAN, UNBREAKABLE. Feel free to suggest any you think I may have missed (me? never! I got all the good ones! :)) in the comments section.

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Movie Review: HUNGER GAMES leaves you a bit famished?! :)

I saw the HUNGER GAMES this past weekend. It was good, and inventive story. Well relatively inventive, mixing equal parts Logan’s Run, Battle Royal, and Running Man, it still adds enough of its own mythology to keep from seeming rehashed.

Nicely acted throughout, particularly it’s a joy to see Donald Sutherland still commanding the screen, and still creepy. His role as president just another in a long line of memorable performances. All of the actors do a great job. And the film is nicely photographed and for the most part engagingly presented.

All that said the film never really goes beyond good for me. It never rises to being great. And I don’t think that understated ending, though I’m told it follows the book, helps the film. In fact I’m sure it hurts the film.

When I pay $10 to $16 for a movie, I want for the most part a beginning, a middle, and an end. I’m not a big fan of the TV-ization (yes I did just make that up :)) of movies. So that non-ending was the main problem I had with the film, and would have had the same problem if the book ends as… blandly. Some films have put enough in the can that they can pull off such an ending, such as NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. That curt ending comes, but you’ve already had the climax, the payoff, and the wrap-up of loose ends, so I was perfectly fine with that ending. Not so with HUNGER GAMES.

That non-ending and the fact that the sentimentality seemed at times just a tad much and obvious and forced, are the main things I came out of HUNGER GAMES with. And this comes from a guy who likes sentimentality when it’s done well.

Sentimentality when done well you don’t feel them pulling your strings. Sentimentality when done well, is definitely less is more. You get the audience to cry for the characters, not the audience watching the characters cry.

Akiro: “Why do you cry?”
Subotai: “Because he is Conan. Cimmerian. He won’t cry. So I cry for him.”

But my caveats aside the film has done exceptionally well on its opening weekend. However, when you open it on thousands of screens, in every money grubbing 3D format there is, and toss a Dark Knight level marketing and hype campaign with it, you’re bound to draw in the numbers. Add to that there is nothing in the theaters to compete with it, and it all spells dominating performance.

At least for the first couple of weekends after that I think the word of mouth will be a lukewarm, “it’s okay, but you can wait for DVD”.

Everybody wants to be the next uber franchise, the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. If the hope of this Hunger Games film was to get people geared for sequels, it failed on me. Had more attention been paid to making this a good FILM, rather than just a good 1st chapter, I would have been much happier with the movie.

So based on this, the rest of the series, not really interested… I’ll stick to catching them when they hit DVD; as I did with the Potter Series, and the last two films of the RINGS trilogy.

Final Grade: B-

A minor update: Ray over on WSJ wrote the following which I thought was worth repeating 🙂 :

“Battle Royale: In a post-apocalyptic future where all of the world’s major societies have fallen, the government has decided to keep the people in line by having entire classes of students fight to the death on a live broadcast. They are randomly assigned weapons in an ever-changing arena filled with traps that punishes those who break the rules or fail to pay attention. The winner is the last child standing, who is taken on a whirlwind publicity tour to show the power of the government. However, in the latest game, two students team up to beat the system and hopefully make it out alive.

Hunger Games: In a post-apocalyptic future where all of the world’s major societies have fallen, the government has decided to keep the people in line by having randomly chosen children and teenagers from all over the country fight to the death on a live broadcast. They are trained to use randomly selected weapons in an ever-changing arena filled with traps that punishes those who break the rules or fail to pay attention. The winner is the last child standing, who is taken on a whirlwind publicity tour to show the power of the government. However, in the latest game, two children team up to beat the system and hopefully make it out alive.”
— Ray at WSJ

Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION : The RevieW

Well I see there is some interest in my previous post on INCEPTION. Several hundred distinct visits in less than 24 hours.

Well as promised… the review.

I just came from the film, a matinee showing, non-imax, but a very good, high-end local theater. They serve crabcakes at the concession stand for goodness sake.

So a pretty darn impressive theater, a full crowd, just about every seat was taken, and a good, erudite, respectful crowd. Large screen, clean theater, impressive sound system…. and all there to see Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION.

The film starts off with waves lapping an uncertain shore, and in many ways ends the same way.

I thought the movie looked very nice, was well shot, had some really effective use of special effects, and had a smart premise. It seemed well performed by the principals, I liked the sometimes humorous interplay between them, and… I think Dicaprio continues his evolution as a solid, bankable leading man.

All that’s on the surface. The problem with the film, a film about going layer upon layer down below the surface, ironically enough, is it never, really engages on an emotional level… on any level beyond the surface. Its very premise, puts the viewer on guard against real and unreal, and therefore makes the film off-putting, and cold and slightly distant.

You are always outside of the film aware of various layers of unreality, which while sound in theory, in practice it means you are always slightly outside of the jeopardy or concern necessary to make you care or concerned about the characters. It means you are always very aware that you are in a theater watching a film, rather than being in any way immersed in that film. At the heart of the film it should be a love story, I mean at its core it should be a tale of loss love, and one man’s obsession with it.

But it is not.

The thing is you come into the film with that love being a ghost, a dead thing, and it never comes alive in the movie. I never really buy or feel the passion between DiCaprio or Marion Cotillard (who plays that lost love). And without that connection, without the viewer feeling that Casablanca level of love, a man’s sacrifice for that love becomes… understood by the mind but not recognized by the heart.

The film keeps what is real at bay, becomes an exercise in philosphy/metaphysics, rather than ever really becoming what all great or even good films desperately need to be… a wrenching, involving aria to the soul.

I can see the beats that Nolan is going for, but the very structure of his film sabotages any real identification with his characters. Any real sense of their peril and their passions.

It has been compared to the MATRIX (though perhaps a more apt comparison, considering the lead, would be to Scorsese’s superior SHUTTER ISLAND, that uses the same crux of that dead love… but in Scorsese’s film you do feel the connection that could fuel such obsession), but that’s just a crude nod to its style and its premise, INCEPTION is a far more sophisticated film than the MATRIX. But it is also a far emptier film. I just wasn’t engaged, it lacked, from first frame to last… heart.


That is not to say the film is bad, like I previously stated it looks very good, has some interesting scenes (One thing I really like about Christopher Nolan’s films, is the cast. Is the fact that he peoples his films with not just ‘hot’ actors, but great actors who may no longer be in the limelight or who never got their due, Tom Berenger in the former case and Eric Roberts in the latter), but utimately style without substance is… forgettable.

No, not forgettable… dismissible.

I found the movie, here it has been only a few hours, oddly dismissible.

And if my packed matinee audience is any barometer (“okay”, “exhausting”, “disappointing” being some of the comments I heard from the mostly sedate (sedated?) crowd upon leaving) others found the film perhaps a bit… lacking.

One glaring minus… Ken Watanabe’s dialogue is often very difficult to make out. A lot of the movie hinges on caring about him, so having his dialog clear probably should have been a directorial high point. Nolan has done this in other films, where the dialogue is unintelligible (Batman anyone?) but the explosions sure sound good. 🙂 . Again it comes back to that failing of style over substance. “Who cares what the actors are saying, or if they mumble their lines! Man wasn’t that shot pretty!”

It’s a slightly sloppy work ethic, and unnecessarily sabotages Nolan’s films.

For myself. I’m extremely happy I didn’t pay full price for this film ($8 matinee price) and it is not one I’ll be rewatching in the theater, or picking up the DVD or remembering much after this review. I mean there are things a repeated viewing will give you, but those are just clarifications of the what (discussions of the totem, etc.) but without the emotional impetus of the why, I’m not really interested in exploring the what.

Ultimately the massive hype machine, and massive amount of theaters this is opening in, will make it a money maker (not to the levels of DARK KNIGHT, not even close. I was not a fan of DARK KNIGHT, but I do acknowledge it had some fantastic moments. INCEPTION… not so much), people curious about the insane hype (‘best film of the decade’ ‘INCEPTION may become a religion’ ‘Masterpiece’ ‘Instant Classic’) will plunk down their change.

My recommendation, if like me you don’t drink the Koolaid when it comes to previous Nolan films, is (I’m not going to say not to see the film, curiosity alone dictates you make up your own mind) go for the Matinee, and save yourself a few bucks. And then if you do want to deem it a religion feel free to go back for the ‘IMAX EXPERIENCE’. 🙂 .

But I think most of you reading this will find one viewing more than enough.

Final thoughts? Nolan is a filmmaker who is always trying to challenge the viewing experience, make of it a puzzle, a stepping stone to something other… and that is a worthy goal. I just don’t think he pulls it off. He can craft the puzzle, but bereft of passion, they are excercises rather than films, pitstops rather than destinations.

I almost think Nolan would be a, for me, more satisfying filmmaker if he stopped trying for the “gee! see how clever I am!” gotcha moments (he’s not early Fincher or Shyamalan, he can’t pull it off) and instead just tried to tell a story with heart. I’d rather a filmmaker tell a simple story brilliantly, than a complex story sedately.

Final rating? C-/C+.

INCEPTION THE IMAX EXPERIENCE? Give me a frigging break!

Going by the early praise on imdb and various other sites, you would think this film was the 2nd coming or was going to cure cancer. I’ve been there and done that with the films of Nolan, he has a rabid cheering section that seek to lionize films that… for the most part don’t do it for me. That said INCEPTION does look good and intriguing and I look forward to checking it out tomorrow… but not in IMAX!

First let me say I love real IMAX screens, the real 5 story, curved screens that you can find at better science centers in major cities, not the bs retrofited multiplex screens that they call IMAX, when it is clearly IMAX-lite.

That said even those retrofitted screens are worth a look when they are projecting a true IMAX 3D film. IMAX 3D, is the only really satisfying 3D process. So a film in one of these midget IMAX theaters, can be worth the extra money if filmed and projected in IMAX 3d, ala AVATAR.

INCEPTION is not in Imax 3D, so this IMAX EXPERIENCE when it’s done in a retrofitted multiplex screen, is really just code for “boy we think you are really damn stupid and will pay a higher ticket price for nothing”. I saw IRON MAN 2 this way (I thought it was IMAX 3d and instead it was just the IMAX EXPERIENCE) and in a word….was not worth seeing in this manner, a normal theater would have been just as good, and depending on the theater… better.

So here’s hoping that all the smoke being blown around INCEPTION is not just DARK KNIGHT level of bs, and that there is actually a decent film there. And please save your money, and don’t support these psuedo IMAX films. Accept either a REAL IMAX screen or at least IMAX 3D.

So thanks for reading, and come back tomorrow if you want to get a real NON PAID or BS review of Christopher Nolan’s latest.