ALWAYS KEEPING AN EYE ON HOLLYWOOD!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

JER'S TURN: COMIC & SUPERHERO FILMS: PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE!

Lynda Carter: Wonder Woman
JER: Does the world need Superheroes? More over, does the average film watcher need Superhero movies? Whether we want it or not, they had been and will continue to come our way! Like anyone my age, I grew up watching the SPIDERMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE Saturday morning cartoons. I love watching the Bill Bixby/ Lou Ferrigno INCREDIBLE HULK and Adam West as BATMAN! Heck, I even enjoyed the Steve Reeves SUPERMAN! What red-blooded boy didn't enjoy the hell out of watching Lynda Carter as WONDER WOMAN? What a great time to watch TV, at an age of innocence and wonderment! There was no cable TV, no Internet, no Satellite discs...you saw what was available on a good 13 channels and you enjoyed what you got!

Christopher Reeve as SUPERMAN
 Then, something would come to the big screen...a big event was about to "fly" into the hearts of Americans and movie fans around the world! In 1978, director Richard Donner (THE OMEN, LETHAL WEAPON) would unveil a then unknown Christopher Reeve, donning the red cape and blue tights and bring the story of SUPERMAN to life! Like all great things, the series went from fantastic to absolutely revolting! As a personal opinion, I enjoyed SUPERMAN II (if you are a fan, I highly recommend the newly released "SUPERMAN II: The Richard Donner Cut. A much better version than the original theatrical edition) SUPERMAN III was a joke...literally! By casting Richard Pryor as a computer genius who indirectly "splits" Superman into "Good Clark Kent" and "Bad Superman", the movie can only go downhill from there! But wait, it CAN actually get worst!!! How about SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE??? Gene Hackman returns (why???) as Lex Luthor, a character he brought to life in the original installment, with a new challenge for Superman...the introduction of Nuclear Man! (Nuclear Man?) Along side with his annoying nephew played by the annoying Jon Cryer, this movie was over before it begun. A "follow-up" to the original SUPERMAN film was made in 2006 when director Bryan Singer (VALKYRIE) introduced actor Brandon Routh to the world in the aptly titled SUPERMAN RETURNS.

Would it really be a while since we would see another great Superhero film? You better believe it! Studios didn't have the money, the determination or the technology to make these sophisticated characters and their worlds come to life. We suffered through miserable tries like the 1990 clunker CAPTAIN AMERICA and Dolph Lundgren as THE PUNISHER.

Tim Burton's BATMAN
Now, whether you cared for them or not, you have to give recognition to Tim Burton (BEETLEJUICE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) for his unique approach and execution in bringing Jack Nicholson as The Joker and Michael Keaton as 1989's BATMAN! Similar to what had occurred to the earlier SUPERMAN series, BATMAN would suffer bad story lines, weak characters and an endless cast of actors playing the Caped Crusader!

Continuing to hand out recognitions...the same can be said for another superhero series brought to life by another unique visionary...this time, it would be director Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD, DARKMAN) with 2002's SPIDERMAN. Many will say that this series suffered the same fatalities as BATMAN and SUPERMAN. Although SPIDERMAN 2 was a successful sequel, both by critics and box office returns, many feel that SPIDERMAN 3 introduced too many new characters and was a bit run down with its story line. Granted, it wasn't my favorite, but it was enough to make Sony Pictures pull the plug on Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker and Sam Raimi's direction of the series.

At the beginning of the millennium, 2000 (jeez, remember Y2K?) would introduce us to an Xtrodinary collection of 'mutants' as we explore the world of X-MEN! The series had a magnificent run with X-MEN 2 and X-MEN: LAST STAND before spawning into a new direction with its most popular character played by Hugh Jackman as X-MEN ORIGINS:WOLVERINE.

The SPIDERMAN series introduced audiences to a more sophisticated way of presenting the exclusive worlds or the comic book Superheroes without the heavy "cheesy" aftertaste left from the TV shows of the 50's through the early 80's..sharp character developments, impressive camera work and visual effects, visual effects, visual effects were now taking over! A series of comic book stars were now pouring out of the floodgates, each demanding its own time on the silver screen! Some hits, some misses included FANTASTIC 4, GHOST RIDER, Ang Lee's HULK and Edward Norton's THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

Robert Downey Jr. would star in the greatest 'comeback' story of his life when he took on the embodiment of Tony Stark and played IRONMAN in 2008! Downey Jr brought sarcaism, character and high- end personality to an unlikely series. Let's face it, Ironman didn't carry the comic book clout that Superman or Batman did. The box office numbers and fan base proved everyone wrong! The film was followed by a less-than-warm reception with its sequel, IRONMAN 2.
Enjoy this great tribute to IRONMAN... thank you 'DowneyJrSexyBeast'!

Here's my inquiry...or issue, however you want to view it. Is enough...enough? Is this the beginning or is it the beginning of the end? Tapping into cult favorite Graphic novels and less than popular comic characters may begin the hammering of nails into this coffin! The likes of WATCHMEN, SIN CITY, 300, THE SPIRIT, HELLBOY and even JONAH HEX are all example of films (movies) taken from such-mentioned sources. Some have been enjoyed, some were regrettable! Are we clawing too deep by giving everyone a moment to be on the silver screen? Are some stories are characters worth it?

Chris Evans as CAPT AMERICA
 So, what can we learn from this? Nothing, it would seem...as a new line of Superhero films are coming this-a-way very soon! For starters, both SUPERMAN and SPIDERMAN are seeing a new 're-imaging' as both studios, respectfully, have taken up with new directors, new actors and a new vision for their franchises. Director Zach Snyder (X-MEN, 300) will helm and introduce Henry Cavill as SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL as it'll fly into theatres in 2012. Christopher Hemsworth will carry the Hammer as the almighty THOR hits the big screen May 2011. The magical alien ring will be worn by Ryan Reynolds to transfer into the GREEN LANTERN come June 2011. On a yet another spin on the X-Men storyline, we will see how Professor X and Magneto come to be in the prequel story telling of X-MEN: FIRST CLASS set for June 2011 as well. Chris Evans is no stranger to the comic book world, having played 'The Torch' in the FANTASTIC 4 series, he now returns as CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER in July 2011...but it doesn't end there!

Even though it may be the end of the world as we know it, 2012 wants to keep the box office bucks coming with a list of films in the works. In a major surprise project, director Darren Aronofsky (BLACK SWAN) will bring out the claws for another WOLVERINE installment with Hugh Jackman. Release date is still undetermined. Others coming your way will be the highly anticipated THE AVENGERS set for May 2012. Along with Robert Downey Jr as Ironman and Chris Evans as Capt. America, we will also see Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, the same character he played in IRONMAN 2. Mark Ruffalo will now take over Ed Noton as the human side of The Hulk and Scarlett Johansson returns as Black Widow, the role she made famous in IRONMAN 2 as well. July will see a newly imagined THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with Andrew Garfield (SOCIAL NETWORK) as Peter Parker and directed by Marc Webb (500 DAYS OF SUMMER). Personal favorite for me, the third (and final) installment brings Christian Bale as THE DARK KNIGHT RISES opens July 20th!

In summary, will the dawn of the Comic Book films see its end soon as Studios clammer to make the films they feel will bring in the dollars? Has no one learned about driving a genre into the ground? Remember the popularity of the Westerns or the Slasher films? I guess genre films come and go...but as long as people enjoy a little mindless action, the money will be made...I know I will be there for a few of them myself!

JOHNNY CHAZ: To immediately answer your question, Jer: 1) Does the world need superheroes? No. 2) Does the average film watcher need Superhero movies? Sadly, yes.

From what I understand, we are here to talk about film and cinema. If our readers wish to connect with and discuss superheroes and comic books, they can feel free to visit Marvel.com and take it from there. Where are we going with this genre this week?
I am not exactly sure how much I have to say this week on this topic as in my opinion there is little to discuss here. The subject of superheroes is bland, overdone, over-hyped and frankly.....dull.


As for the X-men series, the Ironman series, the Spiderman series and anything else of the like, I can and will pass. I see names in your article here ,Jer, such as: Ed Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel Jackson, Robert Downey Jr. and even Scarlett Johansson and to be real honest, it is quite sad to think that they are remotely involved with movies such as these. It's money, not art - and that's all.....plain and simple.

If anything, this pathetic genre is a mere reflection of our society and the values and aspirations contained within. It portrays what audiences today wants to watch. Film quality is not in demand by most movie-goers and audiences only desire that a movie simply throw up all over them with fragments and harsh pieces of violence, power, high-tech images, anger, sex and foul language. This genre has and continues to destroy film as a medium and movies as an experience to impact our lives, penetrate our souls and most importantly to allow us to see "real" aspects of our own lives portrayed by the actors / actresses on the screen.

This is precisely why these types of film are released in the summer. These films thus are released during this time since they know that they have no chance at being considered a great "film" by the Academy and shrewd audiences who venture to Fall and Winter films would never go. Still, the kids are out of school and parents are happy to give them the box office $$$ to go see these movies in droves. What these kids and audiences (Adults with child-like minds) are expecting and receiving for their dollar is a multiplicity and array of action with nothing - and I mean absolutely nothing in between.

2008's THE INCREDIBLE HULK
 On a final note, I could take 5 "action" / "superhero" films and rate each one from 1 to 10 - then add them up and probably not even reach a total of 10. Let's try it for fun: TRANSFORMERS (Picture points: 1/10); X-MEN (Picture Points: 2/10); SPIDERMAN SERIES (Picture Points: 2.5/10); THE INCREDIBLE HULK (Picture Points: 1.5/10); CAPTAIN AMERICA (1/10). This totals 8 points for five (5) movies.......unheard of.
I am not too sure how to summarize this response as I am now tired of the subject, worn out with the "super-hero" concept and my head is hurting; pounding actually, as the very thought of this genre is - in every sense of the word......insipid.


JER: I knew that I would probably get a non-motivating respond from you, but, jeez! I thought you enjoyed the DARK KNIGHT RETURNS or even BATMAN BEGINS...yet, no love there? I think it is safe to say that NOT every film is going to be concidered for Best Picture...no matter what. You talk about "art"...yet, in some fashion, isn't this art coming to life on the screen? An artist's rendoring has been made into a living, breathing character...when it is done right? I will take Comic Book films over any @!%# Tyler Perry movie any old day! The bottom line here is that, like those T.P. films, there is a fan base for everything out there...people will come to like or love something, while others cannot stand the mere sight of being exposed to it!
Love or hate the genre, here is a clip of some of today's Super Heroes!

THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS: Please chime in and comment on some topics you would like us to touch on or discuss here...movie and film- related, of course. We always look forward to your suggestions and comments and look forward to hearing from you more often. Keep it right here, as it will be JC's turn to bring up his POINT and as always, we will SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY!

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

9 comments:

  1. Wow, u two are really at it this week. I used to like the superheroes kinds of movies, but jonny chaz is sorta right in his comments that these movies have become garbage and really have no character base. I also can see your point here jer but you have to admit that superhero movies jus are not what they used to be. thanks for listening to my comments. Greg from Twin Falls, Idaho.

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  2. Wow, I must say...usually, I quite enjoy both of your viewpoints on "films", as you call them, but this time...I feel completely offended by Johnny Chaz's comments. But, at the same time, I completely respect his opinions...yet highly disagree with them. Personally, I feel it is opinions like his that hold back the movie industry. Why must a movie ALWAYS have some sort of message or life lesson, for a "critic" to consider it good, or "art" even? Why can't a movie just simply be for raw excitement and pure entertainment??? What is so wrong with that?

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  3. Anonymous #1: I agree with you, however, movies or films of today need to be kicked up a little more than some of the crap being delivered these days as well. the studios have been used to feeding us mush when we deserve steak! But, i see what you are seeing and thank you for siding against that no-good JC! :)

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  4. Greg, thanks for checking in with us! I totally agree with you on this. There was something more "real" about the original 1978 SUPERMAN that no one will ever capture again. Dare I say there was a little realism in the stroy line and the characters that are missing today. It's mindless, popcorn fun...period!

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  5. hi, i wrote once before and saw the topic of superhero movies this week. I always loved SUPERMAN and the whole series and i also enjoy the remakes of these kinds of movies today. Carla from Stockton, CA

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  6. The superheroes movies are not close to what they once were and we all know it. I like what you guys written this week and it appears that both of you are making some valid points. Johnny Chazzz says that these are not really 'films' per se, but this is a Cinema site that talks about great films. Also, Jer makes some good points as he says that there is no realism in these movies anymore but there is still a fan base for everything. I actually think you are both right. thanks! Chris - Corvallis, Oregon.

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  7. Welcome back to both Carla and Chris! You are both officially "friends of the family" in our book! We greatly appreciate your feedback and our site was always designed to talk about ANYTHING within the industry...period! Good and bad, it's all up for grabs and can be defended or ripped to shreds! I (Jer) knew this would be a touchy subject for some, but I wrote about it because of the high-profile of Summer films coming up this year! I wanted to bring it to the light and have it cross-examined!

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  8. Real nice blog guys and very interesting material also that you are talking about. I really love movies and good films and kind of agree that the SUPERHERO movies really do not qualify as good films - they are just strictly entertainment. I would much rather see this site / blog talk more about good cinema and excellent movies / films instead. This is just a suggestion so thanks for listening. Khalil - Gainesville, Florida.

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  9. Hi Khalil, thank you for chiming in and thank you for your comments...agreed, we mostly talk about good cinema and the makings of good film making...but we gotta change it up every once in a while...just for fun! We will take your sugguestion under advisement!

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