Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Top 3 Superhero/Comic Movies of 2011

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing as many movies as I would have liked, which includes some of which should be included in the running for this list. Given that mishap, it would be more than inappropriate for me to make some definite assertion of the credibility of this list. To the extent of what I did manage to see, I’d like to think my opinion on the matter is reliable; as for what I didn’t see, the most I can do for now is give my impressions of the movies.

Contestants: Captain America The First Avenger, Priest, Thor, X-Men First Class

#3 – Thor
Of all the movies I saw, Thor was without a doubt the worst. That’s not to say it was tremendously worse, because it wasn’t. Quite the contrary, it was a fun ride from start to finish. If you’ve seen my first blog entry about it, you should already be familiar with my thoughts on it. Comparatively, it evokes memories of Spiderman 3 which notoriously attempted to deal with the web-slinger’s universe from far too many angles. The same is the case here, with two stories acting simultaneously that might have been better developed and more engaging independently.

#2 – Captain America: The First Avenger
The First Avenger is that rare breed of movie that you absolutely want to love, but just can’t bring yourself to appreciate in the theater. My expectations were a gripping and compelling story told with stylized action sequences in between. From the trailers, that seemed to be what the movie was going for. Instead, the dialogue was quite goofy, the action stylized but repetitive, and the story silly. These aren’t things that make or break a movie, but that’s not how I felt the movie was advertised (which, I suppose, makes my opinion on the matter slightly biased). That disappointment aside, I don’t feel like the dialogue worked out regardless (honestly, such a comical take on world war should be punishable), the action became less interesting as the movie progressed, and only the Red Skull took the story seriously. I’m actually only realizing as I write this that that’s one of the problems present in Thor.

#1 – X-Men: First Class
This was the definitive superhero/comic movie of the season. It was everything you’d expect from an X-Men movie and more. That goes without saying it had its flaws. The performances seemed inconsistent at times to me, and the characters’ backstories were very noticeably rushed. This was a situation where it seemed like the characters involved in this movie should have all gotten the “Wolverine treatment” prior…except a quality treatment. Those gripes aside, First Class was a genuinely enjoyable movie from start to finish. The tone is consistent, the story deeper and darker than the original trilogy without becoming convoluted, and the cast of new faces a big refreshment. It’s one of few movies I’d hope everyone got a chance to see.

Impressions: Cowboys and Aliens, Green Lantern, Transformers Dark of the Moon

#3 – Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I don’t think I have to say much about this one. I enjoyed the first Transformers, but everything went downhill with Revenge of the Fallen. Based on the trailers, this seemed like an even bigger version of the first sequel, and that’s not something I’d be looking forward to at any given moment. More indistinguishable robots, a bigger plot with less relevance to anything relevant, more of Shia running around and screaming, a new set of annoying comic relief characters, and an enhanced dose of Michael Bay’s signature action movie treatment.

#2 – Green Lantern
The trailers for the Green Lantern were the weakest selling point and a major turnoff for me. Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan was a questionable casting choice in my opinion, on par with the casting in Fantastic Four, but at least that movie knew that it wasn’t looking to be taken completely seriously. Green Lantern gave me an entirely different impression, seeming like the kind of film hoping to make a lasting impact, just like the last DC Comics superhero movie to garner acclaim. I won’t spell out that reference any further. The effects look poor, and the trailer footage gave me the impression that Reynolds wouldn’t be capable of playing a convincing character.

#1 – Cowboys and Aliens
Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford joining forces was a concept that was too good to be true. I spent the better part of six months anticipating the release of this movie, so it’s one of the biggest shames of the summer that I never got around to seeing it. Nonetheless, I still have high expectations for the day I do have to pleasure of witnessing how well a western can meld with a science fiction tale as well as the chemistry between the modern James Bond and Indiana Jones. There’s something about those two’s prior roles that engages me, and I expect that engagement won’t be betrayed.

PS: I will be seeing Transformers (without any positive expectations) sometime in October. My opinion of that movie after viewing it likely won’t differ from my initial impressions.