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Monday, 15 February 2010


Sin City (2005), directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. This is one of the most effective and stylish comic book movies ever filmed - it looks eye popping with actors filmed against a computer generated backdrop. It's all monochrome with a charcoal tint to the images, but every now and then there's a splash of vivid colour - blood, lipstick, the yellow skin of a rapist. Using Miller's film noir influenced graphic novels as a reference point and sticking close to the comic books uber-violence the film doesn't put a foot wrong.

Uncompromising, extreme, intelligent and brilliant.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) Okay the film is juvenile and predictable, but then the comic book from which it drew its inspiration was always one of Marvel's younger reader friendly publications. So one can hardly condemn it for being too comic bookish.

On its opening weekend, the film was the highest-grossing movie at the U.S. box office, reaching approximately $58 million which was a full 2million more than the previous movie. Sure it's dumb-arse but it's very good natured and effectively recreates the bickering relationship between Johnny Storm and The Thing. The CGI Surfer looks incredibly cool and although the film copped out by not showing us enough of Galacticus, it never fails to entertains. Well there are some shaky sequences mid-movie that border on slapstick bit it's still good fun. Everything, in fact, a comic book movie should be...hey, no one was expecting Citizen Kane.

The Hulk (2003) - Although the complete opposite of the previous film, this one treats the superhero genre seriously, it is just as underrated. Marvel obviously had high hopes for this one and employed art-house director Ang Lee to give it gravitas. Upon release the film recieved mixed reviews and for the most part the fans didn't think there was enough Hulk in the movie. With a running time over 2 hours it is one of the longer super hero movies - it's an epic tale and its presented in an epic style. Marvel themselves were not happy and rebooted the series in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk, recasting Edward Norton as the doomed Banner. It is generally regarded that the 2008 version is the better film but for my money it is Ang Lee's Hulk which is superior.While there may be more action-packed pictures to be found on this list, there are none as centered on characters as Hulk, so check it out if you like your blockbuster a little smarter – or if you happen to like watching giant green men bash the living crap out of a tank.

Batman Begins - it was a tough choice between this and its sequel, The Dark Knight, but this one just pipped it at the post. True both films are excellent but this one is a much more rounded movie. The thing about this movie is that it was the film Batman fans had always been waiting for - It has a crossover appeal that works for the geeks, the laymen and even for the ladies. It's a truly terrific achievement and a promising start for the series to follow. The Dark Knight followed but where that film lags in the always difficult middle section, this one has no such weakness.

Hellboy II (2008) - Not that this a better film than the 2004 Hellboy. Both are directed by Del Toro and feature Ron Perlman (inspired casting) as the demonic hero from the Dark Horse comic series. For this one the director updated the classic Frankenstein storyline.

Hellboy II opened on July 11, 2008 in 3,204 theaters in the United States and Canada. The film ranked first at the box office, grossing an estimated $35.9 million over the weekend, outperforming the opening of its predecessor, which had opened with $23.2 million.The opening was the biggest of Guillermo del Toro's directing career.

Perhaps the first truly great comic book movie, Superman (1978) still holds up well when pitted against the CGI blockbusters that fill the cinema screens today. You'l believe a man can fly, ran the tagline and for once there was no exaggeration. Chris Reeve made bot a perfect Clark Kent and Superman. Whilst Marlon Brando's over-paid and over-hyped contribution adds little to the movie.

In fact Superman may still stand as the best comic book movie ever made. And for generations Christopher Reeve will always be Superman. Superman opened on December 15, 1978 in America, grossing $134.22 million in North America and $166 million in foreign countries, totaling $300.22 million worldwide. The film was declared a financial success since it beat its $55 million budget. Superman was the sixth-highest grossing film at the time of its release.

There are many other comic book movies worth watching - Spiderman, Watchmen, X-Men - and this list is not intended as a best of. But rather to highlight the movies that someone who has never read a comic book can enjoy equally with the most fervent geek. For instance I've not included Watchmen which is a minor masterpiece, but if you're not familiar with the source material it can be a bit slow. That's not the case with the films here which need no prior knowledge to fully enjoy the material.

All together - biff, bash, wallop


Laurie said...

Would you believe I haven't seen The Dark Knight. Have always meant to. Tried to watch Hellboy and thought it was unwatchable.

Randy Johnson said...

Couldn't agree more on Hulk. I think it was less kid friendly than other superhero epics which likely make up the bulk of the audience. There's probably not enough of us "never grew up" types that could appreciate it from an adult, sort of, perspective.