Saturday, August 18, 2012

Super Superhero Films #23-25

For the past few years, the age of the geek (or geek chic) has permeated entertainment. I attribute at least part of this to the success of the Big Bang Theory. Because c'mon, nerds are the bomb! In the geek/nerd love, it was become even more concentrated in the past year or so with superhero films. Superheroes are all the rage/in season/whatever other way you want to describe it. And I LOVE it. As a self-proclaimed "nerdette" (OMG I want a shirt that says that), I adore superhero films. There is something so enjoyable/hot about someone who sacrifices everything to save the world. This summer especially has been rife with hero worship in film.

#23: The Avengers
Before the film came out, I was going to try and see all the films that create background for the characters in the ensemble. Unfortunately, I fell short of this goal (by, well...a lot). So I was hesitant about whether I would be able to follow story lines, given that I might have missed out on some tidbit in one of the films. This was actually not a problem. The story stood alone just fine, and the cast was epic. Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Iron Man, Chris Evans reprising as Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Chris Hemsworth reprising as Thor, Scarlet Johanasson as Black Widow, and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk were the central characters in the Avengers ensemble. But, the assorted cast that made up the supporting characters were fantastic as well. The central story is that Thor's brother Loki is causing mischief and has otherworld help in doing so. The Avengers need to come together to stop it and save the world. Basic plot line for any superhero story. What sets this film apart is that while it has plenty of action to keep the movie lively, it also has emotional depth for its characters. The internal turmoil for Bruce Banner/the Hulk was played out very well. I was excited to see the film, and I left the theater not only not disappointed, but wanting to see the film again immediately. This has only happened a few times, most notably after both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In conclusion, I am giving this film a 10 out of 10. Something I have never done, though come close on a few occasions. There really is not anything I would change about this film. It can easily be enjoyed by someone who is not well versed in comic books and can be enjoyed by a younger audience, as well as adults. Fantastic film! I don't want to wait another two years for the second film.

#24: The Amazing Spiderman
As with comic book movies, when a story has already been flushed out before, a new movie can meet with resistance. People who are not comic book readers often do not understand how a story can go off in such a different direction but with the same characters that appeared before. Story arcs in comics can often be confusing. We meet Spiderman/Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield *YUM*) while he is still in high school and living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (played by Martin Sheen and Sally Field). Instead of forming an attachment to Mary Jane like the previous films, he instead courts Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone, my number one girl crush). The villain of the story is the Lizard, a scientist who inhabits reptilian characteristics while trying to genetically grow back is missing arm. The story followed the superhero archetype pretty much to the letter. I give it a 7.5 out of 10. It was a decent movie. The saving grace for me was the chemistry between Andrew and Emma who are a couple in real life. All I can say is that if their interaction on screen is any indication, they must have one hell of a sex life! It also helped that Andrew Garfield is funny. His little quips reminded me of how a teenage boy would really act, superhero or not. It was an entertaining film, though lackluster for me as I've never been a huge Spiderman fan. In my opinion, it was definitely better than Spiderman 3. Spiderman 2 is still good on it's merit, and it's been too long since I saw the original Spiderman to make that comparison.

#25: The Dark Knight Rises
Oh my, what can I say about this film? We return to Gotham after an eight year hiatus. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is still a broken man, and Alfred (Michael Caine) is desperate to get him back into the real world. Criminal beast Bane (Tom Hardy) is already operating in Gotham's underworld, and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) is making her way through the purses/jewelry boxes of Gotham's elite. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) is trying to save the floundering business investment with Miranda's (Marion Cotillard) company. Meanwhile, the streets seem safe to Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) but they still go above and beyond the call of duty anyway. Then, mayhem ensues. Can Batman save the city without destroying himself or his future happiness? Can Gotham survive if there is no symbol of hope? I repeat what I did above, another rarity, and give the film a 10 out of 10. I was stunned by the action, the cinematography, and the story. It leaves off somewhat ambiguously. But I again left the theater wanting to see it again straightaway. I did see it again a week later and felt the same way leaving the second time. Stand out performance for me was Anne Hathaway. After growing up on Princess Diaries, I was wary about how she would handle the roll of Catwoman. Well damn if she didn't make me feel like an idiot for doubting her. She flew seamlessly through emotional changes that would make any conman/woman proud. As always, the male cast made me happy. Oldman and Bale again, plus the addition of Gordon-Levitt *SWOON* It is a film that I know I will enjoy seeing again and again. Hopefully it will be in the dollar theater soon. Then I'll just have to hold out for the DVD and whatever Nolan's next project will be.

The tragedy of superhero films is that without a villain, there would be no superhero. Villains can take my forms, and it was with a heavy heart I woke up the morning after the midnight showing of TDKR to see such terrible tragedy befallen. What should have been an enjoyable experience turned into a movie goer's nightmare. Ideology has always been maladapted or twisted to suit the fancy of a murderous crusade. Instead of it being religion, it was this time a character of comic books. My heart goes out to the victims and the families of the victims of Aurora. May they be at peace in a world with no villains, and only superheroes to keep them eternal company. And may justice be done to the villain responsible.