Having watched Wolverine nearly ripped to shreds, Batman die, the Avengers nearly disassemble due to pay issues and the Man of Steel become a killer, Louis Turfrey gives his thoughts on which movie was the best of the Superhero movies he has seen this year. This might take a while.
I am a great lover of heroes, whether they are TV, Comic or Movie based. This has the unfortunate effect of making me super critical of all the superhero movies that have graced our screens so far this year. I have probably missed a few, so I will only take it upon myself to share my limited opinion laden views on those that I have actually watched.
The Dark Knight Rises
A good movie, but not the best of the three latest Batman movies that have hit the screens over the last decade. My favourite was the The Dark Knight. It had just the right amount of gadgets, story, character driven moments and of course – The Joker. In comparison, although The Dark Knight Rises hits hard, it doesn’t quite make it to the top of my list this year. There just isn’t enough of the dark side of the Dark Knight, and I am afraid that although I am a fan of Nolan’s interpretation of the Batman myths, I did not like his version of Bane. Tom Hardy makes a good Bane, but the back history of the character is what causes my brain to itch in frustration, as does Hardy’s voice through that mask. It always seems slightly muffled and although it’s true to life, it doesn’t breathe a high enough fear into the character.
Maybe James Earl Jones would have done a better job?
In my opinion though, Anne Hathaway is the best Catwoman ever, despite my initial reservations. She has just enough of the bad girl mixed into her character. You can see her need to clean up her act and run away from her past.
Three additional characters shine in this movie. Blake, the police detective that may or may not be Robin / Nightwing, is an interesting character. A shame we never see him reach his full potential, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a good job as the cop seeking to help those who can’t help themselves. Second we have Commissioner Gordon, who sees his protection of Harvey Dent’s secret as a burden he can no longer maintain. He becomes a hero in his own right when he helps the Batman track down and then remove the nuclear bomb that threatens to destroy Gotham.
Lastly, but no means least, Michael Caine’s interpretation of Alfred Pennyworth is to be commended. A no nonsense man that seeks only to protect his employer and friend, he sees the Batman’s death as a failure, but in the end is vindicated by the revelation that Bruce Wayne has survived the ordeal.
This movie has a great supporting cast, it’s just a shame that the story wasn’t quite up to the job. I hope nobody will take offense when I say that although Christian Bale is an excellent actor, he struggles as the Batman. He is still the best Batman since Michael Keeton though. The Batman costume also sucks and has done so since the first of the last three movies. It’s the mask, it’s just not aesthetic.
This was only ever going to be an action movie in my eyes, so I was surprised by the character driven plot and back history. Definitely one up from the previous Wolverine origins story, which quite frankly wasn’t so bad, (apart from the Deadpool character which sucked). Here we have a hero that is pushed to his limits and beyond. He is like the samurai of old, who protects the weak and fights with honour. Yet at the same time, he can be as brutal and feral as his name suggests. Even when robbed of his healing ability, he does what needs to be done in order to rescue the woman that has stolen his heart.
It’s nice to see the human side of Wolverine, as well as the feral side. Truly Hugh Jackman has made this character his own, and seems nearly ageless in the part. Finally, I like the fact that once his Adamantium claws are removed, his bone claws grow back. This was covered in the comics and I love it when the movies refer back to comic material.
Iron Man 3
The third in the Iron Man series, and the first movie to directly reference the events that occurred in Marvels 2012 movie, Avengers Assemble.
Tony Stark is a broken man that has had to face his mortality and come to terms with a near death experience. He’s a businessman that has become a hero, but up until this time has never had to deal with an event as big as the invasion of New York, (see Avengers Assemble). It has left him desperate to protect his fiancé and yet at the same time he feels powerless to do so. He is suffering from post traumatic stress, flashbacks and self doubt. However, as this story proves, Iron Man is as much about the man as the suit.
Without a doubt Robert Downy JR is Iron Man. In the same way as Iron Man is Tony Stark. Over the years, Marvel has changed the occupant of the Iron Man suit, but in the end Stark always returns to the role and that’s how it should be. Downy has wit, presence and acting ability. He carries this movie through the good and the bad.
First of the bad points are the effects. In the previous two movies it was possible to believe that the man was actually in the suit. In this movie something has changed. Maybe it’s the over reliance on the multiple suits, or maybe it is the fact that downy himself isn’t in them. Something is missing.
Second bad point is The Mandarin. Kingsley makes a great Mandarin in every way, so imagine my surprise when his character turns out to be an actor playing the part. Not a good plot twist, in any way or form. Kingsley as the Mandarin is believable, but having the character Aldrich Killian become the true Mandarin was a waste of a character. It just didn’t ring true in my eyes. It spoiled the movie for me, although it was somewhat redeemed by the post credits scene featuring Bruce Banner…
Man of Steel
This was the movie that I most anticipated this year and the one that both shocked me and had me wanting more.
This is a movie about one man’s struggle to be human and still be a hero. I love what they have done with the costume and the Superman myth. Here we have a man that has grown up hiding his powers and has not yet realised his full potential. He becomes a drifter after the death of his father, rescuing people when he can and becoming an urban legend in the process. He discovers his heritage, rescues a tough as nails Lois Lane, and at the same time does the one thing that Superman always tries to avoid – kills his arch enemy.
The back history is good, as are the effects and the fighting. Many people have criticized the movie for its long drawn out fight scenes and the sheer amount of damage that is done to the city of Metropolis in the process. They have criticized it due to technical holes in the plot, (like Lois Lane falling away from a mini black hole). However, as an origin movie this kicks ass. Yes, the Lois Lane character is glossed over, but you can see how she will become a force for good in Clarke Kent’s life. Some people complained that it was too easy for her to track down the Clarke Kent character, but I think this is entirely reasonable in a society where the strange is celebrated and written about in all forms of media.
This is not my top superhero movie of 2013, but it comes close. A Superman for the twenty first century.
Kick Ass 2
This is the long awaited sequel to the original Kick Ass movie and stands out because of the performance of two of its actors. It does not have the impact of the original movie, which had some brilliant set scenes, but it is good enough to be classed as a great sequel.
In this movie, Kick Ass is encouraged to once more done his latex suit and become a street hero. In the process he is trained by his friend and fellow hero Hit Girl. This is almost like a coming of age movie, and deals with people that have had to grow up and deal with adversity far sooner than they should have. The character Mindy Macready, aka Hit Girl, is having to deal with the consequences of her father’s death in the previous movie. She is forced to go to school, when in fact school has very little it can teach her, so chooses instead to train herself and her fellow student Dave Lizewski, aka Kick Ass. Her truancy is discovered and so she is emotionally blackmailed by her guardian Detective Marcus Williams, into living a normal life. Meanwhile Kick Ass joins a group of like minded hero’s who have formed the team Justice Forever, which is headed up by an ex mob enforcer called Colonel Stars and Stripes. This is where the movie gains ground because whether he likes it or not, Jim Carey is awesome in this role. No amount of avoiding the fact will remove this from the movie and it fills in the whole left by the continuing absence of Hit Girl.
The return of Hit Girl, after the death of Dave’s father in the movie, is what brings this movie to a satisfying conclusion. There is just something about the complete ruthlessness of the character that makes me smile. She is like the Huntress in the DC universe, but tougher. A product of a lifelong training regime that gives her ninja like reflexes and abilities, she is more kick-ass than Kick Ass himself.
Again, this is my third favorite superhero movie of the year, coming a close second to Man of Steel.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Here we have the first of the two animated movies that I am including in this review. Flashpoint is one of those animated movies that fans of the DC universe have been waiting for since the Flashpoint storyline was published throughout the DC comics series during 2011.
The Flash, in an effort to save his deceased mother, creates ripples that disastrously alters the Universe. He must team with other heroes to restore the timeline while the Earth is plunged into a war between Aquaman’s Atlantis and Wonder Woman’s Amazons. There is a twist to this story though, because the Flash may not be responsible.
After waking up to find he is powerless, Barry Allen trips over his own feet and nearly lands in the lap of his mother Nora, now alive. His memory of his own timeline clashes with a new timeline where the Justice League does not exist. He must regain his abilities and reform a new Justice League and persuade them to hold the world together just long enough to allow him to jump back in time and stop himself from averting his mother’s death.
It’s a well thought out story, with excellent voice acting and a great deal of interesting new takes on old characters. It would never have made a great cinematic release, but as a straight to DVD publication is well worth the cash. It seems that DC is better at creating animated movies than it is at creating live action movies.
The Return of The Dark Knight Part 1 & 2
Based upon the comic book of the same name, this shows how a movie should be made. It is helped by the fact that the source material is so good and follows the book almost page for page.
Chronicling the return of the Batman, who at the age of 55 has been retired for some years, it follows his battle to bring order to the crime ridden streets of Gotham City. No longer as fit as he has been, and limited by both age and infirmity, he must rely on his supremely tactical mind and ability to inspire awe and fear. On the outside he is every bit as tough as he has ever been and has more of an edge, whilst on the inside he is a man who is fighting the effects of years of physical abuse on his body.
This is how you make a Batman movie and although it is split into two halves, (the second released this year), it does not suffer for it. This movie is animated very much like the graphic novel, and I love the atmosphere which is helped by a great story.
The end, where Batman absolutely creams Superman, is well worth the wait. This should have been a cinematic release and would not have suffered for it, but as a DVD set it is just as full of impact.
With the new Thor movie imminent, and several other international movies in the works, the rest of 2013 will be interesting for superhero fans. Hero’s, like Vampires, are a box office draw at the moment, how long this will go on is a matter open to debate. It is a debate that will stretch well into 2015 and I look forward to taking an active part in it – updating you as I go along.