Continuing from the first part , the second installment of the 30 best comic based movies worth talking about!
19. X-Men: First Class – This movie featured excellent performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who’ve reinvented Professor X and Magneto on screen for a new generation. Kevin Bacon is clearly having fun chewing scenes as Sebastian Shaw. The eyecatches of the 60s were also great touches. Yes, it deviates from the idea of Cyclops and Jean Grey and Angel being the first students, but The Beast is present and the film as a whole is generally well-executed. Also, I couldn’t stop rooting for Magneto throughout the whole film. Director Matthew Vaughn proved to be a great successor to Bryan Singer.
18. Spider-Man – Sam Raimi’s innovation of the fast-moving first-person Raimi-cam technique came into play a bit and it was genuinely fun to see the web-slinger on the big screen. The Green Goblin was revamped greatly but Willem Dafoe puts in an insanely good performance as Norman Osborn, with Tobey McGuire goofily playing the nerd turned hero. Also, we get a good foundation of the friendship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. (Basically we’re given elements here that we’re totally deprived of in The Amazing Spider-Man 2). So there’s more emotional investment here. The romantic development between Peter and Mary Jane Watson could’ve been handled a bit better, but could’ve been much worse as well. Generally, a good effort all around.
17. X-Men: Days of Future Past – I saw this in the theater and rather enjoyed it with my companion. After picking up and re-watching it on blu ray, I realized I still enjoyed the film as much as I had before. Director Bryan Singer managed to take the best elements from X2 and First Class and craft a decent time travel story here. Yes, I’m quite aware Kitty Pride was supposed to be the one doing this, but since the previous movies had deviated during their adaptations, there was no reason to expect this would be entirely faithful. The 70s were re-created excellently and the Sentinels were incredibly deadly. Also, my heart totally broke upon seeing the fates of several characters from First Class. That’s when I knew this movie had hooked me. Fassbender, McAvoy and Jackman bring their A-game and it was nice to see Lawrence’s Mystique developed and utilized so intricately, while Quicksilver brought much needed comic relief in every scene he stole. The hopeless battles of the future were appropriately dark and dramatic (though it did make me mad that it took this long to see Iceman as he should be from the comics). At the end, we’re left with the prospect of seeing X-Men mainstays Cyclops and Jean Grey possibly being handled correctly as well as a certain future (or would that be past) villain step into the spotlight. Having Singer and some elements of Vaughn’s work combined on the big screen made for a positive experience all around.
16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Out of all the Phase 2 Marvel movies, this is the single best one and on a given day could be exchanged with the no. 1 film on this list, depending on when you catch me. It has the correct balance of intrigue, action and drama that a Captain America story should have, and it changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe drastically. The fight scenes alone utilized Cap’s strengths perfectly and seem like they could come directly from the comic itself. Also, it’s great to see Steve Rogers developed fully as a character, with touching connections to Agent Carter and Black Widow, who herself actually is utilized better than any of her previous appearances. It was also great to be introduced to Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (The Falcon) and Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce. We also finally get to see Nick fury in action. The Russo brothers made excellent use of the Winter Soldier storyline while leaving some great clues to future Cap stories. If the rumor of them taking over The Avengers films is indeed accurate, I’d have no problem with this whatsoever.
15. Iron Man – The first part of the great Marvel / Paramount experiment to see if using movies to build a lead in for The Avengers could actually work. Between the efforts of actor Robert Downey Jr. as uber-smart billionaire Tony Stark and the commitment to quality given by director and fan Jon Favreau, the fans and average filmgoers were given hope that a good movie based on a comic book property could actually be done well while remaining largely faithful to its source material. Also, Jeff Bridges managed to give Obadiah Stane appropriate menace here as one of the few villains I actually have enjoyed in the Marvel movies. (Though one day you really should read what Stane did to Stark in the comics. It was pretty bad).
14. Men In Black – This independent comic by Lowell Cunningham from the early 90s wound up being a fun off-beat romp and a huge success for stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Guided by director Barry Levinson, audiences got a peek into the organization who makes certain aliens can have peaceful (and sometimes famous) coexistence with unsuspecting humanity, and kick butt when necessary. Also, I’m slightly breaking a rule doing this but the third film was also a good installment.
13. Space Battleship Yamato – When I originally wrote the best comic based movies article, I originally left out any movies not created in the U.S. But recently, I got a hold of this movie based on the long running Space Battleship Yamato anime franchise, and I was hooked from the opening battle scenes. For those not familiar, the original series focuses on a WW2 battleship rebuilt with alien technology to go on a deep space quest while fighting off invading forcers. The movie presented here is based on the first two films /stories and incorporates elements of the revamped Battlestar Galactica series. The results are quite entertaining, and even better if you’re familiar with how the anime played out. Also the effects were very nice to look at outside of American sci-fi. Just stop when you get to the Steven Tyler song and you’ll be fine… Oh, wait… there’s extra footage during then. Ok disregard that last bit. Let’s movie on…
12. Sin City: The Hard Goodbye – Robert Rodriguez did a good job adapting Frank Miller’s black & white crime noir comic for the big screen (even leaving the Director’s guild to bring in Miller as a co-director) while retaining the art style that made the comic so striking. In the spirit of similar novels by Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler, the comics themselves were interconnecting stories developing this harsh crime-ridden world that various tough-guy protagonists fight their way through. The theatrical film took three of the better stories and edited them together (with one written just for the movie) but cut out some elements from their original comics for time constraints and story cohesiveness and the results were decent. On the special edition DVD and blu ray releases though, a second DVD was produced which told each story as a stand-alone movie. The best of these was the one based on Miller’s first series (now entitled The Hard Goodbye due to this movie’s release). It focused on a huge brutal guy named Marv who simply doesn’t know any way to live other than the hard way. When he experiences a loss and a frame up, he kills his way to the truth. Rodriguesz’s crazy direction and emphasis on brutality are perfect for this adaptation (especially if you’ve seen From Dusk Til Dawn or Grindhouse: Planet Terror), but what makes this movie memorable is the pitch perfect performance of Mickey Rourke as Marv himself. This truly grounds the crazy shooting style of the movie and gives us an ass-kicking but lovable loser to root for til the very end.
11. Dredd – Maybe the previous Stallone film killed the public’s interest in this movie (or maybe the name or promotion, I don’t know.) but this was a very good adaptation of the Judge Dredd character and his world of Mega-City One. Karl Uban is the (rightfully) faceless embodiment of the law and totally nails this character, as he tends to do in geek movies like Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. Judge Anderson was also handled well as our introductory character and for once, as a female NOT just put in to be a love interest for the lead. Great innovative camera techniques used here and the 3D was very effective to fit the screenplay. It deserved better at the box office so we could get stories like The Cursed Earth Saga or The Dark Judges. Alas….
10. V For Vendetta – Alan Moore’s complex story about a single man’s quest to tear down a fascistic government through both action and ideology was one that didn’t seem like a story meant for film. However, screenwriters Andy and Lana Waichoski managed to interpret Moore’s ideas pretty well for movie length, while keeping the intentions being set forth relatively intact. Much of the time we’re given the story from the perspective of Evey (Natalie Portman) who finds herself transformed by V’s plans, while we see some good direction of V’s actions as narrated and performed by Hugo Weaving. Director James McTeigue deserves some serious kudos for bringing this difficult character to celluloid life.
V For Vendetta