Monday, August 04, 2008

What was the worst superhero movie of all time?

Long-time readers will know about my reticence to praise even the most popularly-lauded superhero movies. Hell, looking through my back pages, I've declared SPIDER-MAN 2 an affront to Steve Ditko, BATMAN BEGINS boring, SPIDER-MAN 3 dire, FANTASTIC FOUR: THE RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER a blasphemy, THE DARK KNIGHT overlong to the point of being a severe test of my kidney and liver functions, etc, etc.

Honestly, I'm not just a total contrarian, I really do think super-heroes work best in two dimensions. Okay, I'll give THE INCREDIBLES a pass for working in three computer-generated dimensions. Plus, it's the only one I've ever popped for on DVD, and that says a lot. I also reckon the movie industry can kill a comic book stone dead with their carelessness: bad adaptations have rendered several properties radioactive for years, from Fritz The Cat onwards, through The Punisher, Tank Girl, Judge Dredd, and Spawn.

So here's a poll that's right up my street (even if I'm probably not that qualified to judge, after all. I've refused point blank to watch nearly all the examples cited, for one reason or another - from plain good sense, right through to moral outrage): what was the worst superhero movie of all time?

There's plenty of contenders, but what the hell is BATMAN (1966) doing there? It's brilliant!

And if my old mucker Brendon Connelly is out there: spot on with your THE DARK KNIGHT review. And congrats on getting hitched.


Dylan said...

good dark knight review, I agree with most of it. I just don't get why so many people are loving it. Just seemed like a real bloated mess of a film to me with no decent action sequences either. I was shocked , cos i've really like all of Nolan's other films including Bat begins. I felt the one thing you could rely on in his films was a nice balance to the pacing and plotting, ah well maybe next time. He also used to be the master of showing and not telling, but DK was just one big plot explanation.

Mark said...

Yup - it was the level of exposition in the script that made me brand it a kid's movie. The amount of soliloquising was something rotten. No-one was allowed to have a motivation that wasn't thoroughly chewed over, right in front of you. Which sort-of puts the lie to calling The Joker a force of nature. Forces of nature don't give you repeated speeches about the nature of anarchy. V from V FOR VENDETTA does, though.

Brendon's right to point to the mobile phone-in-gut sequence as an exemplar of the movie's faults. It should have been "I just want to make my one phone call" "ring-ring", lift shirt, boom. Instad they over-wrote that sequence until they took all the air out of it.

Brendon said...

I'm here. Reading you quietly. Most often from work, today from home. And enjoying, very much. Good to be able to read blogs I enjoy, instead of slaving away at one I really didn't so much.

Thanks for your congrats. I'll pass them on to the good lady wife.

I'm kicking myself for leaving out the most apt criticism of The Dark Knight for Lying in the Gutters, though...

...maybe I can get Rich to run it next week.

Dan McDaid said...

Catwoman is terrible, but it's main problem is Halle Berry, who... well, she just can't act, can she? Daredevil's worse though. The FF films are lightweight and daffy but enjoyable enough - though we've yet to see a REAL Fantastic Four movie.

I used to hate the Ang Lee Hulk, but me and the missus (who's a big AL fan) watched it on the telly recently, and she pointed out loads of cool details I'd missed. And I think Nick Nolte may be a genius. And there are ample pleasures to be found in Supergirl: Helen Slater; Peter Cooke and Faye Dunaway being rotters; Peter O'Toole clinging to a rock...

Chris Weston said...

Mark, your views on super-hero movies would impress me far more if you hadn't defended Superman Returns.


What do you feel about it these days?

Mark said...

Well, my defence of SUPERMAN RETURNS was just "I liked it a lot more than I ever expected to". But that's because I fully expected to loathe it. I saw it on Sky Movies after it had already been slagged off by the fanboys for a year and a half, so I was expecting a total dog. Instead, it was just a deeply flawed movie with some good stuff going for it - mainly a very likeable turn by young Routh, a couple of decent action sequences, but also some lovely looking photography.

Which is as enthusiastic as I get for any comicbook movie, by my standards, so I can see how you may have got the impression I really liked it. It had a stately, melancholic pace that struck a chord with me that night, 'cus I watched it loaded on Goliath after a particularly dismal Northern Ireland performance against bleedin' Latvia, too, I recall. In other circumstances, like in a cinema, for example, or with friends, I'd have just thought it boring. If I was watching it with a bunch of kids, clearly bored rigid with its unholy running time, I'd have been livid.

But I see a real link between Singer's movie and Nolan's two: Warners have given these franchises to these young turks with pretensions to being auteurs, and both have given them overlong, rather pretentious movies, and the WB producers were obviously too afraid (or fond) of their directors to insist they tighten the end product up. The difference being, Nolan's have caught the public's imagination. Singer's, while just as much a mixed bag, missed the Zeitgeist entirely. But then, it was a stranger beast. The audience needed Superman to come back with a bang, doing something he hadn't done in a movie before, not sit through a remake of Donner's film, only with added navel-gazing (Nolan was wise to make the villains in his first movie Ra's Al Ghul and The Scarecrow - Supes should have returned fighting a full-on alien invasion by Brainiac).

For all my whinging, I can see why Nolan's Batman is popular: it's the fanbait version people have been waiting for since 1986, since before Burton: taking the character and his world at face value, making his world look real (rather than a campily dressed back lot at Elstree). People want the same for Superman, and haven't got it yet.

Anonymous said...

Mark your reviews of superhero movies would impress me far more if they were not crap! You forgot Condorman