There’s a new batch of superhero movies that are peeking up over the horizon, ready to assault our senses and sensibilities. I believe that X-Men 3 is arriving first, sliding in place just before Superman touches down. There are also a handful of movies due out that are more about the superhero lifestyle than actual superheroics. Uma Thurman plays a heroine whose boyfriend has to deal with breaking up with her, and I think Tim Allen has something in the works about a retired superhero that has to don his tights again in order to train a group of young heroes at an academy.
Although it’s not a superhero movie, V for Vendetta is due out in a week or two and I’m very much looking forward to seeing it. I haven’t read the comic book it was based on for over ten years, which I think may turn out to be a very good thing. I say that because I enjoyed the hell out of last year’s Constantine, even though it bore little resemblance to the comic book series it was adapted from. I think that everyone who wasted their breath screaming about how the title character shouldn’t be played by an American, and how the story should have been set in England and not Los Angeles, of all places, missed out on the opportunity to enjoy an engrossing and visually stunning movie.
Opinions are like bellybuttons, in that everyone has one and most are filled with lint. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you my opinion on the assorted superhero and comic book movies I’ve seen over the years.
They are presented in the order that they popped into the mind, and not in order of preference. Those of you who are bothered by lists being out of order should probably turn your heads and look away.
I read in a magazine, a year or so before this movie was released, that the film would start with a shot of a kid reading a Superman comic book. Then the camera would pan up to the kid’s bedroom window and then zoom out into the star-filled sky. We would continue to zoom through space until we reached Krypton.
That’s what they promised and that’s what they delivered.
I knew the movie was going to be a winner when the teaser poster arrived in the mail. It was the Bob Peak painting of a red, yellow and blue streak rocketing across a cloud-filled sky. It promised that we would believe a man would fly.
I was always a Marvel Comics reader, not DC, but of course I knew the whole Superman mythos, which the movie brilliantly delivered. Overall the movie sustained a delicate balance of strengths and flaws, so most people walked away satisfied.
I never understood what all the fuss was about over the casting of Marlon Brando. I was more impressed by the one-two punch that was delivered by Glenn Ford as Pa Kent and Gene Hackman as Luthor.
Margot Kidder and Ned Beatty were fun, and the special effects delivered the goods when needed. The one character that never reached off the screen and grabbed me was Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman, and I think that’s a major compliment. The way I always saw it was that the movie was never really about Superman, but rather it was about how the world reacted to Superman. I saw it as Superman being the core that all the other characters and events orbited around.
And that was perfect.
Superman 2 (1980)
I used to complain that the one thing I didn’t like about the original Superman movie was all the time that was spent in Smallville. I wanted more fighting in Metropolis and less teenage angst in the wheat fields.
It turns out I was young and stupid then. When Superman 2 showed up it gave us all kinds of fighting and action, but that didn’t turn out to be the good thing I was hoping for.
For me, the movie was tainted from the start. Not Lois getting rescued from the Eiffel Tower. That was pretty fun. No, what I choked on was the notion that the portal to the multi-dimensional cell that Zod and his minions were locked in by Kal-El’s daddy back on Krypton in the first movie, just happened to be passing through the Milky Way at the exact moment that Superman tosses a nuclear bomb into space. What are the chances of that happening? You’d need to be Superman to calculate the odds of that happening, and I think he’d be too embarrassed.
Supposing you were able to choke that bit of lunacy down, next up you’re expected to believe that Perry White would send Clark Kent and Lois Lane to Niagara Falls to research shady hotel operators who are ripping off newlywed vacationers. What exactly did Jimmy Olsen slip into Perry’s coffee the morning he made that decision?
The bit with Clark Kent fetching his glasses from the fire in order to accidentally show Lois that he’s Superman was nice. And there was some good stuff with them falling in love and all that.
But all that is overshadowed by silly action scenes that seem to go on for hours, and special effects with very visible seams showing.
The movie was bearable, and you could forgive a lot if you drew upon the good will that the first movie had generated.
To this day I’m still creeped out by the scene between Lois and Clark at the end of the film. She knows his secret and she knows it’s going to change her/their life forever. So what does Clark do? He kisses her and somehow sucks the oxygen out of the part of her brain that knows Clark Kent is Superman. The kiss ends and leaves her happy and dumb, oblivious to all that’s happened. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s a responsible way to use your super powers.
Superman 3 (1983)
I’m too embarrassed to ever watch this movie again. Everyone in front of and behind the camera is just going through the paces to earn their paycheck.
The only reason this movie was made was to generate money. Sure, there are sparks of fun here and there, but for the most part I feel nothing but sadness when I think of this movie.
Superman 4 (1987)
I’ve heard a lot of stories about why this film was made. Some reports claimed that Christopher Reeve was so outraged over what a hunk of junk Superman 3 was, that he vowed never to don the tights again unless he had complete creative control, and it was finally give to him. Other reports said that after a string of bombs (The Aviator, Street Smart, The Bostonians) that Reeve was turning into box office poison and he needed to make a picture that showed a profit. I have a feeling that it was a combination of the two compelled him to tie on the cape.
The result was a mishmash of eco-friendliness (Superman steals a couple of billion dollars worth of nuclear arms from dozens of countries and chucks them into the moon) and amateur fight scenes with a Nuclear Clone.
I could die a happy man never seeing this film again.
The Shadow (1994)
I guess technically The Shadow doesn’t belong on this list, but I feel that it’s a hugely underrated film and I take every chance I can to hype it. Based on a script by Hollywood wunderkind David Koepp, and directed with an abundance of flair by Highlander director Russell Mulcahy, The Shadow falls squarely into the love it/hate it category of movies.
During the years that I’ve supported The Shadow, I’ve found that not only do people either love or hate the movie, it seems that people feel the same way about the star, Alec Baldwin. I’ve met people who hate the movie—even if they’ve never seen it—just because they hate Alec Baldwin so much. Perhaps one of the many reasons I love this movie so much is because I love Alec Baldwin so much. He was perfectly cast in what I’ll admit is a far from perfect movie.
Nick Fury – Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)
This film definitely falls into the category of guilty pleasures. I think legally anything you enjoy that involves David Hasselhoff has to be referred to as a guilty pleasure. This chunk of goofy fluff was written by David S. Goyer, who must have comics in his blood because he went on to write all three Blade movies. Goyer also wrote 2005’s outstanding Batman Begins, and the highly underrated Dark City.
It seems to me that everyone involved with this movie knew it was never going to be taken seriously, but they tried to make it fun anyway. The special effects shots of the Helicarrier were much better than you’d expect in a made-for-tv movie.
I think of this movie like a really good school play. In the end it’s just a load of hokum, but you have to give them credit for trying.
I’ve been a fan of director Sam Rami’s films since the second Evil Dead movie. The guy has a twisted vision that I love getting in sync with. Darkman was a rollercoaster ride that I didn’t want to get off of and Army of Darkness was a hilarious blast of fun. I guess Rami was afraid that Hollywood wouldn’t take him seriously if he kept making mind-bending gore fests, so he calmed down and made A Simple Plan and The Gift.
I didn’t know what to expect when it was announced that he’d be helming Spider-Man. Would the Darkman Sam Rami come back to play? It turns out he didn’t, but the movie turned out fine anyway. In the comic books I was never a big fan of the Green Goblin, so it was a bit of a disappointment to hear that he was going to be the villain. The mechanical Green Goblin mask and suit didn’t help matters.
Toby Maguire made for a letter perfect Peter Parker. He was a tad more goofy than the stoic Peter in the comics, but that was okay. The Spider suit was outstanding. I still don’t know how he could have cooked it up in his bedroom, but I could go along with it. The organic webshooters were a little creepy-I kept getting the impression that he was shooting sperm out from his wrists. And speaking of sperm, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson was nothing short of a fanboy’s wet dream.
The ending scene in the cemetery made me scream with horror. When Peter turned his back on MJ I was in agony. It felt so very, very wrong.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Not that he necessarily needed to redeem himself, but Rami made up for the mistakes he made in the first movie. In retrospect the first Spider-Man movie seems more like a warm up game for the second.
The movie was hitting on all cylinders from the first frame. Chubby Doc Ock kicked royal ass as a villain. Rami seemed comfortable enough to bring back some of his old visual tricks. Doc Ock’s wife seeing herself in the shower of glass shards heading her way, and all the crazy reflective graphics during the slaughter in the operating room. Classic stuff.
The special effects were almost perfect, and there was all kinds of great character development with Peter, Aunt May, Mary Jane, and even Doc Ock.
This is a fun movie that I’ll always stop to watch if I see it while surfing the movie channels.
I’ve tried to watch this movie on at least three occasions. I just couldn’t do it. After twenty minutes or so I find that I’m either bored to tears or laughing at what I’m seeing on the screen. It may turn out that the last three quarters of this film are fantastic and I’m really missing out, but I guess it’s my loss.
Captain America (1991)
A friend loaned me a bootleg copy of this film. I don’t know if it was released theatrically or even straight to video. I’ve never seen it in Hollywood Video or Nazi Blockbuster. Matt Salinger played Steve Rogers/Captain America, taking over the role played with much hilarity by Reb Brown in the 1979 made-for-tv film.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the 1991 movie was Captain America’s ears. In the comic book his ears stick out through holes in his mask, but that didn’t work out for the movie so they wound up gluing rubber ears onto his head.
The movie also featured two of my favorite actors, Melinda Dillon and Darin McGavin, who were reunited after starring in 1983’s A Christmas Story.
I have one very cool memory of Tim Burton’s version Batman and it has nothing to do with the film. I was living in New York when this film came out and when the advance poster came out it was everywhere you looked. Plastered on the sides of buses, on taxis, and up and down the walls of the subway. Posters, especially those in the subways, were prime targets for graffiti artists and anyone with a magic marker and something to say. The thing is, nobody ever tagged or defaced the Batman posters. It was almost like they were protected or sacrilegious to touch.
As far as the movie, I thought casting Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman was a fatal flaw that I could never get past. Michael Keaton is a talented actor, and I’m sure that he’s a fine, upstanding gentleman, but the truth of the matter is that he’s a shrimpy little guy. Bruce Wayne needs to be a big, almost hulking man. His tailors can cut his suits to help hide his bulky shoulders and ironing board legs, but when he attends a social event he inadvertently towers over everyone in the room. He has to be big because this is the same guy who holds bad guys by their ankles off the top of skyscrapers.
When I first heard they were making a Batman movie I thought that they needed to cast someone like Steven Segal. Now don’t laugh. Before he got all fat and puffy, he had the perfect body type for Bruce Wayne.
My biggest problem with the movie, aside from Burton’s inability to direct a fight scene, was Jack Nicholson as the Joker. I really liked him at first, but a little bit of the Joker goes a long way, and we saw way too much of him. So much so that he became pretty silly before too long.
The Joker was also involved in one of the most incredibly distracting thing I’ve seen in a movie. When see the Joker’s goons running around doing henchmen-like things, their jackets are festooned with patches featuring a comic book drawing of the Joker’s face. This same drawing had been around for a while and you could buy shirts and hats with it printed on them. So here’s this familiar piece of comic artwork in the movie. Where in the world did it come from? Did one of the goons have some art skills and he cooked the drawing up one day when there were no crimes to do? Arrgh. I get angry just thinking about it. The same thing happened years later in the film Jurassic Park. In the movie the gift shop was filled with souvenirs covered with the same Jurassic Park logo from the cover of the Crichton novel and the movie posters. It’s a beautiful logo, but it belongs in the real world, not in the world that we’re trying hard to buy into and be a part of. Maybe I’m the only one bothered by stuff like this.
Batman Returns (1992)
This one was just as dark and dirty as the first one. Michael Keaton seemed a little more comfortable in his platform shoes but I still didn’t buy him as Batman.
Danny DeVito’s Penguin was bleak and ugly and I have horrible memories of him chewing on a raw fish. Oh, and there was Catwoman who was handy with her sewing kit. I seem to recall Christopher Walken was the bad guy. I don’t recall what his evil plan was. And there was something with an evil circus and the Penguin floating around in a giant rubber ducky.
Nearly all my memories of this film have the same consistency of a chunk of gum stuck to the sole of a shoe.
Batman Forever (1995)
Three years had passed since the last movie. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Hey, Tim Burton is gone and Joel Schumacher is directing. That could be cool. And Michael Keaton has handed the cape and cowl over to Val Kilmer. That’s neat. He’s certainly bigger than Keaton in stature. And Jim Carrey as the Riddler?!? Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face? Hang onto your hats boys and girls, this could be great!
Well, it could have been. Unfortunately the script had all the depth and intelligence of a Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum comic, and it turns out that Schumacher is even worse than Burton at directing fight scenes. Most of them were so dark and murky that you didn’t have a clue as to who was whomping on who.
Jim Carrey gave it the old college try, but just like the Joker, a little bit of scenery chewing goes a long way. Tommy Lee Jones was just plain out of his mind as Two-Face. He was a major ham, delivering every single line for the cheap seats. The cameraman must have had to wipe his spittle off the lens between takes.
Chris O’Donnell awkwardly slips into the role of Robin, and Nichole Kidman shows up as a psychologist who tries to unravel the secrets Bruce Wayne keeps locked up in his noggin. Kidman is mostly forgettable, but she is featured in one beautiful shot. It’s late at night and she’s in bed under a sheet and bathed in moonlight. It’s a stunning image.
Somehow Batman and Robin foil the Riddler’s plan to suck all the brain power out of the world via cable television, and they get to scoot around in the Batboat and Batplane.
Batman and Robin (1997)
George Clooney openly admits that he did this movie for the money. He also said that he’d have to be an idiot to pass up the chance to play Batman. It turns out that he and his cousin, Miguel Ferrer spent hours playing Batman and Robin when they were kids.
Regrettably Joel Schumacher returned to direct. The studio tried to make this movie a success by throwing as much money at it as they could. This time Batman and Robin had a wide variety of foes to have clumsy fight scenes with. There was Arnold Schwarzenegger in his preposterous Mr. Freeze suit, Uma Thurman blowing cuckoo dust at everyone as Poison Ivy, Alicia Silverstone packed a little too tightly into a Batgirl suit, and an idiotic hulking idiot called Bane.
They through everything they had at the movie screen, but in the end nothing stuck. The best part of the movie was the ending. I don’t remember what happened, but thankfully it was over. RIP Batman. You deserved better than this.
Batman Begins (2005)
What the hell happened? What strange and twisted set of circumstances came into alignment in Hollywood to seat Christopher Nolan in the director’s chair for a Batman movie? This is the same guy who did that backwards movie Memento, and the Al Pacino thriller Insomnia. He makes films that require moviegoers to think and to participate in the film. He makes intelligent movies. Who thought he’d be good for a Batman movie?
Working off a script by David S. Goyer (remember him from the Nick Fury S.H.I.E.L.D. movie?) Nolan cast the talented but mostly unknown Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The stunt casting trend from the first three Batman movies was thrown out the window and Nolan filled the supporting cast with some fantastic but low key players. Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler Alfred, Gary Oldman as detective Jim Gordon, Cillian Murphy as Dr. Crane/The Scarecrow, Ken Watanabe as Ra’s Al Ghul, and the superbly talented Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. The only klinker in the lot is Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, Rachel Dawes.
The movie tells the origin of Batman. It spends an absolutely ridiculous amount of time (almost half the movie) getting to the point when we first see Batman put his cowl on to go out and bust some heads. But you know what? The story of what drives Bruce Wayne to actually become Batman is hugely interesting and entertaining. The second half of the movie is cool as hell, but there are times when I think I liked the first half better.
Christopher Nolan delivered the Batman movie that everyone has been waiting for. I don’t know how it happened but I’m glad that it did.
This one should have been a no-brainer. Ben Affleck as the blind lawyer turned blind crimefighter. Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios, a Greek (?) businessman’s daughter with blazing martial arts skills. Colin Farrell as Bullseye, an assassin who turns innocent everyday items into implements of death and destruction. The gigantic Michael Clark Duncan as the Kingpin, a crime boss without equal. And then you toss in Jon Favreau as the chubby comic relief.
It should have been a no-brainer.
After all, it was directed and written by Mark Steven Johnson, the fellow who wrote Grumpy Old Men and the hit sequel Grumpier Old Men. Hmmm, there wasn’t much action in either of those movies. Of course he also wrote Jack Frost, the movie where Michael Keaton dies and turns into a snowman. I remember there was some action in that movie, when the snowman and his son are sledding down the hill, and later when they’re in a snowball fight. Maybe Mark Steven Johnson was hired to direct Daredevil because he wrote and directed the movie Simon Birch, that movie about the kid with stunted growth who is really depressed all the time.
In the hands of a capable director a Daredevil movie would have been a delight. Seeing the world through the eyes of a blind crimefighter would have been astounding. Unfortunately we got none of that. Too bad for us.
The Spirit (1987)
I never saw the appeal of the comic book character The Spirit. If I recall the story properly, The Spirit is a policeman named Denny Colt who the world thinks is dead, so he fights crime as a mystery man who wears a mask.
I liked this made-for-tv movie a lot more than I ever enjoyed the comic. The Spirit was played with plenty of spirit by Sam Jones, of Flash Gordon fame. The script was apparently a labor of love by the talented Steven E. DeSouza, who also wrote the first two Die Hard movies.
Nobody seemed to be under the impression that they were making one of the great films of the 20th century, but at the same time everyone seemed to be having fun, and that certainly came across in the final product. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this film and I hope to catch it late one night on cable.
Fantastic Four (2005)
This movie was made for fans of the Fantastic Four comic books of the 1960s. Everyone else should go read a book or watch something else. With a few minor changes this film is a literal translation of early issues of the Fantastic Four.
I was against a rubber suit for the Thing from way back when I first heard they were making the movie. CGI was the only way to bring him to life; or so I thought. As it turned out the rubber suit worked out just fine. Johnny Storm flamed on to my satisfaction. Sue Storm turned invisible just fine. The less said about Reed Richard’s stretching, the better.
It’s a hokey movie based on a bunch of hokey comic books. If you watch it with in the proper frame of mind you’ll have a blast.
The Punisher (2004)
This movie seems to always be on one movie channel or another. Constantly. For months now I’ve seen it on the cable guide every single day.
It’s not a horrible movie. It’s written with a degree of intelligence the surprised me. I was a bit taken aback that it was set in Florida, but why not?
I was never a fan of the comic books. I love the concept of a man, Frank Castle, who has everything he loves taken away from him by a criminal, so he devotes his life (and his considerable skills) to punishing criminals. He goes about his task with zero conscience to hold him back and with absolutely nothing to lose.
The problem is that he couldn’t be portrayed as the killing machine he really was in a comic book. Even with a ‘Mature’ label on the cover, he could never be shown as the bad-ass- killing-machine that he’d turned into.
The movie took two hours to tell his origin and get him to that bad-ass-killing-machine stage, and then it was over. The movie I really want to see is the sequel that begins exactly where the first movie ended.
The only really bad thing about the Punisher movie was casting John Travolta as the bad guy. Travolta never came close to melting into his character, so it was always John Travolta smoking a cigar and telling his goons to go kill someone. Totally distracting. He had no business being in this movie.
Just like Catwoman, I’ve tried to watch this movie at least three or four times, but have never finished it. Everyone walks around in this movie like they’re only there because they lost a bet or they’re doing someone a favor by being there. If the studio had the kind of money they wasted making this movie, they should have done a sequel to Daredevil with a better director.
This film has all the appeal to me of a soggy dishrag. I get depressed just thinking about it.
I was lucky enough to see this movie at a special screening with an audience that included Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, who co-created the X-Men in the comics in the 1960s. I was a staff writer for Stan Lee Media and it was a blast getting to work with one of my idols.
There is a huge amount of this movie that I enjoyed. Most of the casting choices worked quite nicely. I had my doubts about a lightweight like Hugh Jackman pulling off Wolverine, but he did it. There was lots of fun action and Magneto was a delight. The biggest problem I had with X-Men was that from the very first frame of the film it felt like a set up for the sequel. For two hours I sat through the construction of the foundation and framework for X-Men 2. It felt exactly like an elaborate exercise in seeing how the characters worked and experimenting with how to best show their powers.
It was as though the director, Brian Singer, knew for a fact that he’d get to make a second movie, so he was simply introducing the characters and situations to the audience and ramping up to the eventual second outing, where he could really cut loose.
X-Men 2 (2003)
And then he did it. He had us prepped and he really cut loose. X-Men 2 was a blast. Everything was in place for Singer to shock and amaze us. Which he did.
The addition of Nightcrawler was a thing of beauty. The makeup people started with the Nightcrawler we’d grown to love in the comics and then took him to an astonishing new level. He could BAMF here and there with and he moved with the grace of a supernatural athlete. Alan Cumming, the man behind the mask apparently didn’t have a great time making the movie and didn’t show interest in suiting up for another film, which is a shame. I would watch him read the Pennysaver Gazette for two hours.
The film kicked ass from start to finish. Wolverine finally got to see where he was turned into the monster that he is today. It would have been nice to see a Sentinel or two running around stomping mutants, but I guess you can’t have everything.
At the cost of the first movie, Brian Singer hit the nail on the head with this one.
The Hulk (2003)
I’m sick and tired of defending this movie. For a while I got kind of bitter from the reaction I got from people after telling them how much I loved this movie.
For me, Ang Lee hit the nail on the head. Directly on the head. I loved the way the Hulk looked and moved. There was a joke going around that the Hulk was little more than an angry version of Shrek. I hate that joke because it’s simple and wrong.
I had doubts when I heard about Eric Bana being cast as Bruce Banner, but he brought the character to life. Sam Elliott was a freakin’ blast as T. Bolt Ross. Jennifer Connelly was not the Betty Ross from the comics I grew up reading, but this wasn’t a 1970s comic, so I grew to like her a lot. The same thing for Glen Talbot, who was a minor bit player in the comic that became a major player in the movie.
Ang Lee had massively huge balls to periodically interrupt conventional movie storytelling to switch over to a quasi-comic book storytelling style. Floating panels would pop up on the screen to show alternate angles of the main shot, close-ups, reaction shots. Lee didn’t abuse this device. He seemed to only use it when it was only needed, but brother was it effective. It brought comics to the screen like never before.
I’m not a massive fan of Nick Nolte as Bruce Banner’s long lost father being a major player in the story and eventually turning into the bit villain the Hulk has to battle at the end of the film. When I heard that there was an absorbing man-type character in the film I thought it would be the actual Absorbing Man character from the comics. Instead, Nick Nolte’s character accidentally gets absorbing man-like powers in his attempt to become a bigger and better Hulk than his son has become.
I don’t agree with this part of the storyline, but it’s Ang Lee’s movie and you can take it or leave it. In the end, I’ve decided to take it.
I dislike this movie, but then again I greatly dislike Wesley Snipes, so this may have tainted my view of the movie. Snipes may be an outstanding person who gives to charities, is a sparkling conversationalist, and is kind to small animals, but he gives off a vibe that I just don’t like. I don’t know the man, but I think if I did I would despise him. That may be shallow, but I yam what I yam.
My memories of the movie are foggy. I recall liking the way the vampires died. That was visually exciting. Kris Kristofferson was fun as the crusty Whistler. I don’t know if his character was in the comic book, but I liked him in the movie. Speaking of the comic, even I was a diehard Marvel reader, and a massive Gene Colon fan, I never got into the Tomb of Dracula books. Perhaps if I was the movie would have meant more to me.
The bulk of the movie was a blur to me. There was something silly about a Blood God in the end, but mostly it was an incoherent blur.
Blade 2 (2002)
I remember even less of this of the sequel than I do of the original. The director came up with an even cooler effect for the way the vampires die. I seem to recall that Whistler had a helper named Scud who turned out to be a bad guy.
So, if I dislike Wesley Snipes so much why did I bother seeing the movie? Because I’m dumb. I think I went because Ashley Wood, who was staying with us at the time wanted to go. Most of the film remains a blur to me.
Blade 3 a.k.a. Blade Trinity (2004)
I somehow fought the urge to see this in the theater. It was tempting, though. The addition of the buff Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel characters was appealing. Plus Patton Oswalt was in it, and Parker Posey, and Triple H, and Whistler somehow comes back from the dead. It really was tempting.
I have since seen approximately sixty-nine percent of this movie on cable and I’m glad I had to strength to not see it on the big screen. It could have been a great fun movie. I think it would have been a much better movie without the cartoon that Wesley Snipes has turned the character Blade into. Man, I dislike that fellow.
Dr. Strange (t.v. movie 1978)
I’ve only seen this movie once, the first (and probably only) time it was broadcast on television. I seem to recall having a bad cold or the flu at the time. I was in my bedroom and kept drifting in and out. The movie was kind of trippy, and I was kind of tripping on cold medicine (or neighborhood pharmacists used to brew up their own brand of cough syrup that they sold to their regular customers. It tasted pretty good and it had a really high codeine content in it, and it made having a cold not so really bad) and the steam from the vaporizer that my mom always kept running when someone had a cold kept fogging up the screen of the television.
I’ll have to get my hands on a bootleg version of the movie to see if I recognize any of it.
***On a side note, I’ve never been a big on for seeing movies while stoned. Back in the day I had friends who would see movies like Altered States while on acid, which even today sounds like a recipe for tearing your eyes out of their sockets. The first movie I saw in a theater while high was a midnight showing of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards. I went with a friend and was stone cold sober when I went into the theater, but ten minutes later I had a contact high that it took me days to come down from. I was astounded. I was working as a movie theater manager at the time, and now here I was in a theater where half the people were smoking. The fact that what they were smoking was pot seemed secondary. Smoking wasn’t allowed in movie theaters and now everyone was lighting up all around me. To make matters worse there were even Rent-A-Cops/security guards standing at the back of the theater. Nobody seemed to care but me. About half way through the movie I had inhaled enough second hand smoke to stop worrying and to focus on the movie. It was kind of fun. Bakshi had ripped off Vaughn Bode blind. That was evident. And there was some nice artwork by comic artist Michael Ploog. But smoking in a movie theater? Even back in 1977 that was out of line.
The second movie I saw while under the influence was Ridley Scott’s Legend. The day I saw it I’d had some minor foot surgery and I was supposed to stay home and keep my foot up for a few days, but I really wanted to go. I went with either my friend Rob Dahlberg or Dale DeYoung. I just remember that I didn’t drive. I do remember that the doctor had given me a bottle of painkillers that worked above and beyond the duty. I popped a handful as the movie started and wound up have a very good time. Mia Sara made me happy in my pants, young Tom Cruise acting like a little imp boy was interesting, and Tim Curry as the Prince of Darkness followed me in my dreams for years to come. Even heavily medicated I recall that some of the effects were a bit wonky. There were unicorns that looked a lot like horses with fake horns poorly attached to their heads. I think Ridley Scott likes unicorns. I remember seeing some footage of Blade Runner that didn’t make it into the final movie. There was a scene of a unicorn with a wobbly horn on its head. ***
Mystery Men (1999)
I read the script for this movie in a cheesy motel room in San Jose and absolutely fell in love with it. I made copies for all my friends. I knew that if they could find a way to bring this script to life on the big screen it might become my favorite movie of all time.
Much of the script I’d fallen in love with made it to the big screen. A lot of important stuff was left out. The casting was inspired and stellar. The production design was innovative. There was plenty of quirkiness that you couldn’t help but smile at.
But as a whole, it just doesn’t work for me. If it were a bucket it wouldn’t hold water. Too many holes. Too many good things to count on all my fingers and toes, but just as many missed or lost opportunities.
It could have been a contender. (Plus it’s always a shame to see Eddie Izzard’s talent wasted)
Swamp Thing (1982)
Anyone with half a brain knew this was going to suck like your mom’s vacuum cleaner. There was no chance on this planet that this was going to be a good movie. You had to know this. Still, if you went to see it (like I did) aware of what a train wreck it was going to be, there was some fun to be had.
The best part of the movie was actor Dick Durock in the Swamp Thing make-up. The guy had so much personality that he seemed to shine. You never forgot that this was a guy in a rubber suit (especially when you would occasionally see the zipper seam going up his back) but Durock was so personable it didn’t seem to matter.
I don’t know if it was worth the price of admission, but it was nice to see Adrienne Barbeau’s breasts. For some reason I was fixated on her as a teenager, since first seeing her on the television series Maude. She was an original MILF.
The weirdest and most distracting thing about the Swamp Thing movie was the villain, played by Louis Jourdan. The guy looked positively sick, like he was on an oxygen tank between takes. He was so thin and boney that he looked like if he fell down he would shatter.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
I am a huge fan of the Alan Moore comic. This movie has a lot in common with the comic but is something very different.
On its own, it an interesting but flawed action movie. It contains none of the spark, wisdom and intelligence of the comic.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it, but if I came across it on the cable channels and had a couple of hours to waste, I’d watch it again. There’s enough fun stuff to keep you watching. You don’t walk away with anything in the end, but there are worse things to watch.
I have a memory of seeing this steaming pile of toxic waste in a Connecticut movie theater with my roommate Tom Morgan, but I could have dreamed the whole experience up. I think it’s better for everyone involved if we all agree that it never happened. It was all a bad dream fueled by some bad Indian food. Agreed?