Super Hero Flicks
I posted this earlier today on a message board I’ve frequented for ages. Since it has some relevance to Japanese pop culture crap, I figured I’d post it here.
Yet another Top Whatever List. This time it’s super hero movies. Not “comic book” movies, since that deals with all sorts of genres, but movies that have super heroes in them. This happens to cover many of my favorites. Very few of these movies are ones that I’d call all-time favorites (only the top two movies on this list would come close to my all-time favorite list), but they’re all pretty good flicks.
10. Big Man Japan: A satire of the whole Ultraman/Power Rangr/etc genre (tokukatsu). It’s about the last hero of his type: A man with powers to grow to monsterous size and fight giant monsters. The catch is that very few monsters appear anymore and his merchandising and TV ratings are down. Also, he pretty much sucks at what he does and only does it out of a mix of tradition, coersion, and the realization that he’s an even worse father and citizen. Then the movie takes a dramatically ridiculous shift in the last five minutes or so. Those five minutes are beautiful.
9. Unbreakable: Without the “twist” ending, I don’t think I’d dig this as much as I do. Finding out that Samuel L Jackson’s character is the villain and all but create Bruce Willis’ character (spoiler) made everything come together awesomely.
8. Zebraman: Another satire on Japanese-styled super heroes. This was Takashi Miike’s first “family” movie (Miike being the person who made Ichi the Killer and other ultraviolent exploitation movies). The main character is a salaryman who is obsessed with a 70s Masked Rider-like TV show that was canceled after the first season. The dude makes a costume and goes around at night pretending to be a super hero. Then he finds out that the old TV series was a message from aliens trying to warn Earth about a future alien invasion and he’s the “chosen one” who discovered the message and will become the defender of Earth. Cool stuff.
7. Hellboy: See my blabbering when I talk about Hellboy 2.
6. Superman Returns: Takes everything that’s cool about the Superman movies from the 70s and 80s and boils them down to a single movie. It humanizes a character (much like the original movies, but more so) that I never liked because he ever felt the least bit human or interesting. At the same time it reinforces his “alienness” by having him act in strange ways (all but stalking Lois and her son, running away to Krypton for several years, etc) but does so without making him seem “above” humanity. That’s what I always disliked about Superman. He wasn’t just “different,” he was “better.” I don’t want a hero that’s “better” than me, just different.
5. X2: The only good X-Men movie. It managed to make like like a character that I always hated, Wolverine. Hugh Jackman can be credited with that. It’s also a pretty snazzy action flick at the same time. The Nightcrawler attack scene is awesome.
4. The Dark Knight: It’s a great movie, but there’s certain things that keep me from loving it as much as others. First, I’ve already seen this movie and loved it even more the first time. That movie was Heat. Heat hits many of the same points. The interplay between Batman and the Joker is similar to that of Al Pacino and Robert De Nero. Every time I see The Dark Knight, I keep going back to Heat and saying to myself “damn, I wish I was watching it instead of this.” Also, The Dark Knight doesn’t go far enough for my tastes. Either A) one of the boats should have been destroyed, giving Joker some sort of victory there or B) Harvey should have been outed despite dying. By having eveyone survive on the boards and have Dent’s descent kept secret all but nullifies the impact of Joker’s actions. Sure, Batman is now hunted, but that’s just setting him up for redemption in the next movie. For all of its “darkness,” Joker’s actions are essentially thwarted and life in Gotham isn’t all that worse than it was before the movie started. The idea that Batman’s actions have escalated the “war” in Gotham isn’t fulfilled. It’s still a great movie despite these issues, which is saying a lot about the movie.
3. Batman Returns: Chalk this one up to nostalgia. That and penguins wearing rocket launchers. And S&M Catwoman. And Danny Devito’s ghoulish take on Penguin. I love it.
2. Hellboy 2: Ron Pearlman needs to win a lifetime achievement Oscar for being the one person who can ACT while wearing ridiculous amounts of costume makeup. I’ve never read a Hellboy comic, but based on his performance alone I can call Hellboy one of my all-time favorite super heroes. He does a great job of playing off his teenaged/childish angst. Also, the series has the coolest on-screen creatures since the original Star Wars trillogy. The Hellboy series deserves FAR more credit and love than it gets currently.
1. Ichi the Killer: Yes. This is a super hero movie. A costumed “hero” is all but brainwashed to go about and commit murders for a mob boss using bladed shoes. Ichi is just as much a hero as Dardevil or Batman, since they’re all “normal” people dealing with “solving” crimes and dealing with crime bosses and the like. The catch is that the movie focuses as much, if not more, on one of the villains in the story: the mobster Kakihara. The movie boils down to Ichi, the ultimate sadist, facing off with Kakihara, the ultimate masochist, and basically says “The only way a hero would do what he does is because he enjoys huring others and wants a “just” reason to do so, while the only way someone would turn to crime is because they enjoy the pain of violence and persecution.” I don’t agree with the idea, but you don’t have to agree with an idea to like the idea.