I know I’m late on talking about most of these movies but give me a break, I’m on Netflix and they seem to be getting movies from the major studios later and later.
(2011, Paramount Pictures)
Even though it was the first major superhero movie of the year and had a lot of promotion behind it, it seems like there wasn’t a lot of real buzz for this movie but then again superhero movies seem to have finally lost their charm with the public after peaking with the crazy success of The Dark Knight. Looks like anywhere from $115-200 million is about what a superhero movie is going to make these days whereas a few years ago the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Batman franchises were pulling in $300+ million easily.
You can also say that Thor is in the same category as Iron Man (that of being a B-list superhero) so that probably had something to do with it not being a runaway success as well when the character is pretty straight-forward and humorless and there’s no charismatic actor to carry the movie.
Still, I thought it was fun. I was never impressed by the previews & trailers so that’s maybe why I seemed to enjoy the movie more than most because I was expecting a glorified SyFy Original movie. My biggest gripe is the pacing, I thought it moved too slow and it took Thor too long to finally get his hammer back. Other than that, I’m looking forward to a Thor 2 but it seems for now the Avengers movie can be counted the first sequel because Loki figures prominently into that film.
X-Men: First Class
(2011, 20th Century Fox)
I’ve never been a big fan of the X-franchise of movies. In fact, the ones that I liked most are X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the universally-hated X-Men: The Last Stand. So, despite enjoying the last two X-movies, I still really wasn’t interested in seeing First Class. It was only after reading some really positive reviews that I decided to add the movie to my Netflix queue.
I guess First Class is sort of a soft reboot/prequel for the series and the first entry of a new trilogy. Truthfully, I don’t remember the first X-Men trilogy all that well but it seems like this movie has brought in elements from those original films while discarding other things. I tried not to think too hard about it and just enjoy the movie and I did.
The slow turn for Magneto to finally decide he had a better way of doing things than Xavier was well-played and Kevin Bacon always plays a great villain (going all the way back to White Water Summer). The movie was well done all the way around and the ending had me excited for a confrontation between the X-Men and Magneto’s group in the sequel.
One of the best superhero movies out there and the best X-movie yet.
Captain America: The First Avenger
(2011, Paramount Pictures)
Definitely NOT “the best superhero movie ever” as stated by some idiot critic on the cover of the DVD. Not even close and the subtitle is absolutely pointless.
You wanna see some cheesy CGI? It’s right here. The whole movie has a cheesy B-movie feel to it. It could’ve been a really cool gritty and realistic WWII-era movie that just happened to feature a super-solider but they didn’t go that route. Instead the movie features all sorts of hi-tech gadgetry created by the Red Skull and his goons at HYDRA (a branch of the Nazi party).
The movie was okay, I’d give it a 6/10 but the final moments are what really ruined it for me. The final confrontation with the Red Skull was just so rushed it didn’t even feel like the final confrontation. It felt like Act II and after it was over I realized that was it and I was pretty disappointed. That’s really the movie’s false finish though as it goes on to show Captain America waking up in the modern world and even that felt pretty rushed. I didn’t feel like there was any real ending. The movie just stops.
Hey, all in the name of pushing that Avengers movie, right? Like I said, the movie is okay but it’s easily the worst of the superhero movies that came out this year. On the bright side, it’s the best Captain America movie!
(2011, Warner Bros.)
Okay, this one I was pretty excited for. I’m a big fan of both DC Comics and Ryan Reynolds (I still say they should’ve saved him for a Flash movie) so I was ready for this one. Unfortunately, it seems like any DC movie that isn’t a Batman movie is doomed to collapse under it’s own big-budget weight.
There are a number of issues I have with this movie:
– The cheesy CGI. It wasn’t as bad as Captain America but for a movie that used it heavily, they should’ve known/done better.
– The plot holes. Why did Hal need “permission” from the Guardians to fight for Earth’s survival when it is a part of the sector he’s supposed to be patrolling and defending? Why didn’t any of the other Lanterns join in and help the new guy (Hal)? Were they all that scared of Parallax (who was beaten pretty easily, I think)? What a horrible and cowardly group of space police.
– The villains. Parallax was a fine choice but for such a cosmic threat, he was taken out pretty easily by a rookie Lantern and it was a wasted opportunity to not show the rest of the Corps doing battle with him. And Hector Hammond? Please. I don’t even want to see that guy in the comic.
Complaints aside, Reynolds does a good job with what he’s given and if you turn your brain off, it’s a fun popcorn movie. It’s just too bad the movie didn’t perform all that well because it looks like there probably won’t be a sequel. That’s a shame because I think the sequel could easily be better than this movie and I really wanted to see a battle between the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps.
Batman: Year One
(2011, Warner Home Video)
Another DC movie I was looking forward to because DC has something like a 96% success rate with me when it comes to their cartoons and animated movies (Superman: The Animated Series and The Batman have been the only real misfires with me thus far).
This animated movie adapts the Frank Miller story “Batman: Year One” that ran in Batman #404-407 in 1987. Despite having owned those issues for a number of years, I’ve never gotten around to reading them (I have TONS of unread comics from the ’80s) so I’m not sure how this compares to the comics but I thought this was an interesting looking back at when Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon (just a lieutenant in this story) were just starting out in Gotham City. It’s really Gordon’s story just as much, if not more than, as Batman’s.
Good coming of age story for both characters and I liked that it seemingly takes place during the 1980’s, which was when the original story was published.
As standard with the popular line of DC Universe Original Animated Movies, there is a short “DC Showcase” film attached as a bonus feature and this one stars Catwoman and runs about 15 minutes. Written by Paul Dini (one of the greatest Batman writers of all-time), it takes place in a modern setting and has no connection to Batman: Year One (I don’t think, the animation style is the same) though it is equally just as good.
Young Justice: Season One, Volume One
(2011, Warner Home Video)
I don’t get the chance to watch Cartoon Network’s Friday night action-adventure cartoon line-up much. Not because I have a life but simply because I often forget about the shows and also because CN seems to have an incredibly hard time keeping their superhero cartoons on at a consistent day & time. I decided to give up on trying to watch Young Justice as it aired and wait for the DVD releases.
Focused on the young heroes of the DC Universe, the show is not entirely Teen Titans but not entirely Young Justice (a comic book series which ran from 1998-2003, itself a modern take on the Teen Titans) either. The show is influenced by both.
While I mourned the loss of Justice League Unlimited greatly and this not a continuation of that same animated universe, I think YJ does a very good job of keeping that same kind of feel and great storytelling that JLU was known for.
The show has been renewed for a second season and despite there already being a Season 1 Vol. 2, the series is actually still in the middle of Season 1 thanks to CN’s screwy scheduling of the series (the 3rd and final volume will arrive in Feb. 2012).
It’s just too frustrating to try to keep up with these shows as they air. The series’ “pilot” debuted in November 2010, then the series itself didn’t start until January 2011 and aired until March, took a long break then new episodes (still in Season 1, mind you) started up in September. What’s the point? Is it a production issue? Why not just wait until the majority of the season is ready to go? Cartoon Network does this ALL THE TIME and I hate it. It’s like CN constantly is trying to get these shows to fail by not being able to find/keep an audience.
Hatred for Cartoon Network aside, this is a good show so catch while CN lets you.