Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Superhero Movies . . . The Johnson Perspective Part I

So today I was reading some talkbacks about a possible new Superman movie. There always seems to be some sort of "geek consensus" about which movies are good and which are bad. Well, many times I agree with geek consensus and other times I don't. In this post I want to mention a few and share my thoughts about the commonly held tastes of my fellow film buffs.

Let's start with the most over-praised superhero movies out there . . . Bryan Singer's X-Men and X2: X-Men United. Having given Singer's films a rewatch it finally hit me just how cold and lifeless they are. There's just something intangible that seems to be missing. They have a definite visual style but just feel soulless and hollow. There seems to be a subset of marvel fans that are primarily X-Men fans. These fans love to heap praise on Singer because they believe he gave them a vision of that universe that is true to the characters. I will admit that it is nice to see the material taken seriously and the subtext intact. But, that's about all I can give Singer credit for. I think the actors in these films do more than anyone else to deliver the characters in their correct form. Who can deny Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellan wonderfully bring their respective characters to life? But, Singer's lifeless direction and inability to film action drags these movies down. Are they bad? Absolutely not. But, are they as great as some would have you believe? No way. Also is Singer the savior of the modern superhero film? Hell no.

Now, on to the third and most controversial of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand. It is very fashionable to bash Brett Ratner as a director. It's supposed to just be a given that he is an awful director and everything he makes is crap. This is just as ridiculous as the notion that it is a given that Singer is a master filmmaker who makes the most wonderful superhero movies of all time. I'd say the crap to cool ratio in the third film is roughly the same as the first two movies. In many ways, I think there happens to be a lot more cool in The Last Stand than in the first two. This mainly comes from the fact that Ratner actually knows how to stage and shoot cool action sequences. If I was going to sit down and watch on of these again just for fun, I'd always pick the third one. It's not perfect but it's not the piece of crap geek consensus would have you believe.

P.S. - When I say I like something I am not saying "it's so bad it's good" or any other such ironic nonsense.

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