Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Second Look at the 2007 Marvel Comic Movie Line-up

In the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to rewatch the three major Marvel comics film releases from this year and I want to post a few thoughts on how they hold up upon a second viewing.

Ghost Rider: Nic Cage is still on cruise control and Eva Mendes still can't act worth a damn. The poor special effects hold up about as well as can be expected. There are still some good laughs to be had here, though (mostly intentional). If only Wes Bentley was horrifically miscast. When I first saw this I had very low expectations and it actually exceeding them. I imagine this will decline on future viewings.

Spider-Man 3: It's maybe even more of a disappointing mess upon a second viewing. I don't know what the hell happened here, Spider-Man 2 (especially the 2.1 revision) is one of the best comic book films ever made, second only to Batman Begins in my mind. The movie is absolutely full of bizarre and awful inconsitencies in tone. Stupid moments from the first screening stick out even worse here, such as the dance scene, the creepy Osborn butler or Maguire's 'acting' when he is dumped by MJ. The greater problem here is that they absolutely wasted some wonderful ideas. Thomas Haden Church is pitch perfect as Sandman but they brutally underutilize and undercut his character. So much so that by the end his motives and actions barely make any sense at all. Venom is one of my favorite Spidey villains and should have been saved for Spider-Man 4 (have Sandman and the symbiote in 3, have Parker lose the symbiote at the end of 3 to set up for 4 and Venom). Topher Grace is so unbelievably miscast it's not even funny. Why does his Venom character randomly get to learn things, like MJ's nickname for Pete, Tiger? Why did anyone think this was good casting? Why did the studio force Raimi to stuff him into this? Ugh... I thought Dunst was awful on my first viewing but on second chance she actually tries to bring genuine emotion here instead of chewing the scenery, which is maybe the problem. She gets overshadowed because she's too subtle. Why introduce Gwen Stacy? What does that accomplish? Why, other than to create conflict for no good reason, have Peter kiss her at the ceremony? It's just so preposterously inconsistent with the characters. At least J Jonah Jameson gets a slightly larger role this time. I'm assuming the inevitable Spider-Man 4 will have Carnage and Lizard as villains. I'd actually like to see JJ get a better part by making the villain Scorpion whose creation Jameson could be involved in. Here's hoping a better director gets to take on future Spideys if Raimi doesn't return. Here's also hoping Raimi is not allowed anywhere near the upcoming Hobbit adaptation.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: Sadly I think this is actually the best of the Marvel films for 2007. While it is certainly juvenile and Jessica Alba is horrifically miscast, it's also pretty funny and relatively faithful to the tone of the original. Gruffudd, Evans and Chiklis are all pretty much perfect casting. I'd like to see a more believable and serious actress in the Invisible Woman role, maybe Rachel McAdams? A younger Naomi Watts would've been perfect I think. Silver Surfer is maybe somewhat underdeveloped here, but the trim 92 minute running time allows for it to be a perfectly enjoyable experience without the self-importance and stupidity of Spidey.

Here's hoping 2008's Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and Punisher: Warzone turn out stronger...

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