BlokeBusting The Essentials #89: Fant4stic
Something tells me you might know how I feel about this film already. Let’s see…
Ok. I’m going to admit something here that I think you might be a little surprised by. I didn’t hate the 2005 Fantastic Four film. I know it’s not good, but I was alright with it. I went into this film knowing that it had a SOLID cast, a director who had done some good work and a studio with money behind it. So, all things considered, sounds like a great recipe! Then I saw the film in the cinema. And now you get to hear about it.Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting The Essentials #40: Megamind
The Battle Of The Egos
This one is actually something that breaks a personal rule that I have. You’ll find out what that is in just a little while…
This film kinda came out of nowhere when it arrived in the cinema (at least in England). Suddenly there was an animated film about superheroes/villains that actually focused on a villain and made you understand a side of the equation that you may have avoided thinking about. And I think I managed to see this without knowing who played Megamind. This is key, and connected to my earlier comment. So, let’s dive right into the cast!Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting The Essentials #44: Hellboy
This one is going to be quite fun to discuss, so let’s just go for it!
This film was my introduction to GDT. And I think that was a great way to start. I still haven’t seen some of his more “out-there” stuff, but his style fits this film (and material) down to the ground. I recall really enjoying this film when I first saw it and I had no knowledge of (and still don’t really) the comics that it was based on. So what made this film so enticing to me? I think I should go the usual route and get into the nitty gritty.Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting the Essentials #45: The Crow
#45: The Crow
Quoth The Raven…
Well, well, well. Here we have quite the interesting entry. It’s not everyday that you get to discuss a film that has such a morbid history and an almost literal cult following. So let’s get going while the night is still young!
This review gave me a reason to do something that I’d never done before and had never actually spent the time to try and do before. This was my first ever viewing of The Crow. I’d heard of the sad tale of Brandon Lee, I’d understood that many people quite liked the film and I figured that I’d eventually see it one day. And that day just kept bobbing away on the horizon year after year. So now I’ve finally seen it and I get to talk about it. This should be fun!Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting The Essentials #95: Catwoman
How Warner Bros Lost 1 Of Its 9 Lives…
Ok guys, here’s another film that’s best known for how bad it was. It was nominated for 7 Golden Raspberry awards and won 4 (Worst Picture, Actress, Director & Screenplay). But more on that later. For now, let’s dive right into the review.
This film was not one I saw in the cinema. It was one that I ended up getting on DVD when it was on sale (I think maybe £2) at Woolworths. Why did I buy it? I have no idea. I went through a phase, from ages 14 to 22-ish, where I simply expanded my DVD collection and watched as many films and TV shows as I could. So yeah, a cheap film in a bargain bin was right up my alley back then. And I will also say that a few nights ago was the first time I’ve watched this film since I unwrapped that DVD and hit play all those years ago. Take from that what you will. And now we move onto…Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting The Essentials #46: Doctor Strange
#46: Doctor Strange
Movie-Goers, We’ve Come To Bargain
Well folks, we’ve finally hit the first proper MCU film in the list. So, let me get a few things straight before we continue:
- I love the MCU. I’ll admit that happily. However, I want to be clear that I will still be looking at the MCU films (as much as possible) as individual entries and judging them by how they hold up, any flaws and/or great parts, good/bad acting and so on.
- I am a Cumberbatch fan. Sherlock is one of the best TV shows created as far as I’m concerned, he was fantastic as Hawking in the TV film of the same name and he’s an overall lovely man. Again, I bring this up to be transparent. But also I hope it’ll help you give me a little slack a bit further down the article…
Ok, on with the review!
This film was one that I really was looking forward to when I heard about it. I was not a comic reader, though I did know a few things about it through basic osmosis and the fact that I’m a nerd with an internet connection. I heard the rumours, I really enjoyed hearing the casting news and I was a little thrown by the controversy surrounding The Ancient One. However, I went into the cinema to watch this very ready. What followed was a visual feast and some interesting choices. I have rewatched this film twice since then, for two different reasons, and it remains essentially unchanged as far as I’m concerned. So, how did it do?
This film marked a bit of a risk for the MCU. Where as GOTG had a whole team of funny (for different reasons) characters to use for comedic effect throughout the film, thus making the “lesser known” gang easier for new audiences to digest, Dr Strange is different. The premise and ending are just as out there as GOTG, but we only really have Strange to lean on throughout the film. Perhaps it was a mark of Marvel realising that we will happily watch new IP’s, since GOTG did so well, or a sign of how much the studio trusted the actors and director, but what we got was a film stepped in fantastical spiritual messages, a couple of sequences that were clearly dreamt up after a very good LSD trip and some stunning visuals. All this, including symbolism and setting from Tibetan culture, led by a cast that’s primarily Western. I will say that I feel kinda conflicted about that. I refuse to believe that there were not many great actors/actresses who could have done the job, though I do understand that the studio clearly wanted well known and established actors/actresses to help deliver the strangest (pun-intended) MCU film of them all to date to the average patron with the minimum of difficulty. Anyway, it wasn’t as bad as the live action GITS film. That one hurt. As in physically hurt…
- Dr Strange
BC is a joy to watch, in everything else. He’s also very good at what he does in this one. He’s smarmy with just the right amount of character development throughout the film, he’s really good at reacting to the incredible things with distrust/disbelief/acceptance and he really does look cool once he gets fully decked out as the Sorcerer Supreme. So I’d say he totally killed it. Well, 95% killed it. There’s one small, tiny, little thing. That accent. In case you didn’t know, BC is English. Even his name, Benedict Cumberbatch, is a HUGE giveaway. But whoever decided that he needed to put on an accent that harsh, that extreme and that strong needs to be talked to. It’s VERY distracting. Every scene where he has a lot of dialogue just has you watching knowing that he’s putting on a show. As I said, everything else is great! That voice is simply grate…
- Sorcerer Supreme (The Ancient One)
Tilda Swinton is always fun to see. She’s played a rather wide range of characters over the years. And I thought she did very well as the leader with a dark secret. However, I was kinda surprised to learn that the community was very thrown by her casting. The character is designed to be gender-neutral in the film, and I feel that they do that well. But the character in the comics was of Tibetan descent and many people were dismayed that a white actor was playing the role. Again, I think that the studio had a reason for doing this and I fully acknowledge that the MCU is a different beast to the comics, but it would have been nice to see a more accurate representation (although a little research will tell you that the director felt that the original comics treaded too close to racist territory in that regard and didn’t want to risk that in the film). Regardless, what we got was still very good and I appreciated that the character clearly acted using their own morals and rationalisations. It was kinda fun to see a character die without a solid, neat ending to everything.
I really liked Wong. He was the comic relief, he was a straight man to Strange’s rogue manner and he had some of the best lines in the film. And despite being used mostly for comedic effect, he was possibly the character that most people were drawn to. There’s not much else to say here, he’s just a great character that was used well. Go Wong!
I know that this actor has done a lot of stuff. However I will say that I’ve seen him in just this and Serenity. So he has a type apparently. Anyway, this character felt a little stiff. He only existed to be the one that gets disillusioned and leaves the path of righteousness. And we already had that with the primary protagonist. They did give him the WiFi joke though, so there’s that.
Mads, Mads, Mads. You were perfectly cast, though this villain was a bit of an odd one. He was powerful, more so than most of the main characters, and he knows it. However he’s also adept at using said power, which actually makes most of the film turn into a chase scene when he’s on screen as Strange runs away. He actually is interesting and could have had some fantastic moments, but this film had to hold back. I would have been more interested in having him in the second film, possibly connected to a different entity. that way you could have spent more time on his story. Ah well.
Yes, that’s BC again. Bet you didn’t notice that one! Anyway, this character is VERY interesting and this film only touches on him a little. But it REALLY uses him well. Anyone who doesn’t start grinning during the “I’ve come to bargain” scene just doesn’t know funny. I’m very intrigued to see what they do with him moving forward. That’s it, moving on.
The MCU had already taken its big risk with GOTG, as I mentioned earlier. However this film was possibly a bigger risk than that. It has by far the weirdest visuals in the entire franchise, it’s based on characters that can work on paper but would actually be tricky to get properly balanced on film and the main villain is only actually on-screen for less than 5 minutes (that’s 13 minutes less than Beetleguese!). All-in-all, this would have been THE film that showed Marvel if they had earned enough clout with audiences to get bums in seats when it’s not a more well known character. There’s no gang of intrepid heroes, there’s no space battles and there’s no talking tree. It’s a man who loses the use of his hands and simply wants them back stumbling into the mysteries of the cosmos and coming away with astonishing magic powers. Benedict Cumberbatch is the face of the film, and he’s the one who needs to carry it forward. The film made roughly 3 times its budget in the Box Office and really showed Marvel that they were doing things right and could now not worry about bringing in other characters. And bloody hell, did they! But that’s a conversation for another time.
Now it’s over to Bubbawheat to see whether he felt this film was worthy of the Cloak Of Levitation:
While I had only watched this film once before, it always stuck with me. In part because I had watched and enjoyed the cartoon version of Doctor Strange’s origin story that had come out several years before so I knew more or less what I was getting into. Benedict Cumberbatch was an obvious choice for the role and he plays the arrogant know-it-all as well as anyone. And while the MCU didn’t really need another rich and talented white guy superhero alongside Tony Stark, it’s nice to bring in a mystical element to the MCU, and Scott Derrickson brought a unique visual style that really captured the mind bending alternate dimensions that the Doctor Strange comics are known for. That, and I’m a sucker for a little time travel mixed into a movie. The love story was a nice touch that didn’t overwhelm the narrative, it was given just enough weight to ground the character and the visuals are just absolutely gorgeous to look at. It’s a fun movie with a handful of serious moments.
As far as its place in the MCU, there was a bit of controversy in the form of the Ancient One. While the character was traditionally a stereotypically elderly Asian man in the style of Confucius, the filmmakers decided to avoid the stereotype while still taking the role away from an Asian actor and instead gave it to Tilda Swinton. For my part, I think she does an amazing job, and at least they kept one Asian actor with Wong, but for a story that has so much to do with Asian culture, it was a bad call to have so few Asian actors in it. In terms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and box office, this actually ranks in the lower third but that still comes with an $85M opening weekend and a $677M overall take, certainly nothing to sneeze at. It’s a little early to tell how much of a role he will play in the later Marvel movies, though he is definitely coming back for a sequel. This also continued somewhat of a trend with horror movie directors given superhero movies like Sam Raimi before him and James Wan after, as Derrickson was most well known for Sinister before this film.
Our Epic Conclusion
Alrighty. So, we’ve reached the main 3 questions again. Just in case you weren’t sure what they were, we wrote them down here beside the Wi-Fi password:
1) Would I recommend this film to others?
2) Does it deserve to be on this list?
3) How do I rank the films thus far?
And, without further ado, beating around the bush or other idioms, here we go:
- Yes. If you’re an MCU fan, you need to see this. The character is quite important, for one, and the entire cast is really fun to watch. If you’re not an MCU fan, you need to see this. The creative decisions within this film make it a visual joy to behold and need to be seen on the biggest screen you can find.
- I would say yes, for all the reasons mentioned above and more. Though I think you guys could probably have worked that out by now!
- Good question me! Here’s the current rankings:
1) Dr Strange
2) Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
3) Batman: The Killing Joke
4) Superman 3
5) The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
7) Batman & Robin
8) The Amazing Spider-Man
9) BvS: Dawn Of Justice
Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
Yeah, I couldn’t justify placing this anywhere else. The visuals, the cast, the subject matter, the overall feel of the film and more just add up to a fantastic and very well made Superhero film. Congratulations Dr Steven Strange on your victory over Dr Horrible!
And so another review draws to a close. We’ll be back next month with a look at another film on the list, one that many will assume that I won’t like. As if I would be that catty…
Anyway, always be sure to carry your Sling Ring with you, just in case!
BlokeBusting The Essentials #96: Superman III
#96 Superman III
The First Intentionally “Funny” Superman
First and foremost, I apologise for the slight delay in this review. Life events (including a rather annoying change of flight plans) got in the way. However, we’re here now to discuss Superman 3, the one that tried new things and couldn’t quiiiiite stick the landing. Does that mean it was a bad film? Let’s delve right into that, shall we?
This film was my second ever Superman film. Full transparency, to date I have seen (though not in this order) 1-3, Returns and Man Of Steel. I’ve seen Justice League too, but let’s leave that alone for now. This film was one of the two that stuck with me after watching it and it did so due to one scene, which I will get to later. However, I recall enjoying it enough when I was younger that it kept my interest. On this rewatch, I found that many of the old-school cliches are there (mostly limitations of the time, but some were just what you did back then in these types of films), the villains were kinda lesser copies of Luthor and the like and they managed to water down Richard Pryor. Does this make it a film that held up well? No. However…
I would argue that you shouldn’t worry about that. Yes, there’s cliches but those cliches are only there because this film was one of those that laid the foundations that became the cliches. The villains were effectively Luthor 1.5 (plus some eye candy, because reasons), but that actually lets them have fun because you know exactly what they are. There’s no need for any real development, there’s no attempt at fleshing them out. There’s only “I’m clearly evil and want to rule the world” followed by “Curses! It’s Superman!” followed by “I’ve beaten him!” until finally “Oh, no I didn’t.”. Everything else is just the filmmakers trying something new, injecting humour and different scenarios into a well-used machine. I actually admire them for that. And there’s not much else you can take from the world that is presented other than it being a real product of the time. We don’t see much of the world, only Metropolis (or a few buildings in it), a couple of disaster sites, a scrapyard and the people. You’ve got a hero, many, MANY bystanders, some villains and a “love interest”. So, to get a better grip on how this film fared, let’s look at the characters themselves.
This version of Superman is what you’d expect. He’s nice he’s clean cut and he’s got random powers (I don’t care how hard you blow, you cannot get every single drop of oil back into a tanker. And furthermore, how the hell did it not explode when he sealed it?). But here’s where the filmmakers decided to take a risk. They made Superman selfish, grumpy, brooding. Basically, they turned him human for a while. And it actually works well. Really well. They use a slight colour shift in his suit to help with this too (unless my copy was just messed up) by having his suit be a few shades darker blue while under the influence of the MacGuffin, fake Kryptonite, until he ends up defeating himself. The final showdown with himself was a little boring, but I think that’s more to do with my having seen it before than anything else. So yeah, all in all they did quite well here!
- Lois Lane / Lana Lang
I’ve lumped these two together because they’re basically the same character. A LL for Clark to pine for and a distraction for Superman. Lois vanishes for 98% of the film due to a trip to Barbados (holding up some swimwear that probably had many people wishing we could simply follow her instead of Clark for this film) that feels pretty random. But don’t worry, we have another fairly thin woman who’s Clark’s age and happens to be nearby. Despite them spending so much time together in the film, the problem with Lana is that she felt like exactly what she was: a stand-in for Lois. The end of the film basically has what should feel like a shoulder-shrug, look to camera from Clark as the two meet, but ends up feeling like “Oh, I guess that whole thing didn’t really matter” as there’s zero resolution and you can easily surmise that Lana will be nowhere to be seen in any future films (She isn’t). To be honest, I feel like this film didn’t need her.
- Ross + Vera Webster
As I said before, these guys are basically Luthor 1.5, just without the intellect. Imagine any bad guy who wants to make loads of money and doesn’t care who gets hurt. Well done, you’ve imagined these two. And as I said earlier, I don’t think that’s a bad thing for this film. There’s no time spent on character development, no time spent on backstory, no time wasted on trying to understand them. We see them enjoying a few bad news stories, we see them scheme to beat Superman and we see them almost win. There you go, Superman villain 101 achieved. However, that lets you do anything you want to them and we don’t care. The sister (the joke is that she’s mean and ugly, yay) gets turned into a cyborg by a super-computer. And we basically go “Huh. that sucks for her” and then just wonder what Superman was doing flying away at that time. Effectively you have the perfect foils and they perform their roles to a T. So not good, not bad, simply there.
- Lorelei Ambrosia
Ok, first things first. I had NO idea who played this person until I looked up the cast after the film. So, in case you don’t know, she was played by a comedian from New Zealand who was well known in England for Not The Nine O’Clock News and also for being married to Billy Connolly. So yeah, that surprised me! Secondly, this character is one of the first that I can recall actually being a well written female character in a superhero film. Well, about 90% well written. It kinda goes away at the VERY end of the film after she’s lifted by a random telekinetic ball thing, which I promise makes sense. But anyway, she’s actually smarter than the other two villains and does very well at hiding it. She uses her looks to get whatever she wants and fools everyone until the end. I really do think it’s a well made character that could have been a good call to come back in the sequel in some way. And who knows, she might have been an inspiration for other filmmakers down the line to include more nuanced female characters!
- August “Gus” Gorman
Yep. They took Richard Pryor, a legendary blue comedian, and asked him to do comedy in a PG film. Anyone who’s seen him in stuff like See No Evil, Hear No Evil will know just how silly that is to ask. And yet, he managed to do well. Not great, as any real frustration rants were going to be dialed down to 2, but good enough. And really, it’s just fun to see someone actually act the most like a real person in the entire franchise. This guy just wants to make some money. He does, but ends up being blackmailed into this ridiculous scheme that he has to go along with. So he does, as best he can, until he realises what the ultimate goal is. He’s got the best arc of the entire film and I actually was rooting for him. So yeah, way to go Mr Pryor!
As you can tell, I did enjoy this film. It’s clunky in places, it’s loaded with what we now know as cliches but were actually fairly new and interesting at the time, and has a real need for more character depth. However, it’s still a fun Superman film. Oh yeah, one more thing…
The Cyborg Scene
This scene messed with my head as a kid. Bear in mind that I didn’t catch Doctor Who until the 2005 reboot, so Cybermen were a total unknown to me. For some reason, the act of total transformation into an external component of a computer was actually a little off-putting to me as a kid. And watching it back now, I still had a slight twinge as the sister’s voice gets cut off and the eyes opened. Now, the actual applying of the components are hockey as anything (imagine placing a fork on a thumb and a cheese grater on an arm, you’ve got the basic gist) and it’s totally undone by the end. But still, it’s actually a moment that was surprising to me as a kid and actually was VERY well done. Kudos to the filmmakers!
Ok, time for Mr Bubbawheat to give his two cents. Over to you, my very own Mr Webster!
When I first started this website the very first movies that I watched and reviewed were the first four Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. I think that it was the last time that I’ve seen this film. While the first two Superman films were pretty great, this was the first one that didn’t have any input from Richard Donner and was completely taken over by Richard Lester and his comedic touch. Due to the change in director, Gene Hackman refused to return and Margot Kidder was only in the film for about five minutes and was replaced with Annette O’Toole’s Lana Lang. Lester’s comedy starts straight from the opening scene with Richard Pryor in an unemployment office followed by a comedy of errors with a series of pratfalls and other physical comedy. Later on in the movie there were a couple potential action scenes where one was mostly replaced with Richard Pryor describing the series of events and another replaced with video game style graphics. Lex Luthor was also replaced with a Lex Luthor-esque villain played by Robert Vaughn. Everything in general felt cheaper than the first two films and Richard Pryor felt like he was basically the second lead.
As far as its importance within superhero cinema history, this was the start of the downfall of the Superman franchise. After the first two Superman films were successful grossing a combined $235M, this film dropped quite a bit down to only $60M. It was still considered a financial success at the time with its $30M budget, but still a big dropoff from the first two combined with very poor critical reception. But this film also has one significant element in it when Pryor doses Superman with a chunk of black tar Kryptonite and turns him evil. Or more technically, turns him into an all around jerk until he battles himself as Clark Kent in a big junkyard fight scene. Jerk Superman doesn’t really do anything evil, he just acts like a sleaze toward Lana Lang, straightens out the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and gets drunk flicking peanuts to break bottles in a bar. This was also the first movie where Christopher Reeve started having a more creative role in the Superman movies, something that would continue in the fourth movie where he would get a story by credit.
Alrighty. I’m back and it’s time for our 3 questions. And heeeeeeeere they are:
1) Would I recommend this film to others?
2) Does it deserve to be on this list?
3) How do I rank the films thus far?
And in numerical order, here we go:
1) Yes. Totally. This film, despite any flaws, has a defined place in the Superman canon and needs to be seen by anyone who desires to see a Superman film!
2) Yes. Again, there’s a lot of cliches that are found in this type of film. And the reason is that they originated around this time and from these films. So watch the original, get a sense for the time and see why they’re there. And if only for that, it does deserve a spot on the list.
3) Well, this took some thinking. As always, I try to focus more on the film’s importance, relevance and overall quality over my personal feelings. However, I feel like they’re fairly well aligned here. So, for all the reasons listed above, the updated rankings are as such:
1) Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
2) Batman: The Killing Joke
3) Superman 3
4) The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
6) Batman & Robin
7) The Amazing Spider-Man
8) BvS: Dawn Of Justice
Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
Well folks, it’s time for us to vanish again into the ether until the next review. And I’m looking forward to it, since it’s the first MCU film to drop in our series and the first film that I’ve already reviewed on my podcast (Shameless plug: The BlokeBusters Podcast!). So, until that time, make sure to keep that tar out of your Kryptonite lumps. You never know what will happen…
BlokeBusting The Essentials #47: The Killing Joke
#47: The Killing Joke
The Day The Clown Died?
We’re back and ready to review another superhero film. And we’ve already covered 3 Bat-related movies, so naturally we’re on to another one! But this one is the first animated film we’ve covered, so let’s see if it holds up to the others (not a particularly high bar, but still)! And this, more than any we’ve covered so far, will have SPOILERS. So fair warning.
I knew a bit about this story before I hit play. I’ve gained a fair bit of comic knowledge through general osmosis, be it from friends or the inter-webs. So I came into this film already knowing the ending. I also know that the backstory that we get for The Joker in this film has been one of many woven throughout the years, and as such is not definitive canon. However, for the critique of this film, we shall assume that what we were shown is what the directors intended to be the truth for their characters. So, let’s see what’s what.Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting The Essentials: #97: The Death Of The Incredible Hulk
#97: The Death Of The Incredible Hulk
Who The Hell Is Dave?
Ok guys, we’ve covered 2 Batmans, a Supergirl, Spider-Man and a singing Bad Guy. Now, earlier than you’d think, we’re covering a Hulk film. Which is interesting because not only does Hulk tend to get forgotten about when it comes to Superhero films, it’s very hard to actually get him done right. There’s a few variants of his origin story, there’s various ways you can show his powers and there’s no real definitive rulings on EXACTLY what he can or can’t do. So, how does this one fare? Let’s find out.
This film is the third in a trilogy of films made from a series from the 70’s and 80’s. This came out in 1990 (more on that later), and was the last outing for Bill and Lou as Banner/Hulk. It is also, and I wish I wasn’t joking here, the only time I’ve ever watched anything related to the TV show. I’ve seen the odd clip (as in 1 or 2) and maybe the intro? But this was a totally cold watch for me. And as such, I had some questions. But I will get to that in due time. For now, let’s cover the cast.Read the rest of this entry
BlokeBusting The Essentials #48: Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
#48: Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
We’re Waiting For The Hammer To Fall!
Yes folks, you read that right. We’re covering a “film”in the loosest sense of the term. But hey, I’m always up for a re-watch of this one! So, why not push all arguments about whether this should be here until the end and simply enjoy the content for a while.
This was something that I heard about randomly. I honestly can’t recall where I read about it, but it launched just as I was finishing my time at University in the UK, so let’s assume that I ended up finding out about it through my friends there. As can be easily figured out, I am a big fan of meta-humour done right. And this does it really well. The tired tropes, the larger-than-life characters and the decision to follow the “villain” on his path to ultimate victory were all very much appreciated and enjoyed. I’m also a big fan of all three of the main cast members in this, so that really helps. (Interesting side-note; It’s really fun to re-watch this after having finished A Series Of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. Man NPH is just awesome at this stuff!) But how does it hold up? Is it just as good as I remembered? Let’s dive in and find out.