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Look, Up in the Sky

Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman 2006

I just recently mentioned that many of these comic book documentaries all felt the same, with plenty of comic book illustrations and talking head interviews with artists and writers. This one is actually quite a notable step up and part of that comes with the pedigree. At least in part, it was created to tie in with Superman Returns, which brought about plenty of Superman nostalgia as it was basically created as a sequel to Superman II. It also helped bring about the Richard Donner cut of that movie, and as a result, this has a lot of star power in terms of its interviews. It also has a large amount of varying media depictions of Superman starting from the early radio programs all the way up through Smallville and Superman Returns. But similar to my recent viewing of the Shazam DC Spotlight, this didn’t feel like it was just a promotional vehicle for Superman Returns, it was a full fledged Superman documentary that gave equal weight to the new movie as it did every other part of Superman’s history. And it did such with a fair amount of interesting and entertaining information.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #43: Captain America: The First Avenger

#43: Captain America: The First Avenger

Or

Ice, Ice, Nazi!

A film by Marvel featuring an actor who previously played a Marvel character in a totally different role? That’s so crazy it just might work…

First Impressions

So this film was originally one that I didn’t enjoy much. Now I liked the comedy, I found the premise fun but it just didn’t stick with me and didn’t grip me the same way the other MCU films of the time did. And now, having seen Endgame and seen the ultimate arc of all the characters involved, it’s time to revisit and re-review. Let’s see how it holds up…

The Characters

For the sake of all our sanity, I will be focusing on who I feel are really worth mentioning from the film.

  • Steve Rogers/Captain AmericaChris Evans

    In case you all forgot, Mr Evans originally starred in the two Fantastic Four films from the mid 2000’s. And he wasn’t bad. He didn’t come off as great, but that might have had more to do with the script (more on that down the line). So when Marvel announced that they’d picked him to play The First Avenger, we all gave a collective “NANI!!!” in response. And in this film, he’s good. You can see the rough edges to his character and he does a great job of being the boy who just wants to help fight the war, even when the government just says “Put on a suit and look pretty!”. And with hindsight, this portrayal clearly had notes from a company that really could see the big picture. There’s moments that seemed so throw away but end up being the seeds of a big moment down the line. And the fact that there wasn’t a lantern hanging on them was a big feather in his “Cap”! So yeah, “Flame On” Steve, because you were very rightly cast.
  • Peggy Carter – Hayley Atwell

    Just more of this. More and more please. The fact that Agent Carter got cancelled so early (yes, I consider 2 seasons early) is still astonishing to me. If my daughter grows up to be even remotely like Hayley’s portrayal of Peggy in these films/shows, I will be a very happy father. She’s got style, class, a fiery temper and is more capable than pretty much anyone else at what she does. So yeah. Moving on.
  • Bucky Barnes – Sebastian Stan

    This character felt a little forced for me back then. And, with hindsight and foresight, it’s still a little ham fisted seeing him in this film. I know we accept that him and Steve have been friends forever and that he still only sees Cap as his buddy, but his character really does only seem to exist for Cap to have somebody to lose at the end. Which is kinda odd since he also loses Peggy (technically she loses him, but semantics…), so I still felt like his character needed a little more fleshing out. Now, down the line we see him get WAY more to do, and so this was probably the best way to do it at the time since a longer runtime might have scared people off back then. But still, a bit more Bucky story would be a big improvement for me.
  • Col. Chester Phillips – Tommy Lee Jones

    This guy is funny. It’s like they walked up to Tommy Lee Jones and simply said “You know that role in MIB you had? We want you to do that again but this time even more grumpy and straight-faced!”. Leslie Nielson said that the funniest moments come from acting totally straight in a comedy, and TLJ proves that here. “He’s still skinny.”, “I’m not kissing you”, “If you have something to say, right now’s a perfect time to keep it to yourselves.”. The man can deliver the lines flawlessly. I’m totally serious when I say that he is the funniest character in the film. And I am really glad they got TLJ to play him!

The Setting

If you aren’t aware by now, which would be rather impressive, this film is an alternate WW2 scenario. Steve Rogers is made in a super soldier and then good ‘ol USA kicks some Nazi butt. Except there’s sooooooo much more than that waiting here. There’s so much detail that they squeeze in and so much groundwork set. It really is only on a re-watching after the fact that you can appreciate what they did with this film. And despite the war setting, it really doesn’t feel too much like a full-on war film. So yeah, well done Marvel!

Context Is Key

This film was obviously judged as a mostly stand-alone film when it came out. There were very, VERY few people who knew the scope of what Marvel had in store back then. And obviously we couldn’t see what had been put in front of our eyes until we started getting callbacks. So here’s my suggestion to you:

If you are going to watch these, watch them in order once. Then watch them in order again. After the second viewing, make your decision about the film.

There’s many people I know who don’t enjoy this film when it came out. There’s many I know who LOVED this film, and still do!. I fell into the camp of “Meh” when I first saw it, but I think you can feel where I stand on it by now. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that context matters with this film, as with many of the MCU entries. We can’t judge it by itself because it very much does not stand by itself. And I know that will be a recurring theme in the months to come, so I shall try not to repeat myself too much. “Dormammu!”

Right, let’s see what Bubba has to say before we pass sentence on this film!

I don’t think I had actually seen this since I watched it during the first couple months of this site shortly after going through the all the Superman movies. At the time, I thought it was decent but had a few cliche moments and felt that the Tesseract weapons were a poor excuse for PG-13 violence. This time around I really appreciated it a lot more and loved how much they called back to this original movie as time has gone on and Captain America has appeared in many more films. The friendship with Bucky, the “I can do this all day”, to the relationship with Peggy Carter. Captain America was really fully formed by the end of this movie. He’s evolved through the later movies, but they really hit the core of his character right off the bat. There were still some rough around the edges moments and Red Skull looked great but was lacking as a real threat.

This is the origin of the top tier Phase one character next to Iron Man. Chris Evans has really made the role his own and this is where it all started. It’s the lowest grossing MCU movie aside from the Incredible Hulk with $176M/$370M worldwide and it was the last Phase one movie to come out before the first Avengers. It helped make the Avengers into the cinematic juggernaut, it gave Peggy Carter a spin off series a few years later. It’s a great film with a retro feel to it as director Joe Johnston had cut his teeth on the Rocketeer in the 90’s. And as a hero, Captain America is someone who gets chosen because of his character and made into the hero that he always should have been. Plus, it has Cap punching Hitler in the face.

Nicely done Mr Wheat. And so, with all the subtlety of Cap’s stage punches, let us move to the 3 big questions:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

Ok, in short order…

1) Yep. A great origin story, a fun romp and some fantastic ground work for the series. Next question!

2) Yep. See above!

3) Well, I’m sure you can assume roughly where this is going. So here’s the updated rankings!

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Dr Strange
  5. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  6. Batman: The Killing Joke
  7. Superman 3
  8. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  9. Supergirl
  10. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  11. The Punisher
  12. Batman & Robin
  13. The Amazing Spider-Man
  14. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

Yep, bet that surprised you! Despite all the good about this film, the fact that it does require some outside context to fully appreciate it means that I just can’t give it the top spot. It’s still a lot of fun though!

So stay true to your ideals, keep your friends close and (until next time) always watch out for that little sneaky Hitler creeping up behind you!

DC Spotlight: Shazam!

DC Spotlight: Shazam! 2019

When I went to watch Batman Hush on DC Universe, there was another 2019 title listed right next to it called DC Spotlight: Shazam! I hadn’t heard about this title and when I checked it out, I noticed that it was 52 minutes which qualifies for my definition of feature length, it was a DC Universe Original, and the opening logo made it seem like the first in a possible series of these comic book documentaries. I’ve reviewed a handful of these types of documentaries in the past and it’s becoming more and more difficult just because they are all so similar to each other. They’re all varying degrees of interesting, as this one was, but there’s rarely enough to make it stand out as more than just another comic book documentary.

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Batman: Hush

Batman: Hush 2019

The DC Animated universe continues to deliver animated movies based on some of the most celebrated story arcs across their comics. I had heard about Hush here and there though I never really knew what it was about until I watched it for the first time just the other day. There were plenty of good elements, but there was one big change that I had heard inklings of and didn’t really think worked. This also follows the current animated continuity after Reign of the Superman which had a couple nice moments that connected the stories. It was good, but there were some serious issues the more I thought about this movie. And as there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the identity of Hush, I will be discussing it in full so here’s your spoiler warning.

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Almost Super: Lucy

Almost Super: Lucy 2014

This post is part of my Patreon rewards where each month I allow my patrons to vote on a movie that I will cover. This month’s mini theme was Almost Super and I picked four different films that had some superhero elements to them but I felt like I needed to fully watch them to make the final decision. This is the film that won and as you can tell by the header that I did not think that Lucy counts as a superhero movie. Even though the main character gets super powers of a sort, the majority of the film is more about the explanation of those powers rather than using those powers to become some sort of hero. If you would like to vote in these polls as well as access other rewards, all I ask is for a single dollar a month which would help me out greatly. Simply sign up at my Patreon. As for this movie, I had heard that it was a little on the weird side, but I didn’t realize quite how weird. Though once it finally took a turn towards the action side, it kept on through until the end.

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Avengers of Justice: Farce Wars

Avengers of Justice: Farce Wars 2019

I saw this movie a couple weeks ago at Wal-Mart. It had all the makings of a bad superhero parody movie. The cover had a bunch of the characters including a low rent Joker and wrestler Shawn Michaels painted green with some bad ears to make an ugly looking Yoda knock-off. And just a few days ago I was graced with a $3 credit for Vudu. It just so happened that this movie is available to rent on Vudu for a mere $3.99 so I decided to take to Twitter and ask my followers if I should spend the dollar to rent and review this movie. But I also attracted the attention of one of the screenwriters who offered a joke answer and when I checked out his Twitter profile, I noticed that he had a great sense of humor about this obviously bad parody film and despite his warnings, I decided to rent and watch it. Was it pretty much exactly what I expected? Yes. Did I have at least some fun with it? Yes, but only just.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #93: The Fantastic Four (1994)

#93: The Fantastic Four

Or

The Not-So-Invisible Movie

Ok. Well. Right. Erm…

First Impressions

So this film exists. That’s a thing that happened. I’ll admit that I first heard about this film maybe 10 years ago and I had never once actually considered watching it. I went into this viewing totally blind (outside of my general knowledge of the characters and setting from other sources) and I think I made the right call. So, let’s dive right in.

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Superguy

Superguy: Behind the Cape 2000

This review was partially decided by my fine patrons over at Patreon where each month I post a poll where they decide what movie I review during the latter half of the month. Or in this case, the early part of the next month. If you would like to see more of these, join in for just $1 a month. This movie is one that I found several years ago in a random clearance bin, put it in my DVD collection, and constantly put off watching it until now. Which is honestly a shame because despite the low production value I actually quite enjoyed this mockumentary. The acting and graphics are low budget and the humor is nearly nonexistent, but the world building and discussion surrounding this fictional Superguy was absolutely fascinating to me. It falls somewhere between Superman and Unbreakable with not even one tenth of the budget or talent, but there’s something worthwhile in there.

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Missy and the Maxinator

Missy and the Maxinator: A Hero Will Rise 2009

This is the other movie that I borrowed from my new local library along with Maximum Ride though it’s a complete coincidence that both movies feature a main character with the name Max that’s also a part of the movie’s title. This is an extremely low budget movie that’s filled with what seem to be non-professional teen actors doing a stereotypical teen romance story with some Smallville-esque budding super powers for the main character. The problem is that there’s not much to go on in the story department, the effects are sub-par, and the teen non-actors aren’t up to the challenge of making the story interesting as they deliver their lines in some of the flattest ways possible. I respect the effort, but it was ultimately incredibly dull.

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Maximum Ride

Maximum Ride 2016

I moved relatively recently and with a different address, that comes with a different library and so I did what I typically do when I find a new source of movies: I do a search for “superhero” to see what comes up. And this is one of the movies that came up during that search. Doing a quick judgement call based on the cover and description and it sounded like a young adult novel adaptation trying to be the next X-Men. And it more or less was, although there was more of a focus on the experiment nature of the “Flock”, who I will be referring to as “Angels” because they’re basically just angels with retractable wings, plus some other powers that are barely fleshed out. And while I would call this even less of a superhero movie than the Darkest Minds, it was turned into a manga and even a Marvel comic book series well before being released as a movie. So there’s that. Of course, none of this actually made for a good movie. A superhero movie? Barely. A good movie? No.

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