Top 10 Superhero Movies of All Time: A Bonus List

Since July is my birthday month, I have decided to give all of you the gift of an extra list.  Usual rules apply…

To the Bat-List, Robin:

10.  Sky High (2005)

A Disney movie targeted at kids, but a fun ride.  Never takes itself too seriously, but keeps all of the rules in place that it sets up.  Imaginative with great supporting actor stars.  Sit back and have fun…

9.  Batman (1966)

Yes it is cheesy and campy, but we all secretly love it.  Besides, it mirrors the Batman of the comic books of that timeframe.

8.  Batman (1989)

Tim Burton did a great job with this version.  When I was originally composing this list, I thought I would have it in the top 5.  Again, it reflects the mood of the comics at the time…

7.  The Rocketeer (1991)

A great period piece.  Visually grand and fun.

6.  Iron-Man (2008)

This one is the fun, bright movie of 2008.  Robert Downey, Jr., did a great job as Tony Stark.

5.  The Dark Knight (2008)

Phenomenal movie.  Easily one of the best of all time.  Just could not beat out some of my other favorites.

4.  The Incredibles (2004)

Pixar let Brad Bird have free reign with this one and the dividends paid off.  A great cartoon take on the hero world with no vested interest in Marvel or DC.

3.  Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

The best animated version of the Caped crusader and the only one released to theaters.  Done before computers became too prevelant in animation.

2.  Superman and Superman II (1978, 1980)

These can not be separated; they are bookends of a story.  The origin story of stories and brilliantly filmed.  The amazing thing is that it was done in the late 70’s, without CGI and other computer aids.

1.  Unbreakable (2000)

Probably the most interesting film made within this genre.  An ordinary man becomes extraordinary and deals with the effects of it.  No costumes, no flash — just simple, good story-telling….

Worst Superhero Movies Made

Time for another list.  Given the release of so many superhero movies this summer, I have decided to make this month’s list about the worst superhero movies released to the big screen.  Not included are movies I have not seen or movies released only to TV and video — that means movies like Underdog escaped my wrath…

Run away from the following:

6.  X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Probably the least offensive in this group.  Fox drove this franchise into the ground by not letting Singer complete his vision.  Instead, Singer leaves to do a mediocre Superman movie, and all of the good things the series produced is wiped away.  One can only hope that the Wolverine movie is treated better…

5.  Superman III (1983)

Spaldy is already shaking her head since this is one of her favorite Superman movies.  It does have some enjoyable moments, but overall, it was a big dropoff from what was delivered in the first two Superman movies…

4.  Elektra (2005)

What a waste of actors.  Basically, it wa as if a bunch of executives said, “How can we get Jennifer Garner to wear skin tight clothes for two hours?  Story?  We don’t need no stinking story…”

3.  Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Poor Christopher Reeve — he wanted to make a movie with Superman that showed how we all could be super.  Unfortunately we got a mess of celluloid that is painful to watch…

2.  Zoom (2006)

A Tim Allen vehicle about an aging superhero brought in to train a new team.  Awful, even for kids.

1.  Batman and Robin (1997)

Joel Schumaker, how I loathe thee.  Your destruction of this version of the franchise was complete with the release of this movie.  Bane, one of the greatest print villains, reduced to DUMB SIDE KICK?!??!?!? This is the best example of what happens when a genre-specific movie is made by someone with no understanding or love of the genre is put in charge.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2 months after watching it, I finally deliver the review to you…

Since 1981, every movie that involved a hero trekking through the jungle looking for treasure was billed as “this year’s Raiders” or ”a worthy heir to Indiana Jones.”  Heck, even TV got into the act in 81 with not 1, but two series in that vein (Bring Them Back Alive with Bruce Boxleitner and Tales of the Gold Monkey with Stephen Collins {great show}).  The only franchise that seemed as much fun is The Mummy (minus The Scorpion King — let’s not say anything more about it).

In 1989, Last Crusade was released and was received with mixed feelings.  People loved seeing Indy again, but they also started making remarks about the age (”it’s not the years, sweetheart, it’s the mileage”).  Add to the fact that the final product was not as strong as Raiders and you have a moderately successful swan song that left people glad for the end.

Fast-forward to the late 90’s and rumors started swirling that Lucas, Speilberg, and Ford were looking to make a fourth Indy.  Like many others, I was leary of them dipping back into the well.  After all, if Harrison Ford was deemed “too old” in 1989 to play Indy, what would he be in the 2000’s?  Then it took them several tries and years to get a script that all three agreed on, making Ford even older.  Of course, everyone involved tried keeping secrets, but inevitabley, things were leaked or logically figured out.

Now, it is safe to say that I have been pleased with this summer’s reversal of last year’s misery; blockbusters have been delivering as promised.  So, it is with high hopes that I head to the midnight showing of Indy at the AMC Altamonte.  Again, I have my pick of theaters and am able to get a pretty good seat.  Very few trailers, but that was ok.

The latest installment finds our hero in the 50’s, after years of hunting down treasure and serving as a spy for the government.  He starts off in trouble and ends up riding out a nuclear explosion in a lead-lined refrigerator.  As the story progresses, we are treated to visual benchmark nods to the other movies and characters: the college, Brody, Jones, Sr…  The reunion of Indy and Marion is nice, but I have to agree with other reviewers that she was not given the meaty role she had in Raiders.  The story moves along at a decent pace towards a satisfying ending.

My biggest issue is the fact that after the waterfall chase, I felt like I had watched the movie just 6 months prior.  That’s right — it felt identical to National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.  Now that could be simply because of both movies using the Mayan culture, but it was like they almost used the same exact sets.

One note I would suggest is to read the book after seeing it — the book makes the story stand out better.

My advice:  go see it on the big screen — enjoy a fond lookback.  To me it was a fitting end, but I have heard rumors of a fifth installment — why can’t we end on a high note?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

No trilogy would be complete without the third movie of the set…

Last Crusade was originally supposed to be a prequel, like Temple of Doom, but was scrapped given that this was supposed to be the final one.  This one shows us what shaped certain characteristics and how much like his Dad he is, despite all efforts.  More importantly, it shows us that not all dreams are meant to be obtained and that we need to be happy with the journey that the quest provides.

While the weakest of the three movies, Last Crusade definitely holds up to multiple viewings.

My advice: watch it and enjoy the antics of the Jones boys…

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Continuing through the trilogy box set, we arrive at the movie that created history by forcing the MPAA to create a fourth level of ratings: PG-13.

Most viewers do not realize that Speilberg chose to buck convention when he made this movie by going back to a time before Raiders.  This ‘prequel’ was to show how Indy became the one we loved in Raiders; it is also why Marion was not around.  The Indy we have here is much more interested in fortune and glory until he encounters a village ravaged by those also seeking fortune and glory.  What follows is a tale that involves delving into other religions and beliefs.  While some of the visuals are not needed from the banquet scene, the dialog that occurs is extremely important.

My advice: worth watching; better than most think…