The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Blog Relay

Two blog relays in a matter of weeks? Yep. This time around the topic at hand is superhero movies, which is only fitting seeing as it was created by Lambcast-regular and host of the FilmWhys podcast (upon which I’ve appeared no less than three times so far) Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights and Movie Nights. The aim of this quest is to determine the best 10 superhero movies of all time. Here are the rules, as defined on Bubbawheat’s original post: Continue reading

Top 10… Movie Houses

Homes. We all have them. Well, homeless people don’t, but I’ve found my readership is made up with less and less of these people every day, so I can safely assume that if you’re reading this then you probably have a home. As I mentioned on a recent Lambcast (with Justin and Dylan, both from Man, I Love Films), I’ve just moved house (or “moved,” as they refer to it). Regular readers will know this has been a long and drawn out process, so I thought it deserving of a Top 10 list devoted to it. Plus, it’s my first actual house (I used to live in a flat, or apartment), so it’s something of a milestone in my life.Pit
Movie houses come in all shapes and sizes. Many films deal with a certain amount of wish fulfillment, and therefore tend to feature exceedingly wealthy characters that can afford lavish palaces in picturesque locations, and these are definitely represented on this list. However, this isn’t a list of the biggest movie houses, these are the ones that I’d most like to live in, kind of, or one’s that represent a certain kind of life. You’ll see what I mean.YodaAs always, I’ve set myself some requirements. Firstly, whilst it doesn’t necessarily have to be a house, it cannot be an apartment, as that could be a whole other list, presumably when I eventually can’t make my mortgage repayments and have to downsize. And that’s about it. No other rules. Nice and simple. Continue reading

Top 10… Movie Superheroes

This week saw the drop of the latest episode of the Lambcast, on which the topic of discussion was Iron Man 3. Not only did I appear on this episode (something I’ve been making a bit of a habit of lately), but I only went and hosted it too! Apparently it didn’t go too badly, so I urge you all to listen to it, but only after going to see the film (which is pretty damn good), as Dylan, Lindsay, Bubbawheat and I got into some fairly heavy spoiler territory. Anyway, as I’ve been doing recently, I’ve tied this week’s Top 10 into the theme of the podcast (as will also be the case for the next two weeks, anticipation-lovers), and this week that means counting down my list of Top 10 Movie Superheroes. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean my favourite superhero movies, although in some respects they do pair up. No, this is more a list of the heroes themselves. I’ve tried to take into account if the character has been played by more than one person, although on occasion this hasn’t always worked in the character’s favour. Also, this is entirely based upon the character’s depiction in cinema, mainly because I’ve never read a comic book (the closest I’ve come are graphic novels Sin City, Preacher and Watchmen), and I’ve done my best to block out every Saturday morning cartoon I ever saw in the otherwise culturally empty void of my so-called childhood. I’ve tried to steer clear of sidekicks too, that’s a whole different list, as is super-villains.

Honourable Mentions:

Thor-007I think the position that’s hardest for me to decide upon each week is the Honourable Mentions. There are generally an awful lot of viable entrants, and this week is no exception, and as such I feel the need to offer the position to be shared once again. This week the honours go to Thor, a surprisingly funny chap (“How dare you attack the son of Odin!”), Hellboy, Big Daddy and, on occasion, Spider-Man. I was tempted to include the Human Torch too, because Chris Evans does a good job with him, but he’s just such a dickish character that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Continue reading

Iron Man 3

Genius billionaire philanthropist with a super-powered flying metal suit Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is not in a good way. Despite being in a loving relationship with his former assistant and the now-CEO of his company Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and with his best friends, Colonel James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and former security guard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) both doing rather well for themselves, Tony is suffering from severe insomnia and having heavy panic attacks. This may have something to do with him recently almost dying after delivering a nuclear bomb through a portal into space, through which aliens were attempting to invade and take over the world, after which he was literally scared back to life by the Hulk screaming at his face. This isn’t helped by the arrival of two figures from Tony’s past – former one night stand Maya (Rebecca Hall) and rejected  scientist Aldritch Killian (Guy Pearce) – and the Mandarin (Ben Kinglsey), a terrorist unleashing multiple bombs onto the American public. When the Mandarin’s latest bomb puts Happy in a coma, Tony is forced to take matters into his own hands. Continue reading

Top 10… Movies With Title Songs

This week’s movie of the week over at the Film Vituperatum is Cabaret. Now, I didn’t submit a review for this because I watched and reviewed it during the period of my blog that I call ‘Reviewing for the Sake of It’ in which it was more important to me to watch, or at least sit through, a playing of the film, and record the briefest of comments upon it, as then I could get to the part I was most looking forward to, crossing it from the 1001 List (or whichever list it came from). a little while ago I decided this was ridiculous and wasn’t benefiting anyone, at which point I decided to try and expand upon my reviews. I’ve made the intention to go back and re-review some of the films I’d not given enough respect to in the past, but there are some films I’d really not rather watch again, and amongst those is Cabaret. If you really want to, you can read my 130-word review here, but personally I wouldn’t recommend it. Anyway, I wanted to do a list that somehow ties in with the movie of the month (this won’t always be the case, but it seems to be working so far). My initial idea was to do my list of Top 10 Worst Movies I’ve Ever Seen, in honour of Liza Minnelli’s cameo in Sex and the City 2 (second place, after Home Alone 4), but instead I opted for movies with songs in them of the same name as the film, as of course the film features Minnelli belting out the titular Cabaret.

Unlisted: Iron Man 2

Yesterday I discussed the near flawlessness that is Iron Man, and whilst all these praises remain for the sequel, it suffered from having far greater levels of hype, anticipation and expectation. It seemed that all who had loved the first couldn’t wait for the second, everyone wanted more, and more was most certainly what they got, especially when it comes to an overabundance of supporting characters, superfluous plot strands and men in metal suits hitting each other. Where the original finale, with Stark and his business partner, Jeff Bridges Obediah Stane, knocking seven bells out of each other in their rocket-propelled armour, seemed fresh, new and exciting, in the sequel we get something similar not once, but three times, as well as two metal men fighting an army of remote-controlled drones and an early confrontation between Stark and new villain Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) at the Monaco Grand Prix. Some of the action set pieces, like the aforementioned meeting, seem a little shoehorned in to put an action beat in place, but are still impressive, and the suiting-up sequences have also been greatly improved upon, especially the Suit-case.
All the supporting characters are back, but Don Cheadle has replaced Terrence Howard (Howard apparently wanted more money than Marvel thought he deserved, and seeing how little he brought to the table in the first film I’m inclined to agree with them) as Rhodes, and all the characters get an expanded upon arc, even director Jon Favreau’s background cameo as driver Hogan gets himself something to do. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is the new Stark Industries CEO, Rhodes wants a suit to take back to the military, Scarlett Johansson is Tony’s new assistant/undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (a welcome addition to the cast, if only for aesthetic reasons), Tony is in talks with Samuel L. Jackson’s one-eyed Nick Fury about his role in the Avengers, weapons rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is desperate to better Stark and bird-obsessed Vanko aims to settle the score regarding his father working with Stark’s dear old Dad (Mad Men’s John Slattery). See, that’s a really long sentence. Far too much to take in. The first film was streamlined, with not much chaff around the wheat, but here there’s just too many strands. I didn’t even mention that the arc reactor keeping Stark alive is also killing him, a completely unnecessary plot point that adds nothing and is resolved by the end, so doesn’t affect the series, but takes up about 20 minutes of screen time. Even with so much going on, the film is 5 minutes shorter than the first, but feels half an hour longer, as boredom sets in from watching metal men punch each other repeatedly.
Even more so than in Iron Man, this feels like a prequel to the Avengers, especially with Johansson’s Black Widow, bigger roles for Nick Fury and Agent Coulson and references to Captain America and Thor. That, and the film’s finale feeling disappointing after a protracted build up leaves this film with all the entertaining pats of the first, but an unfulfilling sequel that doesn’t take them anywhere. Favreau has since dropped out of part three, but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black has stepped up instead. He’s worked with Downey Jr. on one of his best roles to date, so here’s hoping.
Choose life 6/10

Iron Man

Iron Man was the superhero movie we were all waiting for, we just didn’t know it; discovering the missing ingredient from all those that came before it – comedy. Though many that came before it weren’t overly serious, dark or gritty, they still took themselves too seriously, but Iron Man ensures a thick vein of comedy runs right the way through it. Released over 2 months before the masked behemoth and current comic book movie touchstone The Dark Knight, Iron Mancame out of nowhere with an untested star and middling director in Robert Downy Jr, and Jon Favreau. RDJ was still making his comeback after years of exile from Hollywood due to substance abuse, and Favreau’s most mainstream work was Christmas classic Elf, but he wasn’t exactly known for blockbusters, but after the movie’s release both found themselves sitting pretty on the A list.
Stark is such a great creation. By his own admission a “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist,” yet Downey Jr. somehow makes such a character not only likable, but one you’d willingly like to go for a drink with, and not just because he’d not only pick up the tab, but probably already owns the bar. He ably assisted by Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard as his dependable assistant and best friend, and Jeff Bridges is on fine menacing-brow villain mode as Obediah Stane, the business partner of Stark’s deceased father.
Iron Man has an advantage over other superhero stories in that Stark’s story is actually interesting. A twist of fate doesn’t have him bitten by a spider, he isn’t an alien from a distant planet and he isn’t avenging his parent’s death. No, Stark had all of his superpowers before the film even starts. Wealth, intelligence, a sharp with and an immaculate goatee are goals he’s worked towards and achieved; he just needed the push to fit them all together in the form of a titanium-gold alloy flying suit with a rocket launcher and flamethrower, and what greater motivation than a terrorist attack against him, using the very weapons his company created? This means that the villains are also people every can be against – terrorists and the evil corporation heads who supply them.
The best scenes involve the subtle yet inspired gadgetry around Stark’s house, from the Paul Bettany-voiced quasi-butler Jarvis, to the robotic arms that are a little over zealous with the fire extinguisher. The flawless suiting up sequences and Downey Jr. interacting with nothing but a mechanical three clawed appendage aren’t too showy, yet set the film above its rivals.
The only possibly problems are that Howard’s Officer Rhodes is bland, but then who wouldn’t be compared to Stark, and the Stane-is-a-villain story arc is clearly signposted from the get-go, having been given the perfect set-up as the man who took on Stark Industries when it’s CEO passed away, only to be muscled out by some upstart genius, that and his full head with a thick, lustrous beard mean at some point in the near future he’ll be laughing with maniacal glee and threatening the hero’s love interest. Now that the Avengers (sorry, Avengers Assemble) is in place, this film does seem like a bit of a precursor to it, especially the scenes involving Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson, which don’t really add anything here other than some fanboy cheers every time someone says Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, but the scenes don’t detract too much, and can be forgiven as they tie everything up nicely.
Otherwise, the film is pretty much perfect, and remains enjoyable after many viewings.
Choose film 8/10