Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Battle of Two Comic Books (on Screen)

Helllllllo all my readers – you thought I’d died, didn’t you? No worries. I am the first to admit that I am a completely sporadic blogger, prone to long hiatuses and silence should I be terribly busy, distracted, or simply not have much to say. But I’ve had some time to think the past few weeks, so I have a couple gems to kick out over the next couple days. The first will be my pro/con rundown of two major comic book films in the past month – Thor and X-Men First Class.

Now for those who don’t regularly follow Popademic, you should know that I am a comic book lover at heart – but I’m not really a comic book reader. How does that work? Well, as a media scholar, my interest in comic books is pretty restricted to how they are manipulated from print into mediated stories (via TV or film, which are more my specialty than print). So, that being said, here’s my take on two comic book blockbusters of the summer so far:

THOR (Pros & Cons)

PRO – It was really pretty. Loved the CGI imaginary worlds.
PRO – Chris Hemsworth & Natalie Portman. Eye-candy galore and super cute rapport. As a bonus, Anthony Hopkins didn’t totally suck. Liked seeing Stellan Skarsgård in something akin to his Good Will Hunting role, with a little less arrogance.
PRO – Some fun humor and quippy one-liners (as a result of Kenneth Branagh directing?)

CON – I was frequently bored. This is never a good thing for your film.
CON – The entire cast of supporting characters was under-developed and boring. In fact, I’m positive in the comic book Thor MUST be on Earth WAY longer than it seems like it takes in the film, because the whole romantic relationship with Natalie Portman takes all of a hot minute before he’s sent back home.
CON – As a counterbalance to the previous pro, the script as a whole pretty much sucked. Good actors saved some terrible dialogue from being generally abhorrent.

X-Men First Class (Pros & Cons)

PRO – I was mostly never bored. There’s one part (I won’t spoil it) that had me really bored. It had to do with the junior recruits.
PRO – I am a BIG fan of comic book films that tease out interesting and complicated relationships between men. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender did an amazing job here keeping me glued to the screen.
PRO – Kevin Bacon was a FABULOUS bad guy! Really hit that line between crazy/evil/deranged yet thinks he’s rational quite well. And January Jones was pretty intense (and hot) too.
PRO – LOVED the cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

CON – The kiddies. Most of them couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag.
CON – Plot holes…like a lot of them. Of course, I empathize with the fact that when you have to write Prof. X, it’s a fine line because really he could totally do just about anything he wants, but the film made him seem weak in ways I didn’t appreciate as an X-Men fan. Also, silly things like – we dropped the sonar kid in the water and never got him back but 20 minutes later he flies out of the water? How does that work exactly since in order for him to fly before he had to be pushed off a building? Or really, if you want to go there, why is Kevin Bacon even bothering with this stupid plan when really he could just absorb the nuclear bomb energy and wipe out the world – which is what he clearly wants to do, yet, in a convoluted fashion he waits for humans to do it? The same humans he’s anxious to annihilate?
CON – Whoever was on the Beast’s makeup team should have been fired. That weird Planet of the Apes in blue crap was so awful I audibly gasped in the theatre. And I was not alone. Two comic book nerds were with me and were like, “dude, that is UNCOOL.”

So there you have it. I’ll be interested to see what the rest of the summer comic book line-up has in store.

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