What’s a supergroup? A ‘supergroup’ is team of individual established heroes who join forces in order to combat a bigger bad guy. On the silver screen, those teams have not had the most illustrious career. A week ago, a little film called ‘The Avengers’ changed that forever. Part Two of my list will examine some of the more prominent films of the checkered road to ‘The Avengers.’
3) Mystery Men
Team Codename: Mystery Men
The Players: Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy), The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), The Spleen (Paul Reubens), Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) and The Sphinx (Wes Studi)
The Mission: When Champion City’s resident superhero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is kidnapped by Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), the city’s fate rests in the hands of seven loser superhero wannabes: the fork-flinging Blue Rajah, the shovel-wielding Shoveler, the posessed bowling ball-hurling Bowler, the flatulent Spleen, the only-when-nobody’s-looking Invisible Boy, the mysterious Sphinx, and the perpetually-angry Mr. Furious.
What They Got Right: Despite a somewhat bloated production and occasional stillborn jokes, the film is pretty funny. Due in no small part to the quirky talented cast, who are all spot on in their respective characters, neuroses and all.
What They Got Wrong: Screenwriter Neil Cuthbert‘s smart screenplay deserved a much more solid B-movie treatment, but for every scene that lands with a thud, there’s two or three that soar.
Synopsis: Mystery Men does a serviceable job of tweaking the superhero genre while still delivering the goods as a big summer movie. This uproariously funny satire deserves credit for its funky, offbeat casting and a genuine sense of satire. The film may have been more successful if given the and the comically gifted performers milk every situation for its full potential. Definitely worth a watch though.
3 out of 5 stars
2) X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Team Codename: Team X
The Players: Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett (Hugh Jackman), Sabretooth/Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), Deadpool/Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), William Stryker (Danny Huston), John Wraith (Will.i.am), Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), Blob/Fred J. Dukes (Kevin Durand), Bradley (Dominic Monaghan), and Gambit/Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch)
The Mission: Two mutant brothers, Logan and Victor, born 200 years ago, suffer childhood trauma and have only each other to depend on. Basically, they’re fighters and killers, living from war to war through U.S. history. In modern times, a U.S. colonel, Stryker, recruits them and other mutants as commandos. Logan quits and becomes a logger, falling in love with a local teacher. When Logan refuses to rejoin Stryker’s crew, the colonel sends the murderous Victor. Logan now wants revenge.
What They Got Right: *Phewww*…You might have to gimme a minute on that one.
What They Got Wrong: The same level of character orgy indulgence usually reserved for video game movies. This ‘kitchen sink’ approach to storytelling tends to give the audience brain freeze as they struggle to keep track of the smorgasbord of cherished characters; as they’re relegated from fully fleshed out individuals to glorified action figures. The last forty minutes of the film felt like a X-Men themed version of ‘Where’s Waldo.’ I still haven’t recovered from the disappointment.
Synopsis: Anyone who is an X-Man or Wolverine fan knows that you cannot tell the story of his origin without treading into Weapon X territory. I was completely fine with that method until I saw the film. Judging by the fact that the film condensed his entire childhood into a pre-opening credits afterthought, it was apparent which direction the studios wanted to take with the character or should I say his Weapon X teammates. (Just for the record, Sabretooth is NOT Wolverine’s brother!) For those of you who really wanted a compelling origin story, by-pass this aggravating exercise in frustration and read the Marvel graphic novel, Origin.
2 out of 5 stars
1) Batman and Robin
Team Codename: Team Gotham (just kidding, just the Bat-family)
The Players: Batman/Bruce Wayne (George Clooney), Robin/Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), Batgirl/Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone)
The Mission: There’s a new super villain in Gotham City: Mr. Freeze, a former doctor whose blood is laced with cryogenic liquid, he plans to freeze Gotham until he gets the money needed to finish finding the cure for a mysterious disease that has stricken his wife. Second, Poison Ivy, a villainess with luscious lips full of venom, has arrived in Gotham with her hulking servant, Bane, with plans to team up with Freeze and prepare the way for genetically enhanced plants. And finally, Alfred, Batman’s trusted butler, has developed the same disease that Freeze’s wife has. It is in this time of need that a new partner, Batgirl, steps forward to help the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder rid the city of evil once more.
What They Got Right: …………
What They Got Wrong: EVERYTHING! From Batgirl’s unnecessarily revamped origin to the Bat-nipples, this film was a bat-astrophe from start to finish. (See Schumacher, anybody can do a pun)
Synopsis: Batman & Robin is the holy grail of awful comic book flicks. This Joel Schumacher-directed atrocity is perhaps one of the greatest cinematic missteps in the history of show business. From misfire casting to the bordering erotic costume design, B&R eradicated every ounce of darkness from the Dark Knight and replaced it with day-glow neon and nacho cheesy dialogue. Let’s not forget the scenery-chewing performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger as the villainous Mr. Freeze; who was paid $25 million for his troubles.
The film itself was single-handedly responsible for the death of the franchise for nearly a decade. While it eventually turned a profit overseas, in the court of public opinion Batman & Robin was DOA with both fans and moviegoers alike. Cause of death? Death by camp.
0 out of 5 stars