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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Taken from my review
"Christopher Nolan does the impossible. When no one thought it would ever be possible to create a superhero film that's better than The Dark Knight, Nolan dishes up The Dark Knight Rises. Which is actually better, and therefore the best film in what's definitively the greatest trilogy in the history of cinema. It's a more than worthy conclusion to Nolan's Batman films and it is exactly the conclusion that we dared to hope for. I pity the fool who attempt to reboot or continue these films. Because there is hardly anything that can compare to what Nolan managed to do over these three films. After Joel Schumacher's terrible films, Nolan did indeed resurrect this hero and have now raised the bar for superhero films. The Avengers tried to set a new standard earlier this year. In my opinion, it didn't come anywhere close, but if it did, then surely The Dark Knight Rises have exploded those again. This is the ultimate superhero film.
Nolan is easily one of the most ambitious filmmakers living today and The Dark Knight Rises might just be his most ambitious film so far, at least it is the largest. While being larger doesn't necessarily always mean it's better, that's easily the case here. It's slightly better than The Dark Knight because it is much larger. The spectacle in The Dark Knight Rises is tremendous, gorgeously filmed with amazing special effects (and not overusing CGI). Nolan shows us yet again a very different, but exciting way of showing action. The way he edits the convoluted story by showing different action in different scenes at the same time, and how he still manages to keep the action and suspense trough the entire running time is spectacular. The Dark Knight Rises doesn't just work as a brilliant comic book film, or as an excellent way to conclude a trilogy, it's a brilliant action film as well. I've seen several people complaining that Nolan doesn't manage to direct action very well, but I do think that's just ridiculous. Surely, he doesn't exactly produce the most glorified action sequences, but that's simply because he doesn't need that in his films. He directs action and fight scenes that feels and looks real. There is a fight scene in this film between Batman and Bane. Where Bane breaks Batman's back. It's just wonderful. This is a scene that is almost just simple boxing, but still it is easily one of the greatest fight scenes in cinema. Just because it feels real. It feels like they are actually beating each other!"
The Dark Knight (2008)
With Heath Ledger's amazing portrayal as Batman's arch nemesis, The Joker, at the core, The Dark Knight is an incredibly rich and entertaining crime saga. The Dark Knight is not only one of the greatest comic book films of all time, it's among the greatest films ever created. It's an prime example of how you can create a thoughtful, deep, multi-layered action spectacle that outshines crime epics such as Heat, even if the hero is dressed up as a bat.
The action is spectacular, the visuals are jaw-dropping, the performances are equally excellent. The Joker doesn't just end up being a damn good villain in a Batman film, but he ends up being one of the most memorable characters to boast the screen ever. He's a villain that's just as terrifying as he is sadistic. Jack Nicholson may have played his part for laughs, Ledger brings menace to the role. And to be able to witness him going up against the Caped Crusader is film magic.
V for Vendetta (2006)
JOKER is bleak. It's dark and depressing. Brutal and unflinching. Cruel, vile and despicable. And on the surface of it, there's not a glimmer of hope, joy or kindness to be found. Yet it is still uniquely captivating in its uncomfortable nature. A thought-provoking sledgehammer that you simply can't take your eyes from and one that deserves your utmost attention.
Batman Begins (2005)
Not only did this film save the reputation of Batman, but it showed us that it's possible to create a truly dark and gritty superhero film if the right material is present. Gone are all the campy and silly stuff, and instead Nolan brought in some very much welcome realism, darkness and smartness. This combined with a stellar cast and terrific action, and you've got yourself a film that's as entertaining as it is emotionally captivating.
This is also how you reboot a character. Batman Begins is an excellent origins film. It stays mostly true to comics, but takes necessary liberties to create a full rich experience that draws out the true essence of Batman. That's an achievement worth celebrating.
It's actually a bit unfair to compare it to Christopher Nolan's masterful trilogy. Mainly because those films are on a whole other level, but also because they are made in two completely different decades. Tim Burton's version of Batman ain't as pitch black as Nolan's films, but it is still pretty dark compared to other superhero films. And like I've mentioned previously, I prefer dark superhero films. Particularly the anti-hero aspect of Batman. Burton does with great skill manage to create a believable world, but he does never truly abandon the fun side of the comic books. Which are mostly thanks to his creation of Gotham City, but also due to one particular character.
Jack Nicholson is wonderful as The Joker. While I do prefer Heath Ledger's more menacing and terrifying portrayal of Batman's arch nemesis, there is no denying that Nicholson's crackling lunatic is wonderful as well. Michael Keaton is a great Batman, but it is truly The Joker that makes this film as wonderful as it is. I never stops laughing at any of his twisted gags.
Completely out of nowhere, at least for me personally, came SHAZAM! and took me by storm. While I usually like or to some degree enjoy most of the superhero films that comes out, this is perhaps the most fun I've had watching one in quite some time. It's pretty damned good. While most other superhero films are more focused on just punching the bad guy, this film truly embraces the themes of what a hero should be. We truly get to see the lead character rise up as a hero in an emotionally satisfying and fully developed way, while simultaneously bringing home ideas of family value. It's heartwarming stuff and it makes for such a more enjoyable superhero film. I'm also completely digging the corny tone of it. One that's slightly mixed in with director David Sandberg's horror roots. It's great stuff.
Batman Returns (1992)
Like Tim Burton's first film about the Caped Crusader, it does feature some really great, dark, Burton-ish visuals. He is indeed a master at creating a dark, brooding and somewhat macabre atmosphere.
He is also a master at putting together a weird cast and making them fit perfectly. Danny DeVito as the Penguin is an example of a perfectly cast character. That he actually was nominated for a Razzie is just outrageous and shows how ridiculous those awards are. Michelle Pfeiffer is very sexy as Catwoman (all though, I do think Anne Hathaway is much sexier.)
Watchmen is a film that I totally despised the first time I saw, but ended up liking it a lot more the second time. I might like even more if I see it again. Which I plan to do eventually. It's a quite different superhero film, with some rather interesting ideas. Directed by Zack Snyder, it does feature some excellent visuals.
It does also have an interesting mix of characters. The insanely hot(in this film) Malin Akerman in a tight suit, for once. But seriously, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach is in my eyes one of the coolest comic book characters I've witnessed on film. I would watch a franchise with him as the main character.
AQUAMAN is so delightfully cheesy, corny and bonkers that it's impossible to not crack a smile every now and then. It's definitively about 45 - 60 minutes too long, with some unnecessary action scenes and dull moments of exposition adding to that length, but James Wan has nonetheless crafted a film that is truly enjoyable in a solid old-fashioned way.
It's a bit messy in terms of plot, but Wan truly knows how to make each scene truly feel like a great moment - either by playing to his horror roots when he kick-starts an action scene like a jump scare, by his on-the-nose use of music or how he lingers at transitions and moments of emotion (kiss in the middle of a battle with explosions around them for instance). It could easily turn into a disaster, and for some I'm sure it will be, but I found it all to be satisfyingly amusing.
Wonder Woman (2017)
One of the most appreciated things with Wonder Woman is that it truly understands the importance of emotion and character development. This is a film that takes its time in letting us in on the characters. Letting us know and care for them. This gives the film an emotional core that causes the action spectacle and CGI nonsense to have some weight and soul. It's exciting to see Gal Gadot fully transform into Wonder Woman, because we have spent a huge portion of the film getting to know her character.
I do in fact think that the action scenes are the worst part of this film. They are bit too relying on that Zack Snyder-type of slow-motion and it does eventually get a bit too much. The final confrontation is also slightly disappointing as it turns into just one big mess.
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Superman Returns (2006)
I haven't seen this film in many years, so it might drop further down on this list when I see it again, which I plan to do sometimes this years. I remember seeing it without knowing a lot about, so I didn't have any expectations when seeing it. It's enough to say that I remember enjoying it a lot.
But, I've matures since then, so who knows. I might find it bad now, like so many does.
Superman II (1980)
Superman II is slightly better than Superman because it has already gotten the basics and introduction of Superman out of the way. Leaving this film open for full hero vs. villain focus. It's a decently entertaining film.
Naturally, it feels a bit outdated and it's at times incredibly cheesy and corny. But I guess that's a part of the charm. Still, it can't help but feel a bit slow at times, and it's occasionally rather annoying. Lex Luthor has to take the fault for that.
Justice League (2017)
Justice League does have enough cool and fun moments sprinkled out through its two hour long run time for it to be an entertaining film, but overall, Justice League is a disappointing entry in the DCEU.
It's strength lies in the characters. The chemistry between them works, and despite some of them not being as developed as they should have been, the characters work. Particularly Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck have some great moments, while Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa offers some comedic relief. Actors like Amber Heard, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and J.K. Simmons are more or less wasted though.
Justice League is however brought down by ugly visuals and awful CGI. It does actually look unfinished at times. There's also occasionally some sort of tonal crash, this most likely due to parts of the film being reshot following Zack Snyder's departure and Joss Whedon finishing the film. While Whedon's influence shines through in some of the better scenes, it also makes the film tonally inconsistent. It goes from somewhat dark to goofy in a finger snap.
The plot is ridiculously simple and forgettable, with Steppenwolf being a contender for one of the worst villains in superhero history. The action is something taken straight out of a video game and everything is quite simply a mess. Yet, it's enjoyable for what it is. But it should be better.
Extremely outdated. That shouldn't really bother me too much, but when you take into action that there are other, earlier films that still looks today, I'm very bothered by how cheap this film looks today. It's at times entertaining, but that's thanks to a very over-the-top performance from Gene Hackman and that Christopher Reeve match the role of Superman.
But it takes quite some time for Superman to really get started. It's unbelievably slow to begin with. A true patience tester, and that's not something you can do in a superhero film. It needs to grab us from the start, and Superman fails to do that. That, and the ending is awful.
Not as bad as some people on a certain political side would lead you to believe, nor is it as good as people on the other political side claims it to be. It's somewhere in the middle. A film that falls prey to its own structure and inspirations. The last act is enjoyable, with some well-directed action sequences, but the road to get there is pretty dire. Like a mix of DEADPOOL and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it unfortunately lacks the wit and character work of both of them to be fully successful. Employing a lot of flashbacks and narration from Margot Robbie, the film effectively kills all momentum whenever it decides to break the fourth wall and pointlessly tell you something that you didn't need to be told in such a manner. The supporting cast is good, but they're given very little to do and every one of them feels criminally underused. To the point that when they finally team up, you don't fully believe in it. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a potential scene stealer, but her character is so thin that it's barely anything. Ewan McGregor is delivering a gloriously campy performance as the villain, but even he feels underutilized (and he could have used the mask more).
This would be more forgiving if the film fully delivered upon its emancipation of Harley Quinn. Yet somehow I feel like the film can't truly accomplish that without the presence of Joker - and to solely rely on the existence and memory of SUICIDE SQUAD - is quite simply not enough. You need to see her truly break free from him for it to be as powerful and emotionally satisfying as it should be.
That being said, I love the look of the film.
Man of Steel (2013)
So here's the thing with Man of Steel. It's probably a bit too ambitious for its own good. Zack Snyder tries to chew over more than he is capable of. Following the success of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and with Nolan himself producing, Snyder attempts to make his superhero film in the same vein as Nolan. Unfortunately, Snyder doesn't have the same touch of grace and understanding of the human mind as Nolan. More so, it feels like Snyder doesn't fully understand the hero of the film either, making him far too brooding and almost depressed. So despite his best efforts, whatever he attempted to do, doesn't fully translate to the screen.
Yet, Man of Steel is not a bad film. It's a competent one. It got solid performances, great visuals effects, an outstanding score from Hans Zimmer and its poetic feel is actually very soothing (even if its slightly misguided). The final act is a bit of a mess in all of its destruction, but it is nonetheless somewhat entertaining.
A rewatch didn't do this film any favors. To put it simply, it's a mess. It doesn't flow well and it's at times extremely jarring. There are a couple of great ideas in it, but none of them are given the development that is required. Ben Affleck is cool as Batman and the fight against Superman is cool once it finally happens, but the film spends far too much time on setting up Justice League and other side-plots. What's supposed to be the main event is reduced to a side course. There are a couple of attempts at emotion here, that could have worked really well in a more focused film, but unfortunately it is drowned by all the mess.
Zack Snyder is a solid director when it comes to creating a visual spectacle, but with Batman v Superman he fails at crafting a complex and cohesive story that is emotionally engaging and consistently entertaining. Instead he creates a disjointed film that is entertaining at times, but is far too meddled with for it to be properly enjoyed and appreciated.
Green Lantern (2011)
Hal Jordan aka. Green Lantern is actually quite cool. The comic book character, that is. Not Ryan Reynolds. So it was a shame that this film just didn't manage to be good. It's just a decently entertaining film with some good special effects (not the CGI mask).
The films spends most of its time establishing the hero and the universe, but unfortunately, everything is so thinly plotted and generic. This is something we've seen a countless number of times before. Reboot the entire thing.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad is the perfect example of how studio meddling can ruin a film. Batman v Superman was a mess, but at least you could kinda see what they were going for. Suicide Squad is just an awful mess. The first 40 minutes are just poorly paced introduction montages awkwardly put to out-of-place pop songs. The editing and pacing is really bad, and you can see the touches of studio executives all over it. Then once everything is finally set up to go, the film delivers a poorly conceived story with a dull villain and poorly developed characters.
There are a couple of solid moments on their own. Will Smith and Margot Robbie delivers solid performances, and especially Margot Robbie is fun as Harley Quinn. But the film is muddled by murky visuals, a Joker subplot that shouldn't be there, an over-reliance on exposition and an emotional core that doesn't work. It's a wasted opportunity.
Jonah Hex (2010)
I had some decent expectations for Jonah Hex, but it just didn't live up to them. And judging by the hatred it has received, I doubt it met anyone's expectations. Unless they were bad. Because Jonah Hex just ain't an impressive film.
I do believe that a huge problem lies in its length. It's way too short, resulting in a very rushed pace, in which the film favours action set pieces instead of characterization. The film features some cool scenes, but when you don't care about the characters involved in those scenes, everything is rather meaningless. Thankfully, Megan Fox is nice to look at.
Superman and the Mole-Men (1951)
This is something you should only seek out if you're a die hard Superman fan or something in those veins. It's of course very old, and rather silly. But that's probably just how superheroes were back in the days. So, it's silliness is forgiveable.
But this is a film that's not even remotely interesting. But it did make me wonder of how the other, really old superhero films or TV Series are like.
Batman Forever (1995)
We want to forget that Joel Schumacher ever touched Batman, but sadly, he has scared us for the rest of our lives. Everything that could possibly go wrong did almost go wrong with Batman Forever. It's an awful film. The campy, colourful tone of it is disturbing and does not suit Batman at all.
Including Robin was a huge mistake, I just can't stand that character. Particularly not the way he's portrayed here. And I'm puzzled by the casting of Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. That has to be one of the oddest duos ever.
Superman III (1983)
The film that marked the temporarily downfall for Superman, and the one film who turned him into a big joke. Superman III is a terrible film in so many ways, it almost makes the equally bad Batman Forever look good. But alas, it doesn't.
I'm not really familiar with Superman villains, and I do understand that at that time, and with the budget they were on, someone like Doomsday was out of the question. But what they ended up with is beyond ridiculous. Which is the best word to use to summarize up this film: ridiculous.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Batman & Robin is so bad that it's almost good. Almost. Because all the dreadfulness in it outweighs the rather enjoyable Arnold Schwarzenegger ice puns. Seriously, what's up with the villain casting in Schumacher's Batman films? Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. It's unexplainable.
Now, this is just as bad as it can get. Everything is just a mess. The tone is all wrong, the action is dull, he acting is weak, nipples on the Batsuits and Bane is just an overgrown thug. And Batgirl? It's like Robin wasn't enough to fuck things up. Blargh.
The only good thing that can be said about Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is that we're never going to get a worse Superman film. No matter how bad future Superman films are, at least we can say that it wasn't as bad as Superman IV. I find that to be very comforting.
While Superman III was a piece of shit, Superman IV is a bigger, stinker and more vomit-inducing piece of shit. It's corny, cheesy and dumb as hell. The special effects are cheaper than what you can see in old commercials and Nuclear Man has to be the world's most sorry excuse for a villain. Lame, utterly lame.
Ranking the films that are based on DC Comics that I've seen.
Animated films here: DC Comics Animated Films: Bes to Worst
Animated films here: DC Comics Animated Films: Bes to Worst
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