For anyone who missed it, here’s the skinny. Basically, what I’m presenting here is my attempt to chart a whole year’s worth of film-watching – something I have wanted to do for some time now. The aim is to post frequently, chronicling every film I watch this year – both offering reviews and setting myself the ultimate goal of watching (and writing about) as many films as humanly possible.
I don’t know what was going on wherever they organise the TV listings when January 2nd was on the agenda, but by some odd coincidence, at one point during the afternoon Robert Downey Jr was appearing as Tony Stark in two separate films at the same bloody time. In honour of such a momentous occasion, I Sky Plused both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk to watch today, as well as the third superhero film screened the same day- The Incredibles. Pretty good cross-section of how to make superhero (or post-superhero) movies for today then…
Film #5 Iron Man
The film that rescued the Superhero movie, and proved to studios that wider audiences were still willing to put their hand in their pocket to watch comic book movies again after some uninspiring additions to the genre. The film managed the feat thanks to the combination of perfect casting (could anyone else ever have even been considered for Tony Stark?!) and Jon Favreau’s impeccable eye for a good story. Not as showy as the inferior sequel, Iron Man is the perfect blend of comic book hyperbole and good old fashioned relatable story-lines, with as much charm and charisma as Downey Jr himself.
I feel sure now that the strength of the eventual Avengers project will lie squarely at the red and gold feet of Mr Stark.
Film #6 The Incredible Hulk
Did Ed Norton really deserve the back-lash that came after this attempt to reclaim one of the comic book properties with the most filmic potential following Ang Lee’s damp, angsty offering that preceded it? Probably not. Norton’s version (not directed by him, but allegedly under his control) was at least a comic book movie- in comparison to Ang Lee’s straight movie coincidentally featuring the Hulk- and the high-octane thrills are definitely well handled.
Sadly, the film isn’t particularly memorable (Lee’s at least will be remembered as a certain curiosity), and is rather hampered by something that few casting directors appear to have realised- namely that Tim Roth seems to have forgotten how to act. Go now and watch an episode of Lie To Me – what exactly does he think he’s doing there? It’s all terribly tragic since he was one of the greatest talents us Brits had at one point, but somewhere around Planet of the Apes he appears to have gone strangely array, taking a few too many tips from the Malcolm McDowell school of over-acting/self-indulgence/catastrophic talent implosion.
Film #7 The Incredibles
Trust Pixar to show us how to make the perfect superhero film. In all honesty, it’s a post-superhero movie, a particular product of the way comic books have been trending over the past couple of years (trust our modern culture to actively choose to try and normalise superheroes through registration and annihilation story arcs!), and the perfect recreation of the 1950s and 60s vision of a perfect future juxtaposed with the grim reality of mundane modernity works incredibly well as a comment on the dichotomy of superhero existence. The Incredibles also features the best voice-over work of all of the Pixar lot, with perfect performances from Craig T Nelson and Holly Hunter in the leads- not only instantly identifiable voices, but entirely fitting with the idea that each member of the Parr family is meant as archetypal of the family dynamic (both actors’ voices are perfectly parental).
Way things are panning out, I’m going to have to make a concentrated effort to fit in as many seminal movie choices as possible, and stop relying on terrestrial television!