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Look Ma, I made it!
3.29.2002 by Scott, every Thursday.

I’m back and glad to be here. First things first, I love each and every one of you who sends me some positive fan mail, either to my tangmonkey.com address, or using the cool feedback tool under each column. That being said, if you send me a message anonymously and ask me to get back to you, well, you see how that might just not work. I don’t mean to sound too critical, it’s just that I don’t want to seem rude for not getting back to anyone. I just don’t have any way of finding out who the anonymous senders are. Really. We meant it when we said anonymous.

Moving right along, (footloose and fancy free) my week has been a roller coaster of feeling, from crappy to good to bloated. (Oh yeah, happy Passover and Easter to everyone!) I went to my second ever Passover dinner Wednesday, and am only now able to walk again; there was so much food. So much flat food. But it was good, and my girlfriend’s family was nice enough to lend me a yarmulke, and to let me take it off after the prayers were over and the meal began, as I had a lot of difficulty keeping it on.

Enough about me, on to what you all want to hear about, comics. This week I’ll expose you to some more familiar ground, comic book properties and Hollywood. For decades now, comic heroes have transcended media, and appeared on the silver screen. We’ll take a look at some of the great, and some of the not so great, movies starring comic book characters.

Superman - 1978 – Dir. Richard Donner – This movie, starring Christopher Reeves as Superman, along with Margot “I’m a little Wacky” Kidder as Lois Lane and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, rocked. So much so that it opened the door for all the super hero movies to come after it. Reeves does a good job as both the bumbling Clark Kent and the macho-in-spandex Superman. And even though Lois is tossing around a little too much innuendo for my tastes, it appeals to all the ages. Watching it again, I really got into it, and the effects are pretty cool. It spawned three sequels, the others are okay, except number four, which was akin to poo, along with a pseudo-spin-off movie, Supergirl, which tried really to hard to be mature. But this one stands out, and is worth checking out. I give it three under-roos!

Batman – 1989 – Dir. Tim Burton – Cool and gothic, Burton’s vision of Batman and Gotham City borrows from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, and Michael Keaton as Bats was an odd, but effective casting. Jack Nicholson comes through as the Joker, and other stars like Jack Palance, Kim Basinger, and Billy Dee Williams (That’s right! Lando!) create a toy and tee-shirt empire with this flick. It launches a series of sequels, like Superman, and like Superman, the fourth one was awful. Along with some bizarre inconstancies (three different actors play Batman over the series, Harvey Dent turns white) the others just can match this picture’s intensity. It gets three and a half under-roos!

The Punisher – 1989 – Dir. Mark Goldblatt – Counting on the star power of Louis Gossett Jr. and the classical acting skills of Dolph Lundgren was probably a bad idea in the making of this film. While it is full of guns and Mafia types, it falls short by using too many close-ups of Gossett Jr. looking pained. The worst scene in this movie is when Lundgren spends 5 minutes shooting casino tables and slot machines with a huge machine gun. It rates one and a half under-roos.

Captain America – 1992 – Dir. Albert Pyun – What Marvel was thinking when they let their flagship character get into this sorry film, I’ll never know. You’ll just have to see this for yourself. The Trailer tells it all. No under-roos here.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – 1993 – Dir. Bruce W. Timm and Erik Radomski – Based on the wildly popular Batman animated series, this animated movie actually holds a decent story with a pretty good mystery. Voice actors Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and Mark Hamill (from Star Wars fame!) from the regular T.V. series join Dana Delany, Abe Vigoda, Marilu Henner, and Stacy Keach in this slick and fine movie. It rates three under-roos from me, a lot of which on the cool rating for the fight sequences.

Blade – 1998 – Dir. Stephen Norrington – Wesley Snipes as a bad tempered half vampire vampire-slayer. What could be wrong with that? Low and plot but high on tempo, this movie begins a step in the right direction for Marvel properties in film. Stephen Dorff is pretty cool as the nemesis, Deacon Frost, but about halfway through, the movie looses some steam, and the whole thing with Blade being special and calling him the daywalker seemed meaningless when Frost stands in the sunlight wearing sunscreen. It gets a two under-roos.

X-Men – 2000 – Dir. Bryan Singer – Marvel makes up for some pretty terrible movies again, a debt that may never truly be repaid after Captain America, with this movie. A good cast led by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, along with Oscar winner Halle Berry, and new comer Hugh Jackman, along with a good story and cool special effects land this one three and a half under-roos. Would have been higher too if it weren’t for those S&M leather outfits.

And coming up it’s looking to be the decade of the hero movie. Blade 2 is out and doing okay, Spider-Man by Sam Raimi is released this summer, and along with projects like X-Men 2, The Hulk, Batman: Year One, and Daredevil all in pre-production, you’ll be able to see your faves take on all comers for a few years to come.

Look forward to next week’s column, an interview with Marvel’s Chris Giarrusso!

Scott MacIver

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