Movie 3 of the comic book movie summer and things are a pretty mixed bag.
Thor was a pretty decent film, exciting and fun. (reviewed May 17th) Pretty much exactly what I was hoping for and expecting. It will likely finish its first run domestic showing with around $180 million, with overseas figures nearing double that, and it has yet to open n Japan.
X-Men: First Class was an even better film (reviewed June 5th) that has been very well reviewed and has managed $123 million in under half the time that Thor has been in release and will likely reach $200 million domestically and is still seen as a financial disappointment by the studio.
This is all bunk of course. The saturation of the market is killing these films and we will see a serious falloff in both the numbers of these films released and the total box office dollars they generate.
And then there is Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong. There is no nice way to say this other than, the film is not much to talk about. The lead roles are all well cast, and if they manage to put out a sequel, I look forward to Mr Strong really being able to cut loose. The smaller supporting roles are all a bit obvious. Nobody really does a bad job, there are just no standouts. There is some fan service, but not all that much. The mention of Sapphire (as in Star-Sapphire) and the appearance of the yellow lanterns (sort of) and even a very quick look at some of the other lanterns. While seeing Kilowog in action is fun, he has been done better in all of his cartoon appearances so far.
No, the real issue here, as with most of the comic books films, is dilution. Be it the dilution of the fan interest or dilution of the pool of worthy characters, these films are getting tired very quickly.
DC/Warners have completely failed in making a real splash with any of their properties with the obvious exception of the current Batman cycle. Superman Returns, while not awful, was not what we all hoped it would be. Marvel has fared mostly better, but only the X-Men and Spider-man franchises look to have any life in them, and I really don’t think there are all that many fans looking forward to the Spidey reboot. There is also no benefit to these films when they throw everything but the kitchen sink at the viewer. How many bad guys are really needed in these? Some of these movies are throwing 3 or 4 at you. All of the 3 recent releases has 2 each, an A and a B villan. There seems to be this need in Hollywood to cram everything they can down our throats in the hope that we will find something we like, when all we really want is a good movie starring characters we love.
With The Avengers next summer promising to be quite the spectacle, I have only the thought that Joss Whedon is directing to keep me hopeful. Depending on the rumors and posts, this film could be pretty crowded with far to many bad guys and would-be world beaters to keep track of.
So here is my plea to Hollywood…Please just make these movies good. Don’t try to blow us out of the water or dazzle us with stunt casting. Don’t try to spend as little effort on the script as possible in an effort to make a date. Don’t try to fill our theaters with the biggest and most splashy characters. Give the fans and the general public a good movie and we will fill the seats. Ryan Reynolds was good, but there are at least a dozen other out there that could have been just as good. The script was pretty lackluster, but boy did the space scenes look good. Green Lantern is a good character, but there are piles of great smaller ones that would likely make for a better film. Dr. Strange has been talked up lately, and while I don’t care for the guy in the books, I bet he would be great in a small slightly spooky movie!
Hollywood, we love our comics, but even the most die-hard of fans will not keep coming in quantities sufficient to cover the cost of these overblown monstrosities.