Back in 1990, I can remember watching those Saturday morning cartoons of ours, and coming across an ad for 'Swamp Thing'. It was something I bypassed, and to this day, I have no idea if it was any good. I'm gonna guess probably not, since no one ever talks about it. But unbeknownst to me, there was also a live action series during this time, so for some reason, it was a real "thing" for some people. It even came back last year for the CW.
Well, to be fair, this is based on a DC comic series, so one has to figure it has its audience. To be honest though, I'd probably still have put this on the back burner if it weren't for this month's Wes Craven theme. 'Swamp Thing', from my perspective, seemed like someone threw together Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and in 1990, I was way too busy with my Ninja Turtles to give a damn. I never did bother with "Swamp Thing' until now, but I gotta say, I'm pretty glad I did. Here we have a 1982 comic book film that seems to be a pretty self-aware comedy, and it comes to us from horror legend, Wes Craven, whose previous two films are relatively brutal for their time.
To make a long and complicated story short, botanist, Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise) is on a quest to wipe out world hunger, and is placed under the protection of special agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau). Another scientist named Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) attempts a heist to steal Holland's research, which leads to an accident, turning Holland into the Swamp Thing - an odd blend of plant and human who defends Alice from Arcane and his henchmen, who remain constantly after his research.
Apparently, Craven had a desire here to prove to Hollywood that he could take on something bigger and better than his usual harrowing formula, and much more different. Some similarities can still be seen, as it still dabbles in some horror aspects, and uses its environment as a part of the characters - which was apparently criticized, but I tend to admire it. If you can make the setting as suspenseful as the characters in the setting, you've really got something. 'Last House on the Left' used the family home, 'The Hills Have Eyes' used the desert, and this obviously uses the swamp. Hell, even 'Nightmare on Elm Street' uses 1428 Elm Street.
So how is the film, as a whole? Well, it's bloody weird. This is one of those films that you watch and you don't know how to feel about it. One perspective sees it as so bad it's good, with a bunch of jokes and dialogue that just do not land, but another sees it as a positive message about environment and world issues in general. For me, I just can't see it as anything too deep. I personally find it campy and cheesy in all the right ways. This is a guy in a rubber swamp man suit, and it's about as easy to take seriously as the 1966 Adam West 'Batman' movie.
It's a situation where the stupid and silly Dad jokes are kinda what make it so likable. I therefore can't finish this review without bringing up Jude (Reggie Batts), who, to me, was both the best and lamest part of the film all at once. He's meant to be the comic relief, but the dialogue is often about as funny as a standard knock-knock joke, which in a roundabout way makes it funny. Unfortunately, saying he's what's best about it doesn't give the movie much headway in terms of seeing it as "good". But I think it can easily be seen as one of those guilty pleasure movies that a lot of people can share.
I enjoy that the film seems to embrace its tacky charm, and understands what it is, not trying to be anything more. The style is fairly comparable to 1960's 'Batman', as I mentioned earlier. Thinking about that, 'Swamp Thing' is also a DC property, and in 1982, the best superhero movie was either 'Superman' or 'Superman II', depending on your perspective (I'm a 'Superman' guy). Until Tim Burton's 'Batman' came along, changing the face of comic book movies forever, the cheese was what we not only got, but accepted. So for that, 'Swamp Thing' is a perfectly charming, silly, superhero time capsule. It drags at points, but all in all, not bad for a Wes Craven attempt at a superhero movie. Regardless, a couple of years after this, he created one of the biggest super villains of a generation. So consider this one of the higher steps on his ladder to success.
I decided to end Bad Superhero Month with another made-for-TV flick - this one based on Nick Fury before Sam Jackson started owning the role. Instead, Nick is portrayed by the one and only Hoff (that's David Hasselhoff for any newcomers), and he's a much more gruff and almost Wolverine-like character... who lost his eye by NOT a cat!
The plot is one gigantic cliche. Fury is retired after working with SHIELD, living that country life of solitude. He is approached by Alexander Goodwyn Pierce (Neil Roberts) and his old friend, Val Fontaine (Lisa Rinna) to come back to work to stop Hydra, now being led by Baron Von Strucker's daughter, Andrea (Sandra Hess)
Andrea poses a threat to release something called the Death's Head Virus over Manhattan unless Hydra is paid a hefty ransom of one billion dollars, and it's up to Fury and the other agents of SHIELD to take them down before the launch can happen because it's better than paying up.
Being that this was a made-for-TV movie, these cliches are almost to be expected. Truth be told, it's still kinda fun to watch AS the big cliche that it is. It's the same reason I enjoyed the 'Friday the 13th' remake - it's everything typical of that type of movie. And then we have the Hoff as Nick Fury, which is just as entertaining as it sounds.
There's really not much going on with this movie. It's kinda just a neat thing to watch as something that predates the MCU by about ten years. The funny thing is, I urge everyone to Google what Nick Fury looked like before Sam Jackson came along. Hasselhoff admittedly looks the part, and being that it was 1998, 'Baywatch' was still a thing, so he may have even been able to be taken more seriously back then. But today, the Hoff is one of those celebs who can get a good laugh at himself, and we love him for being so cheesy. This has just turned into a fun thing to see to kill an hour and a half.
I dunno that I'd say this is so bad it's good. It's not quite what 'The Punisher' was on that over the top fun level. This was made for TV, so a lot of the fun comes from the cheesy dialogue and action sequences that don't quite work. One of the funniest things is just watching Fury kick people. For what it is though, it's not that terrible. If nothing else, one could call this a guilty pleasure - but make no mistake, it's still pretty bad. If you can manage to get your hands on it, I'd say it's worth checking out just to see an original Nick Fury at work in all the corniest ways.
Man, talk about a movie that's absolutely entertaining in all the worst ways. This certainly falls under the "so bad it's good" category with a rather hilarious combination of bad dialogue, impossible action sequences, and some of the funniest kills you might ever see. It's a lot more fun if you watch this as a straight up action cliche movie. Just think of Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren) as McBain from 'The Simpsons'.
Of course, Punisher is one of those Marvel heroes along with Spidey, Fantastic Four or Hulk, where we really don't need one of those origin story movies. To be perfectly fair, this actually does manage to pull that off. We get that his family has been killed, that turned him into The Punisher, and he runs around New York, "punishing" the guilty. Here, he's mostly seen as a vigilante with a high body count, and the whole moral aspect of his life's mission ends up being brought into question. In an amazing twist, even though the film's execution is extremely weak and clumsy, they kinda had the right idea about things here.
For the most part, here, Frank's just out for revenge, and his main target is the mob family who murdered his family. Again, we all know how it goes. The big difference is, in the '04 version, Frank worked cleverly and behind the scenes, manipulating his enemies into harming each other, keeping his hands clean. In this, it's just balls to the wall guns blazing, and he might as well be a Terminator with how senseless he is with it. Of course, that's about where it gets hilarious. The overkill in this is actually kinda lovable in a weird way.
Back to the main plot, head mob boss, Gianni Franco (Jeroen Krabbé) plans to unite several mob families, which attracts the attention of Asian crime syndicate, the Yakuza, lead by Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori), who kidnaps the mobsters' children in an effort to make them see reason to the Yakuza taking over the crime scene.
The whole mess makes Frank's friend, Shake (Barry Otto) plead Frank to rescue these kids, trying to show Frank that family exists on either side of good and bad. Shake is perhaps the most interesting character in here, speaking in rhyme all the time for no good reason that comes to mind. I guess he's here to play the moral compass, making sure Frank doesn't get too out of hand (which is hard to say with a straight face).
I mentioned that a lot of the dialogue was funny, but none of it seems to be intentional (save a few scenes that are just straight up cheesy). Although Dolph delivers a lot of these lines, no one made me laugh more than the boss man, himself, Gianni Franco. This is a Dutch dude with a Dutch accent, playing an Italian mob boss, just for the record. It's mostly in his delivery of his lines. It's just impossible to take seriously.
Anyway, if you're on the lookout for one of the best bad superhero movies, I'd say look no further than here. So far, on this list, this is the one that has entertained me the most, and I'd happily watch again and again as I introduce people to its terrible-ness. Just a bit of senseless fun that I might recommend to anyone having a particularly bad day.
Many people out there, including myself, have been unaware of this film's existence until finding some random review of it on the internet. It has gone under the radar since its initial release due to being one of the all time worst superhero adaptations in cinematic history. Once again, this one is definitely "so-bad-it's-good", maybe even more so that 'F4', and that's saying a lot! The difference being that at the very least, 'F4' had some accuracies. 'Captain America' is downright painful in its execution, right down to getting ethnicities completely wrong.
As one would probably guess, this film has a lot to do with Cap's (Matt Salinger) origin, and his big battle with Red Skull (Scott Paulin) the German baddie who for some reason is now Italian here, and, for most of the movie, is covered with plastic surgery. He ends up being one of the all-time worst villain adaptations in comic book movie history. But at the very least, his character is actually kinda funny to watch. Actually, the same goes with Salinger, because the dude is a terrible actor here. Plus, I mean, look at his costume.
And speaking of the costume, that gets me started on 'First Avenger' comparisons, and why that's actually such a good movie. 'First Avenger' gives a clear explanation for his corny costume, in this, he just kinda gets it, and it's even addressed that it lacks camouflage as a military soldier's outfit. 'First Avenger' allows us to get to know and like Steve Rogers as a person, giving leeway as to why he's the perfect candidate for the Super Soldier serum. Here, he's just some guy with Polio who volunteers so he can be somewhat normal again, and it's all done in a matter of minutes. By the time Steve turns into Cap, we don't care what happens to him from here on in because we have n idea who this guy is as a character, save very small details. And guess what? We never really DO get to know him. He's just a meathead throughout this whole thing to the point that it's comical.
At best this is an incredibly basic and poorly adapted superhero story of good guy vs bad guy before bad guy hurts too many people. Red Skull's motivation here is disagreement on environmental policies that the President (Ronny Cox) has put in place. Cap then has to rescue a kidnapped president. Again, very basic plot, but it's the overall execution that will have people laughing at this movie - and not in a way it's meant to be laughed at.
Indeed, this is most definitely on the lowest side of superhero movies that I've seen. It still has that "so-bad-it's-good" quality to it, and that at least gives it that rewatchability that you get from such terrible titles. But make no mistake, this is a movie to be passed around in the same way 'Troll 2' or 'The Room' is. You wanna introduce people to it because it's so bad.
I'm one of those seemingly few fans of Captain America's films and overall character arch in the MCU (seriously, I know a LOT of people who show Cap a lot of hate). To me, he's the moral compass, voice of reason, and the character who wears the title of "hero" on his sleeve more than any other hero in the MCU. I also enjoy his "underdog" story, as I, myself, wear THAT title on my own sleeve. He got to be the character we know now through several stories of solid development, most of which was told in his intro film - 'First Avenger'. This film will most definitely make one appreciate Cap's MCU films on the same level I do, because this offers nothing! It's just a goofy attempt from a director who seemingly only knew the source material incredibly loosely. As in the names of the characters, the look of the suit and... not much more.
Here we have a film with a bit of an interesting history. Produced by Roger Corman and eventual big-budget 'Fantastic 4' producer, Bernd Eichinger, this film was never officially released. Eventually, however, it gained steam under the radar as a sort of cult "so-good-it'-bad" movie, and it's currently easy enough to find somewhere online.
Nowadays, with Disney making that Fox purchase, a lot of people are wondering if they can ever make the Fantastic Four into something good and not so cheesetacular. But while this adaptation IS by all means a rough movie to sit through, many argue that so far, this is the truest adaptation, between various 'F4' comics.
The plot is simply enough the origin of the Fantastic Four; when Reed Richards (Alex Hyde-White), Sue (Rebecca Staab) and Johnny Storm (Jay Underwood), and Ben Grimm (Michael Bailey Smith) get hit by cosmic rays on an experimental mission and turn into Mr. Fantastic (with the ability to stretch), The Invisible Woman (powers obvious), The Human Torch (again, powers obvious), and The Thing (a big rock guy with super strength), respectively.
Before all that happens, however, Victor Von Doom is the victim of a horrible lab accident and becomes Doctor Doom. He's after the Fantastic Four upon learning of their newfound abilities in order to harness their powers for himself and get more powerful, or something along those lines.
The whole story is simple, it does a decent job at adaptation as far as the characters and origin go, but sadly enough, none of it is good enough to save it from the painful dialogue, bad, low-budget effects, and way too many areas where it's funny, but not really supposed to be. It is, indeed, a "so bad, it's good" film. But the same could be said about any 'F4' film. At the very least, this one's something one can have a lot of fun with.
If you're into these classic comics, and have an itching curiosity to see a decent but horrible 'F4' film all at once, then I highly recommend checking this out. Keeping in mind that it's unreleased, you won't have much luck with honesty on this one, and paying for your very own copy. But again, it's easy enough to seek out online. It's worth the watch, if nothing else, for a good laugh. I actually had quite a lot of fun with it.
Immediately following the events of the first film, 'Superman II' sees the returns of both Gene Hackman as Luthor and Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman and is regarded by some as the last really good 'Superman' movie.
After Superman saves the California coastline from absolute destruction, he returns to his job as mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent. When his boss sends Lois (Margot Kidder) on an assignment involving a bomb in Paris, France at the Eiffel Tower, Superman suits up, heads over, and throws the bomb into outer space. By doing this, he unwittingly releases prisoners Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) from the Phantom Zone, referring back to the events at the beginning of the first film.
When the three Kryptonians reach the Moon, they discover that the yellow sun increases their abilities by kicking around a couple of astronauts. They then head to Earth to conquor it. Meanwhile, Luthor escapes prison and seeks out Superman's Fortress of Solitude, where he soon learns of the escaped Kryptonian prisoners. Eventually, they meet, and Luthor offers up Superman for their revenge, as he's also the only thing that could possibly stand in their way from taking over the world.
The rest of the story has everything to do with the blossoming love between Clark Kent and Lois Lane in which we see Superman make the ultimate sacrifice. I have to say, the whole thing was very enjoyable.
'Superman II' runs alongside a series of sequels that are often referred to as "better than the original". They are few and far between, but they exist, and this is definitely one of them. 'Superman' was also very good, but it kinda suffers from running too long, and even getting a little boring in some areas. 'Superman II' really feels more like I'm watching a comic book adventure come to life.
The Canuck in me also has to take a little bit of delight in the fact that the Niagara Falls scenes were shot on the Canadian side of the landmark when he's largely an American hero. But that's kinda just having the cherry on top of my sundae. Otherwise, aside from a few dated effects (that were still great for 1980) it ends up being a great story altogether, and maintains that sense of humour we got to enjoy in the first film.
Now, with these two movies out of the way, it should also be known that I'm not altogether a big fan of Superman. I always found him to be way too cheap. He's essentially indestructible unless kryptonite is nearby. But that said, I also have a certain respect for the hero. He was pretty much the first mainstream comic book superhero (that I know of), and he definitely has staying power. All that said though, these original movies kinda gave me this new perspective. I definitely enjoyed both of them, even if they were campy to watch. After all, the campiness of an older superhero movie like this is part of the fun!
This title dates back to 1978, and arguably pretty much marks the beginning of the Superhero movie genre. There were others before it, like the cinematic take on Adam West's 'Batman', but none of them really ended up being home runs.
As per usual, I'm gonna review this one as though the reader has seen it already, so fair warning for potential spoilers ahead (for both films). First off, one of the more brilliant aspects of this movie is the opening. It starts off as a sort of early time theatrical feature, showcasing the 1930's comic. It then of course evolves to credits coming at you through that smaller screen, and transitions to the whole opening credits sequence where, of course, the epic theme is heard. Even if you've never seen a 'Superman' movie before, you know pretty much what it sounds like. It's certainly one of John William's most famous scores.
The whole origin portion of the film was overall more enjoyable for me than 'Man of Steel' was. One of the biggest issues being tackled was the death of Jonathan Kent. In 'Man of Steel', he gets sucked up into a tornado as Clark just stands there because he was told to. It feels far more inexcusable, and it's almost impossible to fathom Superman NOT saving Jon, his father figure, when it would have been so easy. In 'Superman', Jonathan dies from a heart attack. So when Superman struggles with the fact that he couldn't save him, it just makes more sense. It's "I couldn't save him despite all I can do" vs "I couldn't save him because he told me not to". It's frankly far more powerful for a movie to illustrate what he simply can't do BECAUSE he's so incredibly powerful in so many ways.
After the initial origin is out of the way, I have to admit that it's cool to see Superman helping people on much more of a scale than we're used to in the Superhero genre. For example, there's a scene where he saves a girl's cat from a tree, illustrating that he'll be there to help no matter how important or unimportant the task at hand is. Add to this the whole Luthor plot of luring Superman in by threatening several thousand innocent lives, and we basically see that he values life on Earth as though it was his second chance to protect a whole planet from whatever is out there. Again, 'Man of Steel' illustrated this trait of his far less so by having him basically level most of a city in a big fight in order to defeat the big villain. The old Superman would sooner move people out of the way of danger with lightning speed, whereas the new Superman seems to just be set on beating the big baddie, whatever it takes. Although, I will admit the way 'Batman v Superman' handled that situation was one of the things they did well in that movie.
The performances here by pretty much everyone are spot on for the time. There's just that right amount of cheese added to it, but you're able to emote with these characters just the same. Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor is really more of a Bond-type villain in this, but he's so cold a diabolical with his plans, it's hard not to add him to the list of best Superhero movie villains. He felt more like a comic book villain and less of a deep dark theatrical movie villain, and pulling that off well is saying something. Christopher Reeve, as we all know, does very well here too as Clark, along with Margot Kidder as Lois.
I suppose the elephant in the room is that climactic scene when Lois dies, Superman goes berzerk, and flies around the Earth, spinning it backwards and reversing time. It's ridiculous, and to do something like that today would be pretty much out of the question. I mean, spinning the Earth backwards would only just spin the Earth backwards, and time wouldn't enter into it. More to the point, for argument sake, if he COULD really do that, why the hell wouldn't he have just done that from the beginning of the climax? But I digress.
The real surprise to me about the film was that it runs over 3 hours long. Hand to God, I didn't know that before getting into it, so the overall length kinda threw me off. It's a lot of movie to take in, especially with effects that look painfully dated, contradicting the tagline "You'll believe a man can fly". Maybe at the time it worked, but it just looks silly now. However, I cannot fault the movie for it since it actually won a Special Achievement Oscar for Visual Effects! I'm not sure, but I THINK it was the first time they made someone genuinely look like he was flying, so no matter what it looks like now, it does have this achievement under its belt, and I can't take that away with any nitpicks I have to throw at it. All in all, it's a movie to be enjoyed for it's time.