The recent post on Year End Movies Review Part 1 was well-received among Comicologists, where we chose to review only the movies which were based or inspired by Comics, coupled with the Animation, which is considered its sub-genre. Thanks for all those who responded to the post, and my reply to the comments could be found at the end of the same. If you haven’t read that post, then I strongly recommend you to read that before proceeding on with this instalment.
Let’s quickly wrap-up our second and concluding post to this 2008 Movies Round-Up. Again, they are sequenced based on their their US release date.
HellBoy 2: The Golden Army (July 11, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>
Hellboy 2, is the sequel to 2004 film, which were both directed by Guillermo del Toro (who is known as the Three Amigos of famed Mexican line-up. It is said that Ron Perlman, who is usually known for his negative roles, was the first-choice of the director and producer duo, right from the time the movie was originally conceptualized. There is no doubt that their choice was a master-stroke, as the Hellboy character suits well to his huge size, which makes him more aligned to the character plot. I didn’t like the first instalment of HellBoy film franchise (which was more an intro into Paranormal Research organization, and an overdose of Nazi desertions and mad scientists), but I should admit the 2nd version was one of the best creative work filled film.
You should see that to experience the thought Provoking Character Designs (Tooth Fairies, Abe Sapien, Krauss, Forest God, etc.), Costumes, Artwork, and finally the self-repairing Golden Army at the climax. Particularly, The scene where Hellboy confronts the gigantic Forest God, and the resultant dialogues with evil Prince Nuada, while he contemplates ending the last one of its race, or be spectator to the massacre of innocent earthlings. A touching scene to say the least. (Thanks to fellow Comicologists ShankarV, Viswa and Josh for reminding me of this scene)
A total visual treat, and a little effort on the plot could have made wonders. But then wasn’t this a comics fantasy movie, so that seems to be on the expected lines. It is said that the movie plot was totally written anew, rather than relying on any comics storylines released so far. That’s definitely a change from the 1st instalment.
I wonder what effort Perlman, would have gone through with the heavy masked layer on him, to depict the Hellboy’s demonic looks. He seems to have been gung-ho about these characters with his past movies around on Beauty and Beast, Island of Dr.Moreu, which had similar heavy make-up for him.
The movie is intriguely set for final sequel of the Trilogy as originally planned by Del Toro, with the Hellboy’s love-mate expressing that they would be expecting twins. I wonder how would they look like (Hell & Fire combination) in the 3rd instalment which is yet in discussions
Hellboy was a fictional comic character created by Mike Mignolio (who is also the co-writer of the movie franchise), which is one among the very few characters with a plot-work involving the dark concept of Hell. After being shunned out by the DC for the same reason, Mignolio launched it as a creator owned comics venture with Dark Horse. Wouldn’t he be considering it as a blessing in disguise, as it is now one of the very few comic based movie ventures not backed by the Big Two: DC & Marvel. I was never a big fan of this comic series, now the movie franchise, has tempted me for the same.
I had to revisit my reviews for this movie, since my fellow Comicologists had requested this be considered in equals to one of the classic fantasy tales, and I must admit that my rating was little lesser to the quality which was in offer. Hence the new update in the review and further ratings point, then the original.
The Dark Knight (Jul 18, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 5/5 >>
Clearly, the run-away favourite for all the masses, and the biggest hit of 2008 among all genre Movies. This sequel to the new Batman move franchise (rebooted with 2005’s Batman Begins), directed and co-written by the incredibly talented Christopher Nolan, redefined and set high standards for all Comic based movies for the present and future. Batman faces his biggest arch-nemesis Joker in this dark-sinister suspense thriller, which is breath-taking from the start to finish. Character plot-work, action sequences, technical gizmos, this is a movie which will make any Batman comic fan proud. Thanks to Nolan Brothers.
The stunning climax scene, where the Good’s and Bad’s of the society are pitted against each other, with their fate lying on the opposite camp (a switched remote detonator on either side of the ships), is wonderfully scripted. The result is the slap in the face of the so called Gentlemen of the higher society. The ending scene with Batman taking up the blame for all the Incidents, to save the hero face of the villain turned Harvey Dent, has nicely setup the next movie instalment, with Batman now being termed as a Fugitive. It is best exhibited as conveyed by Commissioner Gordon, as an ending note (also adding to the movie title):
“He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."
No wonder you find much of the Quotes from the film in our “Comic-Quotes” Section in the sidebar of Comicology. I am planning to move them to a separate archive page for ready quick reference.
You talk about the Batman Movie and it will be a sin if you forget the contribution of Heath Ledger. It can be clearly noted that more than protagonist Christian Bale as Batman, Ledger outperforms everyone (including a scary looking Two-Face) with his portrayal of Joker, ironically in his last act. No wonder, he is tipped for a posthumous Oscar award for the Best Supporting Role. He deserves that for sure.
The DC owned Batman character, originally created by Bob Kane, is considered one of its two flagship comic characters along with Superman. It’s popularity is only rivalled by the Marvel’s Spiderman, who have traditionally held the upper hand in the comics based movie franchises, ever since DC stepped back with their Superman movie franchise (heavily due to the Christopher Reeve’s accident), and their repeated box-office failures with the badly made Batman movie franchise. But with Batman: The Dark Knight, they have recaptured their past dominance, just in time when Marvel were pitching for their Avenger Movie launch. So we are in for a great battle between DC & Marvel, this time to be witnessed in the Movie Industry.
Space Chimps (Jul 18, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>
A movie from the little know production house, called Vanguard Animation. It talks about a set of Space Chimpanzees who are lead on a space mission, by the reluctant grandson of the first Chimpanzee on space, where they put an end to an tyrant in a distant world. Not much could be said on the movie plot, as it has few glimpses to have been based on the Planet of Apes movie franchise, but fails on the execution of it. For the sheer reason, of being their first international release, it makes up the list barely. The production house seems to have got rewarded with a sizeable profit, mainly due to the low production cost associated with the venture.
X-Files: I Want to Believe (Jul 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>
It’s another comeback movie franchise in the house, in form of X-Files (inspired by the 90’s hit TV series X-Files. The last film was released in 1998, even though the 9th and last TV series aired until 2002. The stars from the TV series, David Duchovny (looks rather old for the lead role) and Gillian Anderson (surprisingly still good-looking) make their appearance again to boost up the movie star cast. But, unlike the earlier movie this doesn’t follow the extra-terrestrial theme for which the Original X-Files series is known for. Instead it follows the age-old theme of horror/thriller, and it even dwindles at the level of basing the plot on the self-proclaimed messenger of god, to unravel the mystery.
I didn’t follow the TV series, but I should point out that the first movie was actually good. The second instalment is surely a let-down, and I wonder why they took 6 years to devise a plot for this failed attempt.
Reason for this movie in our list: Little known Topps Comics released few comic sets during TV series prime, which unsurprisingly remains their only significant comic releases ever.
Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire (Aug 1, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
The failed attempt for rebooting forgotten movie franchise continues, with the latest addition being the ever-famous Mummy movie series. Eventhough they were greatly put down by the critics, I had liked the the first 3 movie instalments, which as per me where a visual treat. They brought the Golden genre of the mysterious Egyptian civilization through breathtaking virtual reality. But the latest movie comes out of its original theme, by moving over to Chinese Terracotta Warriors and lost prince. It seems the creators wanted to hit jackpot, by casting Jet Lee, but like his numerous Hollywood attempts, this is another failed attempt for him.
Another failure in this movie franchise, is the non-appearance of incredibly beautiful Rachel Weisz to reprise her character. Instead another unknown face Maria Bello makes up the number with, a certainly old looking, Brendan Fraser. It is said that Weisz opted out due to the storyline featuring her in as middle-aged women, and setting up for a motherly role in future movie series. A Wise decision, as I like many others wouldn’t want to see her in that state :). Maria does show her credentials in few fighting sequences, but she can never match up to Weisz’s popularity.
It should have got only 1.5 in our rating, but scores a extra fraction due to its stunning visual effects (even though they are a touch lesser than the standards set in the 3 prequels). Talks are ripe that the movie is actually being rebooted with Jr. Connel taking the lead role in the future instalments. Hopefully they will be better and newer than the 2008 instalment.
Reason for our listing: IDW Publishing has released some comic sets based on Rick O’ Connel’s character in 2008.
Igor (Sep 19, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
A different plot with the lead character portrayed as the strangely looking Igor (ones with hunchbacks), who were long portrayed in many movie genres as an understudy to some evil maniac. In a village dominated by the Evil Scientists, who rule supreme with their frightening machines, Igor's are considered and treated as their under-study and lower cast. One Igor, who is incredibly talented aspires to be the Greatest Evil Scientist, and the plot takes us through the oppressions and his struggle in his quest. Eventhough it’s wonderfully animated (from the new film group Exodus) it fails largely on the plot-work. The fact that it is an attempt from a lesser known animated group, also made it a prime candidate for lesser acceptance and publicity.
Roadside Romeo (Oct 23, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
The first Bollywood based international animation movie to have ever released, co-produced by Yash Raj Films and Walt Disney Studios. The movie even though boasting of a superior animation (mainly because of WD involvement, and hard work of 2 years) failed to reach the same stardom of its partner. The plot is nothing better from a Bollywood love story, which the first-time director Jugal Hansraj, tried to imitate in animation industry. The result when you try to combine a theory from one genre to another without significantly tweaking it to fit the target market, is here to see with the box-office failure of the film.
Bollywood’s Real-life Love Couple Saif Ali Khan, and Kareena Kapoor have lent their voice to the movie, but it seems their combination taboo made their effect on this movie too, like their other Bollywood films. It enjoys a rating of 2, for the simple reason that it is the first ever Indian International venture in animation industry.
Fellow Comicologist Siv, had recently blogged about a comic adaptation for this movie in his blog here. I am planning to do a further post on Indian Comics based on Movies, so we will have more details on to that sooner at Comicology. Stay Tuned.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Nov 7, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3/5 >>
It’s a sequel to the hit and much critically acclaimed 2005 animated film. It continues the story of the Zoo escaped Lion, Hippo, Zebra, and Giraffe, all known by their human names than their race. The fact that it comes out of the DreamWorks studio, says more about the stunning animation as witnessed in every frame of the Movie. It picks up from the 1st instalment, where the animals actually decide to move back to their captured life, but crash-land in central Africa, finding their own species. Now, it’s decision time again for our favourite folks. The Forest life is incredibly brought before our eyes, with wonderful combination of colours, and our title heroes comical activities makes it for an interesting watch. Certainly a must see for all animation movie lovers.
Quantum of Solace (Nov 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
Incidentally, the most anticipated movie of 2008, which ironically was also the most disappointing comics movie franchise of the year. Daniel Craig reprises his Secret agent role in 22nd James Bond Movie franchise. Unlike the earlier movies which always are stand-alone versions, this movie is actually a follow-up/sequel to the 2005 Casino Royale, where Craig made his stunning debut as James Bond. Bond sets up about on the task of avenging those who were behind the killing of her lady-love in 21st Bond Movie. What we get to witness are Betrayals, and Pure adrenaline action, where James Bond even forgets to deliver his punch-line: “My name is Bond, James Bond”.
The one bright spot of the movie was Olga Kurylenko, who seems to be the first-choice for all animation/comics based movie as witnessed in recent times (2007’s Hitman, & 2008’s Max Payne). Surprisingly we don’t get to see a romantic interlude between her and Bond in this movie, as common among the so called “bond girls”. Another new style being adopted Craig’s Bond Movies (but, nevertheless, we have another Bond-Girl in the movie ;) ). One more unique feature is that, this is the first ever Bond Movie (or maybe any other movie) to have made its release in India, even before it was released in North America. Doesn’t it make we Indians proud enough, and it seems India is considered a bigger movie market then how it was treated with 2nd, 3d rate Hollywood movies hitting the theatres years back :).
Despite the storyline, Daniel Craig impresses in his stylish act, and he is obviously the most ably fit actor ever to have praised the James Bond character. I can only laugh at the initial critics who were so crazy over his selection for Bond, just for the simple reason that he was a Blonde. I hope they would have got their answers.
With that said, I would love to give it even worst rating, but the action sequences, and the intention of the newly formed Bond team to set this movie different from the earlier instalments, managed to eek out this rating at Comicology. Let’s see what they make up with their next movie planned for 2011.
You don’t need any introduction to James Bond when it comes to comics. Classical comics enthusiasts (or Comicologists as we term them over here at Comicology) would remember the legendary comic-strips from UK’s Newspaper media. We are going to have a long line-up of these Comics review as we go down dissecting the James Bond Comics released by erstwhile Rani Comics, shortly.
Bolt (Nov 21, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>
Walt Disney animation Company launched its 48th theatrical animated feature (the Roadside Romeo doesn’t count because it’s billed from the Indian based Yash Raj Films), to the industry they revolutionized, in the form of Bolt. The film is strengthened by media heavyweights like John Travolta, and Miley Cyrus lending their voice to the lead characters.
The plot revolves around a white dog named Bolt, which is grown from a pub with the image of a super powered dog. But it was a myth as the production crew were hosting a live program of events featuring Bolt. A supposedly accident, drives Bolt out of its comfort zone to the reality of outside world. The rest of the movie features Bolt going on a cross-country tour to see its companion, who is supposedly has deserted him for another dog, replacing him in his live serial. The film has so far received 85% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, for all the credit the movie deserves.
Punisher: War Zone (Dec 5, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>
The movie reboot doesn’t seem to be stopping, with 2004’s Punisher movie in the frame this time. Marvel comes back to re-launch another of there never-ending comic heroes into movie. This reboot is unique in the sense that it is the only franchise, which has been re-booted for the second time in row. Comicologists would remember that the 2004 film, was actually a reboot to the 1989’s original movie. Isn’t this a new trend.
But, it must be said that they are yet to achieve the popularity and acclaim they received for their Spiderman series. The initial reviews about this movie also seems to be pretty disappointing.
Punisher is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel Comics, as he is the one who is human (and not those super freaks), and is only driven by his rage towards putting an end to the growing crime in the neighbourhood. A hero everyone of us aspire to become, deep in our self. The new creative team, cast makes for an interesting watch, but failed miserably in terms of plot and execution. The character of Punisher deserved more.
The Spirit (Dec 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
Will Eisner’s famous comics character The Spirit, which was originally created in 1940s, finally made it’s way to the mainstream media; with the ‘300’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Dark Knight Returns’ series fame Frank Miller donning the Directorial duties for a change. Obviously inspired by his earliest directorial debut, with the critically acclaimed Sin City Movie adaptation. But it should be noted that he was then assisted by a two more able directors. Overall, I didn’t like the movie a bit, which was often slipping in screenplay and direction at various scenes.
Movie-critics and followers, it’s a failed attempt, and one which shows the great character of Eisner in poor light (a fact strengthened by the personal account of Love of Dreams ShankarV). It looks Frank Miller should have stayed on with the job which he does best, which is comic book writing, and artist.
That completes our 2008 Movies Round-Up. Overall, 2008 was an eventual year, with so many comic based movies hitting the theatres, and many garnering critical acclaim.
There were even some other movies which had comical relationships, but weren’t based on any Comics for actual say, hence weren’t covered in our year end movie review posts;
Like SuperHero Movie (a shoot comedy on Comic based Movies) Hancock (billed as Redefining the Summer of Super Heroes), and Max Payne (from the famous video game; Original inventor of Bullet time effect, but was actually revolutionized through Matrix Trilogy). But, we aren’t missing anything, as they are sloppy ones to say the least.
So with the ratings it might clearly show what could probably be my Top 3 Best Movies of 2008. But just to reiterate the same, here they are:
- Batman: The Dark Knight
- Iron Man
2009 promises to be even better, with the announcement of Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Whiteout slated in for the year. We will have a complete review of these movies at Comicology when they hit the theatres. So, stay tuned for more.
I hope you liked Comicology’s complete account of Comic and Animation based Movies round-up of 2008, spread over 2 lengthy posts. If yes, why not share your views on the same, for which you could use the Comment Section below. I would be eager to read them.
And before I close, Wish every Comicologists a Happy Pongal, which is now also considered as Tamil New Year. While many fellow Comicologists decided to have a special post for the event, I believe every post at Comicology is special enough to be among the list :). Happy Reading and Watching, and I will be back with another post very shortly.