ORBzine - Superheroes Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Green Hornet (2011)

Green Hornet (2011) Playboy Seth Rogan takes over the family business when his father, Newspaper magnate Tom Wilkinson, dies in unlikely circumstances. With the help of kung-fu super-genius chauffeur Kato, and the unwitting advice of criminologist Cameron Diaz , our hero poses as a super-villain in order to take on local crime boss Chemnofsky (Christopher Waltz - Spectre).

This works both as a tongue-in-cheek camped-up superhero story, in the light-hearted manner of the 1960s Batman stories, and as a Hollywood 3-D Action blockbuster. Kato does not steal the show so much as have it handed to him. But in the wake of Bruce Lee biopic Dragon , what else could we expect? To reduce him to the role of mere chauffeur would be unthinkable.

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  • Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)

    Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) The heroic young FBI Agent who was the audience proxy in the first movie has been written out. Hellboy (Ron Perlman - Alien Resurrection ), apparently jealous of his relationship with Liz ( Selma Blair ), had him reassigned to a remote facility in Alaska or wherever. This means that Hellboy himself, as the title character, gets more screen time. There is also a new team leader, a bossy German who provides even more comic relief.

    Prince Nuada has returned, and takes his place as ruler of the Elven kingdom. His plan is into conquer the Earth and enslave or destroy humanity. Luckily the heroes have another claimant to the throne - in this case it is Nuada's twin sister. Well, if this general plot sounds familiar that is because it has been recently re-used by Marvel ( Black Panther (2018) ) and DC ( Aquaman (2019) ).

    The superhero team go undercover in the Troll market, a gathering place of non-human creatures that live unnoticed by the human population. This sets the story in a different setup than the original movie - instead of fighting human cultists, the heroes now police a non-human subculture. Abe Sapien (Doug Jones - Shape of Water ) falls for the Elven Princess, and it is mutual.

    The Golden Army is concealed under the Giant's Causeway in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Although some long shots with stand-ins were filmed on location, the main shots with the featured cast members were done on studio sets elsewhere.

  • Hellboy (2005)
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  • Jumper (2008)

    Jumper (2008) Hayden Christiansen ( Attack of the Clones ) has superpowers - not Jedi powers, but good old teleportation. Naturally, he has no idea of how to use his powers to the best of his ability. He does not help people, he merely leads a shallow and vain existence. Robbing banks, for example - the kind of thing that classic supervillains get up to. And his clumsiness brings him to the attention of people in authority.

    Samuel L Jackson ( Deep Blue Sea ) confronts people with superpowers, like in the Avengers Assemble series. However, this time he is not hiring - he is firing! This Jedi battle (Anakin vs Mace Windu) gives Hayden an excuse to go back to his school-yard crush ( Rachel Bilson ). However, he stupidly puts her at risk as well.

    Billy Elliot ( Fantastic Four (2015) ) is a fellow jumper, living off the grid since Sam Jack killed his parents. He wants revenge, but realises that Hayden is a liability. Can our heroes team up long enough to save the girl and defeat the villain?

    The most unrealistic thing in the film? The idea that working-class alkie Michael Rooker ( Guardians of the Galaxy ) could have married middle-class skirt-suit wearing Diane Lane . But watch out for a brief appearance by Kristen Stewart at the end, as the story is set up for a sequel.

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  • Non-MCU Marvel Movies

    Captain America (1979)

    Captain America (1979) This is a made-for-TV movie from the late 1970s, and it certainly looks it. Remember, it is from the era in which Nicholas Hammond played The Amazing Spider-Man (1978) .

    Steve Rogers (Reb Brown - Space Mutiny ) is a US Army veteran. Not a super-soldier from World War Two, just an average grunt who was in Vietnam. He gets dosed with a super-soldier formula, and goes hunting for some commie spies. Well, it is the Cold War. Rather than fight super-villains, he only fights normal humans.

    Possibly the best bit about this is the fact that Captain America has a motorbike. Well, it certainly justifies the fact that he dresses like Evel Keneval. Best of all, his bulletproof shield slots onto the front of the bike so it can protect him while he is riding.

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  • Captain America (1990)

    Captain America (1990) This is quite different from the 2010 version. The lack of CGI technology and the relatively limited budget are only part of the problem. Whereas the newer version of the film allowed the title character to act as a soldier (wearing camouflage and using a gun) in this version they were extremely limited in what they could do. As a result the so-called hero comes across as very weak.

    The origin story is the same, with a few changes. The Red Skull is Italian, which makes the Dubrovnik locations less incongruous. The first conflict between the two super-soldiers is a one-all draw: Captain America ends up being knocked out of the war, but the Red Skull's super-rocket (V2 at launch, V1 when it reaches the USA) fails too. They will not meet again until the 1990s -

    By 1993, Ronny Cox ( Robocop, Total Recall ) is POTUS and his best buddy (Ned Beatty) is a top journalist. They try to bring Captain America back into the fold, but he would rather hang out with his 1940s GF and her identical daughter.

    POTUS wants to pass an eco-friendly law. Rebel General Darren McGavin ( Night Stalker ) secretly joins forces with the Red Skull to subvert the US Government. But first they must get rid of Captain America. The Red Skull sends his daughter ( Francesca Neri ) and her euro-trash catalogue model friends to do his dirty work. For some reason, Asian-American stuntman Jeff Imada is one of her Euro-goons.

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  • Blade: Trinity (2004)

    Blade: Trinity (2004) The Vampires (led by Parker Posey and Callum Keith Rennie - BSG 2003 ) have a cunning plan. They revive the oldest vamp in the world (a very badly miscast Dominic Purcell - John Doe ). Then they set Blade (Wesley Snipes - Gallow Walkers ) up, to be wanted by FBI Agent James Remar ( Shannara Chronicles ).

    Blade has to team up with new sidekicks, the Nightstalkers:

    This is the weakest of the Blade trilogy. It does not offer anything new, and is considered an abortive backdoor pilot for a Nightstalkers spin-off series.

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  • Elektra (2005)

    Elektra (2005) Instead of making Sin City , Rodriguez and Miller should have adapted Elektra: Assassin. Unfortunately they did not, which is why we are left with this effort. The best thing about it is that Ben Affleck's cameo (as Daredevil ) has been cut. Presumably the film-makers wanted to distance this film from the original, where Garner's character first appeared. Unfortunately they failed - this is just as bad as the original.

    Elektra is no longer a vigilante. She was raised from the dead, trained as a Ninja by Terence Stamp ( Superman 2, Star Wars: TPM ), then went freelance as an assassin. Now she is hired to kill the father of a girl she befriends. The girl's dad is a guy from E.R., basically set up as a love interest. That particular plot cliche is worked in for no apparent reason, and makes no sense.

    The villains come after Elektra and her new friends. Not only are there evil Ninjas, but even minor-league supervillains like Natassia Malthe . This guarantees that there will be lots of people for Elektra to fight, in a series of action sequences meant to make up for the lousy plot.

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  • Fantastic Four (2015)

    Fantastic Four (2015) Yet another reboot of a Marvel comics-inspired story. It is not part of the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe), so there is no Stan Lee cameo and no after-credits sequence. In fact, if you were to change the names then there is nothing that really marks this as a Marvel storyline at all.

    The story is about Reed Richards (Miles Teller - Divergent ), a High School pupil in the USA who wants to build a teleporter in his garage. He borrows parts from his classmate, Ben Grimm (Billy Elliott - Jumper (2008) ) whose dad owns a scrap-yard. Yes, this is basically a kids’ show like Explorers . However, the kids have limited success until the school science faire a few years later …

    A super-scientist named Doctor Storm (Reg Querns Cathay - Outcast ) and his adopted daughter Sue ( Kate Mara , playing ten years younger than her real age) attend the science faire to locate and recruit the next generation of super-geniuses. In a movie about pre-teen children who build teleportation machines, this is not the most improbable part of the story. Reed signs up, enticed by Querns’ science and Kate’s charms. Ben gets left behind …

    Reed teams up with Sue’s brother (the token black guy) and a Eurotrash slacker named Viktor Von Doom (who the TBG racially slurs by calling him Adolf). They build the teleporter machine, and travel to another universe. Reed even invites his old buddy Ben Grimm along for the ride. However, the alien world’s energies are unleashed on them …

    The four survivors have strange powers. Ben gets hit with rocks, so he gets the power of rocks. Johnny Storm gets hit with flames, so he gets flame-power … and he can fly. Reed gets elastic power, somehow … And Sue Storm gets invisibility power - and force-field power, for some reason.

    Ben gets co-opted by the US Military-Industrial complex. Johnny Storm is keen to follow his example, and do not-so-secret missions for the USA. Sue and her father play along so they can repair the teleporter and find a cure to Johnny’s super-powers. And Reed Richards mistrusts the US Military-Industrial complex so much that he goes on the run.

    Eventually, in the third act, our heroes unite to stop Viktor Von Doom from destroying the Earth.

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  • Animations

    Big Hero 6 (2014)

    Big Hero 6 (2014) This is a Manga-type effort from John Lassiter’s animation studio. The protagonist is a teenage boy who builds miniature robots that he uses to compete in robot-fighting games. His big brother persuades the kid to help in his University project - a human-sized robot that provides a full range of medical treatments. The kid’s own application to attend the University is his new invention - self-assembling lego bricks. Basically, they are like the Replicator cells from Stargate SG-1 . Unfortunately, tragedy strikes.

    The kid and his new friend the medical robot discover that a supervillain is mass-producing the replicator cells. The supervillain wants to use them to repair an actual Stargate !

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  • Incredibles, The (2004)

    Incredibles, The (2004) This is a big-budget CGI animation taking a humourous (and cynical) look at the superhero genre. Superheros Mr Incredible and token black guy (Samuel L Jackson - Deep Blue Sea ) get sued, just like the Ghostbusters were after their first film. They end up being forced into retirement. Mr Incredible gets a day job working for Insurance company bureaucrat Wallace Shawn ( Princess Bride ). Naturally, this cannot end well.

    Luckily, Mr Incredible is headhunted by an anonymous employer (Jason Lee - Dogma ) who hires him to sort out an enormous killer robot that is running on the loose on a remote island. Naturally, this cannot end well either. Luckily, his wife and bickering offspring also have superpowers, so they come to save him.

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  • Incredibles 2, The (2018)

    Incredibles 2, The (2018) Superheroes are still outlawed. The Incredible family are in Witness Protection, and despite trying to save the city from a rampaging super-villain they still get a raw deal from the authorities. The police would rather just sit back and collect the insurance money.

    A billionaire wants to persuade the government to decriminalise superheroes. He needs a superhero as a figurehead. Elastigirl gets the job, while her husband stays at home to look after the super-kids.

    Elastigirl gets a new arch-enemy, a hooded figure named Screen-Slaver. He hijacks television signals, and brainwashes the viewers by hypnotising them. This seems like a terrible waste of a world-changing technology, as Elastigirl later points out. However, the super-villain has a secret agenda.

    The government is impressed with Elastigirl's heroism, and intends to create a world-wide treaty decriminalising the use of superpowers. A hundred VIPs from countries all over the world will gather in one place at the same time to sign the treaty. Hmm, we can only wonder what the villain's target in the third act will be.

    The main storyline is well-done but predictable. In contrast, Mr Incredible's sub-plot of looking after the kids is less thrilling but actually turns out to be important. The kids have powers, including the baby.

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  • Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

    Wreck-It Ralph (2012) This is the story of a supervillain who wants to be a hero for a change. He goes on a hero's journey, complete with character development and redemption. If this all sounds familiar, the concept is not unlike other cartoons ( Despicable Me, MegaMind ). This time the animation is provided by Pixar, the studio that did Toy Story ), and the characters are computer game AIs instead of toys.

    Our anti-hero is Ralph (John C Reilly - Gangs of New York ), the villain in a 1980s arcade game. He is sick of his rival Fix-It Felix (Kenneth from 30 Rock) getting all the glory. Instead, he sneaks into another game, a violent 1st-Person Shooter named Hero's Duty. His plan is to win a medal so he can impress everyone with his bravery. Naturally, it all goes terribly wrong.

    Ralph gets trapped in Candyland, where he befriends a Glitch ( Sarah Silverman ) who wants to win the Sugar Rush go-cart race. Felix and a lady Space Marine ( Jane Lynch ) try to clean up Ralph's mess, by preventing xenomorph Bugs from taking over Candyland.

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  • Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

    Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018) Our anti-hero Wreck-It Ralph (John C Reilly - Gangs of New York ) is back. He and Vanelope ( Sarah Silverman ) are still hanging out in her racing game, until someone breaks the handle on the arcade machine. The machine will be junked unless someone can buy a second-hand handle on Ebay.

    Ralph and Vanelope take advantage of the arcade's Wi-Fi. The Internet is portrayed as a city. For exampls, Websites are skyscrapers. Ralph and Vanelope, as AIs, interact with users' avatars and website software alike.

    Vanelope goes out to get publicity, and discovers what happens when all entertainment is owned by Disney. Some stormtroopers chase her so she hides in the dressing room of the Disney Princesses. Yes, this is the scene from the trailers. The Princesses complain about being rescued by a big strong man. Well, in the more recent films that was certainly not the case. Also, Ralph is Vanelope's friend - not her love interest. He was the protagonist of the original film, so by definition he was central to the outcome.

    The final act is about Ralph trying to overcome his own insecurities.

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