But with the silver lining of world-conquering ubiquity, comes the cloud a€” overfamiliarity, potential consumer burnout (we have to confess the a€?Spider-Mana€? reboot still falls squarely into the a€?What?
And so we thought it high time we took a long, hard look at the films stamped with the Marvel logo, from best to worst (ranking them in reverse order), looking at all the Spider-Mans, Avengerses, X-men, Blades, Punishers, Daredevils, Fantastic Fourses and, um, Howard the Ducks. The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.
With his cop drama End of Watch having success at the box office and with critics, it didn’t take long for director David Ayer (Street Kings, Harsh Times) to find his next project. While the gear he holds is no different than his many other action movies, he’s sporting a slightly different look with his haircut and tattoos. The film follows an elite DEA task force that deals with the world’s deadliest drug cartels. Returning to her roots, Karyn Kusama's The Invitation is a dark and moody drama that deals with depression, loss, and more as we follow a dinner party that is just slightly off-kilter at the outset.
Since any New York cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. We talk with the director about his approach to storytelling, what he learned after turning down over 70 scripts, working with Jesse Eisenberg and Isabelle Huppert, his love for Andrei Tarkovsky, and much more. Again?a€? arena for us) and at the very least, their product being regarded as something plasticky and disposable and free inside every cereal box.
Ghost Ridera€? (2007)Nicolas Cage is a long-time comics  fan, whoa€™s flirted with a number of characters over the years, most notably DCa€™s a€?Supermana€? for an aborted Tim Burton movie in the late 90s. The Punishera€? (1989)Wea€™ve never really seen the appeal of Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, as a character: even, or especially, within the context of the Marvel universe, hea€™s just another ex-cop vigilante, who could have walked out of a€?Death Wisha€? or a dozen B-movies like it. Already in production, we’ve got the first image of our main star Arnold Schwarzenegger in the upcoming action thriller Ten.
In the film, he’s joined by Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Dawn Olivieri, Joe Manganiello, Malin Akerman, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway and Harold Perrineau.

Specializing in complex mobile operations, the team executes a tactical raid on a cartel safe house. Especially compared with rivals DC, whoa€™ve taken their properties in the opposite direction, delivering gritty, brainy blockbusters instead (and a€?Man of Steel,a€? meow) that aim to be as prestige pic somber as Marvela€™s are colorful and quippy.
Directed by Brett Leonard, helmer of a€?The Lawnmower Man,a€? ita€™s about as generic a horror film as you could come up with, as various low-grade Australian actors wrangle with Louisiana accents (unsuccessfully: most sound like theya€™re having strokes), as theya€™re picked off by the swampa€™s guardian spirit, who turns out to be Man-Thing. He finally got his chance for Sonya€™s a€?Ghost Ridera€? in 2007, having been attached to versions of the project since the turn of the decade. Hugh Jackmana€™s mutton-chopped semi-immortal was always better suited to a solo effort than most of the other characters from Foxa€™s franchise, and on paper, it should have worked: Oscar-winning a€?Tsotsia€? director at the helm, Jackman facing off against great actors like Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston, etc.
Howard, a cigar-smoking anthropomorphic mallard, was always an outlier in the Marvel stable, closer to the subversive alt-comics world than to Spider-Man, and ita€™s hard to think of an unlikelier person to bring it to the screen than George Lucas, who made it a passion project after he left directing to focus on producing.
But we suppose that the generic nature of the character (and the relative budgetary ease of bringing him to the screen) appeals to studios, because he keeps coming back. What looks to be a typical raid turns out to be an elaborate theft operation, pre-planned by the DEA squad. A low-budget tossed-off take produced by D-movie legend Menahem Golan, and directed by a€?Cyborga€? helmer Albert Pyun, it's a moderately faithful take on the character (other than the Red Skull being Italian, for some reason), but a pretty terrible, and weirdly nasty, actioner that sees the Captain (Matt Salinger, son of J.D) battle the Red Skull in WW2, then have to save the world all over again in the present day in an attempt to rescue the President. And in fairness, the film was one of many hampered by the 2007 writers strike, going into production without a finished screenplay. Originally intended to be an animated film, it eventually ended up as a live action film helmed by a€?American Graffitia€? co-writer Willard Huyck, with Howard (the voice of Chip Zien) transported to Earth, and battling an alien Dark Overlord (Jeffrey Jones) with the help of scientist Phil (Tim Robbins) and musician love interest Beverly (Lea Thompson).
This 1989 version, the first and worst, stars Dolph Lundgren as Castle, whoa€™s persuaded to help the Mafia he hates so much when the Yakuza kidnap the mobstersa€™ kids.
After hiding millions in stolen cash, the team believes their secret is safe – until someone begins assassinating them one by one. The split structure is baffling and overstuffed, the dialogue terrible (a€?Hea€™s still alive.

Leonard does layer on some atmosphere occasionally, but the plot is both rammed with clichés and unnecessarily convoluted, therea€™s little in the way of decent gore or scares, and fans of the character, if such things exist, are surely still furious by the way it turns him from sympathetic creature to mostly-off-screen killer monster.
The character, Johnny Blaze, is a motorcycle stunt rider who sold his soul to become the Devila€™s flame-headed bounty-hunter to save his fathera€™s life, but therea€™s little chance for Cage to do what hea€™s do best -- when in human mode, he looks sleepy, and when hea€™s the rider, hea€™s replaced by an unconvincing CGI head. But one can only imagine from the results that Fox used a room full of monkeys with typewriters as scabs, because the result is nonsensical, illogical, wasteful, overstuffed with inconsequential characters and hugely uninvolving.
With superhero movies following such a close formula these days, in some ways one should be thankful for something as weird as this, but therea€™s a reason ita€™s still a byword for critical and commercial failure: therea€™s little consistency to the way that Howard interacts with the world, it tries to water the weirdness down into a very 1980s family adventure, and it simply isna€™t very funny. Despite a script by some reasonably well-known writers (Robert Mark Kamen, whoa€™d later pen a€?Taken,a€? and Boaz Yakin, who went on to direct a€?Fresha€?), the script might as well be a Steven Seagal vehicle, and veteran editor Mark Goldblatt shows that he probably should have stuck to the day job with some pretty uninspired action direction, and a complete lack of interest in the dialogue scenes. We dona€™t know where he is, or who he isa€?), the casting baffling (Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty crop up in the weirdest possible a€?Deliverancea€? reunion, while Salinger is just terrible), and even the most vulgar auteurist couldna€™t defend Pyuna€™s inept direction. Some of the casting is nominally fun (Sam Elliott as a previous Ghost Rider, Donal Logue as the best pal, Peter Fonda as the Devil), but everyonea€™s thinking principally of the paycheck, not least Wes Bentley, at the height of his troubles with drugs, as super-generic principal villain Blackheart.
Gavin Hooda€™s direction seems concerned principally with finding shots for the trailer (there are at least two moments when Wolverine looks to the sky and cries out), too. Therea€™s the occasional decent idea in among them, but if youa€™ve ever wanted to appreciate the modern-day movies, this is a good way of doing so. Johnson cana€™t write the script, he cana€™t handle the tone, which lurches from morose to campy, and he cana€™t shoot action: thankfully he hasna€™t yet tried to complete his trilogy of terrible comic book movies.

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Rubric: Canada Emergency Preparedness


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