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Top Seventeen Superhero Movies

Superhero movies have been a staple at the box office for over a decade now, and it seems like its time to Critically Rate them. To make this list the main character(s) must be a superhero. For the purposes of this list, a superhero is someone who has superpowers OR wears a costume/disguise and they must fight crime/bad guys/or a main villain. The film doesn’t need to be based on a comic to qualify; it just needs to be awesome. Here is my list of the Top Seventeen Superhero Movies of All Time.

17. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This 1990 film is one of the oldest movies on the list, but it was a successful start to a cinematic franchise. It has comedic moments but it also takes itself seriously. The Shredder is a genuinely scary villain, the teenaged turtles are full of angst, and the action scenes pass the test.

16. The Incredible Hulk. The 2008 film was a sequel/reboot of the 2003 Hulk, and it was a much more satisfying movie. Edward Norton is always solid, Tim Roth plays a great foe, and the special effects were miles ahead of any other Hulk adaptation at that point.

15. Thor. Thor is not just a superhero, he is a god. The 2011 film brought Thor to the big screen for the first time. Kenneth Branagh directed a Shakespearean-style superhero movie that had two powerful brothers facing off. Chris Hemsworth is a picture perfect Thor, but this film gets more credit for introducing Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) who has so far proven to be the best villain in any Marvel movie to date.

14. The Amazing Spider-Man is the 2012 reboot starring Andrew Garfield as your friendly neighborhood Spider-man. Sure, this movie was only made so that Sony could hold onto the movie rights to the character, but it was better than the Sam Raimi directed films in almost every way. It had better casting, better special effects, a better story, and better action scenes. People just didn’t want to watch it because Tobey Maguire is still fresh in their minds. Fuck Tobey Maguire. Give Andrew Garfield a chance.

13. Watchmen. This adaptation of the beloved graphic novel is not perfect by any means, but it deserves a spot on this list. It was thought to be unfilmable but Zack Snyder managed to capture the general essence of it. The most frustrating thing is that he got so many things right, but he still felt compelled to change the storyline. Don’t be fooled by the theatrical release, the director’s cut is better and the ultimate cut is even better than that.

12. Kick-Ass was a good superhero because it was a wry commentary on superhero movies. It made fun of superheroes while celebrating them at the same time. It was hysterically funny and extremely violent. That’s a good formula for entertainment.

11. X-Men was the first film of the X-Men franchise, and its success at the box office paved the way for all the superhero movies to follow. It’s not a faithful adaptation, but it’s an honest one. And the world got to see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for the first time.

10. Batman Returns is another film that took a lot of liberties with the source material, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best Batman movies. Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken, an army of penguins, and Pee-wee Herman? What more do you need?

9. Iron Man is a great movie because it was so unexpectedly enjoyable. Iron Man is a famous comic book character, but he doesn’t have the prestige that Batman, Spider-man, and Superman enjoy. Robert Downey, Jr. was a bit of a gamble, director Jon Favreau was a bit of a gamble, but everything clicked and fell into place and the seeds for The Avengers movie were planted.

8. Man of Steel. This was the Superman movie that I was waiting for. I honestly enjoyed Superman Returns, but even I have to admit that it was a boring movie. Man of Steel was not boring. And it might not have been Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve’s version of Superman, but it was still Superman. Even if you hated this movie, you still have to admit that the action scenes are more than exhilarating.

7. X2: X-Men United is a superior movie to the original in every single way. It has more mutants, more powers, more action, and a better story. The opening scene with Nightcrawler is reason alone to warrant a spot on this list. It made you think that the X-Men franchise was going to be one of the best series of all time. And then the third one came out and shattered your belief system. Fuck you Brett Ratner. Fuck you.

6. Superman. This is the oldest film on my list and it’s one of the most important. Richard Donner’s film has been the model for every successful superhero movie to follow is. He set the template for superhero movies. He respected the source material, and more importantly, he respected the audience. Christopher Reeve was Clark Kent. He was Superman. And he will always be the standard.

5. Spider-man 2. Tobey Maguire’s second venture as Spider-man will always be one of my favorite sequels. It’s a fun ride from beginning to end and you hardly have time to catch your breath. There’s humor, there’s despair, there’s action, and there’s romance. It’s everything that you want from a Hollywood blockbuster.

4. The Matrix. Yes, Neo is a superhero. He has powers, he has an alter ego (his real name is Thomas Anderson), he has a costume (black trench coat and sunglasses), and he fights the evil Mr. Smith. He’s a superhero, and he’s a badass, and he’s The One.

3. The Incredibles isn’t based on a comic book, it’s not live action, and it’s still a great superhero movie. You could say it’s the best and you would have a valid argument. It’s about a family of superheroes with really cool superpowers and they face off against an interesting supervillain. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it has some amazing action scenes.

2. The Dark Knight is not only the best Batman movie, it’s the best DC movie. Christian Bale deserves some credit, but everybody knows that Heath Ledger carries the movie. His Joker is perhaps the best villain in any superhero movie. Christopher Nolan crafted a great trilogy, but this is the highlight by far. It’s The Dark Knight Trilogy for a reason, not The Batman Begins Trilogy or The Batman and Bane Trilogy.

1. Marvel’s The Avengers. Was there ever any doubt that this would be the best superhero movie of all time? You have Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, and (to a lesser extent) Nick Fury Hawkeye, and Black Widow fighting to save the planet. There are tons of characters and powers, plots and subplots, and somehow Joss Whedon manages to weave everything together to create a fun, entertaining, and satisfying blockbuster. The climactic battle is beyond description, a joyous showcase of special effects and sheer spectacle. It’s why you go to the movies. It’s why you justify spending $20 to watch something in IMAX 3-D.

So that’s my list. I hope you like it or at least respect it. If I missed anything that you think deserves to be on here, let me know and I’ll either add it or tell you why you’re wrong.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Ranking the Batman Movies

Batman has graced the big screen multiple times over the years. Some versions are light and campy, some versions are dark and gritty, and some of them are simply disappointing. I’ll attempt to Critically Rate the Batman films, but keep in mind that these are my opinions. You can disagree with me all you want… You’ll be wrong, but you can still disagree with me. Here is my list ranking the Batman movies from worst to best.

#8: Batman & Robin was director Joel Schumacher’s second Batman film, and was the first and only time that George Clooney played the Caped Crusader. This was the film that introduced us to Batgirl and to Batnipples. It was an awful film and effectively killed the franchise until Christopher Nolan rebooted it 8 years later. It suffered from a terrible story and from action scenes that only existed to sell toys. And Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers some of the worst ice-related puns in cinematic history.

#7: Batman was a 1966 movie based on the ‘60s TV show. It’s super campy, but that’s what it was trying to be. Adam West plays Batman, Burt Ward plays Robin, and together they take on the Joker, the Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman. They also fight an obviously fake shark at one point. This is the one where it says BAM! and POW! and WHAM! every time Batman punches somebody. It’s safe to say that it put comic book movies back a few decades.

#6: Batman Begins marked the successful return of Batman to the big screen after the fiasco that was Batman & Robin. It was a critical and financial success, and it depicted a more realistic Batman. Too bad this movie sucked. Christian Bale is a bad Batman. He plays a decent Bruce Wayne, but he’s a terrible Batman. His stupid fucking Batman voice ruins the movie. The action scenes were chaotic and poorly choreographed. You can’t see what is going on. I paid good money to watch Batman punch people, and it looked like Michael J. Fox was the cameraman. Everything is shaky and out of focus. And they ruined the Batmobile. Christopher Nolan was trying to bring Batman to the real world, but superheroes have no place in the real world.

#5: Batman Forever was a turning point in the franchise. It’s gritty, it’s campy, it’s very ‘90s. Joel Schumacher took over for Tim Burton, Val Kilmer took over for Michael Keaton, and Chris O’Donnell was brought in to play Robin. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey play Two-Face and the Riddler and they were both horribly miscast. Batman Forever is a step in the wrong direction, but it’s still a guilty pleasure for a lot of Batman fans.

#4: The Dark Knight Rises was the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. It was a satisfying conclusion, but was ultimately a letdown because The Dark Knight was so much better. The movie suffers from a lot of plot holes and poor execution, not to mention a villain with an unintelligible accent. And the nuke at the end would have caused radiation and cancer in Gotham City. So the citizens wouldn’t die instantly, they would die slowly and painfully. Good job, Batman.

#3 Batman Returns was the first Batman sequel. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton were reunited from their smash 1989 film, and it was a very satisfying follow-up. It’s defiantly Tim Burton’s Batman, it has a dark and dreamlike quality. He takes a lot of liberties with the source material, and some people hate the movie because of that. But the film is redeemed because it has the best villain lineup out of all the movies. Danny DeVito is the terrifying and creepy Penguin. Michelle Pfeiffer is the deadly and seductive Catwoman. And Christopher Walken plays the corrupt and powerful Max Shreck.

#2: The Dark Knight would be at the top of most people’s Batman movie list because most people are sheep. It’s a very solid movie, there’s no denying that. Heath Ledger did an amazing job playing the Joker. But everyone else is just kind of so-so. Christian Bale keeps using that stupid fucking voice, Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawson and drags the film down every time she’s on screen, and Aaron Eckhart is mediocre as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. There were some cool action scenes, but this movie was mostly a huge success because Heath Ledger died and people wanted to see the movie that killed him. It’s a really good film, but it’s not as amazing as everyone pretends it is. The opening scene is the highlight of the film, a great IMAX sequence that introduces us to the Joker. But it’s a Batman movie and they don’t even give Batman the IMAX treatment when he first appears on screen. It seems kind of backwards to me, but what do I know?

#1: The best Batman movie to date is Tim Burton’s Batman. This was the first gritty version of Batman to hit the big screen. They took a risk by casting Michael Keaton as Batman, but it paid off and he’s still the best Batman/Bruce Wayne to date. Jack Nicholson is an excellent Joker and is disturbingly maniacal despite his exaggerated performance. It’s kind of dated now (mostly because of Prince’s soundtrack), but it still holds up. If this movie flopped, they wouldn’t have made any more Batman movies. It effectively saved superhero movies, and for that reason alone it deserves the top spot on this list.

So that’s my list. I hope you agree with it. Let me know if you don’t.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Rundown

The Rundown has everything that you want in an action flick: a buff leading man, a funny sidekick, a beautiful girl, and Christopher Walken. It even has a priceless artifact and face-humping monkeys. What more could you want?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as Beck, a bounty hunter who wants out of the game. His final job is to track down his boss’s son Travis (Seann William Scott). Travis has been hiding in the jungle searching for a priceless artifact known as the Gato. Travis wants the Gato for fame and glory, but he’s not the only one who wants it. A rebel named Mariana (Rosario Dawson) wants it to save her people and Christopher Walken wants it because he’s the bad guy.

Beck just wants to get Travis and go home. But everybody else wants the Gato and that’s what gets the plot going. Beck and Travis tromp around the jungle looking for the Gato, trying to avoid Christopher Walken’s henchmen, angry rebels, and horny monkeys. There are lots of cool fight scenes all leading up to a fierce battle at the end.

This is a really fun movie. The editing is fast and fierce and never boring. There’s a quick cameo by Schwarzenegger passing the action hero torch to The Rock. The Rock does a good job. Most action stars are just big and buff and don’t talk much. The Rock kicks ass and can carry a conversation. This is basically a buddy flick and it wouldn’t work if Beck and Travis didn’t have any chemistry. Seann William Scott is pretty funny as usual if you like his cocky/smug style of humor. Christopher Walken has a delicious rant about the Tooth Fairy: “Do you understand the CONCEPT of the Tooth Fairy?!?” Anything he does is golden. Rosario Dawson is hot but her character doesn’t get naked and that’s a shame.

Despite the lack of nudity, The Rundown is still a great action movie. Director Peter Berg balances humor with action and created a movie that deserves more recognition. It’s easily one of The Rock’s best movies (yes, even better than The Scorpion King or Escape to Witch Mountain). Watch it. You’ll probably like it.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Joe Dirt

Joe Dirt is David Spade’s best movie that doesn’t costar Chris Farley. David Spade plays Joe Dirt, a simple redneck janitor who has a mullet wig and an incredible life story. He is a loser and the world shits on him, but somehow he manages to stay positive. Director Dennie Gordon is able to make this lowbrow comedy somehow relatable. If you liked Forrest Gump but felt that it needed more scenes involving dog’s nuts getting stuck to porches, you might want to check out this movie.

This is not a good movie. It will never win any Oscars and it isn’t trying to. It’s a stupid movie and it embraces that fact. Joe Dirt is working as a custodian at a radio station when a producer sees how much of a hick he is. The producer works for Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller), a Howard Stern-type radio personality. Zander starts to interview Joe Dirt on the air, openly mocking him while discovering what makes Joe Dirt tick.

Joe reluctantly starts telling the story of his life. When he was born he was missing the top of his skull, so his parents stuck a mullet wig on his head and they fused together. His parents hated him from the start and named him Joe Dirt instead of giving him their last name. And to top it off they abandoned him at the Grand Canyon when he was eight.

Joe grows up bouncing around from foster home to foster home before he settles down in picturesque Silvertown for a few years. He meets a girl named Brandy (Brittany Daniel) and he spends his days frolicking with her and her dog Charlie, all the while trying to avoid her drunken father and Kid Rock.

Joe has a desire to find his birthparents and sets out on a mission to find them. He bums his way around, meeting a Native American and Christopher Walken and getting captured by a serial killer. As Joe keeps spewing his tale to Zander, more and more listeners are tuning in, fascinated by this upbeat hick and his zany adventures.

As Joe’s story become a national sensation, questions arise about Brandy’s intentions after it’s revealed that she hid the truth about Joe’s parents from him. Some people think it’s because she’s a bitch, but it’s really because she loves him.

Joe’s quest for his parents was sparked by his need for a home, for a family, for people who love him. And he realizes that he already had that, back home in picturesque Silvertown. And Brandy loves him, so it’s also convenient to go back.

David Spade mostly plays a sarcastic asshole. He has a very insulting comedic style; his characters are constantly belittling and putting down other people. But Joe Dirt is a nice guy who gets bullied instead of doing the bullying. Finally David Spade gets a chance to show his theatrical range.

You either like this movie or you don’t. It’s not the best comedy ever, but it’s funny enough. There are a lot of good quotes and some funny gags. It’s one of David Spade’s best movies, and I know that’s not saying much, but it’s better than anything starring Rob Schneider. That’s not worth much, but it’s still worth something.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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Pulp Fiction

There are a few ways that men prove they are men. We light fires. We memorize sports statistics. And we quote Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino is movie nerd and you can tell that he knows how to make a great film. He might lift things from obscure movies, but he has his own style and voice and he makes movies that you can watch over and over again.

The movie is non linear. There are three main stories that are somewhat self-contained, but certain events and characters are common in all the segments. The film starts with Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) staging a robbery in a restaurant, before it jumps into the first story about Vincent Vega (John Travolta). Vincent and his partner Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) are two hit men working for Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Vincent and Jules make casual conversation before they kill off Brett, some fool who owes Marcellus Wallace money. Later Vincent has to take Marcellus Wallace’s wife out to dinner and keep her company. Vincent and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) go to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a ‘50s style diner and enter a dance contest and they win. They have chemistry, but there’s no way that Vincent can act on it. While Vincent is talking to himself in the bathroom, Mia finds his heroin, assumes that it’s coke, and overdoses. Vincent manages to save her life and his own in the process.

The next segment is about Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), an aging boxer who agrees to throw a fight for Marcellus Wallace. He then bets on himself to win and beats the other boxer to death. Now he’s a rich man but has to get out of town before Marcellus Wallace finds him. His girlfriend forgets to pack his gold watch, and the sentimental value is through the roof, so he has to go back to get it. He gets his watch and nearly gets away, but he runs into Marcellus Wallace and they have one of those savage street fights where you end up trapped in a pawnshop by two sadistic rapists and their pet gimp. While Marcellus is getting some unwanted attention, Butch manages to escape, but comes back to save Marcellus from getting more raped.

The last part is about Jules, and the film jumps back to Vincent and Jules shooting Brett. After the kill him, a guy that was hidden in the bathroom jumps out and unloads his gun at Vincent and Jules but doesn’t hit anything. Random fact of the day: the guy that was hiding in the bathroom is Alexis Arquette, better known as the tranny Arquette. Jules is convinced that it was a miracle he didn’t get shot. And then Vincent shoots Marvin in the face and they have do deal with that. They have to get off the road and get cleaned up. And then they get breakfast.

They get breakfast at the same restaurant that you see in the beginning, and sure enough Honey Bunny and Pumpkin are robbing the place and the movie comes full circle.

This movie requires repeated viewings. It is just so dense, and the stories are so interwoven and integrated that you will always note something new. Not only will you notice previously neglected details, but also you will be able to absorb the dialog. The dialog flows like poetry. Christopher Walken’s cameo is his best monolog on film. Harvey Keitel stands out as the Wolf and has some great lines.

The soundtrack is amazing. Tarantino has a gift for choosing the perfect song to suit the scene. He doesn’t resort to using cheesy pop hits by popular artists, and that’s why the soundtrack still holds up today.

This is a great movie. It’s a cult classic and it inspired a bunch of copycat movies. Tarantino makes movies for movie nerds. He steals stuff from other movies and doesn’t hide it or deny it. And even though he takes stuff, he still personalizes it and makes it his own. He has his own style from copying from multiple genres and it works. He makes great movies, and if Pulp Fiction is a respectable favorite movie to have.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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