I cannot tell you the year and I cannot tell you the location, but I can recall just about everything else. I'm young and I'm in a store and I'm looking at a rack of VHS tapes for sale. Wedged between the other titles is a cover that has caught my attention, chiefly because I feel like I caught it’s attention. It’s a movie called ‘Monkey Shines’ and the cover depicts a cartoonish monkey wielding a bloody knife, it’s eyes large and murderous and staring deep into my young, innocent, unblemished soul.
I’m about to say something that I never thought I would say in my entire life. It makes me sick to my stomach to even type such heresy, but here goes: Bill Murray is wrong. I’m getting out ahead of all the impending ‘Ghostbusters II’ hate right now. ‘Ghostbusters II’ is not a bad sequel. It’s not a great sequel either, but it’s a totally satisfying follow-up. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel the way the first film did by blending of horror, science-fiction, and comedy into a unique and irresistible genre hybrid. But it keeps things rolling in a frothy, entertaining, and occasionally profound way. (You heard me.)
ScreenCrush editor, comic-book lover, and undiagnosed masochist Matt Singer is systematically watching every single (American) comic-book movie ever made in the order in which they were released. This week in The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies: The Dark Knight makes his first appearance on the big screen):
Like most things these days, it all comes back to Clint Eastwood. ‘American Sniper’ reigns supreme at the box office, and the only movie that would seem to have a fighting chance of dislodging it from the top spot this weekend—the Jennifer Lopez thriller ‘The Boy Next Door’—owes its very existence to the movie that Eastwood was finishing up when he got cast as “Dirty” Harry Callahan. That’d be ‘Play Misty for Me,’ which has earned its place in cinema history as the answer to a trivia question—What was two-time Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood’s first movie as a director?—but is also one of the most influential American movies of the 1970s; the primal scene of an endlessly replenishing sub-genre of sexy stalker movies.
Last year, Marvel Comics announced the ‘Secret Wars’ event and yesterday, they explained exactly what this series is. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty in a moment, but it seems to involve the destruction and rebirth of the Marvel comic book universe as we know it. Yep, the Marvel superheroes are getting their own ‘Crisis’ and like that famous DC event, there’s probably an ulterior motive. You don’t break something unless you have big plans for how you want to fix it. If you’ll allow us to turn on our little speculation machine, we’ve got some ideas on what the new Marvel universe is going to look like.
ScreenCrush editor, comic-book lover, and undiagnosed masochist Matt Singer is systematically watching every single (American) comic-book movie ever made in the order in which they were released. This week in The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies: A look back at the forgotten hero who starred in the genre’s first-ever masterpiece:
The number one movie of last year was based on a comic book. The year before, two of the top five movies were based on comics. The year before that, both of the two top movies of the year were inspired by comics; both went on to make more than $1 billion worldwide and are now among the top 15 highest-grossing movies in history. Next year, no less than ten (10) movies based on comic books will open in theaters. Blessed are the geeks, for they have inherited the earth, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned.
Raimi is echoing what most critics and fans have been telling him for the last seven years. ‘Spider-Man 3’ had the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of any film in the franchise (until this year’s ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’), and it made less money in the U.S. than either of its predecessors. For many, it represents not only the lowest-point of the Spider-Man series, but for comic-book movies as a whole; the conclusion of Raimi’s Spider-trilogy routinely ranks among the worst superhero movies ever. (See: this, and this, and this, and this, and this.) No wonder Spidey looks so sad on the ‘Spider-Man 3’ teaser poster; everyone hates his movie.
James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ opened on December 18, 2009, five years ago this month. In a theatrical release that would stretch on for 34 weeks, Cameron’s motion-captured 3D spectacle grossed $749 million in the U.S. and an additional $2 billion overseas. Box-office-wise, it is the biggest movie in history by an absurd margin; it tops its closest competition, Cameron’s own ‘Titanic,’ by some $600 million. That’s more than ‘The Dark Knight’ made in its entire domestic theatrical run.
There seem to be two paths for monumentally popular pieces of art and entertainment once the initial excitement around them begins to wear off. Either they become a cultural touchstone, and become a part of the fabric of everyday communication, or they become a footnote, a piece of trivia relevant only as nostalgia and an occasional answer at bar trivia. I revisit Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy every few years, because I desperately want it to be the former and not the latter.