Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fanboys' Delight: The Summer Movie Season Part 1- Here Come the Heroes

Every year, Hollywood studios save their biggest guns and most lucrative franchises for the months of May, June, and July (sometimes August). This is the time when fantastical stories (GREEN LANTERN, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2), mythic figures (THOR, CONAN THE BARBARIAN) and iconic characters (TRANSFORMERS 3, CAPTAIN AMERICA, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4) take center stage. But not every movie is guaranteed to be a surefire win of epic proportions. And thus, the double-bladed irony of what is known as "fanboyism".

For the sake of my fingers, I'm going to split this into two posts. In this one, I'll be covering the 3 major superhero tentpoles of summer 2011. Read on (possible spoilers ahead!) and enjoy...

As a fantasy author, I'm constantly researching the histories, languages, cultures, architectural styles, and most importantly the mythologies of ancient civilizations for inspiration in THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY's own mythology (case in point, I have a sketch of the werewolf fortress of Ak'horokaš, and it drew heavy inspiration from Mayan and Aztec architectural design--more on that later). At the same time, I'm also an ardent comic book geek. I've always sided more with DC than Marvel (that's for another day!!) but when it comes to Norse mythology I just can't say no. There's something inherently appealing in there that makes it easy to understand why Marvel turned one of the Norse's greatest heroes into one of it's most beloved comics. And with Kenneth Branagh bringing the God of Thunder to life for his silver screen debut, I have very high hopes for this movie. Branagh, coming from a theatrical background, knows exactly the right amount of prose to use, and how much of that "high style" tone to incorporate as well, something he's very skilled at. Also, this is Branagh's biggest movie since he directed "Mary Shelly's Franeknstein" with Robert De Niro, a film I thoroughly enjoyed.
THOR is a big risk for Marvel, which is currently really pushing it's "Marvel Cinematic Universe" (and the AVENGERS film that will be a direct result of it next summer), mainly because the general audience hasn't seen their version of the character before, aside from vague memories of the original "Amazing Spider-Man" cartoon. But the premise of a god who has to learn how to be a hero by being human, and overcoming his own arrogance, is compelling enough so that when the action kicks in we'll already be enjoying the ride. Tom Hiddleston has been getting rave reviews for his performance as Thor's scheming brother Loki (appropriately, the Norse god of mischief), so I'm very excited to see how he plays his role.
And with Anthony Hopkins as Odin...well, need I say more?

Keeping the Marvel theme going, let's talk CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, shall we? I'm not going to lie, I was never into the guy in the comics. No, I'm not saying I didn't like him, I just didn't get him. But after seeing the latest trailer, I'm actually pretty intrigued to see this. Chris Evans, while not the first choice I would've made in casting the Cap, seems eager to get away from Johnny Storm, and he's got a great supporting cast around him to help him do just that.
Hugo Weaving always plays a damn good villain, and with Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci there's a pretty good chance that this movie can be just as enjoyable as THOR. Joe Johnston, the director responsible for THE MUMMY and more recently G.I. JOE and THE WOLFMAN, is sort of a hit-or-miss director and doesn't have me as excited for Captain America as I am for Thor. But there's no doubt that this movie will be a huge hit after the killing of Osama bin Laden, not only here but around the world as well. Amazing how things work out sometimes, isn't it?

As I've said, I'm more of a DC fanboy than a Marvel fanboy, which is why I'm most excited for Warner Bros' GREEN LANTERN. Call it my Most Anticipated Superhero Movie of 2011. The Green Lantern comics have a rich history and complex mythology to stand on, and despite the fact that he's a so-called "second tier" hero compared to DC's big three, that puts absolutely no pressure whatsoever on Hal Jordan to stand next to them, because his story as it has developed over the last forty someodd years is one of the most unique in comics. Whereas Superman and (until recently) Batman are the sole heralds of their insignias, Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern, one of only 3,600 sentient beings given the responsibility of wielding a tool of near-limitless power, a ring that, according to Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush), "turns thought into reality" through the user's willpower. But there's a catch: in order to access the ring's capabilities, the wearer must possess the ability to overcome fear, in the comics and film personified by a demonic being of pure yellow energy known as Parallax.
Now, while my preferred choice for Jordan was Bradley Cooper, I think Warners and director Martin Campbell (of James Bond fame) made a very shrewd casting call by giving the part to Ryan Reynolds. While mostly known for his comedic timing, Reynolds has proven his dramatic mettle in such films as the AMITYVILLE HORROR remake and the more recent BURIED. Reynolds has that right blend to make Jordan fearless, and cocky because of it, which of course gets him in as much trouble as it does help his willpower as a Lantern. Surrounding him, like Chris Evans with CAPTAIN AMERICA, is a finely well rounded cast (Mark Strong as Sinestro!!!).
Peter Sarsgaard, always a favorite actor of mine, gets his turn as a villain as Hector Hammond, and he looks grotesquely amazing from what I've seen thus far. Add the voice talents of the above-mentioned Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re and Michael Clarke Duncan (who better?) as Kilowog, Jordan's fellow Corpsmen, and you can bet that GREEN LANTERN is going to be the surprise hit of summer '11.


No comments:

Post a Comment