Comic Book Superheroes TV & Movies Reviews Part 2

I used to have this list (or most of it) on Screened but since that website has closed down, I was forced to move them here.

I'm a life long superhero comic book fan and I've noticed that there is an increasing number of superhero and superhero-like characters who are making the jump to the silver screen or as television series. Some of them are fairly good, while others fall flat.

This list will cover those that I've seen and my opinion of them. I'm slowly working on filling each one and rating them. For the most part, this list is alphabetical, but with some multiple entries with similar names, I tried to make it chronological. Due to current limits on how Comic Vine organizes our Lists, I'm going to have to break it up into different parts to maintain their order. This is the second part of my List, enjoy!

  • 5 STARS: The Best of the Best! You HAVE to go and see this!

  • 4 STARS: Really, really Good. You are definitely missing out if you don't see this.

  • 3 STARS: Mediocre to Decent.

  • 2 STARS: Fair to Okay; if you have nothing else to do and want to kill some time...

  • 1 STAR: Didn't like it.

  • 0 STAR: Junk. A piece of horrible crap that you will regret and agonize over the fact that you will never get back the time you wasted watching this..

List items

  • Widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made, "Howard the Duck" frequently gets mocked and derided as well as George Lucas' greatest missteps; but I personally thought it wasn't as horrible as some of the critics made it out to be. Yes it is stupid, but that's what made me chuckle at it. Perhaps it remains as one of jokes of the entertainment industry so that even to this day; so that they can poke fun of Lucas' bomb so that they can forget the stunning success that his "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises produced.

    Overall, the movie is not Oscar worthy material but for the 1980s, it's rather well done. It's goofy, the special effects were fairly limited and the duck suit could definitely been improved as the facial expressions were on the limited side and it did look kinda fake. Instead of sticking somebody inside that thing, I think they should have gone for some sort of muppet as CGI was still in it's infancy I think.

    The humor was definitely on the crude side, but considering some of the terrible spoofs and monstrosities that I've seen made since then, "Howard the Duck" wasn't quite in their league. I think that might have been what hurt the film because parents went in with their kids expecting to have a family friendly, kiddie movie and instead they got a swearing, beer swilling, cigar smoking duck who bore very little resemblance to Daffy or Donald. I think some of them were also offended by the hints of zoophilia between Howard and Beverly (Lea Thompson).

    I found myself enjoying the movie and was able to suspend my disbelief for it and seeing a duck kick butt with his skills in 'Quack Fu' was just too silly not to laugh at. Otherwise, it had Lea Thompson (Beverly Switzler), Tim Robbins (the sidekick Phil) and Jeffrey Jones (Dr. Jennings), three great supporting cast members who had some fairly side-splitting dialogue at times which they fired off with great timing. Basically, "Howard the Duck" is so incredibly cheesy but not as lame as people claim and shines as one of Marvel's boldest attempts to bring one of their zaniest creations to the silver screen and definitely a cult classic in my opinion.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.

  • Another made-for-television movies that continues the trials of the Incredible Hulk. As I have mentioned before, I don’t particularly care for the Bill Bixby’s version of the character as it didn’t really feel too much like the Hulk that I was familiar with in the comic books. This Hulk was way underpowered and he never fought any extraordinary villains or opponents plus he even lacked the ability to speak. I also found the lack of a real supporting cast to be a turn off with his “nemesis” in the form of an intrepid reporter, Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) to be pathetic.

    But this movie was probably the best however of the lot and the one that I enjoyed the most. I liked how McGee wasn’t present and there is an actual plot to this movie in how the Hulk becomes involved with Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Rex Smith) which didn’t feel like a desperate implant like Steve Levitt (Donald Blake) and his alter ego of Thor (Eric Allen Kramer) in the previous The Incredible Hulk Returns. The fact that even though the bad guys got away, it still felt like the good guys won a partial victory and the ending didn’t feel quite so depressing as the television series and other movies always seemed to end with.

    Aside from the storyline, I have to say that I greatly admired the actors in their roles in this movies. Bixby is at his iconic best as David Bruce Banner while I found Rex Smith to be an awesome Matt Murdock/Daredevil (although his costume needed some work). I thought that Lou Ferrigno (Hulk) did some of his best work in his scenes here; usually he was simply a dumb incoherent monster, grunting and smashing things but I found the tender expression as he helped Murdock who he was able to recognize as his friend to be heartfelt moment that he rarely demonstrated. And John Rhys-Davies as the Kingpin was appropriately sinister and Machiavellian.

    The sets and the special effects were limited and were probably the only weakness in this film due to their miniscule budget. I also mentioned earlier but I did think that the Daredevil costume could have done with some work; while the utilitarian black would be a good choice for a shadowy vigilante, I do think that they should have done more to make him superheroic or have some particular reason behind his namesake; at least a pair of horns maybe.

    Overall, I have to say if you have to watch Bixby’s Incredible Hulk movies, then I recommend that you at least see this one if nothing else.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.

  • I am continually disappointed with the Japanese’s attempt to anime-mate Iron Man and this animated feature follows in the pathetic footsteps of Madhouse’s previous 2011 "Iron Man" series.

    As far as the animation goes, America could definitely learn a few things about CGI from Madhouse as visually, this is one of the most impressive animated films that I have seen. The backgrounds are exquisite works of art, the character designs are incredibly believably and fantastically detailed, and the technology looks solid and real.

    Overall, there is little to complain about. The special effects are fairly solid as well, I did find some of them to be somewhat repetitive, particularly the technovore’s attacks.

    The voice actors were a rather broad mixture with some of them being excellent while others could definitely have used some emotive in their performances.

    Matthew Mercer was a perfectly adequate Tony Stark but he’s not Robert Downey Jr. either. It sounds like he’s trying to ape Downey’s flair and arrogant lilt a bit too much and he can’t quite pull it off. James C. Mathis III (Rhodey) was sharp, easily the best voice actor in the entire film.

    Unfortunately Mathis had very little scenes and the rest of the actors pretty much drag down the rest of the movie with rather bland, wooden, and uninspiring—particularly Eric Bauza (Ezekiel Stane) who is the main villain with his insipid pseudo-intellectual philosophical monologuing. He didn’t come off as insane, just extremely boring. A lot of the dialogue and witty battle banter could have been improved as well.

    Finally, where "Iron Man: Rise of Technovore" completely falls apart for me was the storyline. I found it tiresome, overly convoluted, and a lot of parts just didn’t really track for me. The story feels very drawn out where it could have been compacted into maybe 30 minutes or so. The inclusion of the Punisher felt a bit forced and instead of a plot, we’re treated to a barrage of awesomely explosive fighting sequences where Iron Man is showing us his mettle. But basically, they’ve forgotten to tell a story in-between those bits.

    Basically, there is a lot of Ezekiel Stane just sitting there, staring into space while someone rambles on in the background from a book. I think it’s an attempt to feel like philosophically artistic and thought provoking, it felt more pretentious rambling to me and utter pointlessness. I mean Ezekiel keeps talking about the future, how he’s the next stage in evolution, how backwards and utterly obsolete Stark is—yet his scenes uses old fashioned record players and leatherbound books as it’s metaphors. Does that make sense?

    All and all, this is animated feature is utterly senseless and perfectly replicates Madhouse’s previous Iron Man work; confusing story but cool visual effects. If nothing else, those action sequences are neat to watch but you’ll suffer through the rest.

    RATING: 2 STARS.

  • Marvel screwed up with this particular animated movie. It’s not that surprising, although their live action stuff is usually well done, but a lot of their animation projects aren’t that spectacular and leave much to desired. They did come up with a great idea of combining these two very distinct and different heroes together but they failed abysmally on the execution of the animation and storyline.

    Overall, this felt like a cartoon that they created for kids aged 5 and under and packed it with special effects, monsters, and two of Marvel’s biggest heroes and then stood back and expected it to be a huge success. Perhaps kids would enjoy this, but I needed a better plot to overlook the rest. Basically, Hydra tricks the Abomination to make a big rampage to lure the Hulk in so that they can drain his gamma-charged body for an experiment to create a gamma-charged Arc Reactor. The Abomination succeeds with some underhanded aid by Hydra and then they double-cross him and stick him in the drainer too since he’s gamma-powered like the Hulk. The experiment blows up and instead creates a new creature called Zzzax. The resulting explosion attracts Shellhead’s attention and then they’re off to save the world from the menace of Zzzax.

    The problem with the movie however is the storyline desperately needed some help. First off, the Abomination abruptly vanishes after the first act never to be seen again. Whut? I was rather expecting him to reappear at the finale at least, to get some payback on Hydra or help out after the Hulk saved him, you know debt of honor kind of deal? Next about midway through the movie, they interrupt things by putting a blind Hulk and a paralyzed Iron Man in the midst of a graveyard and attacked by an army of Wendigos. That made absolutely no sense to me. I figure it did sort of extend the movie by a bit, helped the duo to learn how to work together and stuff, but it felt absolutely pointless. Not to mention that the Wendigos never pop up again. But enough about the gaping plot holes, the rest of the storyline holds up OK. Hell, I loved the scene where the Hulk improvises using Iron Man as a gigantic club.

    Another thing that struck me as odd was the fact that there was absolutely no other characters in this film, not even the odd background one. There were the two Hydra scientists, the Abomination, Hulk, Iron Man, and Zzzax. Oh and a bunch of Wendigos. That was all. It felt implausible, not to mention that Stark apparently has his own private Helicarrier as well.

    The CGI animation however is one of the weakest things about the movie. Basically there are definite flaws in it. Even though it was recently made, the CGI looks maybe a decade or so out of date. The backgrounds and some of the colors and shading look slightly off and the electrical effects are sadly not quite up to par. I also seemed to notice that the movements of the mouths to be slightly off synch and the general movements such as facial expressions, running, and the fight sequences appeared a bit awkward and stiff.

    Personally, I only liked the voice actor for the Hulk, Fred Tatasciore. He was excellent in his performance as the Jade Giant combining sarcastic humor with his gravelly voice. Fred Tatasciore’s performance shines as the sole redeeming feature in this movie.

    David Kaye (Jarvis) was another voice actor who did an otherwise superb performance but really had little to do with the feature. Dee Bradley Baker was pretty lackluster as Zzzax. Adrian Pasdar was decent as Iron Man—but he had a bit of an arrogant bluster and bantering that just made him appear to be a jerk and he was acting sort of like Spider-Man as he kept trying to be witty and funny—but wasn’t.

    Another oddity that I noticed that whenever Zzzax “downloaded” himself into one of Iron Man’s armors, there was this sound effect that sounded like the 1980s "Transformers" cartoon when they’re reconfiguring themselves.

    Overall, this is one of those rent it and watch once movies at best. It really doesn’t deserve anything more than that.

    RATING: 1 STAR.

  • "Jonah Hex" may be an excellent example of how to make a flop of a movie. It was simply that bad. I’m only passingly familiar with the character but I do know that he is not supposed to be able to raise the dead even though they got most of the rest right. I thought that bit just simply didn’t make that much sense and was a vain attempt to throw in a supernatural element to the film. Why? I don’t know and apparently neither did the filmmakers.

    The storyline is barely comprehensible, basically all I got was that Hex killed this guy’s son during the American Civil War and the father came back and disfigured Hex and then proceeded to kill his wife and child and then went on to mastermind this plot to blow up Washington and thus ensuring that the South could conquer the North after all. Hex was saved via Native American’s mystical mumbo jumbo but he didn’t come entirely back and instead gained the power to resurrect (partially) dead people for brief periods of time and decided to become a bounty hunter. Don’t blame me if the summary sounds disjointed, because basically the whole movie is like that. It’s like they were trying to tell a Western, shifted to a gritty revenge flick, threw in some supernatural elements from "The Sixth Sense", and just for the heck of it, decided to try and imitate Will Smith’s "Wild Wild West" flick with steampunk and retro-technology. It’s like they can’t decide what genre they’re using for this film.

    Action movies tend to be weak on plot, but they usually manage to balance it out with flashy and glitzy action sequences that wow the audience. "Jonah Hex" however is an exception and was disappointing in that regard. The special effects were some of the dumbest and lamest that I have ever seen. Hex's disfigured face was well alright, but not as gross and gory as it should have been. It was like a halfhearted attempt to visually scar the man but still ensure that he wasn't THAT bad looking. The sets were fairly realistic, but I despised the shaky camera views. It made it seem like they couldn’t shoot the film properly instead of giving it a sense of realism. I will admit that the dynamite crossbow launcher was pretty cool, but nothing else was; particularly the Final Secret Weapon.

    The actors were fairly lame as well, Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex) felt like a fairly wooden character with little emotions save for his obsessive desire for revenge and his slurred speech was barely comprehensible at times. John Malkovich (Quentin Turnbull) was a disappointingly one-dimensional character as was Megan Fox (Lilah) who had a rather fake sounding Western drawl, strangely shifted between being a helpless damsel in distress to a butt kickin’ heroine when it suited the thin plot. Even with Fox stripping down as much and as often as she could, she couldn’t save this trainwreck of a film which desperately needed someone to stick to one single plot instead of trying to throw in everything and the kitchen sink as well, creating a mishmash and confusing film.

    It’s so bad that I felt it wasn’t even worth the price of renting it, Thank God I didn’t waste money on a movie ticket. All I can is don’t have high expectations and you definitely won’t be disappointed.

    RATING: 1 STAR.

  • Unlike the big budget, live action monstrosity which let me down immensely, "DC Showcase: Jonah Hex" is an example of what a really good gritty Western flick is all about, even if it is a 12-minute animation short.

    Hex is the bad@$$ bounty hunter who is hunting down a criminal and stumbles across some even worse fellas. And despite his brutality and mercilessness, he’s got a sense of justice lurking beneath that scarred exterior.

    My favorite part was at the end where Hex and the brothel madam descend into the abandoned mine shaft and he discovers the bodies of dozens of her previous victims. Hex casually loads up the dead body of his quarry and makes to depart while the brothel madam starts screaming that he can’t abandon her down there. Hex almost laconically shrugs, “You got plenty of company.”

    Hardcore. It’s a perfect stand alone story and while there isn’t too much about Jonah Hex’s past or history, you don’t have to know too much about the characters or their backstory with it’s simple and easy to understand plot.

    Animation wise, this cartoon possessed excellent quality and realism of the Western setting but also the action sequences were well handled with the brief but explosive struggle between Hex and his ambushers. I personally think that they should have increased Hex’s facial disfigurement a bit more, increasing the level of grotesqueness but otherwise, I found the character designs to be well done as well.

    The voice actors however truly excelled. Thomas Jane unabashedly did a tremendous job in bringing Jonah Hex to life with his raspy voice and great one-liners and Linda Hamilton was superb as the seductive Madam Lorraine.

    I had little complaints except that Hex's past wasn’t even touched upon and relies on the knowledge of the viewers to fill them in. I’m not saying that this should have been a full-on origin story with obligatory flashback sequences but they could have added some parts in like maybe a few voice-over comments or remarks which would have fleshed out the character.

    Otherwise, I felt it was over awfully fast and that they could have possibly stretched things out a little more but it is still far and away superior to the live action movie. Overall, that was the biggest flaw and failing to "DC Showcase: Jonah Hex"; it was simply too short for its character and too short of a story for what the bounty hunter bad@$$ deserved in a movie.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.

  • Bleah. This could have been something. They were adapting the “Tower of Babel” to the animated screen, which was one of the bigger and one of the most stunning JLA storylines by Mark Waid, who I unabashedly claim as one of the very best comic book writers of this generation. Unfortunately they fell short in copying his masterpiece, and they did it badly too.

    First, it was over too damn quick. Like so many of these adaptations, they compress way too much in order to fit the movie in barely over an hour. Why? Why can’t they actually try and extend things and make an actual length animated movie? Particularly when you’re dealing with a team like the JLA which would mean—GASP! Multiple main characters! I’m not saying it has to be a three-hour long epic but surely you could use an hour and an half, maybe two at the most. It’s more like they’re trying to make a slightly longer cartoon episode.

    Second; they truly botched things by changing several of the booby traps to some truly stupid methods of incapacitating the JLA. I mean a bomb strapped to the Flash's wrist that would detonate if he slowed down? Clearly somebody had been watching "Speed". A robotic decoy that was killed to destroy Green Lantern's confidence? A weird drug that made Wonder Woman see the Cheetah everywhere? And burying Batman in his parents’ grave and having him forced to dig his way out—somebody was obviously watching "Kill Bill 2". And a kryptonite bullet for Superman was right out of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Would it kill you guys to show a little originality like Supes being exposed to the artificial Red K like in the Babel comic?

    Third; I had no idea why they created that anti-Justice League except maybe they thought they needed one big JLA team fight at the conclusion. They just seemed to serve no real purpose in my opinion.

    Fourth; they totally skipped over Batman getting kicked out of the JLA like at the end of the Babel story which I thought was the biggest and jaw dropping moment to the whole plot.

    Fifth; the conclusion was … bad. They save the world by making it intangible. I was left feeling that the writer was really, really lazy and just wanted to resolve things without working it out.

    And finally, why on Earth did they include Cyborg, who is not even a member of the League in the middle of this whole crisis and had him join at the end? It seemed like a poor attempt to model the JLA after the current JLA comics. Not to mention that they totally dropped Aquaman as well.

    Whew. Now that my rant over what I thought was horrible about the movie, I have to say that the animation was of excellent quality. They rarely screw up in that aspect. And as far as the voice actors, I was genuinely surprised at that they brought back so many of the old great voice actors from Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Carl Lumbly, Michael Rosenbaum, and Nathan Fillion to reprise their old roles. I had no complaints there, they were some of the very best at their roles.

    But I went in with some serious high expectations after "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" and the fact that they were adapting one of Mark Waid’s storylines. And I was utterly let down. All and all,

    "Justice League: Doom" starts off with a bang and finishes with a whimper.

    RATING: 1 STAR.

  • I’m not personally too much of a fan of the New 52 Continuity that the Powers-That-Be at DC came up to reboot themselves with. I think it’s probably because I had to endure two of them already with the 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' and then 'Zero Hour' and I found these reboots are far from flawless. Rather, they tended to be riddled with continuity gaps, inconsistencies, and glitches that left me confused and characters’ histories completely muddled or mangled beyond recognition. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that the 'Crisis' reboot was badly needed to straightened out the mess that DC Comics was laboring under. 'Zero Hour' though—eh, not so much.

    Personally, I think that DC seems to have barely managed to sort, readjust, and fix all of the crap that they had inadvertently spawned from the 'Crisis' and now it seems that they have to start all over AGAIN.

    "Justice League: War" is the animated version of the New 52’s Justice League and it’s a pretty decent adaptation of their origin story but it does suffer from a few failings. It essentially drops you off in the middle of the deep end and expects you to understand exactly what is going on. I think that they did this adaptation in the expectation that only comic book readers would watch it. While it is their target audience, I do think that they are expecting a bit too much from casual viewers or people who just watch the animated movies like a friend of mine does as he used to read the comics but over the years, his interest has waned in reading it and simply watches the movies and stuff.

    However, I did think that they needed to do something to help define some of the characters a bit; sort of like what they did at the "Justice League: New Frontier" movie a while back, where they had like a montage of scenes in the opening credits that helped set things up.

    I’m not saying that they needed a full blown origin sequence that would just be too much considering that we have seven major characters to focus on, but brief glimpses of say Krypton exploding and the Kents finding Kal El; a young Bruce Wayne standing above the dead bodies of his parents; Princess Diana’s life on Themyscira; Barry Allen getting struck by lightning; Billy Batson meeting Shazam; Hal Jordan gaining the Green Lantern Ring; and looming over the whole thing would be Darkseid.

    Therein lies the primary weakness of "War"; someone who is not familiar with some of the characters and their backstories will be probably feel hopelessly lost. Particularly the presence of Captain Marvel/Shazam and Cyborg as the others; Superman and Batman are fairly well known while the rest—Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Darkseid I think most people are only modestly familiar with.

    The movie is otherwise a bit thin on plot as it’s primarily more an hour of extreme action sequences which is the strongest part of the film. They had precious little in the way of character development and even less on the backstories of the characters; which is another weakness of the film in my opinion as again, it seems primarily for comic book fans (like myself) and less for regular audiences who are expected to be in awe of the animation and spectacular fights. I did like how they implied an attraction between Wonder Woman and Superman though. Give Lois Lane some competition guys!

    The animation is top notch. Thankfully, they’re not using the god-awful CGI stuff like they used for "Green Lantern: The Animated Series" or "Beware the Batman" but more along the lines of the recent "Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox" and the "Young Justice" series with a hint of anime to them. The fight scenes are brilliant, I particularly enjoyed Green Lantern’s imaginary constructs but Wonder Woman was gorgeously gory in her takedowns of the parademons. One of the few weaknesses in the animation was in some of the character designs. I’m glad that they didn’t use the Flash’s new 52 costume and Wonder Woman’s outfit was great as well. However Superman’s suit just wasn’t quite as impressive and I thought that Green Lantern needed some more energetic effects for his suit sort of like that glowing lantern symbol construct that they use for dramatic effect in the comics.

    The voice actors were a broad mix with an outstanding performance by Michelle Monaghan (Wonder Woman) and Jason O’Mara (Batman). I thought that Justin Kirk (Green Lantern) did a decent job, but I did think he was lacking in some of his scenes. He started off rather strong and I was expecting more trash talk and battle banter from him in the big throwdown with Darkseid and he didn’t live up to his early performance promise. I just wasn’t as impressed with Alan Tudyk (Superman) and I thought Sean Astin (Shazam) was just plain annoying and Steven Blum was just not too intimidating as the evil Darkseid with that weird electronic reverberation that they did.

    Basically, "Justice League: War" feels just a little too fast-paced with a truncated storyline and characters with too heavy a focus on the battle sequences. I think that they did an impressive job, considering that they managed to squeeze in seven major heroes working together in about 80 minutes but the characters could have used a bit more exposition dialogue, even the villain seemed to only rule a planet consisting of one lackey and a bunch of brainwashed henchmen. Maybe they should have just cut out Shazam who seemed mainly superfluous and filled in some screentime with the other superheroes or more Darkseid and in a sequel added Shazam in like they seem to be doing for Aquaman. But "War" lives up to it’s dramatic title as we get to see Earth’s Greatest Heroes up against a huge threat and taking no prisoners. Blinding a guy, even a supervillain isn’t exactly what you expect for superheroes; but it’s a great modernistic take for a bunch of classic heroes and reinventing them for a 21st Century audience.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.