Well, since it’s October, the month of all the things frightening that also go bump in the night, I will start off with a scary story from my youth. One that illustrates my parents’ poor choices in movies that they let me watch (for which I am eternally grateful) and one that illustrates the ingenuity of a small boy and his hand-me-down watch. Since it’s late in the month and we’ve all no doubt had our fill of them, I’m not going to do a full on horror post telling you how much you should watch Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, but will instead finish up with the wonderful world of super hero movies that have come out this year. Dear readers, let us begin. I’m guessing it was the year 1985. That would have put me at eight years of age. We were visiting my grandmother in Philly and wouldn’t you know it, A Nightmare on Elm St. was on. Obviously confusing it for a nice family movie, we all sat down to watch. What followed was 91 minutes of teenagers being slashed to ribbons by the only glove more popular in the 80’s than Michael’s, non-stop screaming, chases through nightmarescapes and a particularly horrifying scene of Johnny Depp being turned into a smoothie by his own bed. I can’t really remember quite what my reactions were to any of these things, but I don’t seem to remember it bothering me that much. But, that would all change. I went to bed fine. I was sleeping upstairs on a pile of cushions in my cousin’s room. My parents were down in the basement apartment that my grandmother stayed in. I had already forgotten about the movie and I drifted off to sleep. Two hours later, I awoke, most likely having to use the bathroom and found myself remembering that the plot of the movie I had seen specifically dealt with kids going to sleep and then being murdered by a psychopath. Which was exactly what I was trying to do. Go to sleep. But, if I did that, I might never wake up in the morning. This was a horrifying thought that left me wanting for the comfort of my parents. But, they were all the way downstairs in the basement and the house was pitch black. What did I do? Well, it so happened that on my wrist I was wearing the comically large G-Shock watch that my dad had given to me after he got another one to replace it. I bravely lit my passage through the home with that little watch light and am sure irritated my parents by waking them to talk about how I was going to be murdered in my sleep. Which, it turns out that I wasn’t. I think. Unless I’m still dreaming even now. But, I promised my therapist that I would stop believing that I’m living in a dream world so I won’t follow that train of thought. Now that the prerequisite scary movie tale is out of the way, I will move onto the second nerdiest part of the post. SUPER HERO MOVIES OF THE YEAR 2011. These are my top 3 favorites.
#3 X-Men: First Class– I saw this one in the theater and was pretty pleased with the results. When it comes to super hero movies, for some reason the creators are obsessed with origin stories. That’s all you ever get. Even the Avengers movie that comes out next year, a movie made up of characters who have all already had their origin movies, will, of course, be an origin movie about how the team forms. First Class outdoes them all by making an origin movie that takes place like 60 years before the previously made origin movie. It was good to see Professor X up and walking about acting like a cross between Austin Powers and James Bond. It was also bittersweet thinking about a time when Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr were actually just a couple of good buds trying to figure it all out. My only real complaint was that for a period piece movie, it didn’t really feel like a period piece.
#2 Thor– When I first saw the production stills from this movie, I was thoroughly frightened by the costumes. I thought that they looked absolutely terrible. It turns out that they did a really good job and they basically look like they do in the comics. The story is decent enough, probably owing a lot to the fantastic J. Michael Straczynski. But the look of the movie and Asgard are, to me, what sets it apart. Branagh and Whedon really brought this comic to life. Plus, the weapon noises were awesome.
#1 Megamind-Yes, I know that technically this movie came out in 2010, but I didn’t see it until last month and it’s my favorite of 2011. It is an origin story, but for characters that do not already exist, which is appreciated. DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT THERE IS SOME CONFUSION ABOUT HOW SPIDER MAN BECAME SPIDER MAN THAT WE NEED TWO MOVIES WITHIN TEN YEARS TELLING THE SAME EXACT STORY? Sorry. Megamind takes the whole concept of the super hero and turns it around, twists it and gives the audience a fresh look at an old idea. What makes a hero and what makes a villain are almost the same thing. The story is very well written and paced with one of the greatest character arcs that I’ve seen in this genre. Although Will Ferrell’s voice is perfect for Megamind, I will say that I found David Cross’ voice to be a little grating. Although marketed to children, this can be enjoyed by any age group.