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Comic Book Movies

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    "The Smurfs" Gets Lost Inside the Biggest Product Placement Ever

    It is true, "The Smurfs" is one of the more tolerable movies to rape your childhood in a long time. The characters are cute and only minimally obnoxious. The scatological and pop culture references are at a minimum (though "Rango" proved that a lot of both doesn't have to be terrible). And it's self-aware in a respectful fashion more reminiscent of "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" than "The Brady Bunch Movie," so the adults who grew up on the little blue creatures have something to appreciate, and not in too campy a way. Sure, it's basically a rehash of "Enchanted," which was itself basically a rehash of "Splash," and I guess I was too hopeful in ...

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    "Captain America: The First Avenger" Captivates But Has Little Care for Character

    Ten years ago, Joe Johnston directed "Jurassic Park III," a much-maligned sequel to the Steven Spielberg original(s) that can be enjoyed if you forgive the more cartoonish, Joe Dante-esque turn of the series (speaking of which, Dante should helm part IV). And it's not really too much worse than Spielberg's own sequel ("The Lost World"). Now Johnston gives us the latest "Avengers" franchise title, "Captain America: The First Avenger," and at many times it begs to be thought of as an entry in Spielberg's "Indiana Jones" series. Again, it's a cartoonish distortion of the original(s), but it's also not any worse than the last Spielberg-directed i...

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    The Originals: Could the 1990 "Captain America" Have Been Any Worse?

    This week I'll be seeing "Captain America: The First Avenger," an adaptation of a comic book I always avoided in my youth because the idea of a patriotically costumed superhero seemed so silly to me. At the time he was as hokey as Captain Planet or Ray Cycle, a character starring in a one-off comic published by the State of Connecticut at the start of the late '80s recycling revolution. Suffice to say I haven't been that excited about the new movie even if it is a part of the current Marvel repute (though "Thor" put a damper on that already for me). So to give myself some perspective, I watched the infamously bad 1990 film of "Captain America...

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    The Originals: "Captain America" Serial Is Marvel's First Crossover Hit

    The 1944 “Captain America” film serial is a bit of an oddity. Unlike the new Chris Evans feature, or any other incarnation of the hero for that matter, it totally abandons the basics of the comic book character. In place of US Army Private Steve Rogers the striped suit is filled by District Attorney Grant Gardner. There’s no Super-Soldier Serum, no massive patriotic shield, and there aren’t even any Nazis. It's an odd cross between the superhero genre and the noir/crime serials that Republic Studios put out around the same time. Simultaneously entertaining and a little confusing, it poses an odd question about what a superhero film should loo...

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    "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Might Just Be the Greatest Political Allegory of Our Time

    The following is a lengthy discussion of elements of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” which contains some minor spoilers.

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    "Green Lantern" is a Lousy, Lazy Success

    “Green Lantern” is not a particularly good movie, and it doesn’t look as if there is going to be much debate on that point. It’s been pretty uniformly regarded as second-rate superhero fare, the lazy and lousy product of too many writers and not enough inspiration. I don’t entirely disagree, either: it’s far from exciting or unique when compared to other recent superhero flicks, and there are some moments that fall embarrassingly flat. I doubt it’ll cross over to ¬audiences beyond those comic book fans already enamored of Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) and his magic green suit, and it’s going to be regarded almost universally as a failure. Perhap...

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    Top Ten: Best Abs on Film

    This weekend, with the release of "Green Lantern," America gets to continue its love affair with Canadian star Ryan Reynolds and his torso. Shirtless or more in almost every movie he's appeared in this decade, the actor's sex appeal appears to be one of the film's most obvious selling points. Warner...

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    Watch: "Green Lantern" Meets "Duck Dodgers"

    “Duck Dodgers,” for those of you unfamiliar, is the best kind of meta-television cartoon entertainment. Starring Daffy Duck and his eternal sidekick Porky Pig, the show aired on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2006. Spun from an original 1953 Looney Toons short entitled “Duck Dodgers in the 24th ½ Cent...

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    Who Else is Upset About the Death in "X-Men: First Class"?

    I was going to be specific in the title, at least to imply that I'm referring to a certain death in particular, but outside of the potential spoiler material I also want to get something else more general out of the way first: there are a LOT of deaths in "X-Men: First Class." While it may not be the traumatic deluge of blood in the peak sequence of last year's "Piranha 3D," the CIA massacre at Langley was at least as surprisingly lethal as the mermaid bit in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." Actually, going by Entertainment Weekly's annual (thankfully still going after all these years) Summer Movie Body Count tally, the 18 pirat...

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    "X-Men: First Class" is a Fantastical Trip Through History and Interchangeable Subtexts

    The following is a lengthy discussion of elements of "X-Men: First Class" which contains some minor spoilers.

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