We have, at this point, dozens and dozens of superhero films. I think you could stack the overall quality of the genre against any other in filmdom, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of devastating missteps along the way. Watch Mojo has two videos categorizing the most egregious times comic book movies deviated from the source material or were poorly received by fans. The greatest hits are here: Spider-Man 3’s disco striding evil Peter, Iron Man 3’s Mandarin switcheroo, Superman II’s amnesia kiss, and Batman vs. Superman’s Martha madness. Some of their entries feel like stretches. Yes, The Killing Joke was an abomination, but were people overly upset Thor: Ragnarok was funny? X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s treatment of Deadpool was awful, but did anyone actually expect more than what we got out of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the Bay edition)? What moments are missing from WM’s lists?
Even if I don’t always agree with their actual choices, I admire the ability of WatchMojo to churn out list topics like fortune cookies. Character deaths are tricky. On one hand, a great character death can be a defining moment not just for the story arc of the deceased character but also for every character around them. On the other, if you botch it, people get maaaaaad. WatchMojo hits a number of them in their Top 10: Movie Deaths That Pissed People Off. The list is too heavily weighted toward recent films, and has some duds (is anyone really super incensed over Mortal Komat: Annihilation, Pacific Rim: Uprising, or Godzilla?). It does also make the long-overdue argument that all Kate Winslet had to do to save us from one of the most annoying deaths of all time in Titanic was haul to Leonardo Dicaprio out of the water and spoon. No matter what side of the debate you are on, you have to admit that the deaths of Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk deeply peeved people. What makes me maddest about character death is when characters die just to fill an unspoken death quota in bigger films. I love Joss Whedon, but he is the absolute worst at this. Whedon blood rage is the only explanation for why Quicksilver had to die in Age of Ultron or, even worse, why Wash & Shepherd Book were slaughtered in Serenity. Which character deaths made you throw things for weeks?
CineFix is back after a long hiatus with a brand new list highlighting the 10 best uses of music in movies, instances where music is used inside the film to further the plot…but not musical numbers or scores. There’s actually a word for this if you want to forgo a rip on your Word-of-the-Day Calendar: Diegetics. Within this concept are a whole lot of extremely specific uses for music in films: music provided by characters in a scene, contrapuntal scoring (or music provided to underscore a scene wildly out of sync with that particular scene’s gravity; think The Mickey Mouse March in Full Metal Jacket or the closing number from The Life of Brian), songs character choose to play that help define that character (ex: Peter Quill dancing to “Come And Get Your Love” in Guardians of the Galaxy), and a whole bunch of more esoteric musical film categories. Diegetics, people.
Diegetic sound. Sound whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film: voices of characters. sounds made by objects in the story. music represented as coming from instruments in the story space ( = source music)
As wonderful as a carefully crafted script is, some of the best movie moments are simply made up on the fly. CineFix returns with another great movie list – Top 10: Improvised Scenes in Movie History. Some directors hate improv and some barely require a formal script. I think erring on the side of having a Nolan-esque literary script in place is probably the prudent route, but as those are a handful a year, there’s something seriously admirable about an actor/director collaboration that just spontaneously generates magic on the spot. While improv is most associated with comedy, a good portion of the spots on the list go to famous dramatic scenes from Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, A Clockwork Orange, and The Breakfast Club. Improv is a staple of comedy, and a lot of your favorite comedy moments, be they from Judd Apatow, Bill Murray, or Chris Guest, also make the list. Rather than picking a scene for #1 though, CineFix made the very wise choice of simply sticking Robin Williams’s name up top. If you’re going to have a list heralding lack of structure, Robin deserves to sit atop it with his whole body of work.
Jurassic Park was the first PG-13 movie I ever got to see in the theater. Twenty-five years later, as the fifth film in the franchise is getting ready to lumber into theaters, the original still stands as one of the greatest blockbusters ever made. To honor those pesky dinos, WatchMojo has put together a list of the 10 best moments from the first four films of the Jurassic franchise. WM 90% nailed this one. The first film dominates the list, as it should. If I had to include every installment on the list, the only change between my list and theirs would have been to use the pterodactyl scene from Jurassic Park III instead of the Spinosaurus. The franchise is more notable for its ability to generate bank rather than its quality past the original film (the bomb that was JPIII aside). Fallen Kingdom’s early reviews don’t offer much hope that the fifth film will do much better than 2-4, but the original will always rank among my favorite summer films of all-time.