Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Dominique Louis, Teddy Newton, Jean Sincere, Eli Fucile, Maeve Andrews, Wallace Shawn, Spencer Fox, Lou Romano, Wayne Canney, Sarah Vowell, Michael Bird
Whilst some may be surprised to see an animated film feature here, they are becoming just as socially acceptable for adults to as superhero films. The Incredibles is so good that director Brad Bird went on to direct Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, starring Tom Cruise. A few good attempts have followed in The Incredibles Lycra clad footsteps (Megamind and Despicable Me are two perfectly entertaining examples) but when something is done this well it’s difficult to better. The Incredibles follows the story of the has been, the superheroes who have hung up the cape to pursue a normal domestic life in suburbia. However, escaping from this responsibility isn’t so easy and the heroes are quickly pulled out of early retirement with their kids in tow
The Incredibles is entertaining from start to finish and it’s got a wide appeal. Not only does The Incredibles mock and reveal in the superhero genre – a particular commentary of why capes are not such a good idea should amuse even old school superhero fanatics – but also fans of family dramas may even find enjoyment in the relationships which are stretched in the most extreme of situations. Not to mention, typical of Pixar Animation Studios, the animation is smooth and stunning, and the script features some of the most stand out funny moments of all animated films. The Incredibles is the perfect example of the family friendly superhero film - and that’s awesome
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Joe Manganiello, Gerry Becker, Bill Nunn, Jack Betts, Stanley Anderson, Ron Perkins, Michael Papajohn, K.K. Dodds
It would be impossible to make a list of superhero films from 2000 onwards without Spider-Man by Sam Raimi - which has shaped every ideal we have come to expect from the genre. Most of us know the classic story, nerdy boy – Peter Parker, played by a perfect Tobey Maguire - has crush on girl – Mary Jane Watson – a stunningly gorgeous Kirsten Dunst. Nerdy boy gets bitten by genetically altered spider. Nerdy boy becomes no longer nerdy. Boy gets girl and takes a few evil doers down in the process. In this particular adaption Peter Parker is set against an eccentric millionaire – Norman Osborne, played by a deranged Willem Dafoe – calling himself the Green Goblin. Spider-Man is all that is nerdy, awkward and good versus big, green, maniacal evil
Spider-Man is a feast for the eyes. Watching Peter Parker swing his way around the rooftops of New York City is amazing. But at its core Spider-Man is a simple tale of good guy versus bad. Peter Parker is the all American boy who it is very difficult to hate and Mary Jane is girl next door – pretty, and of course clever to boot. Sometimes a complex or mind boggling plot isn’t needed to make a good movie. Spider-Man encapsulates everything that the superhero genre became loved for – one guy fighting evil and making a difference, saving pretty girls and fighting bad guys. Spider-Man is just the best example of that, and so it is a staple for any superhero fan
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Aaron Stanford, Shawn Ashmore, Kelly Hu, Katie Stuart
Now, while I’m sure many would expect to see it’s predecessor X-Men in this list, I decided to take a different approach, and select X2: X Men United which I believe to be the best of the entire franchise. Whilst X-Men did a fantastic job of showing the world that superhero films could be exciting, current and emotional – ridding the genre of the brightly coloured exclaiming stereotypes of the late 60’s – I believe that its sequel is a superior picture in every way. X2: X Men United sees the antagonists of X-Men – Magneto and Professor X – teaming up to defeat a greater evil. While this kind of plot line can usually feel a little forced and unrealistic, the superb performances by all involved turn X2: X Men United into an engaging and thrilling tale
The reason that X2: X Men United is such a good film is that there are layers upon layers to explore. Visually there are several standout scenes which would shine alone in any other film – the opening with Nightcrawler causing havoc in the White House is worth a mention, as is Magneto’s charismatic and brilliant escape from his plastic prison. The characters we already know are opened up and developed in ways that makes them all the more interesting to watch, and the new characters introduced seem to slot in nicely and add to the plot (something which Brett Ratner seemed to ignore in the ill fated X-Men: The Last Stand). Overall X2: X Men United manages to combine the thrilling visuals we expect from superhero films with an engaging plot led by charismatic and realistic characters. I would recommend X2: X Men United a thousand times over if I could. So go and watch X2: X Men United now!
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Ron Dean, Cillian Murphy, Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Anthony Michael Hall
The Dark Knight was impossible to avoid. We all knew that. And with good reason, too. The Dark Knight - a masterpiece of modern cinema – was fated to land smack bang in this countdown and I’m perfectly happy to allow that to happen. I could write a long and complicated retelling of the plot, but let’s just put it simply and state the facts – The Joker causes mayhem and Batman has to mop it up. Also there’s this guy called Harvey Dent. Should probably keep an eye on that deviously good hearted man
Where to even begin? It seems difficult to give The Dark Knight the review it deserves – and definitely not the one it needs judging by its massive success! The Dark Knight isn’t simply a film of the moment because I think that it – and its messages – will always be relevant. You don’t need to be a comic book fan, or even a superhero fan to appreciate this cinematic brilliance. No knowledge of Batman is required to enjoy every second – although those in the know will appreciate the little nods. All the leads play their parts superbly; Heath Ledger gives the performance of a lifetime as a twisted, scary but absolutely dazzling Joker. And Bale pulls off a rounded but endearing Batman – an achievement indeed considering the almost comical voice Bruce Wayne adopts to hide his persona. The plot is a thrill ride, the script by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan is spine-tingingly good and rather than simply being a story about a caped crusader, The Dark Knight manages to become a tale of the human condition. And that is why The Dark Knight goes beyond simply touching comic-book fans – it is a human film that reaches many and I believe that humanity is the only requirement one need possess to enjoy every moment of this stunning picture
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