THE INCREDIBLES (2004)
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Brad Bird’s masterpiece is the movie that each Fantastic Four movie should have been. Not that it was intention but it certainly was the outcome. If Bird wrote the film as an homage to the superhero genre or for the thrill of it it paid off for him and Pixar in many ways. It’s the benchmark which all fans have measured any Pixar production since. Yes, Up was endearing and uplifting, Cars was full of muscle and witty on-liners, Ratatouille was a (culinary) delight and each contained a message about family and love but The Incredibles gave us comedy, drama, adventure, romance, and every other element you could throw in to nearly 2 hours of entertainment.

DARKMAN (1990)
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It was Liam Neeson’s early days in Hollywood and work was wherever it was found. So, if you took on the role of a brilliant scientist who was left for dead in a botched experiment and returns from the dead to exact revenge, and were directed by maestro of horror Sam Raimi, would you say no?

SUPER (2010)
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Shut up, crime!

Plain and boring Frank Darbo has few loves in his life, the one time he did his bit for justice and his wife. She is a recovering addict who falls for a smug French strip club owner and gets her hooked again. Falling to a new low he takes advice from “a calling” from God and a figure known as the Holy Avenger to become a superhero. A trip to a local comic book store inspires him to adopt the moniker and identity of ‘the Crimson Bolt’. Without any powers to speak of or produce he wields a pipe wrench and takes to the streets to deal with criminals of all degrees. He becomes a media sensation and then attempts to rescue his wife…

James Gunn’s tongue-in-cheek sweet and funny song to the super hero genre was met with mixed responses from critics, especially regarding the moral ambiguity of the subject matter. Fans didn’t have a problem with it much and loved it. Hey critics, get this: it was a dark comedy not a dramatic retelling of an actual life event. Calm your jets.

CONDORMAN (1981)
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Some Mothers Do Have ’em and Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford went from TV and the stage to Hollywood in this camp caper about a cartoonist who adopts the identity of one of his creations – said hero in title – and aids a Soviet woman defect to the West. Cue the obvious villainy and catastrophes, sexy spies, more CIA secret intel and spiel, and cheesy dialogue but this film brings a unique tone to an overly spun genre and lots of joyous moments involving tech, gadgetry and adventure.

SKY HIGH (2005)
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This may be a tongue-in-cheek homage to superhero genre with the usual Disney schmaltz and cutesy moments it somehow manages to conjure a respectable weight for drama and a story that makes you believe that powers and heroes are real. It always comes down to a strong script and production ethos and Sky High has it.

Will Stronghold, son of legendary heroes The Commander and Jetstream, and due to start school at a prestigious airborne school for the heroes of tomorrow. Alas, Will’s powers have yet to kick in so he’s relegated to the ‘sidekicks’ group – youngsters whose powers are either weak or lack usefulness. Unaware of is sons status at the school The Commander shows Will his trophy room and the many technological marvels they had acquired pver the years. On device called ‘the Pacifier’ was wielded by a former, now presumed dead, nemesis known as Royal Pain. Pain, alive but shrouded in the shadows, watches this tour unfold and bides their time to exact their revenge…

Again, it’s a fun fantasy adventure from Disney with a lot of heart, soul and comedy. Check it out.

CHRONICLE (2012)
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Ah, Josh Trank. You did something good. You gave us the sci-fi wonderpiece Chronicle; the story of three friends that make an incredible discovery which leads them to gaining powers and their lives to spiral out of control. It was heavily admired and lauded by fans and critics. It came from left-field to take everyone by surprise and to new levels of awe. You did good. Yet, what you did next wasn’t so great. You made Fantastic 4 – a computer generated vomitorium of bad dialogue, bad ‘action’ and very ill-conceived concepts. It led to you losing a lot of your cool and credibility. Stick to indie sci-fi. It’s where your skills and strengths lie and Chronicle proves exactly why.

UNBREAKABLE (2000)
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Following up from the Sixth Sense was never going to be an east task for director/writer M. Night Shyamalan. What made his debut piece so interesting and absorbing was the idea of loss and suspension of disbelief and fear or curiosity (also known as horror, but we’ll talk about that another time) could be bound together to meet a steely and gripping outcome.

Unbreakable attempts to repeat those elements but supplant the background from the suburbs to the inner city, and open the range of talent from a disturbed child to a disturbed older man.

In short: Philadelphia security guard is the sole survivor of horrible train crash and steadily discovers he has super powers. Upon researching how this could be all be possible he realises that he can use these powers for good but what brought these latent powers to the front may not be so appreciated.

Highly lauded and praised upon its release and after it has gone on to take on a cult status for its unique taken on the genre. Sadly, none of Shyamalan’s works have had the same level of interest or respect since these two movies. Here’s three words for you ‘M. Night’: less is more. Use these words wisely, ’cause it worked very well for you before.

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