R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: Superhero Lame-Off, Part 1!

So coming up this week is the moment that fandom has been waiting with baited breath for all summer long. Sure, we’ve all been excited about Indy coming back and whether WALL·E would blow our minds (it did) or perhaps whether The Happening was going to be God awful (it was), but for some reason The Dark Knight feels like the main event of the entire season. This is for various reasons, such as following up a terrific origin movie in Batman Begins, Heath Ledger’s untimely passing, and whether or not a movie can truly meet expectations at depicting what is perhaps the greatest superhero/villain rivalry in all of comics; Batman Vs. The Joker.

What I’d personally also like to see is the Batman franchise break a streak that has been going on at least since 1989, and maybe even further if you count other incarnations of the Caped Crusader; I’d like to see a terrific fight scene. Pound for pound, no series has been more egregious in poorly staged fight scenes, made even more disappointing by Batman’s mythos, which has always depicted him as a master martial artist. Instead, even in Batman Begins, we’ve been given one underwhelming brawl after another. Honestly, I’d love to see the difference between The Dark Knight and Batman Begins be the same ratio of improvement between the first and second Hellboy films, and I liked Batman Begins way more than I did the first Hellboy. Now beware, there are spoilers ahead.
On that note though, by request…

R0BTRAIN’s Bad Ass Cinema presents,

Lamest Superhero Fights

Sammael, the Desolate One. Lord of the Shadows. Son of Nergal. Hound of Resurrecting Repetitive Fight Scenes.
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I really want to love the first Hellboy movie. I absolutely adore Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Comic Book Series, with its creepy settings and incredible imagination, and for some reason Guillermo Del Toro’s first foray into that magical universe kind of falls flat. I like the movie overall, but there are some nagging flaws, including the fact that Ron Perlman’s Hellboy fights the monster Sammael, the Desolate One three different times in the movie. While the first two fights are entertaining, the third time will have you rolling your eyes; one because this is the third time you’ve seen this fight, even if Hellboy’s fighting thirty of the creatures, and two because the sequence features no real actors at all, just a bunch of CGI characters duking it out. For a movie whose biggest asset is its humanity, it’s a shame to see a scene near the climax with no humans at all on screen.

Can We Fit Venom in this Picture Somewhere?
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So Venom is perhaps the most popular of any modern day Spider-Man villains, and ever since the first film in Sam Raimi’s trilogy fans were clamoring to see the symbiotic bad guy. Here’s the problem; Sam Raimi seems to HATE Venom. Really hate him. Otherwise, I don’t think that the character would have been so shoehorned into this picture the way that he is here. We’ve got a movie that devotedly pours out terrifically humane sequences with the movie’s other villain, Sandman, but when it comes to Venom he seems like more of an afterthought. The fight here with Spidey never really builds tension the way it should, and the CGI to create Venom is shockingly bad at times. To boot, he’s killed off in a really pathetic way and never really seems like a viable threat for the entire finale. We end up not caring about this character at all and neither apparently, does this movie.

Much Ado about Ninjas
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So you’re Christopher Nolan. You’ve basically been handed the keys to the kingdom by Warner Brothers and given a chance to reboot what could be one of the most lucrative franchises ever in the Batman series. Not only that, but Joel Schumacher has screwed things up for the series so profoundly that no matter what kind of movie you make, its guaranteed to be better than his last outing. Thankfully, your movie is brilliant for the most part, and builds this awesome character back from the ground up, only it looks like the fight scenes in your film were directed by monkeys with a severe learning disability.

I’m sure the actual fighting that took place on set was amazingly choreographed, if only we could ever see it. The camera is so close to the action and the editing is so choppy that every once in a while we see a foot or a fist, but we never see it connecting to anyone’s face or body. There’s just a lot of movement of black colors and then in the wide shot we’ve found out that Batman has pushed his opponents off of the balcony they were on before. For a movie so close to perfection this and the rest of the movie’s fights are a glaring flaw that hopefully gets resolved in the next film.

“He Saved You from a Mutant French Poodle, and I’m Indebted to Him For That!”
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Ang Lee, I love your movies. I think most of your dramas are brilliant and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the top 10 movies of the millennium so far. On the other hand, what’s up with the Hulk fighting mutant dogs? I mean really? I like how the action is staged and all, despite the horrible low lighting, but it’s hard to get past the fact that the most vicious hand to hand fighting done in this movie is with the strongest character in the Marvel Universe and three mutant dogs. It’s just so bizarre, and not in a good way. Couldn’t it have been mutant bears or wolverines? Or maybe some villain from the comic book or TV show continuity? Maybe Nick Nolte could have captured the reporter Mr. McGee, and then subject him to Gamma Radiation. It would have been easier to buy than this.

Dracula Likes the Word Motherf*****
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Wow, I know following up Guillermo Del Toro must have been tough, but David Goyer drops the ball so badly here that it’s embarrassing to watch this movie after witnessing Wesley Snipes’ bad ass stylings from the first two flicks. The worst is this “climax”, where Blade is matched up with what should be his greatest opponent; Dracula. Instead, we get a boring, over edited mishmash of posing and bad one-liners, instead of the usual mishmash of posing and awesome one-liners. It’d be interesting to measure up which Marvel Franchise fell the furthest in quality from the second to third movie in their series. For those voting Blade, this would be exhibit A.

One Nation Under Zod
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Alright, so you’ve been living with Superman saving the world for a while, and you’re pretty sure about his powers and what he can do. Along comes three super-powered villains with virtually the same powers, all of whom are pretty public about their plans for world domination. How many soldiers would you bring to try and fight them. If you said 15 National Guardsmen, a jeep, and one helicopter then you would be right in the same mindset of the American President of Superman II. I mean really? Only the fate of the free world is at stake. You would think you would throw everything you’ve got at them, wouldn’t you? I really can’t think of a single sequence from Superman II that dates it more than this one does.

I’m Gonna Own this Movie, and Use It…Against You…
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I’d actually avoided seeing Ghost Rider altogether up to this point, but seeing that I’d be writing this column this week, I figured that I wouldn’t have been able to do this subject justice without this movie being included. I was not wrong. Ghost Rider manages to feature not one, not two, not eight, but four horrendously lame fight scenes that are as utterly crappy as any in a Nicolas Cage film, and that’s saying something. It’s amazing that this film passed for popular entertainment when it was released and ended up making like 10 times what Grindhouse did.
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As Cage’s Ghost Rider easily gets through the minions of Blackheart (Wes Bentley), our expectations for this movie keep going down further and further until the lameness seems to overtake us and send us straight to hell, which is where all of these fight scenes should go as well. All of these scenes are super short fights, with one extremely lame rejected Matrix-style villain after another, up until the climax where the whole procedure just makes you feel dirty inside for watching the whole thing. This is a bad movie that knows it’s a bad movie, but does that excuse it? Well, there’s no excuse for boring an audience, which is what every fight in the movie ends up doing.

Alright, so that’s all I got this week, but tune in next week and I’ll try to finish off this list with even more atrocious movie fights that seem to have it out for their audiences more than anyone onscreen.

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