Thursday, June 13, 2013

RANK-EL: From Worst to First

Here we are, the end of another retrospective.  And with this one came something I should have realized long ago.  The film history of Superman is not that of a good one.  Personal preference aside, there are far more "bad" movies in this lineup than good (seriously, the Fast & The Furious franchise has a much higher batting average).  Will Man of Steel actually add a good entry or actually be the best?  That's yet to be seen.  And its always hard to welcome a new film to the top of the hill.  It can take years for some to not be so stubborn and realize sometimes new films can be better than older ones. 
Its hard when eyed with nostalgia, I know myself.  And some of the fun watching with this series' lesser entries comes with just that.  If I hadn't been a kid when seeing a couple of them for the first time I'd NEVER have any desire to revisit or keep it in my collection (well, i'm a completionist 95% of the time so it might be there).  But no matter what, a new Superman film will always get my attention and build my excitement.

And without further ranking of the Superman franchise.

No brainer.  This thing is flat out bad.  There's some little moments that enter the "so bad it's good" territory, but they are very few.  Most of this movie is absolutely boring and is as flat as its lead "actor"s performance.  This is a movie no one should see, and no one did.  But, you know, I really didn't need to convince you of any of this.  You know its bad.
7. Superman III

Too much jokiness.  I mentioned things I did like, and those are good qualities.  But, this one's director doesn't really know a lick about Superman, let alone making a good superhero film.  Heck, he's not even interested in Superman.  To add, the film is an insulting 2+ hours.  Its hard to sit through this garbage for that long.  People want to blame Richard Pryor for this movie, but its not, you gotta blame Lester.

 6. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace

Yeah, this movie is kind of a mess.  It boldly tries to tell its story despite its tiny budget and falls on its face.  For some reason, though, i enjoy watching it.  Maybe I'm getting a good chuckle out of things like Neutron Man flailing his nails and Superman and Superman being hurt by his scratch.  I don't know.  This film is ambitious and wants to be a good movie, it just struggles mightily doing so.  You could say its flip a coin with this and III for me, but in all honesty, Superman IV has the decency to keep this thing at 90 minutes and not have to take up so much of my time.  It moves a lot faster and actually has Superman and other players I care to see involved.  No, its not a good movie.  I know I praised it, but there are some compliments you can give this film and all I see is hatred for this film everywhere, so I wanted to give you something you haven't read about this movie.  For the reasons I praised it and the sheer fact it moves better and is shorter, its a much easier pick for me over Superman III.  But it worth arguing over III & IV?
5. Supergirl

Now THIS MOVIE is so bad its good!  I couldn't believe what I was watching at times.  This movie is just crazy enough for me to almost love it.  I definitely would like to go back and watch this one with a group and some brews.  Its a weird movie with poor choices and ridiculous performances, what's not to love.  A lot of the time when it comes to ranking, a deciding factor can be me throwing criticism out the window and picking which one I flat out had the most fun watching.  And Supergirl was one of the most fun ones to watch in this entire series.  I think where I've placed it is adequate.
4. Superman Returns

I just thoroughly trashed this movie and now its in the top half of my rankings.  Its still not the Superman movie anybody wanted or has really gone back to find a new appreciation.  Its just no fun.  As it stands, its a solidly made movie, its just not really a good one.  But in fair comparison to the rest of the series, its better than the ones I have before it.  While I may watch Superman IV again before I pick this up, I'm not moronic.  With this one my criticism side wins in the rankings.

 3. Superman II

Almost there, but not quite.  This may be an easier, less attention needed film to watch, but it plays more on the big action film than it does the epic adventure.  Its not near as thoughtful or deep.  It brings with it some silly humor and feels off balance with what was set out in the first one.  Thanks Richard Lester.  Its got a very strong set of villains and does raise the stakes to a higher and more urgent level than the first film, but overall it doesn't quite grasp the magic and legendary status the first one does.

 2. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

This version of the film, however, almost pulls it off.  The scenes restored do cut out the silliness and bring that emotional weight of the first film.  All Marlon Brando's excised scenes carry so much importance and understanding to the film.  If this thing had been completed back in 1977 as intended we could have the Superman "Godfather or Godfather II ?" debate going on for years.  This is a very strong and satisfying film.  When I watch Superman II, I'll always be grabbing for this movie.  Its just that much better.  As it is in this cut, its close, but very complimentary to the original film.
1. Superman: The Movie

This is one of those legendary films.  It should always have its place in the "Top 10 Superhero Movies Of All Time" list.  Its an epic origin story that the world has always embraced.  And even if the film goes through it all, there's still plenty of time left for a regular movie when its done.  There's a magical quality to this film that is never recaptured in the series.  And that's okay.  Scott Mendelson has theorized that Superman may be the only superhero whose origin may be his very best story.  And, he's probably right.  That's why its constantly been told over and over.  Superman is one of those films, like Star Wars before it, unlocking the wonder and allows one to escape into the world of a movie.  Its why we go to the movies.  Its why they inspire us.  Its why we love them.

So...another one in the can.  Where are we heading now?  The next will be the first non-franchise retrospective, but a spotlight on the career of one of my favorite working directors leading up to his newest film.

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