#25 – Batman Begins
Directed by Christopher Nolan
No story in the Batman world is more important than Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Originally published by DC Comics in 1986, The Dark Knight Returns (a four-issue comic book limited series written and drawn by Frank Miller) redefined the genre of comics forever. As Alan Moore, himself an innovator in the genre, wrote in his introduction, “Miller has taken a character whose every trivial and incidental detail is graven in stone on the hearts and minds of the comic fans that make up his audience and managed to dramatically redefine that character without contradicting one jot of the character’s mythology. … Everything is exactly the same, except for the fact that it’s all totally different.”
The Dark Knight Returns tells the story of a middle-aged Batman who comes out of retirement to fight crime, only to face opposition from the Gotham City police force and the United States government.
Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of the Batman legend. Christopher Nolan’s assured direction and pacing keep the movie feeling brisk despite its two-plus hour running time. His sharp writing, thoughtful directing and delicately wrought atmosphere reinvents the Dark Knight for a new generation of film-goers. Batman Begins is a strong re-start to a franchise that deserves better than it has often been granted.
#24 – Blade
Directed by Steve Norrington
Blade is what you might call an obscure comic hero. Before the 1998 Wesley Snipes/Stephen Dorff action-packed drool-fest, it was a privileged few who knew much about it. Created by writer Marv Wolfman and penciller Gene Colan, Blade’s first appearance was in the comic book The Tomb of Dracula #10 (July 1973) as a supporting character.
Sometimes all style and no substance works, and Blade is a prime example. This great piece of flashy, moody pulp immediately grabs you by the jugular and holds tight for two hours. Of the many vampire films of late, Blade still stands above most for it’s innovative fight scenes – some of the best-choreographed in recent memory this side of Hong Kong.
#23- Iron Man
Directed by Jon Favreau
Iron Man’s premiere was a collaboration among editor and story-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, story-artist Don Heck, and cover-artist and character-designer Jack Kirby. In 1963, Lee had been toying with the idea of a businessman superhero. He wanted to create the “quintessential capitalist”, a character that would go against the spirit of the times and Marvel’s readership. He set out to make the new character a wealthy, glamorous ladies’ man, but one with a secret that would plague and torment him as well, a character, who on the outside is invulnerable, but inside is a wounded figure. Lee based this playboy’s looks and personality on Howard Hughes, explaining, “Howard Hughes was one of the most colorful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies’ man and finally a nutcase”.
Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey deliver a superhero debut with brains and brawn; a high impact superhero movie that even non-comics fans can enjoy. Iron Man has plenty of things going for it; the main asset being the brilliant nuanced performance by Robert Downey Jr. who combines pop-culture wit with genuine emotional depth. It’s a movie that rises and falls on the strength of the lead actor, but Downey is so good, it rises pretty high. Iron Man raised the stakes for comic book movies to follow with the prospect of sequels seeming like a promise instead of a threat.
#22- Sin City
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Sin City is the title for a series of comics by Frank Miller, told in a film noir-like style. The first story originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents comic book from April of 1991 to June of 1992, under the title of Sin City, serialized in thirteen parts. Several other stories of variable lengths have followed. All stories take place in Basin City, with frequent recurring characters and intertwining stories. Experimenting with a hard-hitting black and white graphic style, alongside a noir thriller storyline, Frank Miller’s Sin City is designed to entertain and shock all at once.
Sin City is a tour de force cinematic adaptation of one of Frank Miller’s most popular graphic novels. This homage to the hard-boiled style of Dashell Hammett and Mickey Spillane is a hard, cold, relentless assault that represents a stunning leap forward in both the technology of digital cinema and the art of filmmaking. Mixing live-action with computer-generated images, it looks as though the pages of the book have came to life. A bold, uncompromisable vision and in many ways, a ground-breaking piece of film-noir fantasy.
#21 –Road To Perdition
Directed by Sam Mendes
Road To Perdiction is an enthralling crime noir about revenge, morality and family loyalty. The basis for the film is loosely based on the Japanese manga series Lone Wolf and Cub. Michael O’Sullivan, the ruthless but honorable enforcer for a crime syndicate, is personally betrayed by his masters and is forced to flee with his young son Michael Jr. on a quest for revenge. The story is set in the American Midwest during the Great Depression and draws upon several historical figures.
Road to Perdition is an impressive accomplishment on its own artful terms, a well-crafted mob movie that explores the ties between fathers and sons. Directed by Sam Mendes, this is a smart film, mature, emotionally honest and features strong performances by Hanks, Newman, Jude Law, Stanley Tucci and others elevating it above most comic book adaptations. Road To Perdition is suspenseful, riveting, poignant and haunting.