Welcome to the first installment of Night Of The Ranting Brad. With this weekly post the goal is to bring to you a top 10 list that will hopefully highlight some older possibly forgotten films and tie them into current themes of modern day releases. Not all of my choices will be popular and some might say a few are way off or just plain wrong but that's the fun of top 10 lists. So, without further ado let's get into the first list.
With the recent domination by comic book adaptations at the box office, now seems the perfect time to look at some other comic adaptations and how they stack up quality-wise. The criteria for this list is as follows:
1. Must be based on a comic book or a graphic novel. I don't even want to get into the argument of how graphic novels aren't comics. They sell them at comic book stores and that is good enough for me.
2. The faithfulness to the source material is inconsequential. With every adaptation things are changed as long as the core and feel of the source material is present that is all that matters.
3. Box office and IMDB\Rotten Tomatoes scores have no bearing on rank. Plenty of movies have tanked at the box office and that has no bearing on the merits of the finished product.
Here we go...
10. The Crow (1994)
It's sad that the tragic death of Brandon Lee haunts this film. In the role he seemed born to play, Brandon Lee portrays Eric Draven with a understanding that no one else ever could. A dark, foreboding, experience that benefits from a strong supporting cast, excellent direction and screenplay along with a soundtrack for the ages. This one also single-handedly kept Hot Topic and Spencer's in business. Hopefully the rumored remake never gets off the ground, as this is a perfect example of time and place that cannot be replicated. Instead of a trailer, below is an interview with Brandon Lee from the set.
9. Road To Perdition (2002)
Wow, what a cast. Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig. Throw in the steady direction by Sam Mendes and you have truly one of the most underrated films of recent memory. Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as a enforcer for the mob that has to protect himself and his son after hits are put out on them by Mob Boss John Rooney (Paul Newman in yet another iconic role).
8. Watchmen (2009)
What was thought to be an impossible task was somehow pulled off by director Zack Synder and his crew. Watchmen holds a special place among many comic book fans and although the adaptation had issues, this film stands as an amazing achievement in scope and effects.
7. 30 Days Of Night (2007)
Now this is a vampire film! Working from the amazing comic from Steve Niles, director David Slade carries over the feel and rawness of the source material perfectly. The only misstep is the casting of Josh Hartnett in the lead role, as he is just not capable of carrying the emotional weight needed from the character. Brutally violent and with no remorse, these vampires don't mess around nor do they sparkle!
6. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Personally, I feel Sam Raimi's best work is The Evil Dead but Spider-Man 2 is where his talent and style met with the mainstream audience the best. This is the film that all Spider-Man adaptations will be compared to. Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus brings to the screen a villain for the ages and adds humanity to the role.
5. Batman (1989)
The film that started the dark, gritty feel for comic movies. Tim Burton took a big chance with this adaptation and it paid off. Michael Keaton is still the best Batman in my opinion and pulls off both Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego perfectly. This is where the heat will come. I prefer Jack Nicholson's take on the Joker over Ledger's. Jack mixes the best of Cesar Romero's portrayal and adds his trademark Nicholson touch that makes the perfect over the top villain. Without this one, none of today's comic adaptations would be possible. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
Although I prefer the performances of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in the respective roles, this one took the Batman story to another level and pushed the boundaries of what a superhero movie can be. As of now, this is the best Batman adaptation (pending the release of The Dark Knight Rises). Christopher Nolan truly harnessed his immense talents and brought forth a benchmark for all the recent superhero adaptations.
3. Superman (1978)
Even approaching 35 years old, this one still holds up and is the greatest superhero film of all time. Director Richard Donner hit all the right marks and you honestly feel like you are in the comic. Every actor portrays their character with perfection and Christopher Reeve embodies Clark Kent/Superman like he was born for the role. Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor brings the right mix of menace and fun and also owns the role. Although some of the special effects are outdated, you cannot watch this and not feel like a kid again wanting to fly like Superman.
2. Sin City (2005)
Easily the most stylish and striking on this list, director, Robert Rodriguez brought Frank Miller's world of sin to the screen in a flawless adaptation that leaves you wanting more. With no boundaries, the proceedings take place with violent and gritty glee and being shot in black and white only adds to the authentic feel. The return of Mickey Rourke and the uber-creepy performance of Elijah Wood are stand-outs here, along with countless others with the exception of Josh Hartnett. Why do people keep casting this guy?
And now for the number 1 Comic Book Adaptation
1. A History Of Violence (2005)
This is the film where David Cronenberg (quite possibly the greatest living director) brought all of his skills, ideas, and themes together and made a Cronenberg movie that was accessible to the masses. This is easily Viggo Mortensen's greatest performance and Ed Harris once again shows why he is one of today's greatest character actors. William Hurt is a force of nature and that is with only 8 minutes of screen time. Maria Bello's performance is also a great achievement that most actresses would shy away from. A History Of Violence touches on so many themes of family, loss of innocence, deception and so with each viewing, new nuances appear. Without a doubt this film is a classic in its own right and it is also the number 1 comic book adaptation.
Brad Slaton aka Night Of The Ranting Brad is a Cinemit contributor and member. Brad also writes for HorrorMovies.ca and runs The Picking Brains Podcast. Like on Facebook
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