Tag Archive: heath ledger


Warner Bros. have this week announced their intentions to push The Dark Knight Rises forward in hope of getting a few Oscar nominations. The Dark Knight won two Oscars and received another six nominations although none of these were in any of the ‘big five’ categories. Disney have decided that they are not going to push The Avengers for Oscar nominations and instead will concentrate on their animated features: Brave, Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph. On the surface of it this seems a strange choice as The Avengers became one of the highest grossing movies of all time and is one of the most well loved films of this year! Have Disney made the right choice?

Acting

There are four categories at the Oscars for acting: Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. After you decide who in The Avengers is adjudged to be the Lead Role and who is Supporting then you have to think does anybody really deserve a nomination? Mark Ruffalo came out of The Avengers really well, as did Clark Gregg but none of these really did anything to warrant an Oscar. Before it’s release I was touting Robert Downey Jr as a potential Oscar candidate but I wasn’t blown away with his portrayal like I was in Iron Man. As for the female characters Scarlett Johansson put in a good performance but nothing Oscar worthy. Tom Hiddleston is considered by many to be the best actor among the cast but I think there have been better performances than his in other Oscar-worthy films.

Ruffalo and Hiddleston get along much better off screen!

Direction

Joss Whedon made himself a God among geeks with The Avengers but how good was his direction? He told a fantastic story and put together some incredible set pieces including the unforgettable continuous shot during the final battle. However, his technique came under fire from cinematographer and long time Christopher Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister as his camera angles apparently didn’t make much sense in terms of telling a story. Unfortunately, there won’t be any recognition for Whedon’s direction here.

Best Picture

As I mentioned earlier The Avengers became the third highest grossing film of all time and nobody could avoid the huge superhero mash-up this year. I gave it a 10 out of 10 in my review because it is everything that I could have hoped for, it was easily among the best films of the year! However, it seems to be that more often than not, Oscar winners for Best Picture are usually more serious film and you can see that The Avengers was made to be fun and enjoyable. You could say that, much to its credit, The Avengers was made for comic book fans rather than the critics and that could damage it’s hope of a nomination here, especially seeing as how The Dark Knight didn’t even get recognition in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

For me, this is the most likely category that The Avengers will feature in. Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer for television and now he has shown that he can tell wonderful stories on the big screen too. Whedon’s writing was what made The Avengers what it is and his dialogue, character development and interaction was fantastic. I think it is a much more well written film than a lot of what we have seen this year (including The Dark Knight Rises) and I do hope that it does receive a nomination here.

So they’re the biggest categories discussed and my opinions on The Avengers‘ chances. Of the rest I don’t think a nomination is out of the question in categories such as Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design or Best Visual Effects but at the end of the day, who remembers the winners of those awards? I think Disney made the right call not to make a serious push for The Avengers‘ Oscars chances.

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10 Things I Hate About You was the first film that I really fell in love with, after being forced to watch it while I was in school. Directed by Gil Junger, 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew set in an American high school. I am quite a fan of Shakespeare’s works so this is one of the little reasons I like the film.

Released in 1999 it comes as no surprise that 10 Things I Hate About You is incredibly 90s. It’s not just set in the 90s it is incredibly over the top 90s that you can’t watch it without feeling nostalgic. But because of this, the film is visually great; its vibrant, its colourful, bright and, at times, majorly over the top but it’s just so fun that it gets away with it. That’s reason one, the visuals.

The next reason is the brilliant soundtrack. All around, 10 Things I Hate About You is a really fun film and with the addition of “chicks who can’t play their instruments”, in the words of Patrick Verona, the film really comes alive. There is plenty of 90s chick rock playing over the top of the film and whilst this plays a small part in the story of the film it really adds to the audience’s enjoyment.

The cast is made up of young actors, obviously as its set in a high school; a few of them would go on to great things. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become one of the best actors of his generation, Julia Stiles has starred in a lot of big films (including the Bourne franchise) and the late Heath Ledger who needs no description, his talent was undeniable and David Krumholtz became the lead in hit television series Numb3rs. They are all really good actors in their own rights and even back in 1999 their talent was plain to see. Heath Ledger in particular is impressive in 10 Things I Hate About You as the bad guy turned good. The supporting cast (Larry Miller, Daryl Mitchell, Allison Janney) all have turns in the film that provide fantastic comedic moments and with this brilliant cast the film remains light hearted and thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

With the cast being so good, it is obvious that another huge reason to love this film is because of the characters. From the English teacher who just wants kids to “read a book written by a black man” right up to the ‘shrew’ Kat Stratford the characters are connectable and the way they are played and written allows the audience to easily connect. You connect with Cameron and understand his motivations even though Bianca is clearly not good enough for him (at the beginning of the film) and you connect with Kat and understand why she is like she is and you instantly dislike the cocky Joey Donner and await his comeuppance with a little bit of enjoyment. Kat, Bianca and Patrick’s journey and development as the film goes on is clear and fantastic, it is part of what makes the film really good, these characters change because of each other and all end up arguably better people than they were when the film began.

This leads me to my next reason. The themes of friendship and love that overwhelm 10 Things I Hate About You are played out very well. Cameron and Michael become good friends and I like to think that Cameron and Patrick have some sort of friendship especially after Patrick’s words of encouragement at the party. The family relationships in the Stratford household really come along well, from the arguing sisters, Kat and Bianca, to their relationship with their over protective father. And then of course, the relationships between Bianca and Cameron and then Patrick and Kat; Bianca’s relationship with Cameron is the main object of the film, really, and whilst at times it seems this won’t work out it I Patrick’s relationship with Kat that really intrigues audiences. At the beginning Patrick is in it for the money, but as he gets to know Kat he falls in love with her but things get in the way and it is really really satisfying to see that they end up together, happy.

The final, huge reason why I love 10 Things I Hate About You is this:

Heath Ledger’s smile:

Okay, so from the title you might think that this is a ridiculous question to ask, but at least hear me out before you shoot me down.

Everybody knows that Robert Downey Jr. is a brilliant actor, his talent is undeniable. He has been nominated for two Oscars in his career already for Chaplin and Tropic Thunder and on top of that has received plenty of critical acclaim for his performance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, his portrayal of legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and obviously Tony Stark himself.

I am aware that very few summer blockbuster type films get nominated for Oscars and even fewer comic book movies; The Dark Knight did not even get a nomination for the category of Best Film yet it is viewed by many to be one of the best of all time. However, Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as Joker did get the actor a posthumous win, possibly creating a pathway for comic book movies to be taken more seriously among the Academy Awards.

And comic book movies do not get much bigger than The Avengers. Lots of attention across the globe is being paid to this movie at the minute; the very best of Marvel’s superheroes brought together on the big screen at long last. And at the forefront of Marvel’s ambition and ability to carry out this master-plan of an interweaving universe between movies was Iron Man and the man  carrying that film, Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal as Tony Stark/Iron Man is up there with the best comic book performances of all time without a doubt and even in the slightly slow paced and below par second film, Downey Jr’s performance was a joy to behold. Downey Jr is being used heavily by Marvel in their marketing campaign and will no doubt receive positive reviews for his performance once again.

From the trailers and clips that Marvel have so graciously allowed our eyes to lay upon, we can already tell that he is carrying off that same fun, charm and wit that we love Tony Stark for. It may only be a few clips but Downey Jr acts consistently and the enjoyment he gets from being Iron Man will not allow him to falter in his performance.

It is very early to be talking about Robert Downey Jr’s performance in The Avengers, of course, and even earlier to be talking about Oscar nominations and so forth, but it is something worth considering, I feel.

Below is the ‘Headcount’ clip from The Avengers which sees Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in a verbal back and forth with the villain, Loki. Here, showcasing a little of the wit and style he brings to the role, is a little teaser of what to expect from everybody’s favourite billionaire playboy philanthropist.

 

Casting is a vital part of the film; if you get the wrong actor to play a character it can go horribly wrong and the whole movie could fail because of it. Never is this more true than in the world of comic book movies. Millions of fans all over the world are already in love with the characters before they are brought to the big screen and if you cast someone that the fans are not happy about they will not hold back, you shall know about it! But when casting goes right, it brings out some of the best performances and best characters in the world. Here are my top eight perfectly cast comic book movie characters.

8. Chris Evans as The Human Torch

Known to many comic book fans now as Captain America, Evans made his first appearance in comic book movies in the awful Fantastic Four films. Despite both films being criticised heavily by almost everyone, fans and critics alike, nobody could criticise Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. He outperformed the rest of the cast by a country mile and bought a much needed charm and sense of humour to the role.

7. Ed Norton as Bruce Banner

When it was announced that Ed Norton would not return for The Avengers as Bruce Banner fans were outraged and with good reason. Norton’s performance as the troubled scientist who turns into the Incredible Hulk was brilliant. Norton had a lot of hard work to do because of the negative fan reaction to Ang Lee’s 2003 interpretation of the character but the casting of Norton and his incredible performance won the hearts of many Hulk fans.

6. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

The original Spider-man trilogy, directed by Sam Raimi, may not have been the most perfectly cast Spider-man film in the world but J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was a masterpiece. He looked identical to the comic book portrayal of the character and fans loved his performance. A highlight of the, soon to be rebooted, Spider-man franchise.

5. Christopher Reeve as Superman

Does this really need explaining? The man IS Superman. There has never been a better Superman before or since on neither the big screen or small screen. Reeve was an excellent casting as the Man of Steel and is still celebrated among comic book fans.

4. Heath Ledger as The Joker

Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his appearance as the Joker and rightfully so. Ledger managed to bring this psychotic vision of The Dark Knight’s arch nemesis to the screen and make him genuinely scary. It was a sad loss when he passed away but he will always be remembered as the Joker and one of comic book movie’s finest castings.

3. Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl

Many people don’t think of Kick-Ass when they think of comic book adaptations but this is where the origins of the story lie. Chloe Moretz is great as the ‘hero’ Hit Girl. She is a small girl who packs a powerful performance and is the star of Kick Ass without a doubt. She has a huge career ahead of her built on this performance.

2. Patrick Stewart as Professor X

Straight off, Patrick Stewart looks the part, down to a tee. But his performance further proves why he was the perfect choice to play the mentor to the X-men, Professor X. His calm and cool demeanour brought a lot of character to the role and then in the second instalment, X2 (one of the best comic book movies ever made) he was able to show off the emotional side to his character even more. And as well as that, his chemistry with Ian McKellen’s Magneto was a joy to behold. A fine casting decision.

And finally…

1. Robert Downey Jnr. as Tony Stark

Perfection!

The perfect casting of a comic book character if ever there was one. Downey Jnr doesn’t just play the character, he actually is Tony Stark. He has the look sorted; he has the charm, the wit, the charisma and you believe his intelligence. Iron Man was the beginning of the whole Marvel Universe which comes together this summer with The Avengers so a lot was riding on this first film and Robert Downey Jnr drew the plaudits right from the offset. Tony Stark came to life in the Iron Man films and made Downey Jnr a household name again; his performance was a joy to behold and I sincerely hope he is Tony Stark for a long time to come.

Honourable mentions

Ian McKellen – Magneto

Kelsey Grammer – Beast

Ron Perlman – Hellboy

Jackie Earl Haley – Rorschach

Anthony Hopkins – Odin

He is considered by many to be one of the greatest directors of the modern world and by the time he eventually retires his name will undoubtedly be up there with the all time true greats of film making. By comic book fans he is thought of as the man who saved Batman from it’s earlier embarrassments in the cinema and Warner Bros. now have him producing Man of Steel, the new Superman movie, in hope that he can bring another hero back from the cinema dead zone. However, Christopher Nolan does have his haters, but why? Is he really THAT good?

Without exception every single one of the feature length films directed by Christopher Nolan has been a critical success. Whether it be the small scale Memento or the huge big budget summer blockbuster that is Inception, Nolan never fails to impress the critics. Nolan has been nominated for three Oscars (one for directing, another two for writing) and despite not yet winning the award he is being recognised by his peers as one of the best directors around.

Nolan’s writing prides itself upon it’s mysteries. Memento was something new, something brilliant. And the mystery was kept going by the fact that the film played out backwards and nobody, not even the main character, knew what was going on. The Prestige had a fantastic shock ending that nobody had predicted upon first watch, yet when watching again it becomes clear that Nolan has left some clues along the way for any viewer intelligent enough to spot them. All the while, Nolan is teaching the arts of a magic trick whilst creating his own in The Prestige at the same time. The essence of mystery is something Nolan followed through with Inception and I think everyone who left the cinema after seeing Inception got confused at least once whilst watching and the ending still causes arguments a couple of years on (even though it is pretty clear what the ending actually is if you look for the clues).

However, one of Nolan’s biggest downfalls is his writing of female characters. This is a criticism that is levelled at the director again and again, upon the release of every one of his films and audiences have a point. The female characters in Nolan’s films have very little purpose but to act as plot devices and have an effect on the main character; in themselves they have little story and virtually no development. Scarlett Johansson in The Prestige is a good example of this and Ariadne in Inception too, along with the women in his Batman films. There really seems no need for them to be there and they add next to nothing to the story. With the inclusion of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises it seems maybe Nolan is trying to prove that he can write a captivating female character to compete with the men of his films.

It has been said that Nolan gets the best out of all the actors he works with, but look at the people he has worked with: Guy Pearce, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, the brilliant Hilary Swank, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine… the list goes on. Point is, every one of the aforementioned actors was already established and thought of as a very good, if not some of the best, performers at the time. Even I could have made a film with Michael Caine and Leonardo DiCaprio and got good performances from them because they are already brilliant actors! Nolan doesn’t seem to challenge himself, but then again, if you can work with the best around then you’re going to do that and who can really blame him.

As briefly mentioned earlier, Christopher Nolan has brought a new life and new energy to an otherwise dead and buried franchise in the form of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the latter being described as one of the best films of all time. It may be a stretch but Nolan could be seen as the saviour of comic book films. Before him, of course, there was already Spider-Man and X-men that had been successful but Nolan showed what successes comic book movies have the potential to be.

Whether you like him or not nobody with a sensible view on movies can argue that Christopher Nolan is not a good director. His films are among the best of modern cinema and he is definitely one of my top three directors of all time. With The Dark Knight Rises coming out this year it seems certain that Nolan is set to rise yet again and receive even more praise as he brings the curtain down on one of the best trilogies of all time.

The hype surrounding this man is definitely justified.

Which one of these three comic book films will rule the box office?

Superhero films have been increasing in popularity since they first hit the big screen and this year comic book fans have even more to be excited about. 2012 promises to be an unforgettable year for fans of the comic book genre as three of the years most anticipated films feature some of the most popular superheroes of all time: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man. But with all these heroes fighting for top spot at the box office which one will reign supreme?

The Dark Knight Rises

UK Release: 20th July 2012.

The Stars: Christopher Nolan (director), Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman.

The Hype: It’s the sequel to The Dark Knight, need I say more? This is the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s, so far, brilliant Batman franchise. Christian Bale has done a good job as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego but the buzz about this film is the villain: Bane. And with Ra’s al Ghul returning to the franchise, along with his daughter, the mere thought of this film has the Batman fanboys and the Nolanites frothing at the mouth.

The Drawbacks: After the huge success of The Dark Knight it’s going to be hard to follow that and with high expectations come huge disappointment. The casting of Anne Hathaway didn’t go down very well with fans so it’s risky as to whether that will work. Bane’s voice has been the cause of much controversy surrounding the film but that will soon be forgotten surely.

My Opinion: I’ve never been a huge fan of Batman and I didn’t enjoy The Dark Knight as much as everybody else seemed to either, although Heath Ledger was fantastic, there is no doubting that. I’m a fan of Tom Hardy (not so keen on Anne Hathaway) so he gets my interest in this film anyway. I really enjoyed Batman Begins and it has been claimed that this final piece will focus more on Bruce Wayne than Batman, more in the style of Batman Begins than The Dark Knight so this bodes well for me, I think. Whatever happens, I’ll be seeing this on the opening day anyway.

The Avengers

UK Release: 27th April 2012

The Stars: Joss Whedon (director), Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddlestone

The Hype: Just look back at the cast. It’s great to see so many top quality actors sharing the screen together. Not just the actors, but the characters; it is every comic book fan’s dream to see the big three (Captain America, Iron Man and Thor) on screen together. Bringing the characters together through solo films leading to this moment have been some of the greatest events in comic book movie history. Joss Whedon is known for writing brilliant characters and dialogue so this should all point towards success.

The Drawbacks: Since he has had two films, Iron Man is most known to audiences and has been leading the promotion of The Avengers which hasn’t gone down well with the whole of the fan community. There is also the danger that too many characters means not enough development and lack of story but hopefully this will not be the case.

My Opinion: Out of the three, this is the one that I am most excited for. I cannot wait to see Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Hawkeye all share the limelight. I’ve loved watching all the solo movies waiting for The Avengers and with the release of the second trailer which was incredible it just does not get any more exciting. This has the potential to be the greatest comic book movie ever made. It’s going to be amazing.

The Amazing Spider-Man

UK Release: 4th July 2012

The Stars: Marc Webb (director), Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen

The Hype: Spider-Man is one of the most iconic heroes of all time and Marvel’s most popular and highest selling character. This is an interesting retelling of Peter Parker’s backstory and features initial love interest Gwen Stacy rather than the more universally known Mary Jane. The Lizard is Spider-Man’s enemy in this film in a move to excite fans as he was strongly suggested for a Spider-Man 4 that never came to be.

The Drawbacks: We’ve just had a Spider-Man trilogy in the last ten years. This could be a factor that puts a lot of mainstream cinema goers off the film; do they really need to see another origins story for Spider-Man, a character that, let’s be honest, doesn’t really have that much of an interesting origin anyway.

My Opinion: I’m really looking forward to seeing Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man as I think he is a brilliant young actor. From the trailer the new Spider-Man seems a lot more like the comic book character with his wise-cracking attitude which I cannot wait to see. Although, I do think that this will gross a lot worse than the other two big comic book films coming out this year.

Who Will Win?

Batman. Hands down, which is a shame. The Dark Knight grossed over a billion dollars and so there is already a HUGE market in place for The Dark Knight Rises. No matter how hard it tries to topple it’s competition I think The Avengers will fall short, whilst The Amazing Spider-Man will be the third film that doesn’t really stand a chance against the two big boys.