Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Essentials: Part 3 (1991-Present)

This is the final in a three part series outlining my 30 favorite movie performances of all time (See parts one and two). This portion of the list the last two decades.

Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Just as he does in Quigley Down Under and the Harry Potter series, Rickman shows why he's better than anyone at playing a guy in a rotten mood. There's something so timeless about Prince of Thieves. I think it's the balance that is achieved by putting two great acters in Rickman and Morgan Freeman on screen with two of the worst actors of that decade in Kevin Costner and Christian Slater. It's as if Rickman knew this movie would be awful and decided to ham it up and have some fun. And boy does he ever. Watch it again and you'll see Costner's wandering English accent upstaged by Rickman's ornery facial expressions. Favorite Quote: "That's it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas."

Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Daniel Day-Lewis is considered one of the greatest actors of his generation largely because of how much of himself he throws into his roles. The Last of the Mohicans is no exception. Favorite Quote: Duncan: "There is a war on. How is it you are headed west?" Hawkeye: "Well, we kinda face to the north and real sudden-like turn left."

Kenneth Branaugh as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Kenneth Branaugh spent most of the 1990's becoming the next Laurence Olivier adapting the works of Shakespeare for the big screen. One such example was the star-studded Much Ado About Nothing, which if you can get past the ultra-happiness that abounds, is a decent movie. An amusing side story is the courting that goes on between Branaugh's Benedict and his then wife Emma Thompson's Beatrice. Favorite Quote: "Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humor? No. The world must be peopled."

Tommy Lee Jones as Deputy US Marshal Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive (1993)

I confess that I had never heard of Tommy Lee Jones prior to the release of The Fugitive, even though he had appeared in more than 30 movies to that point. So when I went to see this movie it was for Harrison Ford. And while Mr. Ford was solid, it was Mr. Jones' take-no-crap attitude that stole the show. Favorite Quote: Gerard: "Newman, what are you doing?" Newman: "I'm thinking." Gerard: "Well, think me up a cup of coffee and a chocolate doughnut with some of those little sprinkles on top, just as long as you're thinking."

Dennis Quaid as Jeff Blue in Undercover Blues (1993)

They don't make movies like this one anymore. If Undercover Blues were to come out out today, Hollywood wouldn't know how to classify it. They would either add more children and market it towards kids or make it raunchier and market it toward more "mature" audiences. But since it came out in the early 1990's, we have a fun little husband and wife spy duo fighting crime if for no other reason than for their daughter to able to grow up in a better world. Kathleen Turner plays the "straight man" which leaves Dennis Quaid as the goof ball. Favorite Quote: Muerte: "My name... is Muerte!" Jeff: "Nice to meet you Morty, my name is Jeff."

Ralph Fiennes as Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show (1994)

The movie Quiz Show is full great performances (except for maybe Rob Morrow whose accent bugs me). Director Robert Redford took what would otherwise be a boring true story and crafts it into an interesting, character-driven drama. The character at the center of it all is Fiennes' Van Doren whose ethical dilemas drive the film. Favorite Quote: "I've been swarmed by stockbrokers lately; I feel like a girl with a bad reputation."

Christopher Guest as Corky St. Clair in Waiting for Guffman (1996)

The funniest part about each of the Christopher Guest mocumentaries is Guest himself. The best example is drama queen (in more ways than one) Corky in Waiting for Guffman. Favorite Quote: "This is my life here we're talking about! We're not just talkin' about, you know, somethin' else, were talking about my life, you know? And it's forcing me to do somethin' I don't wanna do. To leave. To, to go out and just leave and go home and say, make a clean cut here and say 'no way, Corky, you're not puttin' up with these people!' And I'll tell you why I can't put up with you people: because you're bastard people! That's what you are! You're just bastard people! And I'm goin' home and I'm gonna... I'm gonna bite my pillow, is what I'm gonna do!"

Bill Murray as Wallace Ritchie in The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)

There are several Bill Murray comedic roles I could have chosen for this list. I was especially torn between this and What About Bob?, but there's something about The Man Who Knew Too Little that cracks me up every time I watch it. I also enjoy the scenes where Bill shows his versatility by playing a a character who is a bad actor. Favorite Quote: "The letters. She told me about them. I know all about the letters. How do you think I know? She told me. Thats how I found out."

George Clooney as Ulysses Everett McGill in O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

I don't much care for George Clooney. He's too much of a movie star and not enough of an actor. One notable exception is his work in the Coen brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou?, where he delivers their dialogue superbly. Favorite Quote: Take your pick from the video below (2:16).

Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland in Cast Away (2000)

How many other actors could appear solo on the screen for two hours without boring or annoying the audience? Can you picture Robin Williams or Jim Carrey in the lead role of Cast Away? How about Russell Crowe who won the Oscar that year? Tom Hanks shows he is the master of his craft in this movie (not to mention the master of his body by losing 50 pounds during production). Also, let's not forget his supporting actor is a volleyball. Favorite Quote: "So, let me get one thing straight here... We have a pro football team now, but they're in Nashville?"

Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain in Amelie (2001)

Before raising controversy in the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, Ms Tautou burst on to the international movie scene as the title character in the hit Amélie. She plays an imaginative young French girl who overcomes her isolated upbringing and finds love. It's a fun quirky movie and Tautou's expressions bring it to life. Favorite Quote: "At least you'll never be a vegetable. Even artichokes have hearts."

Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Russell Crowe gives a strong performance as Captain Jack Aubrey, but Bettany is right there ready to go toe to toe with him. In a movie with a rather simple overall plot, it's the collection of side stories, many of which involve Dr. Maturin, that drive this film. Favorite Quote: See the video below (1:32).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Essentials: Part 2 (1966-1988)

This is second in a three part series outlining my 30 favorite movie performances of all time. See part one here. This portion of the list takes us from the mid-60's through the 1980's.

Peter O'Toole as Simon Dermott in How to Steal a Million (1966)

I love a good caper movie, even one with a story as unconventional as this one. O'Toole plays a would-be thief who, although we know nothing about him, we identify with immediately. His chemistry with Hepburn helps keep the tone of the movie light. Favorite Quote: "I want you to take a long look at the trees, the blue sky, and the river, all of which I personally loathe, which is why a juicy stretch in a French prison doesn't bother me at all."

Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966)

This is the story of the man who defied King Henry VIII in his quest for a divorce. Scofield is outstanding as he shows not only More's defiance, but also his doubts. Favorite Quote: Duke of Norfolk: "Oh confound all this. I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship?" Sir Thomas More: "And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?"

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

For a while after Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp came out, I had a difficult time comparing its merits to those of the original 1971 version. I essentially concluded that they were two very strange movies each influenced by different drugs. Now that a little time has passed, I can see that 1971 version is old and dated and that Charlie's haircut and inability to burp almost ruin the movie. The newer version is clearly a more polished adaptation. But having said that, Wilder is the better Wonka. His part-irritated, part-irritating attitude shows his inner child. His one liners when addressing the spoiled children and their parents are priceless. Favorite Quote: "We are the music makers; and we are the dreamers of dreams."

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

The characters Al Pacino plays these days are so over the top, you almost wouldn't recognize him in The Godfather, where he commands attention with his edgy silence. Michael Corleone's transformation from innocent fresh-out-of-the-army Mike to Godfather Michael Corleone is the best part of a famously well-crafted movie. Favorite Quote: Michael: "My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator." Kay: "Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed." Michael: "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?"

Peter Ustinov as Prince John (voice) in Robin Hood (1973)

Back before every character in every animated movie was voiced by a distractingly famous actor, Disney used to employ a small band of regulars who would do multiple voices in multiple movies. Peter Ustinov was a notable exception. Disney's Robin Hood is little more than a stage for Ustinov to ham it up to the point where he makes the Robin Hood character seem downright bland. Favorite Quote: "This crown gives me a feeling of power! Power! Forgive me a cruel chuckle. Heh-heh-heh. Power..."

Harrison Ford as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I could have picked any number of Harrison Ford roles to be among my favorites: Dr. Richard Kimball, Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones. But I settled on Han Solo because of the dynamic he brings to trilogy's main trio. In the first movie, he's a scoundrel. In the third movie he's practically a family man. In The Empire Strikes Back he's in transition. He knows the cause he's involved in is right, but he's also not fully head over heals in love with Princess Leia yet. Favorite Quote: Princess Leia: "I love you." Han Solo: "I know."

Chevy Chase as Irwin Fletcher in Fletch (1985)

Back in the mid 1980's, Chevy Chase was at the top of his game. He could deliver sarcastic lines better than anyone. Fletch is just one of many characters he portrayed to do so. Favorite Quote: "Can I borrow your towel for a sec? My car just hit a water buffalo." Or any of the Utah jokes below (1:34).

Holly Hunter as Edwina "Ed" McDunnough in Raising Arizona (1987)

I'm of two minds when it comes to the work of Joel & Ethan Coen. Half of their movies I absolutely love and the other half I just can't wrap my mind around. My two favorites are Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, both of which feature Hunter in the role of career criminal's strong-willed wife. In Raising Arizona she brings the perfect balance of sass and vulnerability to a cast of characters tailor made for the Coens' quirky dialogue. Favorite Quote: Ed: "I love him so much!" HI: "I know you do, honey." Ed: "I love him so much!" HI: "I know you do."

Val Kilmer as Madmartigan in Willow (1988)

OK, so what if Willow is essentially a ripoff of Lord of the Rings with a princess baby instead of a ring? It's still a fun movie. The best performance comes from then unknown Val Kilmer as the greatest swordsman who ever lived. Favorite Quote: "'I love you Sorsha?' I don't love her, she kicked me in the face! I hate her... Don't I?"

Tomorrow: Part 3 (1991-Present)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Essentials: Part 1 (1934-1964)

This is first in a three part series outlining my 30 favorite movie performances of all time. As you'll see over the next few days, some are universally recognized as triumphant achievement in the field of acting, whereas others are just ones I happen to like. They are listed in chronological order. The first portion of the list leads us through the black-and-white era of film making.

Clark Gable as Peter Warne in It Happened One Night (1934)

Frank Capra, who was at Columbia Pictures, borrowed Gable and Claudette Colbert from MGM and shot this movie in just two weeks. What followed was a sweep of the five big Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay). In it Gable shows why he was one of Hollywood's biggest stars as he plays the pessimist who falls in love. Favorite Quote: "I want to see what love looks like when it's triumphant. I haven't had a good laugh in a week."

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick & Nora Charles in The Thin Man Series (1934-47)

Best onscreen couple ever. Period. Most movies don't spawn five sequels these days because even Hollywood fat cats know that almost any franchise would be short on creativity by the time the sixth installment came around. The entire Thin Man series, however, is quite entertaining. I'm not saying the Song of the Thin Man (1947) is as fresh as the original 1934 film, but William Powell and Myrna Loy are still just as great. All told, the two appeared in 15 films together, but the best are the Thin Man movies. Favorite Quote: Nick: "I'm a hero. I was shot twice in the Tribune." Nora: "I read where you were shot five times in the tabloids." Nick: "It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids."

Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940)

This movie is based on the play The Front Page, which had been adapted for the screen just a few years prior. However, in them the two main characters were both men. In this case, it was Russell cast opposite Cary Grant adding the dynamic of a romantic history. The fast talking moves the film along quickly and Russell is right at the center of it all. Favorite Quote: "A big fat lummox like you hiring an airplane to write: 'Hildy, don't be hasty. Remember my dimple. Walter.' Delayed our divorce 20 minutes while the judge went out and watched it."

James Cagney as Cody Jarrett in White Heat (1949)

James Cagney was a very talented actor, alternating in his film roles between singer/dancer good guys and angry intense mobsters. In White Heat, he is the epitome of the latter. Favorite Quote: Roy: "You wouldn't kill me in cold blood, would ya?" Cody: "No, I'll let ya warm up a little."

Orsen Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949)

Forty-five minutes in to the film, Welles finally makes his appearance as Harry Lime and then promptly steals the show. His character is amoral to say the least, and Welles plays the part convincingly. Favorite Quote: "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953)

There are plenty of Audrey Hepburn movies to choose from, but I picked her breakout role in Roman Holiday because it's a well-crafted film that offers up plenty of fun without trying to do too much. The chemistry between Hepburn and Peck is great. Favorite Quote: "I've never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on. With my dress off, it's MOST unusual."

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

I know Harper Lee's book is an American classic, but that didn't dissuade me from opting to just see the movie when I was assigned to read it in high school. I remember being amazed at how strong a performance Peck gave. It's no wonder Atticus Finch was named the American Film Institute's Greatest Film Hero of All Time. Favorite Quote: "Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system - that's no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe... Tom Robinson."

Slim Pickens as Major "King" Kong in Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Peter Sellers plays three characters in Dr. Strangelove and originally Major Kong was to be the fourth, but it was decided to cast Pickens instead. He doesn't disappoint as the Southern good ole boy bent on fulfilling his mission no matter the cost. Favorite Quote: "Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff."

Tomorrow: Part 2 (1966-1988)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Generation E

Most of the television discussed on this entertainment-themed web log is either the scripted kind or sports. Rarely do I venture into the realm of unscripted shows or so-called reality TV (except to discuss Dog the Bounty Hunter). Today, however I would like to discuss an alarming trend in today's television broadcasting. That is the emergence of thought control. Apparently there are 24-hour news channels out there that, instead of trying to just present the news, put politically-biased editorial commentary with their coverage. I'm told that Fox News caters to the politically conservative while MSNBC has copied that business model and slants its coverage to appeal to people who love the party currently in power (I've previously stated my opinions of one such MSNBC anchor here). Meanwhile CNN is trying so hard to be cool, even at the cost of professionalism. Case in point: what's the point of having a 24-hour news network when people who tune in for coverage of election riots in Iran can only get reruns of talk shows. But that's OK because CNN has really cool graphics and pretty young fashion reporters. Plus, now you can follow CNN on Twitter.

Another emerging trend in the market of thought control is the drone factory known by one simple letter: E! (the exclamation point is theirs, not mine). Have you watched this channel lately? Apparently the E stands for entertainment, but you'd be surprised what they present as such. At least I know where to turn when I need to know what Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan are doing. The one thing going against E! is that it's difficult to mold minds when heads are empty. Take for example the clip below (1:16). It's from a program that aired on E! called "Wildest Commercial Moments." Instead of showing funny commercials and letting the audience laugh at how amusing they are, E! decided its audience probably wouldn't understand the sophisticated humor of bad local commercials so they provided annoying "comedians" in pop-up windows to tell us what's funny.

In a similar vein is the VH1 series "I Love the Decade." Instead of presenting a nostalgic look at what went down in the 1980's, they have to had commentary from people whose memories I'm suppose to value over my own.

I've got to go now. I've taken up too much of your time as it is. In fact, while you were reading this Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie adopted twin Asian babies and named them after Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

You're welcome, ESPN

This week the college football writers of unveiled their proposal of how they would fix the current mess known as the BCS. It is suspiciously like My plan to fix college football that I posted here three years ago. Both plans call for a complete overhaul of college football by eliminating the BCS and current conferences. Both call for a top tier of 40 schools divided into four conferences based solely on geography. Both plans call for a playoff of the four conference champs to determine a national champion. Both plans call for poor performers to be relegated to the second tier at the end of each season. Where did ESPN get their idea? Let's just say I have my suspicions. To be fair, there are a few differences between the proposals. Whereas my plan calls for three tiers of 40 teams, their plan calls for a first tier of 40 and second tier of 80. Also, I suppose I hadn't gone as far as to name my conferences. Theirs are named after legendary coaches. Too bad our plans have no chance of being implemented. That is to say my plan, posted here in the blogosphere, has no chance. ESPN's clout gives their plan maybe a one half of one percent chance of being implemented.

My Map:

ESPN's Map:

Friday, August 07, 2009

Extradition: British Columbia

Don't forget. Tonight is the season premiere of Psych.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Family Portrait

On a recent trip to my parent's house I went through my old junk from when I was a kid and found the "Marvel Super Heroes Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle: A Marvel Comics Family Portrait Featuring Over 130 Favorite Characters" (see the full box front and back). I was into super heroes in a big way when I was a kid. It was limited mostly to toys and Saturday-morning cartoons and never translated into comic book collecting. Still, one doesn't have to be Comic Book Guy to recognize many of the characters in this group shot since many have made their way to big screen.

Below are several side-by-side comparisons of the Marvel comic book heroes and villains in the puzzle form and cinematic form, along with my grade for each adaptation.

X-Men Trilogy

Professor X
Even though I was never a Star Trek fan, it's hard to think of a better actor than Patrick Stewart to play this part. Plus, he was already bald. Grade: A

Thanks to the X-Men and Lord of the Rings trilogies, Ian McKellen went from a British stage actor not all that well known by the mainstream public to nerd icon. Still, he seems a bit older than the guy in the puzzle, who if you'll look closely, appears to be checking out Storm's mid-rift, something else that would be a stretch for Sir Ian. Grade: B-

In the first X-Men movie, Hugh Jackman's character is complaining about the matching leather uniforms by saying "You actually go outside in these things?" Cyclops responds with "Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?" If he wanted a higher grade here, he should have said "Yes." Grade: B

James Marsden, Hollywood's go-to "Other Guy" when it comes to love triangles, apparently has better pretty-boy locks than the guy in the puzzle. Still, the visor thing (adjusted for technological advances) is pretty cool. Grade: A-

A lot of people find Halle Berry sexy. I've never been much of a fan (even before Cat Woman). Berry, apparently left her sexiness out of the movie, while the puzzle Storm is flaunting hers. And if I recall, Storm is African whereas Halle Berry just sort mumbled her way in and out of some accent in the X-Men movies. Being black and having white hair isn't enough. Grade: C+

When I was a kid, Iceman shared a cartoon with Spider-Man. But apparently he's now an X-Man, and a rather bland one at that. Frozone from The Incredibles seems to have gotton closer on the super powers. Grade: B

The makeup people nailed this one. Alan Cumming's got it all: blue skin, a pointy tail, yellow eyes and only two fingers on each hand. Grade: A

Colossus was one of the main characters from the cartoon. Too bad he's hardly in the movies. Still, the adaptation seems pretty good. Grade: A-

He's a furry blue man. It would be pretty hard to mess it up. Yet even though Kelsey Grammer is covered in makeup, he still manages to have Frasier hair. Grade: B+

Angel (aka Archangel)
The wings are excellent. The rest, not so much. Grade: B

Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat)
This character appears in all three X-Men movies, each time played by a different actress. The most famous, and one with the biggest part is Juno's Ellen Page in X-Men III. Again, what we're missing here is the yellow spandex. Grade: B

Fantastic 4, Rise of the Silver Surfer

Mr. Fantastic
The attention to detail is earning the grade here. If it weren't for Ioan Gruffudd's gray temples, we're looking at a B at best. Grade: A-

Invisible Girl
Jessica Alba is built like a female cartoon super hero. And while I don't have a problem with the dyed-blonde hair, the fake blue eyes are a bit creepy at times. Grade: B+

Human Torch
Like Beast above, it would be pretty hard to screw this one up. He's a guy on fire. Grade: A-

The hardest of the Fantastic Four to recreate must have been Thing. You can't argue with the end result. Grade: A

Dr. Doom
Like Cyclops above, this one is all about the metal stuck to the face. It's close enough. Grade: A-

Silver Surfer
The guy in the puzzle is more like the Silver Body Boarder, so in that respect the movie version is better. Grade: A

On the left we have a guy who manages to fit into a group photo. On the right we have a swirling galactic vortex about to consume Earth. At least the helmet shape comes through when he explodes in the movie's climactic scene. Grade: D

Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2

The color and detail in the movie version look pretty sharp. Too bad Tobey Maguire's underneath the mask. Spider-Man Grade: A-, Peter Parker Grade: F

Green Goblin
The guy in the puzzle appears to be an actual green goblin. Willem Dafoe is wearing a big metal helmet/mask thing that maybe looks like a goblin. Grade: D+

Dr. Octopus
Alfred Molina is sporting modern sun glasses instead of goggles and plain clothes instead of green spandex, but the octopus tentacles are pretty cool. Grade: B+

Iron Man, Iron Man 2

Iron Man
The face shape and color hues are off a bit, but like Spider-Man, the movie version looks pretty sharp. Grade: A-

Black Widow
Though still a year away, photos from Iron Man 2 have already been released. The part of Black Widow will be played by Scarlett Johansson. This is similar to the Jessica Alba situation in that we run in to natural hair-color issues. Maybe the two actresses would have done better to switch parts. Aside from the hair, which is easy to dye, it's hard to complain too much with the casting. Grade: B+


Even though the nubby little horns on Ben Affleck's hood/mask aren't as bad as George Clooney's infamous Batman nipples, the all red leather look is a bit silly. Plus, it's Ben Affleck underneath. Daredevil Grade: B-, Matt Murdock Grade: D+

The obvious difference between puzzle Kingpin and movie Kingpin is just too glaring. They can call it getting with the times, but I can't believe the movie makers expect us to accept that their Kingpin doesn't have an ascot. Where did you think I was going with this? The cigar? Oh, race. Yeah, I don't care about that. Michael Clark Duncan works in this role. Plus he gets the already-bald points. Grade: B+

Blade Trilogy

The differences between the puzzle and movie versions of Blade are purely a matter of fashion. So although I would like to have seen Wesley Snipes with a Jheri curl, I don't blame the movie makers for going modern with the hair. Grade: B+

The Hulk, The Incredible Hulk

The Hulk
As I've stated many times in this web log, I liked the Hulk cartoon. I liked the Hulk TV show. I didn't like that the movie was a combination of the two. I guess you could say the first hulk is more like the cartoon and the second is more like the TV show. But which is more like the puzzle? It would appear the answer is the first one, because despite advances is computer-generated imagery, he is a closer adaptation because he has purple pants and is actually green. Hulk (2003) Grade: B+, The Incredible Hulk (2008) Grade: B-

Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck
Whereas puzzle Howard the Duck looks a lot like Donald Duck with a cigar, movie Howard the Duck was actually a $2 million robotic suit. Grade: B-

Captain America

Captain America
The 1990 movie Captain America is by all accounts a terrible movie (Watch the trailer here). Its IMDb User Rating is an anemic 2.8 out of 10 (even Howard the Duck managed a 4.0). But the costume is spot on, aside from the fact that it appears to be constructed from colorful garbage bags. Grade: B+

Red Skull
Puzzle Red Skull lives up to his name. Movie Red Skull looks as though he would be better named Red Skinless Face Guy or Smuckers Man. Grade: B-

Coming soon to a theater near you...

Nick Fury

Nick Fury
I could have listed this character up with Iron Man and Black widow, but Samuel L. Jackson's cameo after the Iron Man closing credits was just a ploy to plug his own movie coming out next year. There doesn't appear to be a whole lot in common between puzzle Nick Fury and movie Nick Fury besides the eye patch. In fact, movie Nick Fury looks suspiciously like Shaft. Grade: B-


Thor Loki
The movie adaptation of Thor is due out in 2011. Besides the Norse god super hero, it will have Loki as the villain, so watch for that. Also due in 2011 is The First Avenger: Captain America. Hopefully it will be better than the 1990 version.

Note, as I stated, I didn't collect comic books, so grades were based almost entirely on the visual representation presented above, with a little help from my limited memory of the cartoons. Feel free to comment at the risk of being called a nerd.