|"Virus" is #5|
By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree
Comic book fans are spoiled these days, with movies that have high production budgets and get treated with respect from critics, as well as studios, producers and directors.
People such as Jon Favreau and Christopher Nolan put some serious TLC into the comic book movies they’ve put out, and directors Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class”), Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”), Martin Campbell (“Green Lantern”) and maybe, just maybe even Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) look to follow in their footsteps.
As “Thor” kicks off a summer overflowing with comic book movies, here are five of the worst comic book movies that I’ve ever seen. And before you even ask, no, “Batman and Robin” didn’t make the cut. It’s far too amusing. Whether it’s intentional or not is another debate altogether.
5. “Virus” (1999)
Based on Dark Horse comic series, John Bruno’s “Virus” took a swing at becoming a blockbuster and whiffed. Hard. The January release date should have been a good indication of that.
Bruno, whose background is in visual effects, worked extensively with James Cameron before hamming it up with Billy Baldwin, Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland. So you would expect a lot more coming from Bruno than another “Alien” or “The Thing” knock-off.
Alas, we expected more, and got less. A lot less. “Virus” turned out to be a mess, both from critical and financial standpoint, and Bruno’s career never left the ground as a filmmaker.
This is a movie that does not hold up on repeat viewings. Trust me, I’ve sat through it more times than I’d like to admit.
In 1997, it didn’t seem too bad. The special effects were all right considering its $38 million budget, John Leguizamo did the best with the material that he was handed, and I was only slightly disappointed when I left the theater.
Boy, was I being generous. Looking back at the decisions of director Mark A.Z. Dippe (what could the A.Z. possibly stand for anyway?), “Spawn” is an embarrassment, especially considering the incredible fan-base that Todd McFarlane had gained from the title character who pretty much defined a generation of comics. Another prime example of why guys who specialize in special effect should stay away from directing. What a shame.
Mr. Dippe, of course, moved back into something that was more his pace, directing Disney Channel original movies like “Halloweentown High” and “Pixel Perfect.”
When I first read the introduction of Steel, John Henry Irons, I wondered who would play him in a movie. Ving Rhames, coming hot off of “Pulp Fiction,” perhaps? That would nice.
Sadly, Warner Bros. had a different “actor” in mind -- NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal. Now that he’s an on-again, off-again Boston Celtic, I have to take it easy on him. But not too easy. Some people just weren’t meant to act. To put it kindly, Shaq is one of the leaders in that category. The choice by Warner Bros. was inexcusable, and has made the DC character a running joke.
“Steel” will always be one of the worst comic book movies of all time, but it goes deeper than that. It might just be one of the worst movies released theatrically of all time.
Before he was eating hamburgers on the floor in viral videos, David Hasselhoff had already sunk low enough by starring in a made-for-TV adaptation of “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Sadly, it was a high point in Hasselhoff’s career at the time.
Needless to say, Samuel L. Jackson he is not. And it shows. Other than the poor idea of a made-for-TV action movie (yeah, that will be awesome with a shoe-string budget), the untalented actors and boring television director Rod Hardy make for a pretty painful experience.
But what’s worse is that “Nick Fury” was written by David S. Goyer. The same David S. Goyer who helped write “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” The business is cruel, especially for writers. Some days you’re on top, and some days you’re a bottom-feeder. “Nick Fury” clearly wasn’t one of Goyer’s proudest moments.
What was Fox thinking? This was made just a couple of years before the aforementioned “Nick Fury,” and is one of the worst memories from my childhood.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with X-Men. I was also a huge fan of movies. This, unfortunately, was as close to an X-Men movie as I would get until 2000, when 20th Century Fox finally got their heads out of the sand.
“Generation X” is a cheap, dated, made-for-TV comic book movie that ACTUALLY made it to air. It follows Emma Frost and Shawn Cassidy (The White Queen and Banshee) lead a group of young mutants at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Students in fighting Matthew Frewer’s evil scientist Russell Trask.
The only good thing that came from “Generation X” is that it didn’t tread on any of the characters people really love, like Wolverine or Cyclops. In doing that, it really saved face, unlike Roger Corman’s “Fantastic Four” or that 1997 “Justice League” pilot. Now that’s embarrassing.
Let’s hope that studios remain smart (ha … ha) with this new generation of comic book movies, and not fall back into this black-hole. We really don’t need to revisit it.