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Please begin with an informative title:

Before I loved movies, I loved Comic Books. At 8 I would get 25 cents allowance each Saturday from the parental units simply for suffering through another week with them. Twenty five cents used to buy a pack of Camels for the old man as he'd practice sliding into heaven. For me it always broke down like this: 5 cents for a Coke, another 5 for a Hershey's Bar, and 12 cents bought me what would become a Silver Aged Comic Book.

I was into DC and Marvel heavily and kept a neatly stacked collection near my bedside with a flashlight for after hours reading and re-reading.

In 1986 as my parents prepared to move away from our long time family home for a new place in Southern CA and retirement Mom sent me a cardboard box full of my old collection which I'd forgotten about. Included in that booty was Spiderman No. 5, X-Men No. 3, And the Fantastic Four No. 4. X-men No. 3 would have brought $1,300 a that time if my 3 year old son hadn't eaten  it.

I'm guilty of watching a bunch of these Comics made into movies lately. Someone get the lights as I confess my guilty pleasures (and pass the Pop Corn over the fold)...

Intro

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There have been some great flicks inspired by Comic Book Heroes to be sure. V comes to mind as leading this list as this film genre began to take off in earnest, but mostly what's come around recently have been major disappointments or head scratchers to be polite about it. Still you gotta love Natalie Portman ( and congrats to this new mother! as we welcome her new son, Thorsen Odinson Portman).


Thor

Not only was I compelled to watch this film out of my love and respect for Natalie Portman but by my distant cousin Thor who can be quite insistent. Thor's always been that relation once or twice removed who shows up at the annual family Thanksgiving dinner and has to turn the afternoon or evening into somehow being all about him which typically winds up resulting in some broken furniture and another cousin who's lucky to get off with just a badly sprained ankle. The film may leave much to be desired but it stands as a warning to all Islamaphobes that compared to the fires of Raganok, 9/11 was just a warm up.

I won't seriously go into a review of the story line except to say that Thor gets thrown out of Asgard for being a rude brute and comes to earth as a sort of Jesus, more son of man than son of God, only he's got an entirely different kind of mission in mind. The CGI is impressive and the Asgard sets are an interesting blend of Danish Modern Architecture mixed with gold leaf Rococo cathedrals everywhere. Any Pope would be jealous and make plans to up-grade Vatican City.

Think of "Thor" as the ultimate Superhero Smackdown.

In one corner is the canny Kenny B., a.k.a. Kenneth Branagh, a director still best known for superior Shakespearean productions like "Henry V," "Hamlet" and "Much Ado About Nothing," a man not usually associated with comic book adaptations.

In the other corner are the mighty monarchs of Marvel Entertainment, a well-oiled mass entertainment machine boasting ownership of more than 8,000 comic book characters and more than $6.1 billion in worldwide box office grosses.

So how did the match turn out? Was Kenny B. sucker-punched and steam-rollered by the commercial demands of the Marvel mastodons, or did the crafty creator bring a touch of class to Marvel's story set amid the all-powerful gods and goddesses of Norse mythology?

Believe it or not, all this commotion ends in a draw...

"Thor" has its strengths, but it is finally something of a mishmash with designs on being more interesting than it manages to be. From the LA Times Movie Review

Fiery the Angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll'd around their shores, indignant burning with the fires of Orc.... William Blake must have had a vision of Thor going about his business no doubt.

X-Men: First Class

This film currently in theaters is a surreal head scratcher indeed. The film makers have taken on probably the most frightening international Cuban missile crisis of 1962 where President John F. Kennedy stood down the Russian Soviets intention of installing nuclear weapons pointed at the US just off our shores and have turned this bit of history into a Marvelous Fauxumentary. Mutant geeks and freaks of all sorts fall out between saving the world or destroying it. These mutants are indeed a bit queer and actually rather shockingly freakish though Raven still remains pretty sexy in blue. If this is Hollywood's notion of the ever present though underground and all too mysterious Gay or Queer Agenda then, wow, we've really got our hands full trying to justify this mind numbing flick. I found myself rooting for the mutants who struggled with coming out of the closet rather than dedicating so much of their energies towards hiding who they really were. In the end I was on the side of Magneto and Raven, not the Professor, even though they seemed dedicated to wiping out anyone who might be "normal". The truth is we are all "normal", as normal as we can be, at least, since there really is no such thing. We all have wings on our backs or can see with eyes in the backs of our heads sometimes so why even pretend anything differently?

In some ways it makes sense to place the issue of mutants entering the public eye just at a time when many minority groups in America from African-Americans to women to gays and lesbians were increasingly fighting for their rights as citizens to live a free and prosperous life with dignity and without the fear and constant threat of prejudice. The difficulty of life for the Professor's gifted students as well as the followers of Magneto to live a normal life in a society that judges them the moment they step out of the closet are symbolic of the real-life battles being waged by Americans. Sadly perhaps the best way to raise important social and political issues to the conscious awareness of most moviegoers is to present them in the context of a popular movie blended in with elements of the fantastic. X-Men No. 1 wasn’t actually published until nearly a year after the events of X-Men: First Class take place, and it was two months before the assassination of JFK.

I actually lived through those days myself with my stack of bedside Marvel and DC comics for comfort as much as distraction so this movie did stir up some intensely scary memories for me. It was no joking matter and nuclear proliferation still isn't.

COMING ATTRACTIONS NOW SHOWING

Green Lantern

Are you called to be a Green Lantern? I've got to admit that I'm dying to see this one. Released on June 17th (today) Green Lantern goes well beyond Superman who only stood for Truth, Justice and the American Way, implying that indeed there is some other way toward Truth and Justice, but goes beyond our borders and even our solar system. The Green Lantern is the "Cosmic Defender" and could be the super hero for Iran's Green movement as well as many other nations of the world whose people are now rising up demanding dignity and justice finally after decades of oppression. My only criticism of the film is that the Green Lantern should be a woman and preferably an Iranian woman living today in Tehran.

"Green Lantern" is both off the wall and out of this world — literally. More science-fiction space opera than superhero epic, it works in fits and starts as its disparate parts go in and out of effectiveness, but the professionalism of the production make it watchable in a comic book kind of way.

But though the Lanterns and their potent matching rings have been around for eons, a member of the human race has never been tapped to join the corps. And when hotshot test pilot Hal "Call Me Irresponsible" Jordan gets the nod, there is a lot of scratching of heads both on Earth and elsewhere...

It's from Oa that Lantern Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) takes off to battle Parallax. Things do not work out well, and after a crash landing on Earth, his ring, which always chooses who it goes to next, selects Hal. No one is more surprised than the man himself to be suddenly reciting a sacred oath ("Let those who worship evil's might beware my power — Green Lantern's light!") that sounds like it might have come from the back of a cereal box...

"Green Lantern" does have the advantage of good villains, starting with Parallax, an amorphous blob of endless iniquity that thrives on terror and has an affinity for yellow, the color (in case you didn't know) of fear.

Evil's man on Earth is scientist Hector Hammond, played by Peter Sarsgaard. Contact with Parallax turns him into a kind of creepy Quasimodo with beady yellow eyes and a huge misshapen head who wreaks havoc wherever he goes. Always an adventurous, convincing actor, Sarsgaard does this role right.

Given its ups and downs, "Green Lantern" is fortunate to have Martin Campbell ("The Mask of Zorro," "Casino Royale") as director. Though this is not Campbell's finest hour, his proficiency counts for a lot in so far-fetched a venture. With a sequel in the works (a clip is shown during the closing credits), let's hope everyone ups their game the next time around. - From The LA Times Film Review

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End Credits / Closing Remarks:

Given that the greater part of our site's purpose here on the Street of Prophets is to provide a place where people who might describe themselves as faithful progressives can come together to explore not only faith but the larger questions that revolve around it and our hopes of impacting the world in a positive, progressive way, I am  providing these sometime weekly film reviews (whenever). I thought that submitting reviews of controversial or off-the-beaten-track films that often nudge this kind of thought and discussion might be a plus. I'll be offering this each week on Fridays (as the Spirit moves me) and would happily entertain recommendations for future reviews. Feel free to post comments about the films reviewed here today as well as your own recommendations of films you feel may fall along these lines.

My religion is to seek for truth in life and for life in truth, even knowing that I shall not find them while I live. Miguel de Unamuno

Just for one day.....

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 09:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

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