@@@ 9th ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS! @@@
Welcome, all, to the 9th Annual AICN COMICS @$$IE AWARDS, where comics’ best and brightest are recognized for stellar performances in comic bookdom. I’m Ambush Bug. There was a time when we could fit all of the @$$ies into one lengthy column, but the @$$Holes’ ranks have grown too big for that. Most BEST OF… lists are posted around the first of the year, but we think ours is special, so while those outside of the know celebrate the time of the Oscar, we here at AICN COMICS celebrate the time of the coveted @$$ie Award. For the next week, every day the @$$Holes will present their picks in 12 categories for the best of the best in comics. So sit back, crack the knuckles in your browsing hand, and scroll down as the @$$Holes pick the @$$ies!
(Click title to go directly to the reviewers picks)
Favorite Comic Book Movie!
In Memoriam 2012…
MajinFu: DREDD 3D
Not only was DREDD 3D the best comic book film of 2012, it’s one of the best action movies to grace the screen in years. If you’re reading this site, you’ve probably already seen the Malaysian film THE RAID. The new Dredd film has a similar premise: officers of the law enter a large building on a routine operation, only to be isolated and hunted by a criminal overlord and their numerous thugs; their only chance of escape lies in ascending to the top of the tower and defeating the big bad boss. From the perfectly contained microcosm of a corrupt society, to Karl Urban’s pitch-perfect delivery, to Dredd’s gun (practically its own character in this version), everything just blew Sylvester Stallone’s version of Judge Dredd out of the water. I also really enjoyed the new recruit, whom Dredd was taking out for a first day in the field examination. She’s the sort of strong female cinema needs, without any of the overt feminism shoved in the viewer’s face, a proper badass with the ability to see trouble coming. Saving her partner’s ass on numerous occasions is simply an extension of her character, and I loved every minute she was on screen. If they ever make a sequel (and despite the bad box office, this movie DESERVES a sequel) I’d love to see her return.
The Writing Rambler: THE AVENGERS
So 2012 was a pretty amazing time to be a comic book fan at the movies. We had reboots of SPIDER-MAN and DREDD, another GHOST RIDER movie, arguably the best of the MEN IN BLACK films (yes, I still count it as a comic book movie) and then the two big guns of THE AVENGERS and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, duking it out for summer box office supremacy. Now, for me this choice was simple. I had major issues with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (I don’t care if you’re Batman, you can’t tell me you’ve lost your fortune and Alfred, have no friends or contacts, yet somehow miraculously make your way out of a pit and get back to Gotham, which is on lockdown and when you get there you’re wearing a tailored suit …I’m sorry, my brain just loses focus when I think about it), especially coming off of my utter love for its predecessor. THE AVENGERS, on the other hand, was like a dream come true for me. I honestly could not even believe what I was seeing on the screen. It was like everything I had ever hoped for in a true comic book translation right there on the screen in front of me. There were honestly moments just sitting in the theater one of the several times I paid to watch THE AVENGERS that I just felt like a giddy little kid. Sure the movie had some flaws, and yes I understand that it makes no sense for the Chitauri to just fall down like robots when their home ship was destroyed, but it didn’t matter to me. You want to know why it didn’t matter? Because I got to watch the Hulk punch a monster ship in the @#$%^&%^$ face, that’s why. It was one of those movies as a fan you can just get lost in, and I’m not sure I could have loved it more.
Lyzard: DREDD 3D
What made DREDD 3D my favorite comic book movie of the year was the fact that it didn’t feel like a comic book movie. The style wasn’t glossy, but in fact even grittier than Nolan’s Batman films. It wasn’t an origin story nor a hero’s journey. It was a standalone movie that could appeal to fans that never even read the 2000 AD comic. Was the film faithful to the comic? Easily more so than Stallone’s version.
The Dean: DREDD 3D
I wasn’t really disappointed with anything I saw superhero-wise in 2012, but nothing was as fresh or as fun as DREDD. THE AVENGERS and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES wowed me in theatres, but they lost a little bit of their charm on repeated viewings, and THE AVENGERS especially reveals its carefully manufactured attempts to appeal to a wide audience every time you watch it. DREDD felt like it didn’t care who watched it, and even less who liked it, which just made me like it that much more! Tossing out the standard origin story was a nice change of pace too, and letting Dredd be simply the brutal hero through whom we tour Mega-City One made him easily the most intriguing hero on screen all year, and really captured the feel of the 2000 AD stories. I’m not typically one to care that much about adherence to source material (let the source material do that!), but the faithfulness here was just an added treat. I’m glad to hear sales have picked up for the DVD and Blu-Ray sales, as this felt like the most genuine comic book movie we’ve gotten in years, and ditching the three movie arc leaves the possibilities for further installments seemingly unlimited and eagerly anticipated. I hope the movie’s continued success encourages future comic adaptations to be as daring and honest with themselves, but I have a feeling DREDD will be in a class all its own for quite some time.
BottleImp: THE AVENGERS (by default)
Do I have to turn in my comic book geek card by admitting that this was the only comic book-based movie that I saw last year? I never got around to DREDD, and the ending of Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT burned me out on seeing THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. So I will say that out of the one comic book film I saw, THE AVENGERS was the best. Even with all the plot holes, macguffins and deus ex machina, the movie had a sense of fun and energy that managed to capture the Mighty Marvel Manner. And since my non-comic-reading wife even enjoyed it, I’d say that’s a solid point in its favor.
Optimous Douche: THE AVENGERS.
If you saw it, you know what I mean.
If you didn't see it yet, you hate comics.
Ambush Bug: DREDD 3D
As much as I’d love to go with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and AVENGERS, two truly great movies, I have to put my chips behind DREDD 3D this year, mainly because, unlike all of the comic book movies out there, DREDD 3D wasn’t an origin story. I absolutely hate it that every first film out there has to retell the origin, be it Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, whomever. DREDD 3D gave no shits about whether you knew the title character’s motivation or what made him tick. It had no time for namby-pamby shit like that. It was too busy kicking major bunghole to worry about such things. Sure, the film is basically a souped-up version of THE RAID: REDEMPTION, but dammit if it wasn’t an awesome looking version of THE RAID: REDEMPTION. All that and Karl Urban’s unapologetic portrayal of the character and this was the superhero film to beat this year and while the others came close, none of them did it.
Humphrey Lee: DREDD 3D
I will admit that I am not sure if this is my having some of those special color-named-after-a-flower tinted glasses on situation. As much as I enjoy THE AVENGERS and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, I have now seen them several times and the flaws I perceived upon first watching them have revealed themselves further. I always felt that the first third of TDKR was horribly paced and overstuffed, and indeed repeat viewings have strengthened that opinion. I also felt that THE AVENGERS, much as that last hour is probably the biggest piece of kickass we’ve received in a comic book movie, is kind of MacGuffin-heavy and, I’ll just say it, pretty boring for the first hour, outside of some jokey bits, while it sets itself in motion. DREDD, in the one viewing of it I enjoyed, was all parts kickass, drive and black humor. It might not have shot for the moon like the other two movies deserving of consideration for this award, did but I feel its lows were significantly higher. Besides, if anything, Karl Urban deserves some love for fucking owning that character and laying waste to the mostly helmetless schlock that was the Italian Stallion’s rendition. @$$hole Addendum! – Having seen DREDD 3D again since writing this (and being too lazy to rewrite the above paragraph =), yes, I made the right call.
Henry Higgins is My Homeboy: THE AVENGERS
Because DREDD 3D, while enjoyable and a very good adaptation while providing something original, is ultimately kind of forgettable. Because THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is a very good teen romance film that occasionally becomes an incredibly clichéd super hero film. Because I didn’t see GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE. Because I’ve watched THE DARK KNIGHT RISES four times now, and I’ve enjoyed it less each time. Because, at the end of the day, THE AVENGERS isn’t trying to be the most important film of your life. It’s never a straight adaptation or rehash or needless sequel or trying to validate super heroes. It relishes in goofy violence against alien hordes, never showing piles of dead civilians. That would distract from the Hulk using Loki as a ragdoll. It’s enjoyable in its simplicity, telling an exciting story with fun characters and managing to get a little heart in there every once in a while. It’s like reading a super hero comic when I was kid, only as an adult with a movie.
Matt Adler: THE AVENGERS
This was an easy one. I mean, come on, it should have been a disaster. Taking a bunch of superheroes, most of whom were known from only one prior film, and smushing them all together in one movie? No way it should have worked. But Kevin Feige and Joss Whedon willed it to be so through their combined creative and show biz genius. The perfect casting, the perfect dialogue, the right amount of screentime for almost everyone (sorry, Jeremy Renner)…it just worked. It was a thrilling ride from start to finish seeing these heroes I grew up with represented faithfully and awesomely on the big screen, and it was literally a stand up and cheer film, even for folks meeting these characters for the first time. And Thanos? The Marvel movie folks just get it--they know how to entice us, they know how to make us gasp. This is why, against all odds, I think the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film is going to be a success: because it's in the hands of people who know how to defy expectations.
Masked Man: THE AVENGERS
Well, I didn’t see MIB3 or JUDGE DREDD, but I seriously doubt they are better than decent (2 to 3 stars). GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE was one of the worst movies I saw in 2012. I love the character, but that movie was a mess from script to editing room (no stars). AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was a decent enough film, but in their effort not to be like Sam Rami, every story beat was changed and made inferior by comparison (2 stars). DARK KNIGHT RISES was a heavily flawed, great Batman movie (3 stars). This leaves us THE AVENGERS, the only real 4 star movie from comic books this year. It had a great cast, a fun script, awesome action, dynamite effects, and the movie gave us what we wanted--The Avengers! Each character got a moment to shine, with action, character beats and one liners, plus they all got to bump heads with each other--just a great superhero movie. Was it weak on story? I suppose, but the story wasn’t about Loki’s clever scheme, or a hidden allegory on the human condition. It was simply the tale of these six people getting together and working as a team, and I think Joss Whedon did that in a very fun entertaining style, second to none.
Vroom Socko: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Sure, AVENGERS was a big ball of fun and spectacle. And sure, DARK KNIGHT RISES was astonishing. (To anyone who'd never read NO MAN'S LAND, KNIGHTFALL, or THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, at any rate.) But with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, we had a movie that, while it might not have had the same spectacle, more than made up for it in character. This was a movie with heart, with growth of person as its driving theme, and it finally allowed Spidey to be on film acting like Spidey (the bit where he's playing games on his phone? C'mon!) I connected with all the characters here, not just Peter, better than I did with anyone in AVENGERS who wasn't The Hulk. And that's what tipped the scales.
Now it’s time to pick your own @$$ies in the Talkbacks. Thirsty for more @$$ie Awards?
Favorite Super Team!
Best Artist/Art Team!
Look for more tomorrow with picks for…
Favorite Super Villain!
See you then!
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