To be honest, this is the kind of movie that almost everyone has seen. I’m not going to be saying anything too crazy about this film. It’s great. It’s a masterpiece of Romantic Comedy – so much so that it has set a template for many other rom-coms to follow in the last fourteen years. Love Actually was written and directed by Richard Curtis, the genius behind films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary and The Boat that Rocked. Just like the films I’ve named and almost all the other ones I haven’t Curtis has proven that he can create characters that are relatable but can also be put in ridiculous situations, be they romantic or not, and create comedy. I’ve said a few times that there is usually only one good romantic comedy film a year, but if this is the standard of good, there’s probably one every five or so years.
I can’t see this review being very long so I’ll brush over some things I liked and some things I didn’t. Many of the characters are believable and are introduced briefly into the story, and yet you know almost everything you need to know about them by about ten minutes in. This is an example of how you create a good ensemble. Give your characters a chance to grow but keep them as simple as possible. This isn’t a criticism, I like that all I need to know about John and Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page) is that they are body doubles for a film with a sex scene in it. Their relationship blossoms from that point. I also like that in the first meeting between Prime Minister, David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) you feel the pomp and circumstance that would usually come in the air of 10 Downing Street disappear the moment both of them say ‘fuck’. It’s good writing and great introductions that makes this film stand out to me. It is something a lot of the ‘copycat’ films have been unable to achieve.
Whether it’s the lost in translation love between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz) or the misguided sexual adventure Colin Frizzle (Kris Marshall) embarks on, everyone has their favourite Love Actually story. Mine is the Step-Father and Son relationship between Daniel (Liam Neeson) and Sam (Thomas Sangster) and their own journeys to find love after the death of Sam’s mother.
I’m going to wrap this up now. Love Actually is probably one of the best Christmas films and one of the best romantic comedies of all time. Admittedly, that statement is coming from someone that doesn’t like either of those genres all that much. But you’ll have to take my word for it, it’s a great film that pulls on all kinds of heartstrings. It’s hard to imagine a Christmas without it.
While there were superhero movies in the 1940s, 50s and 60s it wasn’t until the 1978 film Superman opened the door for comic books and their characters to be taken as serious movie ideas, but that faded over ten years until 1989’s Batman put them back on the map again. Unfortunately, with the exception of Batman Returns (1992) the popularity of superhero films declined again until 2000 when X-Men got it right.
Since X-Men superhero movies have been on the up and up. Production companies started taking the concepts seriously again rather than trying to make it comical and camp (I’m looking at you Joel Schumacher). 2002 saw Spider-Man swing on to the silver screen and both the X-Men and Spider-Man films spawned major film franchises for Fox and Sony respectively. But we’ll get to the major production companies later. Fox continued it’s push with Daredevil (2003), X2 (2003), Elektra (2005) and Fantastic Four (2005) while Sony (Colombia) released Hellboy and Spider-Man 2 in 2004. Following the success of
these franchises DC and Warner Bros. took a different angle and rebooted the popular Batman franchise with Batman Begins (2005) which had a much darker tone to it than the Marvel films that were being released at the time. Superhero films cashed in on the success of the early 2000 hits for a few more years X-Men: The Last Stand and Superman Returns in 2006 and Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007 (which might I add were all franchise killers) but come 2008 something clicked in the minds of Marvel, DC, production companies and audiences… Superhero Movies could be better than exciting. They could be exhilarating the perfect escape for people young and old just like the comic books they were based on were for people years ago.
2008 was a big year for Superheroes, with Marvel’s start of their Cinematic Universe (Actually owning the rights to these characters this time) Iron Man blasted on to the screen, reviving the dwindling superhero audiences and Robert Downey Jr.’s career at the same time. On top of that the reboot of the Hulk franchise with The Incredible Hulk re-established another character for something in the future. Iron Man would have been the walk-away hit of superhero films that year had the follow-up to Batman Begins not been released. The Dark Knight wowed audiences and box officenumbers proved that superhero movies were not just a sub-class of action films. They were their own genre. Mixing comedy and drama with action, visual effects and the characters people of all ages could enjoy. The superheroes were here.
The late 2000s brought us a prequel to X-Men in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a surprise cult classic with Watchmen. The start of the new decade brought in more of the independent heroes in to the spotlight, Kick-Ass and Super depict average joes standing up and answering the call against villainy and Iron Man 2 delved deeper in to the mystery behind S.H.I.E.L.D and why they were showing up in all these Marvel movies. 2011 was another big year for Marvel with Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger setting up for the biggest superhero team up in film history. Fox released a re-invigoration of X-Men going back to the early days of Professor X in X-Men: First Classand DC unfortunately missed the mark withGreen Lantern. Last year blew me away though with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises three of the four big superhero movie powerhouses put everything they had in to these films and they were incredible.
The superhero film genre has risen over the last twenty or so years to become films that provide drama, comedy, explosions and an all round entertaining visit to the cinemas.