New action films offer comedy, emotion

Posted May 2, 2016


Although we are only four months into 2016, this year has already proved to be full of captivating and action-packed films. “Deadpool,” “Batman v Superman” and “The Jungle Book,” each exemplify films that take the audience through a journey of action, comedy and emotion.

batman v supermanEach film is adapted from a published work that has been regularly reinterpreted across a variety of platforms and is a part of the action/ adventure film genre.

“Deadpool” and “Batman v Superman” began as comic books, the former hailing from Marvel and the latter from DC Comics. Deadpool’s character was featured in the 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but the current movie of the same name is the first film centered on the unique hero.

Although action/ adventure movies have become some of the most commonly produced today, the genre first began to see wide mainstream popularity in theater in the 1940s with the rise of cowboy adventure movies. Its growth in the movie market continued into the 1960s with the popular “James Bond” movies. The following decades saw martial arts-themed action and adventure movies and then some of genre’s most quintessential films during the 1980s, including “Die Hard” (1988) and “The Terminator” series (1984).

As computer generated images (CGI) abilities advanced at the turn of the twenty-first century, action-adventure movies were able to showcase intense fight scenes that grabbed the viewer’s senses, in such films as the “Batman” series. The early 2000s also saw a rise in action-adventure movies about superheroes and comic book legends, which have made up a major portion of Hollywood’s large-budget blockbuster films in recent years.

the jungle bookAction/ adventure films are known for their intense scenes involving physical challenges. The main character in adventure films is often involved in a number of fight and chase scenes throughout the movie, causing films of this genre to be known for fast-paced storylines punctuated by a number of action-packed confrontations and pursuits.

Whether the fighting is with guns, martial arts-style, or involves supernatural powers, action films always include physical confrontation. Similarly, pursuit scenes can be on foot, by car, by skis, or even spacecraft, but are almost always present in films of this genre.

One of the most common critiques of action films is that the frequent physically focused scenes often cause movies that fall under this genre to lack substance in their storylines. That being said, a valuable action/ adventure film balances visually stimulating confrontational or chase scenes with an engrossing storyline and interesting characters.

“The Dark Knight” is a widely successful action film that embodies this balance of a thought-provoking storyline with intense battle scenes throughout. “Deadpool,” currently in theaters, also exemplifies a film filled with stimulating combat scenes that also includes a storyline that can stand on its own.

The best action films are also known for embracing special effects and CGI. Films like “The Terminator” and “Star Wars” used advanced effects for their time to illustrate such design elements as weapons and explosions that contribute to the fight scenes that constitute action films. “The Jungle Book” (2016) relies almost completely on CGI to create a fast-paced jungle world.

Deadpool posterThe title characters in “Batman v Superman” are synonymous with superhero movies and their comic book likenesses have inspired countless adaptations since their debuts in the mid 20th century.

“The Jungle Book” is based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic 1894 novel. It has been adapted into both live action and animated feature films before the rendition currently in theaters.

“Deadpool,” rated R, has earned more than $750 million since its February release. It tells the story of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), the comic antihero as described by critics who hilariously and vulgarly fights through a series of outrageous and gory tasks in order to save the woman he loves.

Wade’s tale begins violently, and continues that way for the duration of the movie. We first see him in take out multiple unknowns in the middle of a public road before he is restrained by Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), an X-Men recruit and resorts to cutting off his own hand in order to escape.

The story then rewinds to a happier time, when we see a mask free Wade (who moonlights as a hit man) meet and fall in love with Vanessa at a bar. After learning he has terminal cancer, Wade turns as a last resort to a sadistic scientist named Ajax (Ed Skrein) who promises him a cure. His cancer does go away, but only after every inch of his skin is left horribly disfigured.

Too scared to see Vanessa post-treatment, Wade takes on the persona of Deadpool and bides his time planning to find Ajax and demand a remedy for his disfigurement. The film ends in a climactic battle scene after Ajax kidnaps Vanessa in order to lure Deadpool to him, and although Deadpool learns that there is no way to cure his appearance, Vanessa is able to look past it.

“Batman v Superman,” starring Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, rated PG-13, has garnered more than $830 million since its March release. The film examines the two famous DC Comics superheroes as Batman tries to take out his revenge on Superman at the same time as the infamous Lex Luthor in the sequel to an earlier Superman film entitled “Man of Steel.”

After Superman destroys much of the city of Metropolis, Bruce Wayne becomes convinced that he is too dangerous to exist. Lex Luthor (played by Jessie Eisenberg) shares Batman’s negative opinion regarding Superman and is simultaneously planning to import kryptonite (material from the Superman fictional universe) in order to foil him.

After attending a party at Luthor’s house, Wayne comes into possession of data from Luthor’s company, and later steals kryptonite, planning to use it to battle Superman. Luther kidnaps Superman’s mother and tells him that he must kill Batman in order to get her back.

Although the two heroes fight almost to the death, they are able to put aside their differences to fight Luthor at the story’s close (with the help of Wonder Woman), and Superman is believed to have died at the hands of Luthor’s genetically modified monster. The film ends with a hint that presumed-dead Superman is actually not so.

“The Jungle Book,” rated PG has earned more than $390 million at the box office since its April 15 release. The film turns Mowgli’s classic story into a visually stunning piece with a star-studded cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken and newcomer Neel Sethi as the lead role.

Mowgli is a “human cub” living among a pack of wolves in the jungle. After being forced to leave his pack after the villainous tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens his wolf family and begins to pursue him, Mowgli begins a journey back to human settlement with Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), the wise black panther who rescues him as a baby human.

After becoming separated from Bagheera during a fight with Shere Khan, Mowgli learns from a mysterious snake named Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) that Shere Khan’s hate for him comes from his facial burns inflicted by Mowgli’s father years ago when the tiger attacked him and Mowgli. Mowgli also learns about the “red flame,” which is how the animals refer to fire, a human-made force that is the most destructive thing in the jungle. A friendly bear named Baloo (Bill Murray) rescues Mowgli from near death and implores him to use his taboo human tricks to help him hoard honey.

Mowgli eventually decides that he does not want to return to human civilization and he is reunited with Bagheera. When he finds out that Shere Khan has killed the wolfpack leader over him, Mowgli returns to his home and uses his human tricks along with jungle knowledge to thwart the evil tiger.

Story-wise, each film has an exciting plot full of adventure and at times, violence. “Deadpool” manages to stand out by miles over the current Marvel movies being released because of its inappropriate yet absolutely perfect comedy. Such lines as “Please don’t make the super suit green … or animated!” (In homage to Reynolds’s character in the flopped movie, “Green Lantern”) pepper every scene of a movie that otherwise would be almost too grim and violent to handle.

Deadpool/Wade often breaks the fourth wall to crack jokes to the audience, which definitely adds comedy to the film’s storyline and allows viewers to make a connection with the character as well.

In fact, writer Paul Wernick did an excellent job with Deadpool’s character and viewers will find themselves taken with an arrogant and profane hit man and rooting for him throughout the film. His use of humor during absolutely every situation makes “Deadpool” stand out among the many superhero movies in the current market.

The story of “The Jungle Book” is fast-paced and filled with adventure from the opening scene of Mowgli running through the jungle. Its plot line is basically the same as that of previous renditions of the classic tale, but director Jon Favreau uses such narrative elements as fast paced, realistic chase scenes and suspense over Mowgli’s fate to demand attention during the whole film.

The relationships between Mowgli and his jungle family are believable and heartwarming, as is the film’s resolution. However, family-friendly content of the “Jungle Book” does not mean the movie lacks action and viewers will find themselves hanging on to every intense scene of Mowgli fleeing from Shere Khan.

Batman v Superman’s story also comes packed with action but it fails to measure up to either “The Jungle Book” or “Deadpool.” The film is filled with tense combat scenes from beginning to end and peppered with small details about Bruce Wayne (Affleck) and Clark Kent (Cavill)’s personal lives, such as Kent’s relationship with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Wayne’s vivid dreams.

However, the film fails in trying to incorporate so much action while at the same time squeezing both characters’ personal lives into the rare action-light scenes. It seems that director Zack Snyder could not decide whether to lead the production in the direction of the classic superhero action film or that of a darker, more thriller-esque movie, and landed somewhere awkwardly in the middle with “Batman v Superman.” The result is a clouded and underwhelming film, a consensus that seems common among reviewers.

“Batman v Superman” also underwhelms in terms of visuals. For such a large budget project, the movie does not include any CGI (computer-generated-imagery) or visual elements that particularly capture attention and artists could have done much more to enhance such effect-heavy scenes as the final battle against Luthor’s monster. In what seems to be a pattern of the film, the monster is overdone with elements like fire and light and fails to impress as a result.

On the contrary, both “Deadpool” and “The Jungle Book” stun visually. Not only is Deadpool’s opening credit scene hilariously genius, referring to the director as “an overpaid tool” and written by “the real heroes here,” but it is a perfect visually driven introduction to the harmony of romance, action, and comedy to follow, heavily relying on CGI.

“The Jungle Book” truly amazes with its animation and visual elements. Everything on screen other than Mowgli is computer generated, and the result is a beautiful jungle setting and realistic animal characters. The use of color and the detail in both characters in setting take viewers through a completely convincing visual journey through Mowgli’s jungle adventure.

All three films boast star-studded casts, and the talent lives up to expectations in each. As Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds could not be more perfect, and he makes no secret about his love for the character, who he plays completely believably.

As Baloo the bear in “The Jungle Book,” Bill Murray elicits a laugh at almost every line, but the real star of the film is Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli in his first acting role. Because he is basically the only non-CGI image featured in “The Jungle Book,” Sethi had to act out the entire film standing by himself in front of a green screen. However, he manages to portray Mowgli in an authentic and empathetic way.

“Batman v Superman” had high expectations to live up to before its release, and since the film hit theaters, it has received less than positive reviews. Nonetheless, Ben Affleck did manage to live up to the hype in his first role as Batman, which he portrays menacingly in order to give the movie one of its sparse positives.

Although “Batman v Superman” has made more at the box office than both “Deadpool” and “The Jungle Book,” the film has been received less-than positively by reviewers and the consensus is that the heavily anticipated project failed to live up to the hype.

Contrarily, “Deadpool” seems to be a surprise hit in both the sales and press departments, considering it focuses on a rather lesser-known Marvel character, and its perfect blend of witty comedy, romance, and action most likely explains its success. Although it has not yet had enough time to catch up to “Batman v Superman” or “Deadpool” in earnings, critics have received “The Jungle Book” positively, crediting the film’s beautiful visuals and spot-on casting as their reason.

As action/ adventure films, each of the three works delivers and represents their genre in a unique way. Fast-paced, adventurous scenes are common in “Deadpool,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Batman v Superman” and fans of action/ adventure films will not be disappointed by any of the three.

“Batman v Superman” features the most epic fight scenes, like the battle against Luthor’s monster, so those who especially like the action elements of this type of film will be sure to find themselves entertained.

“Deadpool” puts a unique spin on the classic action and adventure piece with its heavy use of comedy and its antihero-superhero main character. Although not as violent as “Deadpool” or “Batman v Superman,” “The Jungle Book” manages to pack a near constant amount of visually stimulating jungle action into its rendition of the classic story and certainly lives up to its action label.

Each of these films are entertaining and box office successes. However, Batman v Superman’s underwhelming visuals and lack of a focused storyline result in Snyder’s much anticipated film failing to live up to the high expectations leading up to its market release. Contrarily, “Deadpool” and “The Jungle Book” both shine as examples of unique and stimulating action/ adventure films.

  • Movie: “Deadpool”
  • Release Date: (U.S.) Feb. 12, 2016, (E.U.) Feb. 8, 2016
  • Director: Tim Miller
  • Main Characters: Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson “Deadpool”), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa Carlysle), Ed Skrein (Ajax), T.J. Miller (Weasel), Gina Carano (Angel Dust), Stefan Kapicic (Colossus), Brianna Hidlebrand (Negasonic)
  • Rating: R
  • Availability: All theaters
  • Movie: “Batman v Superman”
  • Release Date: (U.S.) March 25, 2016, (E.U.) March 23, 2016
  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Main Characters: Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince), Jessie Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Amy Adams (Lois Lane)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Availability: All theaters
  • Movie: “The Jungle Book”
  • Release Date: (U.S.) April 15, 2016, (E.U.) April 7, 2016
  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Main Characters: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa)
  • Rating: PG
  • Availability: All theaters