A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length

21 Memorable Zingers by Roger Ebert While Reviewing Toy- and Comic Book-Based Movies 

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Before his death this week, film critic Roger Ebert saw thousands of movies over the course of his career, and he was never shy about expressing his opinions (see also his book, Your Movie Sucks). And while he heaped plenty of praise on comic-book films like Iron Man, Batman Begins or the original Superman, he was probably at his best when he ripped apart the movies he didn’t like. For instance:

1. On Catwoman:
“The director, whose name is Pitof, was probably issued with two names at birth and would be wise to use the other one on his next project.”

2. On Jonah Hex:
“After Hex saves the day, he’s invited into the Oval Office, thanked, and then presented with a big badge. What is this badge? The president tells Hex: ‘America needs a sheriff.’ This provided the audience with a big laugh, which sounded like it might have been bottled up for awhile.”

3. On Fantastic Four:
“Are these people complete idiots? The entire nature of their existence has radically changed, and they’re about as excited as if they got a makeover on Oprah.”

4. On Punisher: War Zone:
“You used to be able to depend on a bad film being poorly made. No longer. The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I’ve seen. It looks great, it hurtles through its paces and is well-acted. The soundtrack is like elevator music if the elevator were in a death plunge. The special effects are state of the art. Its only flaw is that it’s disgusting.”

5. On Spider-Man 3:
“Spider-Man 3 is, in short, a mess. Too many villains, too many pale plot strands, too many romantic misunderstandings, too many conversations, too many street crowds looking high into the air and shouting ‘Oooh!’ this way, then swiveling and shouting ‘Aaah!’ that way. And saints deliver us from another dinner date like the one where Peter plans to propose to Mary Jane. You know a movie is in trouble when the climactic romantic scene of the entire series is stolen by the waiter.”

6. On X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
“Nothing here about human nature. No personalities beyond those hauled in via typecasting. No lessons to learn. No joy to be experienced. Just mayhem, noise and pretty pictures. I have been powerfully impressed by film versions of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Iron Man and the Iron Giant. I wouldn’t even walk across the street to meet Wolverine.”

7. On Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments.”

8. On G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a 118-minute animated film with sequences involving the faces and other body parts of human beings. It is sure to be enjoyed by those whose movie appreciation is defined by the ability to discern that moving pictures and sound are being employed to depict violence.”

9. On Superman Returns:
“Superman is vulnerable to one, and only one, substance: kryptonite. He knows this. We know this. Lex Luthor knows this. Yet he has been disabled by kryptonite in every one of the movies. Does he think Lex Luthor would pull another stunt without a supply on hand? Why doesn’t he take the most elementary precautions? How can a middle-aged bald man stab the Man of Steel with kryptonite?”

10. On Conan the Barbarian (2011):
Conan the Barbarian involves a clash of civilizations whose vocabularies are limited to screams, oaths, grunts, howls, ejaculations, exclamations, vulgarities, screeches, wails, bellows, yelps and woofs. I’d love to get my hands on the paycheck for subtitling this movie.”

11. On The Spirit:
“To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material.”

12. On Kick-Ass:
“Let’s say you’re a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in. A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.”

13. On Thor:
“Thor’s brother Loki is dark-haired, skinny, shifty-eyed and sadly lacking in charisma. He might as well be wearing a name tag: ‘Hi! I can’t be trusted!'”

14. On Transformers: Dark of the Moon:
“The series exists to show gigantic and hideous robots hammering one another. So it does. The last hour involves a battle for the universe which for some reason is held at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in Chicago.”

15. On Green Hornet:
The Green Hornet is an almost unendurable demonstration of a movie with nothing to be about.”

16. On Supergirl:
“[Helen] Slater is the best thing in the film. She shares with Christopher Reeve the ability to wear a funny costume and not look ridiculous. We look at her and we see Supergirl. We look around her and we see the results of a gag-writer’s convention.”

17. On Blade Trinity:
“Jessica Biel becomes the first heroine of a vampire movie to listen to her iPod during slayings.That’s an excuse to get the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi and RZA into the movie, I guess, although I hope she downloaded it from the iTunes Store and isn’t a pirate on top of being a vampire.”

18. On Batman (1989):
“The movie’s problem is that no one seemed to have any fun making it, and it’s hard to have much fun watching it. It’s a depressing experience. Is the opposite of comic book ‘tragic book’?”

19. On The Incredible Hulk:
“When you get down to it, as a fictional creature, the Incredible Hulk is as limited as a bad drunk. He may be fun to be around when he’s sober, but when he drinks too much, you just feel sorry for the guy.”

20. On The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
“I don’t really mind the movie’s lack of believability. Well, I mind a little; to assume audiences will believe cars racing through Venice is as insulting as giving them a gondola chase down the White House lawn. What I do mind is that the movie plays like a big wind came along and blew away the script and they ran down the street after it and grabbed a few pages and shot those.”

21. On Batman Forever:
“A question has been nagging at me ever since the first Batman movie, and Batman Forever makes it inescapable: Would Bruce Wayne continue his keen interest in crime fighting if he didn’t get to wear the Batman costume? The opening scene plays like a commercial for a rubberwear shop, and throughout the movie, the dominant images are of fetishistic gear: the belt buckles, boots, gloves, capes, masks and, of course, the cute little dime-sized nipples on Batman’s and Robin’s chests.”

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