Winners & Losers Of 2008 (Part Two)

 
Winner:  Superhero Movies (Except Superhero Movie!)
 
It was a cinematic summer of bliss for fans of comic book-inspired action movies.  Between May and August, five such titles dominated multiplexes the world over.  None was more popular or respected than The Dark Knight.
 
The follow-up to the brilliant Batman Begins, it was one of the most critically acclaimed pictures of the year.  While its 2005 predecessor earned an 84% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, The Dark Knight received 94%.  Three years ago, Batman Begins made almost 400 million at the global box office.  As of this writing, its sequel has accumulated nearly a billion.  (The Dark Knight returns to theatres next month in the hopes of securing some major Oscar nominations.)
 
Speaking of The Academy Awards, Heath Ledger, who died of an accidental drug overdose in January, has long been singled out as the lead contender for the Best Supporting Actor trophy, thanks to his revered performance as The Joker.  Not only that, there’s a strong possibility that The Dark Knight itself will earn a Best Picture nomination.  Considering all the accolades it has already received (with many more likely to come), it would be a genuine shock if the majority of the members of The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences refuse to reward the film with numerous overall nominations, particularly in the major categories.
 
Two months before The Dark Knight barnstormed into movie theatres, there was Iron Man.  Like the Batman sequel, it received tremendous reviews.  With a worldwide box office take of nearly 600 million, it’s the latest Marvel Comics character to be adapted into a film franchise.
 
Five years after Hulk, Ang Lee’s underappreciated 2003 release, Ed Norton replaced Eric Bana as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk.  Like the earlier film, reviews were mostly positive and its overall financial statement was respectable.  (Interestingly, Hulk made 245 million, only 17 million less than its follow-up.)
 
Ron Perlman once again put up with hours and hours of sitting in the make-up chair in order to reprise the title role in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.  Earning an 88% fresh rating from the critics assembled on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie made nearly 160 million altogether.  (By comparison, the original Hellboy received an 80% fresh rating and ultimately grossed 99 million.) 
 
Finally, there’s Hancock.  Critically pummelled, the story about a cranky superhero who irritates the city with his destructive antics and bad attitude nonetheless made a whopping 624 million in worldwide ticket sales, thanks to Will Smith’s enduring pull as a global action star.  Of the five films mentioned here, only The Dark Knight made more money.
 
The only superhero movie that failed to find a large audience and critical respect in 2008 was, you guessed it, Superhero Movie!  The springtime spoof grossed a piffling 26 millionCritics were equally underwhelmed.
 
With these titles generating close to 3 billion in global grosses alone this year (and we’re only talking about their theatrical runs, remember), the superhero genre isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
 
Loser:  O.J. Simpson
 
In 2006, he angered millions by trying to capitalize on his infamy with a new book (the absurdly titled If I Did It) and an exclusive interview with publisher Judith Regan for Fox.  The resulting outrage inspired eventual cancellations of both.  In 2007, The Goldman family, who were initially opposed to the book project, succeeded in legally securing the rights to the original manuscript which they had published under the new name, “If I Did It:  Confessions Of The Killer”.  (Why didn’t they drop “If”?)  “In September” that same year, as noted a year ago in this space, “Simpson recruited a small group of friends to help him retrieve sports memorabilia he claims was stolen from him.  A meeting was arranged with a couple of dealers which the FBI knew about weeks in advance.  One of them, Bruce Fromong, a former Simpson pal, very cleverly, audiotaped the entire incident which was later bought by TMZ and posted on their website.  Some of the would-be robbers, we learned, were armed.  OJ is heard accusing Fromong of theft and urging his partners in crime to not let anyone escape…Soon after, Simpson and all of his equally dopey cohorts were arrested in Las Vegas.”
 
As this website also noted last year, “…it’s the second consecutive Loser Of The Year honour for OJ.  Will there be a 3-peat in ’08?  Here’s hoping.”
 
On October 3rd, I got my wish.  Thirteen years after controversially beating that infamous double murder rap, Simpson was found guilty of 12 charges he faced resulting from his botched September 13, 2007 memorabilia raid, which included armed robbery and kidnapping.  It took all of 13 hours for the jury to come to the inevitable conclusion that he’s a guilty moron.  How moronic is he?  According to this, although details weren’t specified, Simpson rejected a plea bargain agreement that would’ve substantially reduced his sentence because prosecutors would not offer a public apology for trying him in court.  I wonder if he’s having second thoughts about that decision right now.
 
Two months later, in a surprise move, Simpson requested a moment to address the court.  After not testifying in the case (his same strategy for the criminal murder trial), he made a pitiful, last-ditch effort to explain himself.  It was a hapless attempt to save face.  Despite saying “I’m sorry” several times, he foolishly claimed that he didn’t do anything wrong and never meant to hurt anybody.  Immediately afterwards, Judge Jackie Glass levelled the boom on Simpson.  He’ll be serving at least 9 years in prison (before becoming eligible for parole) or as much as 33 years in prison.  Unmoved by his crocodile tears, Judge Glass noted that Simpson was both “arrogant” and “ignorant” in his actions and that the evidence against him was “overwhelming”. 
 
In a word, wow.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2008
9:50 p.m.
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Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 9:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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