Monday, July 12, 2010
Despicable Me gives the spotlight to those not-so bad guys and gals in Villian Land
The newest entry in the kiddie parade of summertime flicks,Despicable Me triumphed at the box office this past weekend with the third biggest opening for an animated feature this year.
Unlike the other two big cartoon films this summer(Shrek Forever After and Toy Story 3),Despicable Me is not a sequel;instead it's the tale of an aspiring super villian(voiced by Steve Carell)who plans to knock out his bad guy competition(Jason Segel) by stealing the moon.
Part of his plan involves adopting a trio of orphan girls to unwittingly aid him but somehow or other,they form a family which leads to a major change of heart for our unlikely hero:
The movie sounds cute and offbeat enough for both kids and adults,plus it also adds a new character to the ranks of reluctant villain. Those folks who are either evil up to a certain point or decide to walk a better path in life due to the positive influence of another. The best ones don't lose their hard edges completely,keeping just enough snark to satisfy their new found sense of decency in style.
Here are a handful of formerly nasty opponents who now carry their Reformed Evil Doer cards to hand out with pride and a purposely disdainful sneer:
1940 Edition of Lady Catherine: This may come as a shock to some of the Pride & Prejudice fans out there but in at least one Hollywood adaptation of the beloved Austen story,the infamously snobbish Lady Catherine de Burgh is made out to be a secret supporter of Darcy's romance with Elizabeth Bennet,with even the well known confrontation between those two opposing forces being a ruse to find out if Elizabeth still has feelings for Darcy.
The 1940 P&P movie has a truckload of changes from the original material(especially the costumes,which resemble castoffs from a southern belle melodrama),partly due to it being based upon a stage play version of the book(with Aldous Huxley adding a few rewrites to the script as well). However annoying this turnabout to the character may be,the actress who plays Lady Catherine(Edna May Olivier)makes this alternate universe version of her to be most enjoyable to watch:
Many a time,it's a hench person who backs away from the dark side and unwilling to follow their truly vile bosses on their quests to evil glory.
In The Incredibles,it was Mirage(Elizabeth Pena),the sleek sidekick of Syndrome who realized that her life was considered all too expendable to him and switched sides just in time to help the Parr family escape from the island trap they were on. Mirage wasn't trusted right off the bat(especially by Helen,who didn't like the hands on approach taken with her husband)but her assistance was well timed:
For the first season of Heroes,he was only known as "H.R.G"-Horn Rimmed Glasses,a man of mystery dedicated to tracking down and capturing specially powered people at the behest of a shadow organization.
By the end of that early volume,we knew him to be Noah,adopted father of the seemingly invincible Claire Bennet whose loyalties to "The Company" were shifting when it came to turning his beloved daughter over to them.
Over time, Noah broke off from his former employers and strove to find a way to use his talents to help those he had once hunted. Even in a good guy role,Noah was still one tough customer to deal with,particularly if his special girl was targeted by any and all enemies:
When this Sid Vicious style vampire rolled into Sunnydale during the second season of Buffy,his softer side was strongly hinted at from his deep devotion to psycho psychic Drusilla.
After their break-up,Spike gradually re-focused his twisted affections upon Buffy yet slowly began to reform not only to win her heart but out of real regret over his direction in life(more so when he earned back his soul).
Even when partnered with former rival Angel,Spike never lost his innate ability to deliver a good put down or serve up a slice of the truth when it would most hurt. Despite all of the twists and turns this reformed vampire took,he refused to become a "care bear with fangs",which was good for us all:
This deadliest of the Mord Sith made her first appearance during the first season finale of Legend of the Seeker,becoming an ally of Richard Cypher's as he ultimately defeated Darken Rahl,her sworn master.
In season two,Cara had no choice but to join the Seeker and friends on the quest to prevent all life on earth from being snuffed out by the Keeper of the Underworld,which her former Sisters of the Agiel had now sided with.
It took awhile for most of the Seeker's companions to fully trust her(and for good reason)but soon enough,Cara became a valuable asset in the fight to save the world and quite a force to be reckoned with,so much so that a back from the dead Darken Rahl tried to claim her again for his side. It took some major mojo to get Cara back where she belonged,at the side of Richard and Kahlan,and one of the real pities about the cancellation of the series is that we won't be able to see more of her on the small screen:
While having an out and out black hat-my-freeze-ray-will-destroy-Metropolis foe to face off of is great for most stories,it can be more challenging to have one that is tempted to change his/her ways and even one up the official hero in saving the day.
Some may prefer the basic templates of good vs. evil but there are times when molds were made to be broken for the better,especially heroes and villains are concerned. Perhaps everyone's a hero in their own way but not every hero is worth looking up to(or villain worth underestimating):
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