The Best Characters of 2009: Part One

We saw a lot of movies in 2009. It was the first year in a while where we managed to make it to 99% of the movies we wanted to see. Ironically, working in movies sometimes makes actually going to the movies a pain in the ass. We persevered, though, and what a year for going to the movies. For the most part, anyway. We read a lot of comics, too, as can be evidenced by the minor explosion of bags, boards, and comic boxes currently residing in my living room.

Considering this at the turn of the new year, Janice suggested I write up my 10-ish favorite characters of the year. It was, in fact, one of many motivating factors to setting up the blog in the first place. I’ll drive myself nuts trying to assemble one shambling 4,000 word post, so I’m going to spread the fun into bite sized chunks.

One word of warning: There might be spoilers. I’m going to try not to, but some characters, including the one I’m starting with (hint, hint), are hard to talk about without involving their entire character arc. I’ll do my best to forewarn when I do so.

Onward!

Nero


I'm running away with your wife

Ahhh, Star Trek. A movie both Janice and I were convinced was going to be awful while we were working on it that then turned out to be awesome. There are many great things about it and it’s filled with great characters. Karl Urban’s Bones tickled me especially, so perfect was his balancing act of bringing himself to the character while still staying faithful to the original.

Nero, though. Here’s the one player who we don’t know, who we don’t have any expectations from. Furthermore, he’s the catalyst, the driving force that gets us from the old to the new, and the chaotic ying to the yang of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock Prime. He’s got a hard job here. He’s got to be threatening enough to put all this in motion, but not so overwhelming that he drowns out the other players. He can’t be Montalban, not when we have to be utterly and completely sold on the shell game that is making the audience accept the new cast.  To paraphrase Rusty in the 2001 Ocean’s Eleven, we’ve got to hate him and then forget him the moment he’s sucked into an artificial black hole. He’s got to be a whackjob, but not so memorable that geeks are quoting him instead of Zachary Quinto in 20 years.

“Hi Christopher, I’m Nero.”

Eric Bana attacks the role with gusto. He drives Nero from the creepily nonchalant line quoted above to Jeff Bridges-as-Obadiah Stane spittle-slinging levels of psychotic raving, and Nero moves us merrily along to his ultimate doom. Once he’s gone, he no longer matters, and our seat-filling butts are on board with the revised crew of the USS Enterprise. I could argue that it could’ve been anyone, any random player running any random character, and that might be so. But Nero owns his fate, both onscreen and off, and I don’t think we would have come out of last summer loving the ride so much otherwise.

(As an aside, I picked this specific picture because a) it’s a decent picture and b) it’s the single remaining shot of an entire sequence that haunted Janice’s nightmares during post production. Many weeks were spent going over Eric Bana’s naked, sweaty, lens flare-enhanced head and torso pixel-by-pixel, all for naught, though you can see it in the deleted scenes on the DVD/BRD.)

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