One of the things I enjoy about such superheros like Superman, Batman & The Flash (my favorites in that order) is how unique they are. Superman is invulnerable, impervious to pain, can fly and run near at or better than the speed of light, has ex-ray and heat vision, super hearing…Batman is a human with no superpowers but an intellectual genius billionaire who has mastered several martial arts, has access to and developed many advanced gadgets, dresses up in a Bat-costume and fades into the night to scare and terrorize criminals. The Flash can run, move, think, and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows them to run incredible distances. Some, notably later versions, can vibrate so fast that they can pass through walls in a process called quantum tunneling, travel through time and can also lend and borrow speed. The Flash can heal more rapidly than an average human.
So what does DC Comics do with these unique characters? It creates a “Family” of similar superheroes with similar powers and abilities. Superman has Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto, Powergirl, Mon-El, Val-Zod Red Superman, Blue Superman, Asian Superman and Russian Superman etc. The Batman has many Robins, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, The Red Hood, Batman Beyond etc. The Flash has Jay Garrick (the earliest incarnation of the character), Barry Allen as The Flash, Wally West is the first Kid Flash and the third Flash, Bart Allen the second hero known as Kid Flash..and many more. Even Flash’s villains are just evil personifications of the Flash, such as Reverse Flash, Zoom and Doom etc..There are also many versions of the Green Lantern that originated from earth…Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.
My complaint is that with so many Superheros with the same name or powers within these families it waters down and dilutes the original characters and turning what was a special and unique character into something more ordinary. I am conflicted about this because there are actually some of these extra characters I love (Supergirl, Val-Zod, Jay Garrick, Reverse Flash, John Stewart). I even plan on doing a blog post dedicated to Val-Zod in thew future….Plus, as an artist and creative person myself, I certainly do not want to stifle creativity…
I just cannot also ignore this nagging feeling that all of these similar characters take something away from the original characters. I stopped watching the Flash TV series because of this problem. Not only does he have a team helping him but the majority of the villains are just like him to the point where The Flash himself doesn’t stand out, isn’t the star of his own show and is simply one of many with the same powers. I think Supergirl suffers from this a bit also.
This was just a little venting and I don’t really want or expect anything to be done, it just explains why I gravitate to stories that depict the original character rather than these many similar extensions in these superhero families.
Donner Cut: Superman’s return is anticlimactic.
The Donner cut of Superman II makes Superman getting his powers back anticlimactic. In the theatrical cut we don’t know if Superman is going to get his powers back (okay, we “know” he will get his powers back) and until he does there is the building of tension in the movie. By not seeing Superman getting his powers back the film then focuses on Zod and his minions attacking Lois, Jimmy & Perry White at the Daily Planet.
There is still considerable tension in those scenes because we are unsure what what will happen. Superman flying to Metropolis and telling Zod to “care to step outside” is a moment of triumph that resolves the tension. It is actually one of my favorite scenes in the movie. But in the Donner cut we see an elaborate and long scene of Superman getting his powers back and then his return to Metropolis where for the first time in the film, Superman finally confronts Zod at the window. Ever since we saw the arrival of Zod and his fellow Kryptonians on Earth, paired with Superman giving up his powers at the same time, this very confrontation is the climax this movie is building toward. So if we watch Superman get his powers back it makes this initial confrontation with Zod very anticlimactic and takes all the joy and triumph out of that moment.
Another important moment removed by the Donner Cut is when Lois figures out Clark Kent is Superman! In the scene in Donner Cut, which is from an audition scene, Lois violently shoots Clark to prove he is Superman. The scene is very jarring and violent and unexpected and doesn’t seem to fit in the tone of the movie. It also doesn’t fit with Lois’ character. What if she was wrong!?
In the theatrical cut we see Clark stumble and fall and lose his glasses into the fire place. When he no longer can hide from Lois the fact that he is Superman we get to witness some of Christopher Reeve’s best acting! Sure, there is some similar acting in the Donner Cut, however, it is of my opinion the reveal of Clark Kent as Superman is done much better in the theatrical cut.
Just with the simple act of removing his glasses, standing more erect and lowering his voice, we see Clark Kent transform himself into the persona of Superman before our very eyes without having to don the suit! This moment is also sadly absent from the Donner Cut.
I know there are many fans that feel the Donner Cut is superior to the Theatrical Cut…I guess I am not one of them.
I finally saw Shin Godzilla, the new Japanese Godzilla film from Toho Studios. What follows is a review with minor spoilers.
This really is a very different Godzilla film! One could argue that there are many Godzilla films which are different from one another and you would have a valid point. In the case of Shin Godzilla you would have an even greater point for this movie is unlike any that have followed before it. To begin to understand this movie one needs to comprehend that this truly is a Japanese movie made for a Japanese audience to provide both commentary and satire unique to the Japanese culture. Having said that, it doesn’t mean these elements of the film are not beyond the reach of a non-Japanese audience.
If you have heard or read the rumor that this movie has many scenes where people are in government conferences as they debate and discuss what to do when this giant morphing creature threatens Japan. These rumors are true and therein lies the heart of this story which is commentary and satire focused at the government of Japan. If you think Godzilla is the central focus of this movie then you will miss that point and may not walk away with understanding this film. Although commentary and satire toward the Japanese government is the focus that doesn’t mean this movie lacks the proper elements that we Godzilla fans and fans of Kaiju movies.
Therefore, the simple plot of this movie is, after an unexplained creature attacks boats in Tokyo Bay the top government officials focus on military strategy and civilian safety, while Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi is put in charge of a task force to research the creature. Due to high radiation readings, the creature is theorized to be energized through nuclear fission. The US sends a special envoy, Kayoko Ann Patterson, who reveals that a disgraced zoology professor, Goro Maki, had been studying mutations due to radioactive contamination and theorized the appearance of the creature but the US covered it up. As the creature, The creature, now named Godzilla, reappears, now twice its original size, and makes landfall near Kamakura en route for Tokyo. The Japanese Self Defense Forces are mobilized, but their attacks have no effect on Godzilla and they suffer major casualties. Yaguchi’s team discovers that Godzilla’s fins and blood work as a cooling system, allowing them to theorize that through the use of a coagulating agent, they could trigger a reaction and cause Godzilla to freeze.
Generally in my reviews I offer both the Pros and Cons of a film. For every film whether I enjoyed it or not will have varying degrees of Pros and Cons. In the case of this film, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the Con are not outweighed by the Pros in the first place.
Pro: Great Monster destruction. Isn’t this what most Godzilla and Kaiju fans come to see? Gone are the model miniature sets..which is sad…but in its place is a real world setting and real world destruction with great CGI. Godzilla’s atomic breath just has to be seen and the amount of power and destruction it delivers is the best of the entire franchise in my opinion.
Godzilla’s three forms. I really enjoy the many different designs of Godzilla. While this Godzilla isn’t actually a traditional design it really works for this movie. This is the largest Godzilla ever seen!
Great depiction of scale and Size of Godzilla. Although I have always loved the man-in-the suit approach coupled with model building one never really did get a sense of size and scale in a Godzilla movie…until now. With Godzilla 2014 and Pacific Rim (Godzilla 1998 to some extent) those movie were able to really demonstrate the massive scale and size of the creatures within the movie. Shin Godzilla finally achieves that sense massive scale and size and to me it is awesome!!
An interesting story. Once you understand what the movie is trying to say, it really becomes interesting to watch these government officials stumble and bumble their way through the bureaucracy until they reach a point of action.
Con: An uninteresting story. I will contradict myself. Yes, I do like the story and I understand the commentary on the ineptitude of bureaucracy, however, there are times that it is too much and goes on a little too long.
Lumbering Godzilla…or shall I say… Zombie Godzilla? While I do like this design and despite the epic destruction this Godzilla brings, there are times when all he does is walk… very…very …slowly.
While Shin Godzilla will not go down as my very favorite it is up there in my top 10. Once the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out this film will have many viewings in my home. The destruction scenes alone are worth the price of admission. A very different and still enjoyable Godzilla film!
I am a big fan of the original Independence Day and I saw it four times in the theater and at least 3 times a year ever since. I understand that the sequel was not liked by fans and critics alike. I did enjoy Independence Day Resurgence but my feelings are mixed. I have watched it several times to sort out just how I felt about this movie. First of all, I JUST love alien invasion movies and that on its own will already earn some praise from me.
One point I want to make is that if a person goes into this movie expecting it to be similar or just like the original ID4 then they are bound to be disappointed. If, however, you approach this with an open mind and accept the movie for what it is…a lighthearted science-fiction action and adventure movie…I think there are things in this film to enjoy.
I will review the movie by revealing my pros & cons. Remember, not all pros and cons are of equal value. I will start with the cons first.
1). Too many characters. Its not that I wasn’t able to keep track of them, its just that there were too many to keep track of and that bogged down the story.
2). Not enough tension. I think with the concentration and focus on the many relationships the movie lost a sense of dread and immanent danger annihilation the first movie had. I never had that sense of tension that our characters were in real trouble.
3) Poor pacing. The original was well paced and I think the poor pacing of this movie is due to trying to cram the stories of all the characters within this movie.
Now for the pros.
1). I liked the focus on the original characters and it was good to see them back! I specifically liked the performances of Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun. Spiner’s character had much more screen time and did provide comic relief and was just a hoot. For those who think his character died watch the original once again. As the alien is using him to speak through, Okun’s fingers are against the glass and are moving showing he is alive. Plus, when we first see Dr. Okun in IDR he is shown moving his fingers before he awakes. That is a nice subtle touch!
2). Great Special Effects. I am unapologetic about my love of eye candy known as special effects. This movie was a delight on the eyes and senses and for me that was very entertaining.
3). The Alien Queen. I am also a lover of Kaiju movies (giant monsters) and the Alien Queen was just great as a giant monster…Loved it!
4). More Science-Fiction. i loved how they showed how much the earth has changed due to the incorporation of alien technology on the human race. Although this could also fit under the special effects reasons why I enjoyed the movie, I single this out because it was done so well and it is what made the movie different from the original (in a good way).
5). Action and adventure. This had a lot of action, more aliens, great battles and ton of destruction porn!
6). Decent story. Despite the character overload the story is pretty good. I did care about the characters, I hated to see Jasmine Hiller’s character die, and it was interesting and entertaining how they all got together to save the Earth once more.
Sure, I don’t exactly enjoy it as I did the original but this movie does have a lot going for me. I am very certain this alien invasion movie will have repeated viewings in my house.
Let’s face it. Christopher Reeve left pretty big boots to…and cape..to fill. We now have two movies under our belts with Henry Cavill as Superman so comparisons will be inevitable. I have begun to throw such comparisons away and stopped using the words “better” in my vocabulary when asked to compare the two men (or any actors who have played superheroes) because such comparisons end up being biased and subjective to the point of being futile and unnecessary. Why the need to compare? I can enjoy what each actor brings to the role in the specific movie and story being told.
I understand that many 20 & 30 somethings grew-up with Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the Last Son of Krypton and given his tragic accident and untimely death makes him and his donning of the big S on his chest as something sacred. However, time does march on, and while I can revere Christopher Reeve as well as the next guy, I think ultimately comparisons fail because it isn’t comparing apples to apples but apples to oranges despite the comparison being between the same characters, albeit, the way two different actors portray the character.
The reasons I feel comparisons are unfair and unwarranted are due to the fact that the makers of these new movies are taking a different approach to the character. They are putting Superman in more real world settings and circumstances. So this Superman, while interested in doing the ultimate good, also faces real problems such as not everyone will love him and like him, he cannot save all and there may be political, physical and social repercussions to his actions. This Superman isn’t the happy boy-scout Reeve’s Superman was. That is not a criticism on either portrayal but a justification why comparisons between the two portrayals are not fair comparisons because each are different.
Recently on Facebook someone made the claim that Reeve’s Superman was the most powerful live action portrayal of the character. To me that was just silly because there were times, due to the special effects of the day, Reeve’s Superman was not able to be shown doing what many of us expect Superman to do. The special effects of the day were pretty ground breaking and they still hold up today.
But when the premise of the OP states that Reeve’s Superman was the most powerful, special effects of the era do come into play, for the makers of the 1978 movie were not able to show or demonstrate the premise that Reeve’s Superman was the most powerful. The premise of the OP calls for comparison and they only way to compare the relative powers of each live action Superman is to judge them by the special effects used to demonstrate the power. Today’s advanced special effects are unlimited and Cavill’s Superman can be shown doing all we expect Superman to do. This makes comparing the two moot and just plain silly.
If I am going to compare Cavill I will compare his to George Reeves. George Reeves from the 50s TV show was not all smiles. His Superman and Clark were pretty tough! Cavill is from that same mold!
In the end Superman will always be my favorite superhero and instead of comparisons I will just sit back and enjoy every incarnation of the character.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Star Trek. The first episode, “The Man Trap” aired on this date, September 8, 1966. I was barely 3 years old at the time, wouldn’t actually turn 3 until that next month, so I never saw the original series in its original run.
It was 1975 and I was 12 years old. Our town just got cable and I discovered WPIX Channel 11 out of New York City. The station had reruns of the Munsters, the Brady Bunch and Gilligans Island and even Godzilla movies. Enough to make a burgeoning nerd happy. Then I discovered a show called Star Trek and my life was never the same!
I was hooked from the start. I do not remember the first episode I saw but soon I was watching the show any time it was on. I loved the characters and the stories. Life was not always easy at home so I was drawn to Spock. He was logical and seemed to have conquered these human emotions. My love of science-fiction was something that I was drawn to as a young child. I never felt that I chose science-fiction I always felt that it chose me.
Star Trek had/has dramatic stories of aliens and the problems of the human condition along with time travel and history all wrapped in a positive vision of the future with larger than life historic characters. Though I was young when I first began watching the show I learned later in life how groundbreaking the show was in showing human diversity and races and cultures getting along harmoniously. I think that is what I enjoyed most about Star Trek and still do. Beneath well acted and well written stories is the theme of hope for the future.
So Happy Birthday Star Trek! You have lived long and prospered and long may you continue to do so!
This is hopefully going to be a lighthearted fun piece. One of the interesting things about following science-fiction and fantasy films is that the fan base for certain franchises can be strongly opinionated and people can tend to get nasty. I have noticed it with Godzilla, Star Trek and Star Wars fans and comic book superhero fans. That leads me to today’s topic. Another point I want to make is that although I grew up in the 60s and 70s reading comic books I do not read them that much any more although I have kept up with what is going on in many of them. One of the trends that is big right now is superheros fighting other superheros as apposed to fighting criminals and villains.
In light of next years movies, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Marvel’s Civil war…superhero battles are all the rage…pun intended. Therefore on many of superhero related groups on Facebook there are these hypothetical battles between these fictional characters and the most prevalent one is between Batman and Superman. Observing the passion on both sides between which superhero would be triumphant there is something I have noticed about Batman fans, which I am one, but these übber fans guys take it up several notches and have what is called Batman Syndrome.
Now I must confess I am biased. I am mostly a Superman fan and Batman comes in second place. Having admitted that, let me define Batman Syndrome. Batman Syndrome is the belief that Batman cannot be defeated and not only that, given enough prep-time Batman can defeat any superhero no matter how powerful they are. Superman has limits but it seems like Batman does not.
Why is this a problem for me? Well, as a Superman fan I do find it a little funny to think that a guy who can fly faster than light, lift a freight-train with one hand and have bullets bounce off his chest as if they were jelly beans can be beaten by someone with zero superpowers. But if you have Batman Syndrome you think beating Superman or any meta-human with powers can easily be done…any time and all of the time. Sure, Batman has his kryptonite which can weaken Superman and for those with Batman Syndrome that is all it takes.
But my problem goes deeper than that. Batman Syndrome fundamentally changes the essence of all the characters. Do you have superpowers? Doesn’t matter in the end because despite them you can be beaten. Then why have superheros with special powers? In the end, under Batman Syndrome, they’re worthless. The other and more important point is that it changes Batman the most. Part of the appeal of Batman is that he is a human being with no superpowers. He lurks in the shadows and the night and strikes terror in the hearts of criminals. Yes, he is a master of martial arts, he is extremely intelligent and has unmatched detective skills along with advanced gadgets and technology at his disposal. But when you turn him into a god-like being you take away his humanity and it is his humanity that made him a great character in my eyes.
The last thing that bothers me about Batman Syndrome is that it turns Batman into someone with questionable ethics. In my day Batman and Superman were friends with trust and a common goals of stopping crime and evil. A cynical Batman who doesn’t trust anyone and has questionable ethics doesn’t sound like a character that would even want to fight crime and evil.
I like Batman to be human and with limitations. I like all my superheros to have some limitations for it makes for great story telling. A human Batman is one to look up to and relate to as he embodies all the best characteristics of being human. Without that he is just another superhero and nothing really distinguishes him from the rest. As a mortal with no powers and with limitations is an exciting character.
This past weekend the full trailer for the movie Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released. My first reaction was Holy Crap! Holy Crap meaning that was excellent! I am certainly not one that hated Man of Steel so I am greatly looking forward to this next movie. In my participation in various message boards and groups Man of Steel (MOS) does have its fair share of haters. Those haters of course ceremoniously also are sticking their noses up at this movie before they see it.
One of the reasons people tended to hate MOS was due to the rampant destruction. They seem to side with Holly Hunter, playing the part of a Senator that heads a committee holding Superman responsible for the destruction. Another reason the haters hated MOS was its failure to addresses the mass destruction issue. However, it looks like this movie will be addressing that very issue! Plus, we see Bruce Wayne, who was apparently in Metropolis on the day of the fight between Superman & Zod, and this is the impetus for the distrust and rivalry between the two Superheros.
I would like to comment on the main focus of the movie. The fight and rivalry of Batman & Superman. I grew up in an era where Superheroes fought other Super villains and not one another!!! I grew up in the 60s and 70s with the Super Friends cartoons and Batman and Superman were the best of buds and on the same side. From my participation in fan groups and pages dedicated to Superheroes (I even run one myself) having Superheroes battle one another is all the rage. Personally, I find it a bit annoying. Sure, some rivalry and bruised egos and distrust will make for some good story telling, and I don’t mind it going that far, but these out and out hatred and battles between them are not what I really like to see.
Reading the official synopsis of the movie does give me hope that this rivalry will not last long as a bigger threat arises forcing Batman and Superman to join forces against a bigger threat.
Two more points before I end this. I was on board when Ben Affleck was chosen as the new Batman for this film. You would think the internet had broken when so many fans had a meltdown when Ben was chosen. Haters crawled out of the woodwork! Today, I am happy to say that haters have dwindled in number to a very small few. The same can be said of the casting of Gail Gadot and Jessie Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor respectively, as we view more pictures and trailers more and more prople are coming on board.
The tone of the movie looks good, it will have a lot of action and adventure with good drama and conflicts. I like the fact that Superman is not universally loved in theis Universe. It is like the real world. If someone that powerful did live among us, I am sure there would be those who did not trust him or did not like him.
Over the years as much as I try and stay up on movies coming out there are times one will slip past my radar. Sky High was one of those movies. I had not even heard of it before this past winter!
Here is a quick write-up from Wikipedia.
Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film about an airborne school for teenage superheroes. It was directed by Mike Mitchell, and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The starring cast includes Michael Angarano as Will, an incoming freshman at the school, Danielle Panabaker as his best friend and love interest, Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a popular senior, Steven Strait as Will’s rival, and Lynda Carter as Principal Powers.
This movie is a mixture of a teen comedy and a superhero movie. Basically, the premise is Will Stronghold is off to his Freshman year of high school and if that wasn’t stressful enough his parents are The Commander and Jetstream the world’s most powerful and best loved superheroes. To continue adding to the young Will’s stress is the fact that he hasn’t developed his superpowers yet so he may be regulated to “sidekick” status.
This movie is funny and fully of charm. Everyone is one their game. Michael Angarano is excellent as Will as he struggles with class status, the girls in his life, his loving but demanding father and finding a way to fit in while he wonders if he will ever get his superpowers. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents are particularly great in this movie. Two actors that really steal the show are Dave Foley (no relation) as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy. He is the Commander’s old sidekick but now works as a Hero Support teacher (aka Sidekick) at Sky High. The other scene stealer is Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla, the bulbous headed Mad Science teacher. He gives me the most laughs.
The movie is lighthearted fun and never for a moment takes itself seriously. However, despite the tongue firmly implanted this movie has a lot of heart without being too sentimental or schmaltzy. In other words the movie strikes a perfect tone. Will learns what real love looks like and all the nerdy sidekicks, I mean those in hero support, get to find out what it means to be areal hero.
This is a fun, charming and entertaining movie that I cannot recommend enough for those that either like teens comedies, or for those who remember their teens years and its struggles…of, yeah this movie is also for those who love the superhero genre.
To begin this review I will start with a mini right up from Wikipedia:
Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 American-Australian space opera film written, produced, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. Starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, the film is centered on Jupiter Jones (Kunis), an ordinary cleaning woman, and Caine Wise (Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny extends beyond Earth.
This is going to be a mixed review. I think the little summary is pretty accurate. I will expand on it just a little. Yes, this will have some mini spoilers. Jupiter Jones has become Queen of the Earth and there are two factions, one to protector her and the other that wants to rob her of her new inheritance. That is it. That is the story. However, I have to say the movie is a bit of a mess. Although for me it is an enjoyable mess! The story is basically easy to follow, the main part of it is anyway, its just that there are subplots and plethora of characters I was not able to always figure out what they had to do with the story!
I do not apologize for the fact that I am easy to please as a viewer and I love CGI and special affects and this movie is great in creating a wonderful spectacle of eye candy. This movie does transport you to other worlds that are beautiful to look at and also helps you experience the story. I think that is what is positive about the film. Essentially the movie is a love story with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as the central focus and when we are with them we see Mila experience these new worlds and experience them along with her and when Channing Tatum is protecting her we experience these worlds from his perspective and that is when the movie is at its best.
Another positive aspect about the film is actor Eddie Redmayne who plays BaleLana m Abrasax, Emperor of the House of Abrasax. Balem is the eldest of the three Abrasax heirs. Balem controls the wealthiest business empire in the known universe from a gigantic refinery in the Great Red Spot of the planet Jupiter. If you want to know what his business is think Soylent Green, but not as a food product but as a fountain of youth type of beauty product. The emperor feels threatened by Jupiter Jones’ claim to the Earth and attempts to stop her. Actor Eddie Redmayne, who just won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the movie the History of Everything, really steals the show as the deliciously evil emperor. He would give Tom Hiddleston as Loki a run for the money as an evil character. Although I do like this movie it could be better and in many ways and in my opinion Eddie Redmayne desrves to play an evil character in a better movie. His obvious talent is wasted here.
Jupiter Ascending is an enjoyable film full of great special affects and an interesting yet muddled story that is carried by the strength of its three important leads, Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne. I do recommend this movie albeit with some cautions.