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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice…a review.

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I cannot believe I have not yet reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first pairing in live action of the two most iconic Superheroes in the world. There was a ton of expectation riding on this movie. The movie was heavily criticized by the professional pundits and under performed at the box office although it still made the studio money. One of the reasons for this is that the studio did not put out the three hour extended cut of the films into the theater. What was released to the theater was a truncated version of the film that was not very coherent in places. Note to film studio. Leave Zack Snyder alone and let him do his job, he knows what he is doing!

Therefore this review will be of the theatrical cut.

All movies do have their flaws…which is simply another way of saying “I would have done it differently” and although this movie is no exception the Pros greatly out weight any Cons it may have. I really enjoyed this movie so without further delay, the Pros and Cons of this film. Cons won the coin toss so they will go first. ūüôā

Cons:

The story, even in the Extended Cut, still has some issues. The scene in the desert where Lois is interviewing a terrorist and then all hell breaks loose, it really isn’t too clear what is happening. One example, Batman brands his criminals and they end up getting killed in jail/prison…but the movie never tells you why they are being killed in jail or the motives for killing them.

Alfred. I think over all Jeremy Irons did a good job but his cynicism got old after a while. Plus, if he thinks Batman was going down the wrong road and becoming something corrupt, then you would think that he would have confronted Bruce long before he did in this movie. It seems Alfred was just as jaded as Batman was in this movie.

Death of Superman. I do understand that his sacrifice was to show the world that he truly is a force for good in the world and that he will use his powers to help and not hurt. However, maybe my objection is more about the elaborate funeral they gave Superman, because it all seems too soon because it really doesn’t feel Superman truly earned the accolades and the grief. In the movie Superman has been around less than two years and there is much controversy surrounding him, he certainly isn’t universally loved.

Death of Clark Kent. This is unprecedented. Sure, they have shown Superman die in the comics and animated movies, but they always have found a way to excuse Clark’s disappearance until Superman returns. This movie paints quite a dilemma where they are acknowledging both Clark and Superman are dead! How can they bring both back without the world knowing Clark Kent is Superman!?

Pros:

Good Story. Despite the story being muddled at times the story is very interesting and engaging. It really is not a story about Batman and Superman fighting, it is a story of redemption for both iconic characters.

Superman’s character arc. I like the idea in this universe where Superman isn’t a Mary Sue Boy-scout where everyone except the villains despise him and don’t trust him. In the real world we would have people truly fear and distrust Superman so I like that realistic approach and¬† how Superman has to cope with that reality especially in the face of life taking disasters committed to tarnish his name.

Batman’s Character arc. I love how this is an older and cynical and jaded Batman who has gone through many tragedies himself. We see that Robin is dead, Wayne Manor has been burned to the ground and Batman is an outlaw. I loved the scene where we fist see Batman in the room where he just branded the criminal and he is lurking in the shadows. Classic Batman! I also like how Batman comes to once again have faith in humanity restored. The scene where he rescues Martha Kent in the warehouse is the best live action scene of Batman ever put to film.

Special effects. Excellent. I love any time Superman takes flight!! Doomsday is created with such life-likeness! Great eye candy!

Good pacing. Even though the Extended Cut is three hours long the movie flows well without any slow spots at all.

Lex Luthor. I think Jesse Eisenberg was great as Luthor…yes he is Lex Luthor and not the son of Lex as many claim, he was bitter, psychotic and unpredictable.

Wonder Woman. What can I say? She was awesome! Gal Gadot was simply amazing as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince and she stole the show! I also loved the cameo glimpses of Aquaman and The Flash and Cyborg!!

I want to close by speaking of the controversial Martha scene. Sure, it is a bit cheesy but I do understand what they were doing and I think it was a great idea and worked although all it needed maybe was one line of dialogue. That was the moment Batman realized how far he had fallen and that he had become the very thing he had dedicated his life to fighting against. If Batman would have said that to Lois and Superman in some verbal way, I think it would have helped.

I really enjoyed this movie despite some of its flaws. All-in-all a good introduction of Batman in the DCEU and I look forward to more movies with these characters!

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Superman II: “General, Care to Step Outside?”

Donner Cut: Superman’s return is anticlimactic.

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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.

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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.

Superman vs Superman.

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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. superman-george-reeves1.jpg

 

 

Who was the best Clark Kent?

A while back I did a post on who was my favorite Superman. Of all the live action portrayals of the Man of Steel which was my favorite. It came down to George Reeves for me because he personified and projected strength. So have Cavill and Christopher Reeve but not to the extent George Reeves did. But what about his later ego, Clark Kent? Who played that part of the character the best. Ironically, I have to eliminate George Reeves right off the top! He played the role very well. However, my problem with his portrayal of Clark was that it was hardly no different from his portrayal of Superman. Clark is supposed to be a “mild mannered” reporter. George’s Clark was a very hard nosed reporter. Sure, there were moments that they portrayed him as being timid but those were very brief and far in between.

I think in order to portray Clark and not to reveal that he is Superman the personalities must be distinct. However, there are always two ends of the spectrum. George was too far at the end of the spectrum where there was too little distinction between the two roles. Christopher Reeve went too far in the other direction! He made his Clark Kent a bumbling fool! That was not always that much fun to watch. Plus, we really didn’t get to know his Clark Kent that well…

...and that is where things have changed! Both Reeves and Reeves came out of a time when Superman was the primary identity and Clark was the secondary identity. In other words, Superman was who he really was and Clark was just a disguise. That changed later in the 80s and 90s to where Clark Kent was the true identity while Superman was the disguise. In this paradigm we get to see a Clark that is much different and not just a throw away character.

The recent Man of Steel movie went in that direction. The entire movie is about Clark Kent discovering who he is. At the end he becomes Superman but Clark is the real person it seems. I cannot pick Cavill’s Clark as the best because we really haven’t seen this Clark play both roles yet. So we do not know how different, if at all, will his Clark and Superman be?

 

 

Man of Steel Pre-Review.

As most of you know I am not a big movie goer. I prefer to watch movies at home in the comfort of my living room. With good flat screen TVs I would rather see them at home and be comfortable. With that in mind I still want to talk about the new Man of Steel movie. As I type this Man of Steel has a 57% positive rating at the Rotten Tomatoes website. Reading both the positive and negative reviews has not dampened my expectations for this movie. Here is my initial report on my expectations for the movie. There have been three aspects of the movie I have read about via the reviews and from people who have seen it on the internet. I felt I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about these points and then, after the DVD comes out, I will reflect back on this entry to see if these are legitimate concerns. So this will contain spoliers so if you have not seen the movie enter at your own risk!

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1. Jonathan Kent dies saving his dog from a tornado. In the comics and the Donner movies Pa Kent dies of a heart attack. In this movie he dies when a tornado stikes Kansas and Clark and everyone is caught under a bridge. Jonathan goes back to rescue the family dog and doesn’t want Clark to rescue him. Many have felt this was a plot hole and that Clark could have saved him without exposing himself to the world. Having not seen this I am waiting to judge it. The counter argument seems to be that Jonathan was so fearful that if Clark’s powers were revealed and it was learned he was an alien then the Government would take him away. Jonathan would do anything to avoid his son being exposed. As for going back to rescue the family dog? Well, I love dogs and my dog is my best buddy and I would try to save him.

2. Mass destruction of property. In the last 45 minutes of the movie there is mass destruiction as Superman and Zod do battle. Some have complained that Superman would allow such mast destruction, and therfore death of innocent citizens, and would have tried to lure Zod away from populated areas…like in Superman II. I think the premise is that this movie is taking a more realistic approach and it is possible Superman couldn’t have done anything to reduce the amount of destruction.

3. The killing of Zod. Superman snaps Zod’s neck. This seems, at first out of Character for Superman. Yes Superman is not shown directly killing anyone before, but it has been shown that some have died by Superman’s actions. In Superman II it is never shown what happens to Zod and his crew…they just disappear into the mist of the Fortress of Solitude. It is quite possible that they were killed when they fell. In the first season of The Adventures of Superman it was implied the some people died. This may be the one issue I may have some quibbles with. I will have to see it in the context of the film. I am not against philosophically as long as they show it being Superman’s only option and a last resort.

As of the day I publish this…the box office draw is…$152,777,618 domestically and $73, 300, 000 in the foreign market for a grand total of….¬†$226,077,618 worldwide. Those are good numbers, lets hope it keeps going!

Secret Identities

This is a fun topic for me. What I want to examine is the contrasts of how the issue of secret identities are handled between Marvel Characters and the DC Characters. At first this was going to be a criticism of how Marvel handles the issue of secret identities in their comics and films but after growing more familiar with these characters I see them as being just different and my criticism is more toward the DC characters.

In the Marvel Universe the keeping dual identity of the superhero a secret doesn’t seem to be a significant issue. In the film Iron Man Tony Stark reveals himself to be Iron Man and in the next few movies everyone knows he is Iron Man and it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Contrast this to a similar character, Batman. Both Batman and Iron Man are Billionaire playboys who wear a costume to fight crime. With Batman these are only a few souls that know Bruce Wayne is the caped crusader. In both Marvel and DC the secret identity is supposed to protect those who are close to the superhero so a¬†villain¬†will not harm their friends and loved ones. But since there friends and loved ones are the ones constantly in trouble and in need of rescue the point is moot.¬†

Spider-Man seems to be the only super-hero who tried to keep his identity secret in a similar manner to the DC Characters. He wore a mask that completely covered his face and very few people knew that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. I have actually come to appreciate the way Marvel approaches the secret identity issue. Both methods are fun and enjoyable. On the plus side of it Marvel is more realistic in its approach. I think it would be truly implausible for a person to actually be able to hide their superhero identity.

A good example of this is in the new Green Lantern movie. Carol Farris recognizes Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern despite Hal wearing the mask. I laughed at that part and was pleased to see it. The older I get the more difficult it seems for me to suspend my disbelief about secret identities. I am sure if I showed up at a friends house wearing Batman’s Cowl I am 100% sure I would be recognized and laughed at. I think that is why I like Iron Man and Spider-Man’s masks the best. They cover the entire face leaving no features of the real person exposed.

Don’t get me wrong I still like the idea of a secret identity. It is enjoyable knowing that people do not know who these superheroes are..even though at times it is implausible.

I want to close with a little rant. The Secret Identity that I struggle with the most is that of Clark Kent/Superman. It is just so implausible! I think Christopher Reeve was excellent in pulling off the dual role. In Superman II when Clark Kent reveals to Lois he is Superman and Christopher Reeve takes of his glasses and stand up straight you can see the physical changes! Now that is subtle but excellent acting! But it is still implausible. I am 100% sure if I showed up at my friends house in a Superman Costume while not wearing my glasses I would be recognized and laughed at. Superman is my favorite Superhero by far. But I wouldn’t mind if they redesigned the costume to include a mask similar to Spider-Man’s.

See you on Friday everyone and to those readers in the US…HAPPY THANKSGIVING tomorrow!!

 

Top 20 Super Hero Movies.

First a Disclaimer. I¬†may¬†be one of the few that have not seen Marvels’ The Avengers so that it is why it is not on my list. As soon as I see it I am sure it would be on there! Also, the Dark Knight Rises comes out in two days and I am sure that would be on my list too!¬†

20. Batman & Robin

I know it is terrible right? But to me it is still a fun and corny movie. 

19. X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Another movie that I don’t think it¬†deserves¬†the bad rap it gets.

18. X-Men

I was never in to Marvel Comics or its Characters that much but I have really enjoyed the movies based on their characters. 

17. GI Joe: Rise of Cobra

The epitome of a fun over -the-top movie.

16. X-Men 2

I solid sequel to the first movie.

15. X-Men: First Class

A very good prequel to the franchise. Very good story. 

14. Green Lantern

I really enjoy this one and think it got a bad rap. The scenes set out in space are the best. 

13. The Mask of Zorro

One of the first superheroes. Very good story with Sir Anthony Hopkins in a delightfully engaging and fun role. 

12. Batman Forever

Another over the top movie but I really like the addition of Robin and how he plays into this story. 

11. Hancock

A bit uneven in places. It gets too serious in the later half of the movie but still enjoyable. I really enjoy Will Smith.

10. Spider-Man 2

I am not always keen on origin stories so that is why I like Spider-Man 2. Sorry, haven’t seen the reboot yet.

9. Kick-Ass

A very different superhero movie!

8. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader is like a graphic novel come to life.

7. Thor

Perfect mixture of science-fiction and fantasy.

6. Superman Returns

Great Special effects! Superman saving the jumbo jet is worth the price of admission.

5. Superman: The Movie 

Gets bogged down in the origin story but once it is rolling it still holds up very well today.

4. The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker will be the standard by which all villains and usage of the Joker will be¬†measured.¬†

3. Batman Begins

I did actually like this one better than the Dark Knight. I think the story is a little tighter in this movie and not as dark.

2. Iron Man

Didn’t know much about him until the movie. Robert Downey Jr. is spectacular both as Tony Stark and Iron Man.¬†

1. Superman II

With his origin story out of the way Superman gets down to a fun, sometimes corny, action adventure movie with a great villain  and special effects that still hold up well today. The best Superman and superhero story.