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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.

Superhero Movies and Race

This post may be a little serious. What sparked these thoughts are what I have read on the internet. There was an article about who should play the next Batman and among those there were suggested one was a black man. Again this question came up on Facebook and someone suggested that Batman could be played by a black actor. Some people did not think that was a good idea and that changing the race of an iconic character was only being done in the name of being politically correct. It was cited that change Nick Fury and Perry White to a black man was for politically correct reasons only.

It is an interesting topic to think about. Does not wanting to change the race of a character racist in itself? I really don’t think so. I tend to not want to view this topic in “all-or-nothing” categoires. I think there is room to change a character and then I think we also run into resistance not because of race as much as how people become attached to certain aspects of a character and race is one of those components.

Let me see if I can explain it this way. I am a huge fan of Godzilla. The 1998 movie changed the character so much that it no longer resembled Godzilla to the fans. I think this is the same issue with changing any iconic character. If you change to much the character begins to take on a new identity separate from the iconic character it is supposed to be portraying.

This happens when you even change a Superheroes costume. Sure, there is room for change but if you go too far fans will say that it is no longer the character. The new Man of Steel movie rremoved Superman’s red undies and many fans were outraged and cried foul! So people do have their limits.

I have them too. For instance, I would be alright with a black Batman, however I may not be so open to a black Superman. I would be open to it if the actor seemed to fit the role and the tone of the movie. I was fine when they cast Laurence Fishburne as Perry White thinking that was a great choice! Marvel Comics crreated a black teen Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and that was well recieved.

Now, all of what I have written doesn’t mean racism doesn’t occur because I think that it can be part of the reason why someone doesn’t want a character changed. Therefore it can be a touchy subject because not many people will want to admit that the motive behind a resistance to change can be racism.

Like all thinks in society these changes do have to happen slowly to allow people to adjust to these changes.

Adventures of Superman: Part II

Now for the conclusion of my review:

The other changed that occurred when the series switched to color was the episodes become more child friendly. The first two seasons were dark and serious and even more violent. This was toned down and we began to see more fun and lighthearted episodes. For example, in “Through the Time Barrier” a A nutty professor uses his time machine to send Clark, Lois, Jimmy, Perry and himself back to 50,000 B.C., along with a notorious gangster who decides he likes prehistoric times. Although the series did get a reputation for child friendly episodes that doesn’t mean they abandoned the more serious themed episodes. The season six episode ‘The Perils of Superman” where criminals wearing lead masks are trying to kill Perry white, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent is as dark as any of the episodes from the first two seasons.

One of the issues that was played down and almost non-existent in the series was the romance between Superman and Lois Lane. It was hinted at and one dream episode examined the topic, but for the most part it is generally ignored. In the first two seasons Lane and Kent actually have a more argumentative relationship. This is gone by the later seasons. In the early seasons Lois often suspects Clark as being Superman but this theme too is dropped in later episodes.

One of the last things I want to talk about is George Reeves portrayal of Superman/Clark Kent. It is one of my favorite portrayals of both Characters. As I have said on other occasions as I have grown older the Superman/Clark Kent secret identity is hard to swallow. Most actors portray each character differently giving some plausibility to the situation. The interesting thing about Reeve’s portrayal of both characters is that he doesn’t play Kent as a weak, baffoon¬†type of character that some have played him. Reeves played Kent as a tough, smart and crafty individual.¬†Superman/kent knows the audience is in on his secret and he plays wonderfully off that. There are times Kent is in peril but we the audience knows that he really isn’t in any trouble and that does add to the excitement of the drama. We wonder what will he do to get out of trouble and keep his identity. George Reeves really did embody Superman and while others have also played the character well, he is the yard stick I use to measure others by.

I also love the world of the 1950s. The Superman comic had him fighting exotic and equally strong and alien villains. The show has him fighting the average and everyday crooks at a time when organized crime was at its zenith. I like the more realistic criminal he faced. It grounds the show more in reality for me. The clothes, the cars and the primitive technology of the 50s and it is all¬†part of the tone of the show that give it its charm. I know many younger people do not like older shows..even ones from the 60s let alone the 1950s…so it may be harder to convince a younger person to give the show a try. I do highly recommend it though. It is a well done show and even the special effects, though not as good as today’s standards, do fit the tone of the show and does not detract from the enjoyment whatsoever. So give Adventures of Superman a try!

Adventures of Superman: Part I.

The Adventures of Superman. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (“Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!”)… Yes, it’s Superman … strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman … who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of Superman!

Superman is by far my favorite Superhero and Adventures of Superman is still a favorite of mine. I have been working my way through the entire series on DVD and it amazes me how enjoyable it is. I will never forget the first time I saw the series. I was in a Catholic school and I was about 10 years old. One afternoon my entire class was taken to the Church basement and no reason was given. When we got there we saw a movie projector set up and chairs waiting for us. There was also popcorn! I still had no clue what we were about to see. I sat with anticipation and curiosity as the room grew dark and the projector tuned on and started to hum. Suddenly on the screen with all fanfare was the title screen for Adventures of Superman!! My head was about to pop with excitement! I was in heaven!! We saw one color episode, “The Seven Souvenirs” and one in black and white, “The Deserted Village.” I was hooked on that show and within a few years when cable TV came to town I was able to view more episodes. Ah, those were some of my most fondest memories.

Produced between 1952 to 1958. The series starred George Reeves¬†as Clark Kent/Superman with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, John Hamilton as Perry White, and Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson. Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in the first season with Noel Neill¬†taking over¬†role in the second season (1953). I must admit the show is pretty formulaic, with an assorted gangsters¬†and criminals trying to commit some crime which will drag Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen into trouble that will require Superman to rescue them. Even though it is a predictable formula it never grows old or tiresome. The scripts were creative in bringing new colorful characters to keep it interesting. The shows first two seasons were¬†reminiscent of 40s film noir style and absent¬†from the series was Superman’s number 1 arch nemesis, Lex Luthor.

To say that it stuck to a formula does not mean¬†the show didn’t change. It did change over the seasons. One of the changes showed great foresight. The first two seasons were in black and white as all shows and the overwhelming¬†vast majority of TV sets were in the 1950s. After the second season an executive¬†got the bright idea of filming the episodes in color realizing that color TV was going to be the wave of the future and that the color episodes would be more valuable in syndication. He was right. Starting in season three until the end of its run, ¬†Adventures of Superman were in full color…even though it would be 10 years or more until the majority of Americans could view it in color. By then color TVs were growing in popularity and availability and the majority of TV shows changed to color.

To keep this review to a digestible level I will bring you part II on Wednesday. Come on back!