Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

Superman II

Posted: August 27, 2018 in Comics, Movies
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Superman 2 is a odd film to look back on. Not because it is a bad film because it is not. Superman 2 is very good. Sadly, at the time of release back in 1980, the movie went through a number of reshoots and had its original director, Richard Donner, who did the first film, replaced. The man behind A Hard Day’s Night and The Three Musketeers, Richard Lester, was brought in to complete the film. Sounds a bit similar to this years Justice League right? Outside of the shake ups behind the scenes the actual theatrical cut is a solid sequel to the 1978 movie. Stars Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder were back along with several other actors and that’s a given as Superman and Superman 2 were shot back to back like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The opening credits act as a recap of the last film. I thought that was a nice touch to bring audiences back up to speed. With the actual opening scenes of the film revisiting the Kryptonian terrorist plot point which the first film teased. During those scenes we learn more about the tyrant General Zod and his minions Ursa and Non. Sentenced to life in the Phantom Zone for terrible crimes the terrorist’s find a stroke of luck in their despair when a freak twist of fate sees them released from their prison. Their destination? Earth. So it falls to Superman to face off against them before Zod can take over the world and rule. If that wasn’t bad enough Lex Luthor is on to Superman’s secrets and makes it his mission to bring down the Man of Steel, even if that means forging an alliance with General Zod!

One of the most obvious changes in Superman 2 compared to the first film is the level of action. The entire third act of the film is one big fight between Superman and Zod and his soldiers in the middle of Metropolis. For a film from 1980 the level of destruction on display is impressive and the action is shot well. For younger readers I’d agree that effects wise there’s nothing that would blow your mind here if you’re used to the smackdown action of the MCU or DCU today but there’s a weight here missing from those films. Once again it comes down to practical and in-camera effects work. Clever use of scale models and other wizard like stuff to nail the effects goes a long way and here we are today seeing it has stood the test of time.

Superman gets to fly around rescuing people from time to time before the all out showdown in the film’s last act. An Eiffel Tower hostage sequence is really good and there’s some cool stuff that occurs in and around Niagara Falls which adds more scope to the film than what the first offered in terms of location. It helps to give the impression that Superman and his powers are almost limitless. So when he comes up against Zod and then struggles it’s like “Well what the hell is he going to do to stop this guy?” Plus it’s exciting seeing Zod, Ursa and Non wrecking havoc across the United States and on the moon!

Reeve and Kidder are once again excellent as Superman and Lois Lane. Their relationship is explored more in this sequel and takes some unexpected turns. One aspect of the source these two early films nailed, I think, is this love story and it’s awesome to just watch these two actors play off one another. Hackman is a hoot as Lex. He takes more of a backseat to Zod but still gets some good scenes and it is funny watching him try to make himself useful to Zod, his own ego acting as his shield against the threat of death. Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran are brilliant as the bad guys. Scenes of them in space, just flying around, man they used to freak me out when I was a kid and still do. They really see humans as ants compared to themselves and when addressing them or attacking they show no remorse. I know you’re not meant to like the bad guys but I do, I wanted them beaten sure but they’re so fun to watch.

I think this is a great follow up to Richard Donner’s first film. As most everyone knows there is another cut of this film out there under the title of Superman 2 The Donner Cut. I have not seen that. I hope to check it out and see how different that film compares to this. I have heard it’s even better and if that is the case then I guess I am in for a treat ’cause I already like this film a lot as it stands with this, I guess(?), theatrical cut. Superman 2, along with the first film, stands out as one of the best DC movies out there decades after its release. I’m sure it will continue to shine far into the future.

 

Superman (1978)

Posted: August 15, 2018 in Comics, Movies
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Superman is a timeless classic. The film hit theatres in 1978 and it would go on to influence young writers and directors working today in Hollywood. You know this stupid Marvel VS. DC divide so many fans get caught up in? Sorry to burst your bubble but many of the directors, writers and producers over at Marvel have stated their love for this Superman tale. Once you see this flick it’s no wonder. This is an excellent comic book movie and a great character study that gets SO much right despite taking its time to get going and having little to no action of the likes you’d find crammed into any modern Marvel or DC movie.

Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, The Goonies) directs and puts everything into the film. There’s a ton of heart in this. Two scenes stick out the most for me. There’s not an ounce of action or confrontation in either. The first is when Lois Lane (an excellent Margot Kidder) interviews Superman for the first time. Their exchanges are so honest and playful. The chemistry between the actors is there but so is the great direction and a solid script for them to work from.The other scene takes place shortly after this one and again focuses on Lois and Superman. He takes her flying, just so she can experience it and while in the clouds we hear a poem she’s thought up about this man of her dreams. That right there cements not only the fact she’s fallen for him but their core connection as characters. The great thing about this pair being, as we all know, is Superman already loves Lois and she’d know it if only she could see past his Clark Kent disguise and the film plays with that wonderfully throughout. As the stakes rise in the third act and Lois is put in danger we, thanks to these two seemingly unevenful scenes, care deeply that Superman can get to her in time and save her life.

Superman is so simple from a story perspective. Alien comes to Earth. Is adopted by the Kents. Has to hide his true abilities before finally coming of age and going out into the big city to find his future and fall in love with a girl. There’s no fat on this film. No forced plot points so the studio could, at the time, build a shared universe. None of that crap here. That is why this film works as well as it does. It is focused. No disrespect to Zack Snyder but throw Man of Steel on after this and while you may rightly be entertained for two plus hours I doubt you’ll feel as much when it comes to emotion when you see that take on the character compared to this take. I think i know why that is too. Donner and co., even those at Warner Bros. back in ’78 knew and loved the source and they knew their audience. These days too many of these pictures have too many cooks in the kitchen. This should be an example of how to get these projects done right.

Forty years after release and the special effects are still good. See what I mean when I’m always going on about practical effects over CGI? Sure it’s cool seeing Superman in more modern takes doing crazy flying and other cool shit but who cares if you don’t get invested emotionally? This film nails that balance. The use of miniture sets for grand Superman disaster/rescue sequences may be obvious but have lost none of their impact nor charm. There’s also several impressive actual to scale stunt sequnces in this flick, one involving a aircraft, which still had me on the edge of my seat. You know these days when I’m seeing whole cities being brought down by two dudes fighting I don’t care as much because I know it’s so obviously all just CGI. It doesn’t feel real. Doesn’t matter what it looks like.

Christopher Reeve was/is/will always be my Superman. I was born in ’83 so it goes without saying I grew up with Reeve as Superman and I assumed he would be forever. He’s brilliant as both Superman AND Clark. It’s a performence no actor since has quite been able to pull off as good as Reeve. Kidder is awesome as I mentioned earlier. Then there is Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and he puts in a fun and brilliant performence. You even get Marlon Brando is this film and you know that guy is just a masterclass when it comes to acting.

The score, by John Williams, is the stuff of legend. You could whistle the theme from Superman to a stranger on the otherside of the world today and chances are they’d know where it was from. This film gets so much right. I read Superman, not as much as Batman or the X-Men but I have read my fair share. This film, this film from FORTY years ago, is the closest a movie has gotten to nailing the character in my eyes. When this whole Superman reboot was first tossed around at the close of Nolan’s Bat trilogy I have to wonder why this Donner classic wasn’t used as a jumping off point. This is what the DCU can be and what I hope it one day manages to return to.

 

 

 

This movie looks STACKED! There is a lot going on in this teaser with an abundance of characters and action set pieces. Here is where I sit on the film, first up I hope it delivers and it’s at least decent. Yeah it would be great to get an amazing movie but I don’t want to even get my hopes up that high. Just let it be good. One or two of the backgrounds look a bit fake and the CGI on Cyborg isn’t as good as I thought it may be. Yet there’s plenty of time to fix those things and look even if the film does come out and it has some less than great CGI work who cares as long as the rest of the movie delivers right?

For me the standouts are Aquaman and funnily enough Cyborg. All the scenes with those two looked great (some CGI aside). These are the two I am least familiar with out of the Justice League and I look forward to seeing both of these guys get some exploration over the course of the movie. Amber Heard as Mera, the Queen of Atlantis no less, also gets to cameo in this trailer and while I expect she’ll have a small role I still look forward to seeing what she does in the movie.

This is a solid teaser trailer that is hopefully giving us just a glimpse of the fun times ahead when the movie hits screens this November.

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Wow. Sometimes the internet can get carried away with itself. That is my take away from Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I’d heard about the mixed reaction; Batman killing! Superman looking down on humanity! Batman branding/torturing criminals! This ‘Martha’ scene (which I felt made total sense within the context of the scene). All blown way out of proportion in my useless opinion. This DC comics fan had a great time.

I loved Dawn of Justice. It’s a bold movie that is very much it’s own take on Batman, Superman and co. The tone that Snyder established in Man of Steel carries over into Dawn of Justice. It feels grounded. Bruce Wayne’s outright horror at the destruction of Metropolis is chilling. The opening of this movie is heart pounding, that sense of dread and urgency carries over to the rest of the action scenes. Snyder and Affleck’s Batman is more terrifying in the limited screen time he has in this than he was in any of Nolan’s movies – not to knock them, I enjoy them but this was the Batman I had been waiting for. He is scary and out for blood. I’m a comic reader and I had no problem with him killing. It’s not like he’s turned into The Punisher all of sudden.  Snyder knocks the Batmobile chase sequence out of the park, plainly put I was in Batman heaven. Ben Affleck is a brilliant Batman and I hope we get a solo movie sooner rather than later.

Cavil’s Superman works well when he is in full on Kal-El mode. It’s cool seeing him question his role on our world and explore his inner turmoil. Dawn of Justice asks should Superman be accountable for the accidents his heroics may have caused? I loved all of that. I’d never seen Superman presented in that sort of light. You go back and watch Man of Steel (the climax of which plays a huge role in Superman’s arc in Dawn of Justice) and the death count as a result of Zod and Superman’s battle must be in the thousands! That idea of a nation divided – some see Superman as a saviour while there are others (like Batman) who see him as a serious threat that must be dealt with. That sort of stuff is great and works as another plus point in favour of the movie.

Gal Gadot makes a impression as Wonder Woman in her limited role when you realise how little screen time she actually has in the film. Gadot gives the character strength. From the first moment you see her she hooks you with an air of mystery and more than delivers when the time comes to kick into full on action heroine mode. Diane Lane and Amy Adams as Martha Kent and Lois Lane both return from Man of Steel and do good work yet again. The real surprise of the film for me was Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor! I knew from the trailer he was gonna be an eccentric take on Lex! In my opinion he nailed it. I didn’t even think it was this new take on Luthor. It IS Lex. He is cunning, his intelligence so great you can sense the frustration he feels at those who aren’t as smart as him, his ruthlessness and the jealousy he has towards the unkown in the form of Superman.

Closing thoughts? The score for the film is excellent. I love Wonder Woman’s theme. It is already iconic. Snyder does more than well with the direction, the acting is solid all across the board (shout out to Holly Hunter & Laurence Fishburne) and the climax is epic! Any drawbacks? I’d have loved if we’d got a scene (maybe replacing the opening flashback?) showing the audience what happened to Robin and a closer look at Gotham City too. I hope when we finally get there proper in whatever future DC movie that happens to be we get a Gotham more iconic than what we have in the Nolan Batverse.

So after all the hype, the mixed reactions and the wait I’m made up with Dawn of Justice. It’s a great comic book movie and I still have yet to see the extended edition which is meant to be even better!! So depending on how different that plays I may take a look at that on here!

JLA Volume 1

Posted: June 1, 2016 in Comics
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Spotlight on this great JLA run from Grant Morrison, Howard Porter & John Dell. This Vol.1 collection is packed with amazing 90’s art. It’s quite in your face but it certainly brings a sense of impact these larger than life characters deserve. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, The Flash and Aquaman pop off the page.

Morrison’s plots range from a rival set of heroes offering to help Earth (which rubs the JLA the wrong way), cyborgs, angels and outlandish stakes that envelope time and space itself. It’s a great collection and one I highly recommend. His dialogue and commentary often reads as tongue in cheek but never at the expense of the characters. It just helps to give all the crazy on display some levity and it’s refreshing to see the characters and the plot not take itself super seriously.

Some of the plot points I wasn’t so clear on. Halfway through Superman sports a brand new costume and his skin has turned blue. Why? I have no idea but it looks bloody boss. There’s also some random running around calling himself Green Lantern and again it’s due to my lack of wider reading from this era that I have no idea who that guy is but none of that takes away from the fun and mayhem on display.

With Dawn of Justice due for home release soon and Justice League Part One due out next year JLA Volume One works as a neat detour and fun read while we wait for more cinematic adventures.

DC Rebirth…(SPOILERRRRRS)

Posted: May 28, 2016 in Comics
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Growing up I was more Marvel than DC. As far as comics went. Only in my twenties did I start to really dig into the DC vault. Life long fan of the DC standouts but rarely had I looked into the source. Point being? Why am I boring you talking about myself? Well it’s so I can highlight I’m by no means an authority on DC but I wanna give my thoughts on Rebirth anyway as it’s (I think) a sort of re-launch aimed at (I think) people like me.

So Rebirth kicks off and we got Wally West (one of the Flash’s) trapped in the time force (I know what that is now thanks to the CW show 😉 ) and he’s basically traveling through the DC universe and checking in on the DC heavy hitters. Establishing where they are now and where they may be heading by the time this issue finishes.

It’s written very well by Geoff Johns. I knew there was clearly plot points I’d missed or had no idea about that had happened previously to Rebirth but not once did I feel total alienation or lost. That’s the issues biggest plus and it’s down to Johns. He crafts a spring board that looks back on what’s happened (and doesn’t erase anything) but tips the hat to the feeling that perhaps the New 52 had changed stuff too much and didn’t exactly work.

By the time you finish Rebirth you get the promise of a new direction that is more hopeful and less complicated ( and the DC universe-s- can be REALLY complicated. Come on now.) and a new threat.

DC wise I only read Batman (save for the odd Superman stuff) and taken all of that into account I came away from Rebirth with a crystal clear idea of what’s happened, where everyone is at right now and where things may be heading. If you’re new to comics or maybe just overwhelmed by diving into DC and it’s crazy history Rebirth is a great starting point.

 

 

Comic Review: Superman: Red Son

Posted: April 2, 2015 in Comics
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Mark Millar’s Superman:Red Son is one of the best Superman stories to date. The set up puts a simple and effective spin on the Man of Steel origin; instead of crash landing in the United States what if…he landed in Russia? Communist Russia to be exact. That’s the hook for Red Son and the results are brilliant. Superman. Enforcer of the state.

These Superman as the total enforcer (Kingdom Come/Injustice) stories aren’t uncommon so the power lies in the execution and that is what sets Red Son apart. Throughout the story we see Superman never question Stalin’s communist ideology. He accepts it because it’s the world he was raised in. There is a purity to this too. The book never reads like ‘communism is bad/Superman sees the light etc’. If anything it makes a pretty good argument for how the regime could work. Thanks to Superman’s efforts everyone in Russia is working, has a home and enough food. These ideas are maximised to the stuff of ideal life as the story continues to span decades and we see his nation’s ideals spread and consume almost the whole world. Millar is great at not painting anyone in the book as good guy/bad guy. Each character simply has a strong idea they believe in and hold true to it.

Red Son isn’t just about Superman. We get some great twists on Batman, Green Lantern, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and Wonder Woman. I loved Millar’s take on each of these characters and the spin he put on their origins. The Batman and Green Lantern sections are great. Wonder Woman comes off a tad unlikable, which is a bit of a recurring thing I’m starting to feel about her the more I read of her. Maybe it’s the character? She simply comes across as always believing she is above humanity and that they do need policing etc. Not a likeable quality.

The art is top-notch. Very reminiscent of the older Superman/Wonder Woman designs of the 50/60’s. I like those touches. It’s a wonderfully illustrated book. Defo check this one out if you have not gotten around to reading it. It’s a shame Superman doesn’t appear to have the same amount of quality stories as Batman. When given to a talented writer he’s given just as much depth and the scope is there to do some fantastic stuff with him. Hopefully more will materialise in time.