Happy Friday everyone! It’s the last day of May but sadly I’m still wearing jackets these days… with umbrellas in tow!! It’s been a pretty lame Spring, and it looks like it’s gonna be slow going Summer too 😦
But hey, I’ll be seeing Man of Steel is exactly 11 days, so THAT definitely puts an extra spring in my step!! I usually get bothered by the endless amount of movie marketing, and this movie has certainly been bombarding us with endless TV spots… but y’know, I don’t mind at all. I don’t think anything can dampen my excitement for this, ahah. Ok, normally I don’t post interviews but allow me to indulge a bit today with this Henry Cavill interview with Vanity Fair:
I never said this about anyone but Mr. Cavill is like the 8th wonder of the world … [sigh]…
Ok, now that I’ve regained my composure (somewhat), let’s get on some awesome posts I’ve been reading in the past week. I’m going to put a number on each of the Everybody’s Chattin’ posts from now on, just so I can keep track 😉
Well, since Superman’s been on my mind lately, I’ll start with Cindy Buchman‘s post on this awesome book Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, which takes the story of Siegel and Shuster and loosely fictionalized their partnership and their account of creating the comic strip we know and love today. I’m gonna see if Amazon has this!
While we’re at it, Bubbawheat asked the burning question ‘Why do superhero movies appeal to you?‘ It’s definitely an intriguing question, one which I attempt to answer recently in my Superman & Me post, but it’s great to hear what everyone else has to say.
Rich also did a fabulous write-up on how Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner’s vision of the Man of Steel has been the standard-bearer for superhero films in general for many years and inspired millions. He argued why Henry Cavill [and the new film] would need to escape Reeve’s shadow an be compelling enough to stand on its own. I totally concur and from what I’ve seen so far, I needn’t worry 😀
Now, switching gear to a Marvel superhero, Lady Satijust recently did her review of Iron Man 3. I always LOVE her reviews with all the awesome photos and even more awesome rating system!
A film’s artistic sensibility sometimes begins even before the film itself. Michael has been featuring great Opening Titles on his blog (with this super one being one of my all time favorites, natch) and the latest one he featured is from the sci-fi mystery Contact. I’ve been wanting to see it for a while but just haven’t got around to it yet.
What I love about the blogging community is discovering day in and day out how various films affect fellow cinephiles differently. Keith and his Public Movie Defender posts are awesome as he picks movies that have been lambasted by critics [even audience alike] and serve up his own defense why he disagree with them. The latest one was on Terminator Salvation, which I happen to enjoy quite a bit despite the flaws.
Ryan at The Matinee (who was the inspiration behind this Everybody’s Chattin’ series btw) started something great with his BlindSpot series. I’ve been discovering a bunch of posts that opened my eyes to films I’ve been blind about, such as this Israeli animated feature Waltz With Bashirthat Josh just reviewed.
Speaking of another indie, the one I missed out on last month due to a thunderstorm, well Terrence’s review of MUD made me even more curious about it. Unfortunately we didn’t see eye to eye on EPIC though, but still, it was an excellent one-word-title double reviews, so check it out!
I haven’t done a Birthday tribute in a while but you’ve got to check out Novia‘s heartfelt and beautiful poem to her beloved idol Cillian Murphy on his 37th birthday. I love how loyal she is to her crushes, as she remains in love with Cillian even though she’s been caught up in the British show fever 😉
For good Friday fun (or any day for that matter), check out John’s mighty creative Movie Directors’ Baseball Jerseys! My favorites are the Scorsese, Coens and Edgar Wright Jerseys!
Now, last but not least, you’d want to head over to FilmHipsterto take a stab at his latest Guess the Movie & Winsweepstakes for a chance to win one of four awesome Blu-rays! …
Stay tuned for my Monthly Roundup coming this weekend, as well as mini reviews of Epic, Now You See Me and other movies I haven’t got around to reviewing yet. Of course there are more Man of Steel countdown posts, one courtesy of Terrence from The Focused Filmographer 😀
Well, before you’re off to any of the links above, tell me, what’s your weekend viewing plans?
As tonight I’ll be seeing Now You See Me tonight, a crime thriller about a team of illusionists pulling off bank heists during their performances, I thought this week’s music break would have a similar theme of magic. The Illusionist is essentially a love story based on Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist.”
The film tells the story of Eisenheim, the the son of a cabinetmaker in Vienna, who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.
Before I get to the music, I’m quite fond of this period drama. The cast is wonderful, especially Ed Norton who carried the film with his affecting performance. I also love Paul Giammatti and Rufus Sewell here, both are terrific character actors who rarely disappoint. Even Jessica Biel, who’s not typically a strong actress, seems to acquit herself well here as Norton’s long lost love, though at times she did seem to be out of her elements amongst other more experienced actors. Visually it’s quite beautiful as well, shot by cinematographer Dick Pope who deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination for his work.
Now, I think Philip Glass should’ve been nominated for his work here as well, as his score is no doubt one of the strongest artistic elements of the film.
I love Philip Glass‘ musical style, he’s actually my dream composer for my romantic thriller movie pitch Hearts Want. I first heard his beautiful score for The Hours a few years ago, and I also love his work in The Truman Show. Glass was nominated for three Oscars for his work in The Hours, Notes on a Scandal and Kundun. The Baltimore-born composer utilizes the repetitive structures that some critics would label ‘minimalist style.’ Now, I’m no musical critic, so for me, I’m a fan of his work as his music have a distinct sound unlike any other, and they’re pleasing to the ear.
In this one, he wonderfully captures the romantic sensibility as well as the mysticism and magical tone of the story. According to PhilipGlass.com, Michael Riesman is the conductor and producer of nearly every Philip Glass soundtrack recordings. And here he conducted the Czech Film Orchestra to bring the score to life beautifully.
Another one of my favorites from the score is the Orange Tree track, and the scene in the movie is also one of the major highlights.
Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s music break. What do you think of Philip Glass and/or The Illusionist’ score?
When I was asked to be a part of this Superman countdown, I quickly agreed but I wasn’t quite sure at first what I would do for it. I didn’t just want to do a review of a Superman movie, especially since I’ve already reviewed almost every Superman movie out there and I didn’t just want to rehash one of my old reviews.
But she also mentioned that I could do something involving one of the Superman TV series and it hit me. There is a connection between the new Man of Steel movie and one of the TV series. Interestingly enough, Amy Adams who plays Lois Lane had an early role in Smallville‘s first seasons as one of the freaks of the week in the episode Craving. So I thought I would take a look at that episode and her first interactions with the man who would become Superman, Clark Kent.
I was a big supporter of Smallville back when it first came out, and I actually had to rewrite this sentence because I had forgotten how long ago it actually was when it first came on the air. I originally wrote that both my wife and I were fans of the show from the very beginning, until I realized that it’s been over 12 years since the first season first aired, and we have only been together coming up on 10 years.
As much as I was a fan of the show, she would become the die hard fan and through the years I’d forgotten that it was actually me who introduced her to the show for the first time, probably towards the end of the second season, maybe even into the third. Of course, her love of the show was mainly focused on one character: Lana Lang played by Kristen Kreuk. After Kristen left the show during the last couple seasons, we both kind of fell out of love with the show and still have yet to watch or own the final two seasons on DVD, though we did tune in for the series finale.
But I’m getting off track here, let’s bring it back to the very first season of the show where Clark Kent was still learning his powers. At this point he had only developed his X-Ray vision alongside his strength and speed, Lana Lang was still dating the football player Whitney, and Lex Luthor was still playing at being a good guy who’s just trying to help the kid that saved his life get the girl he really wants.
And while there is the start of one of the ongoing plotlines with the Kryptonite scientist Dr. Hamilton, this is very much an episodic story that revolves around Lana’s birthday and our meteor freak-of-the-week played by Amy Adams in fat makeup whose name I’ve already forgotten. She’s the “fat” girl, and I use quotation marks because when she weighs herself the first time the scale reads around 170 pounds, and while that is a little overweight, it’s a far cry from “fat”. Of course this could have been a good opportunity to be a social commentary on the fact that in high school (or beyond for that matter) a 170 pound girl is considered to be fat by our current social standards based upon the ultra skinny models, Hollywood actresses, and vapid reality stars.
One of the worst parts of these early episodes really is the drop-in drop-out characters who are only in one episode, but during the run-time try to act as if they’ve been there all along. Here, Adams feels like she should have been hanging out with the main group of Clark, Chloe, and Pete for the whole season as close as they are for her week. There’s also the stoner looking teenager who in Star Trek terms would be considered the red shirt, who makes fun of Adams and calls Pete a “chubby chaser”. I suppose I should mention the whole freak concept. Adams has a greenhouse where she grows vegetables in soil laced up the wazoo with Kryptonite meteors, and when she makes a diet shake with them, it speeds up her metabolism just enough to make her instantly lose weight and become closer to her ideal weight. There’s always a price, and after a while her metabolism supposedly catches up to her and she has to gorge, which usually means making a mess out of all the food in the refrigerator, but when the craving hits her at night after she has just hit a deer, she becomes this comical looking “fat vampire” where her jaw drops an extra foot wide which we’re supposed to believe allows her to suck all the fat out of the deer, and later in the episode the red shirt kid.
As far as Adams’ role in the episode, even though it’s a very cheesy concept, she pulls it off quite well. She’s great in both the scenes where she’s hanging out with the Clark gang as if she’s been there the whole time. She also handles the dramatic moments very well, whether she’s hiding the fact that she just went through a gorge-fest, she’s calling out the red shirt on his verbal bullying, or when she’s trying to save Pete from her own cravings which she can’t control. It’s a shame that she was only cast for the weekly freak as I think she would have fit in well as a recurring character and oddly enough it does make me look forward to seeing her as Lois Lane in Man of Steel in its own small way.
The episode itself draws some minor parallels to eating disorders, but I didn’t feel like the connection was very strong. The B story with Lana’s birthday party falls into the same old typical routine where Clark gets his chance to be with Lana, as friends, and promises that he’ll be there for her but ends up a no show because he’s busy playing the hero to save Pete. And in the end, he makes up for it with a little help from Lex’s money.
It was fun taking a look back at this early episode of a show I watched for years, it definitely has its problems, but it was fun seeing Tom Welling play his awkward Clark Kent. The cast of the show and relationships between the characters were one of the reasons why I think the show lasted as long as it did, as well as one of the reasons why I didn’t stick with it when they lost a lot of the core cast. Michael Rosenbaum, Kristen Kreuk, Tom Welling, and even Allison Mack as Chloe just work so well together even as early as this first season and really helped remind me why I loved the show.
Thanks again to Ruth for giving me an excuse to go back and revisit the show and I know I can’t wait to see Man of Steel.
Thanks again to Bubbawheat for his awesome contribution. Check out more comic-related musings and reviews over onhis blog.
Thoughts on Amy Adams and/or Smallville? Let’s hear it in the comments!
I ended up venturing out of my comfort zone a couple of times this Memorial Weekend. Thankfully neither one is disappointing. On Friday night, we were debating between three movies, as you can see in my tweet below.
Well, it came down to Cabin in the Woods as I’ve been curious about it for a while and the fact that Joss Whedon’s produced and wrote it sounds like it’s worth seeing. This is not so much of a review, but more of my reaction and overall thoughts of the movies. Here goes:
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
Now, I don’t watch barely any horror movies, but even so, the storyline seems pretty cliché. But from the trailer and even the poster, I had an inkling that there’s more than meets the eye here and sure enough it was. I think a lot of people have seen this movie by now as it was quite a hit a couple of years ago, but I’m still going to give a warning in case some haven’t seen it.
[SPOILER ALERT – keep reading at your own risk!]
Right from the start, you could pretty much guess just what is this cabin about. You see people in some kind of scientific facility, going into a control room with a bunch of TV monitors and what do you see no them? The cabin of course! Boy, that realization immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and the goblins haven’t even showed up yet!
Trust me, even the scariest cabin you’ve been on, even those that’s supposedly haunted or whatever, is nowhere near as terrifying as this one. And that is because the whole thing has been rigged. Before you know it, one by one starts getting attacked, though at first I was under the impression that this whole thing is some kind of game, like a much sicker and deadly version of SURVIVOR where each had to do something drastic [kill each other] to survive or something.
Well, I’ll tell you that my reaction to the film kind of fluctuates as it progresses. Sure there are truly scary parts here, albeit some are run-of-the-mill horror stuff where people gather in a spooky basement even if they know they shouldn’t be there, reading and touching stuff they know better not to. But somehow, I kept thinking that the whole thing is human-controlled, which made it somehow less scary to me, and made me ten times more curious just WHO is behind this stuff.
The acting is not much to write home about, apart from the amusing roles of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the two main controllers. I haven’t seen them playing such jerks, ahah, but they’re quite convincing. Mr. Thor Chris Hemsworth is the only one I know from the rest of the cast, but there’s nothing extraordinary about the five college kids.
As far as the plot goes, I have to admit it’s pretty creative. So apparently the whole scenario at the cabin is part of an ancient ritual sacrifice that’s happening all over the world. There are footage shown at other facilities and there’s some kind of competitive nature between the various locations.
Now, here’s one main beef I have with this movie:
Just why in the world is a control room with a big red button that says ‘PURGE SYSTEM’ where two of the characters got into is NOT guarded as well as it should’ve been? I mean, if you’ve seen this movie, you know just how crucial and critical that the BIG RED BUTTON does NOT get pushed, whether by accident or not. It’s akin to a button that launches nuclear warheads being aimed at our own neighborhoods, no? Except that this sounds like a far more terrifying way to die than being nuked!!
Another thing that sort of bothered me after the movie is how my expectations about the plot doesn’t quite aligned with what actually transpires on screen. The whole time I was watching this, I was under the impression that ALL the monsters had been man-made somehow. That the people in labs all over the world created those creatures as killing instruments, and they have a system to trap unsuspecting victims that’d become the ‘stars’ of their shows, for a lack of a better word. So the main purpose of this whole ‘game’ is motivated by greed or fierce competition (where the facility that produce the most killings the fastest win). So when that Purge System button got pushed releasing the creatures from their confinements, the people lost control of their own monster creations, and they’re running rampant killing everybody as they’re basically built as killing machines. I feel like it’d be far more sinister when humans actually create those monsters that end up being the root of their own demise. Anybody else feels this way, or am I the only one??
Still, the idea of mixing supernatural things with technology – and the idea that people could actually contain ALL of those goblins and demons and confine them into elevators – is pretty imaginative. I could see why this movie was a hit with the critics (92% on Rotten Tomatoes for a horror flick is impressive!) Director and co-writer Drew Goddard thew plenty of humor thrown in as well to lighten the mood, though it certainly has plenty of blood and gore as well to please horror fans. Again this is NOT my genre, but I do appreciate the unusual storyline and overall it’s pretty entertaining.
3.5 out of 5 reels
FAST & FURIOUS 6
Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.
So, another movie that’s not exactly my cup of tea. I’ve got to admit the high rating from critics and audiences alike got me curious about this one. No, I didn’t bother watching the other five movies in this franchise as I don’t think I’d be at a loss in regards to the story, and I was right.
All I had to do was go to the IMDb page for this movie and after about five minutes, I got enough ‘history’ of Dom and his ‘family.’ Interesting that his name is Dom (short for Dominic), is it to suggest he’s like the Don in a racer ‘mafia’ or something?? [shrug] In any case, so basically Dom (Vin Diesel, still clad in his favorite wife-beater) and his BFF Brian (Paul Walker, the pretty blond former LAPD) was involved in a Rio heist the last time around which toppled some kingpin’s empire and thus left their crew with about $100 mil. The crew are now scattered all over the globe since their run-in with the law, unable to return home. But then Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson w/ the perfect moniker The Samoan Thor) shows up in his posh villa in Spain offers him a chance at redemption in return for his help to catch a ruthless criminal Shaw (Luke Evans). Apparently one of the catch Hobbs threw at Dom was a photo of his lost love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) who’s supposedly been killed. So the chance of finding Letty again PLUS getting a full pardon for his entire crew turns out to be an offer he can’t refuse.
As this is the first time I encountered Dom’s crew, I’m most entertained by Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) who’re constantly bickering. They’re the comic relief of sort and I love that they’re not above making fun of their whole group. The women are pretty much the killer eye candy, not quite a femme-fatale but at least not the ‘damsel in distress’ type. There are endless fight scenes between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez, but then again what else is Gina to do, we all know acting nor emoting is not her strong suit. The rest of the guys are pretty much only rehashing what they’ve been doing in the last five movies (except for Dwayne Johnson who’s only joined the franchise in the previous sequel Fast Five). The two main players Diesel and Walker are the least interesting people in the whole bunch. Yes I know the rest of the group aren’t exactly magnetic either, but still, those two are pretty dull indeed.
But hey, you go see this movie not really for the stunts and well, Taiwanese director Justin Lin delivers the goods big time with the most ridiculous car chases from start to finish. Seems as if the filmmakers go out of their way to create some extra outrageous stunts, which is ludicrous even by Michael Bay standards. Case in point: two people from two opposite vehicles jumping across a bridge with cars on the highway going 100 MPH, then somehow manage to catch each other midair and landing on the hood of a running vehicle and come away absolutely unscathed. I mean, come on!! The funny thing is, the very same characters were discussing just a few scenes ago about how they got their scars from doing relatively ‘safer’ stunt than this one they pulled off here!! If you’ve seen the latest official trailer, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to.
Luke Evans as the villain Shaw started out quite promising. The Welsh actor is hunky with tons of sex appeal and screen charisma to boot (hence he’s one of my choices to play 007), but I feel like his role is underwritten. He appears cool but lacks menace as there’s not much substance to his character. Plus the ending is rather anti-climactic despite such a bombastic action sequence. Oh, it was fun to see an Indonesian actor Joe Taslim (The Raid) displaying his kick-ass fighting skills as one of Shaw’s minions, though I’m still baffled as to why he was speaking Indonesian at one point in the movie, ahah.
Well overall this movie was worth the price of a matinee showing. It’s still a heck of a lot better than Die Hard 5 and according to my hubby who had to endure the G.I. Joe sequel, it’s a hundred times better than that one, ahah. I’m not about to check out the other five movies prior to this, but you know what, I just might give Fast 7 a shot. Yes, with $310 mil worldwide gross so far, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the end of this franchise any time soon!
3 out of 5 reels
What are your thoughts on these movies? I’m especially curious to hear what you think of my reaction to The Cabin in the Woods Let me know in the comments!
The final Monday of May is a Memorial Day holiday here, which is a day to remember the fallen men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a U.S. resident, I’m definitely grateful of the service of Military men and women. Freedom is definitely NOT free and the people serving in the various U.S. military branches – Navy, Army, Air Force and the Marines – risk their lives to protect their country and its citizens.
So today, as I reflect on their bravery and dedication, I thought I’d do a pictorial tribute to memorable portrayal of American soldiers in the movies from various era and genres. Obviously I have not seen too many war/military-themed movies so these are meant to only be a sampling of military roles represented.
So here are (roughly) 27 of them, simply to coincide with today’s date of May 27:
Now, I made an exception with this last pick. Even though I have not seen Saving Private Ryan yet, but everything I’ve read (including this fine review by good friend Mark) about this Steven Spielberg masterpiece suggests that Tom Hanks as Captain Miller is more than worthy to be included.
Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans!
Now, which other U.S. military movie characters would YOU add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
I love big tent pole movies and Hollywood love to make them. Studios spent hundreds of millions of dollars on these movies and we the audience expect nothing but big spectacles when we go see them. I hate it when I go see big action films and the climax action scenes were quite lame (Mission: Impossible 3, The Saint, Pirates of the Carribean 4 and Spiderman 2 were some good examples.) Most directors understand that action films needs to close out with a bang; in an interview with Sam Mendes he said he first only wanted to have a basic shoot out for Skyfall’s climax, but then he realized this is a James Bond film and so he needed to included some sort of spectacle. He decided to have a big helicopter shooting up Bond’s old house and then clashing into it.
Iron Man 3 already kick-started the hot box office Summer season, followed by the upcoming big action flicks such as Star Trek: Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, and Elysium. I expect most, if not all, will have some sort of big over-the-top action sequences for the film’s climax. With all these films coming out, it got me thinking of the best spectacle climax I’ve seen throughout the years. It’s hard to come up with just five but I think most people will agree with me on these scenes. I think all these action scenes were quite creative, well-staged and of course exciting to watch.
5. The boat chase in Face/Off
After directing two mediocre films to start his career in Hollywood, John Woo was able to convinced the studio to give him more than $80mil and made his best film since Hard Boil. Face/Off is probably one of the best action films of the 1990s and Woo’s top 3 best films ever! I loved this movie, I went to see it three times in opening weekend in the summer of 1997. The film’s full of spectacles, from the opening shootout in the airport hanger to the shootout in the apartment building of Castor Troy’s gang. But the best one is the big boat chase near the end of the film, it started with a shoot out at the church then the boat chase that ended with a clash that sends the film’s hero and villain flying through the air. I love it!
4. Shootout on top of snowy mountain in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I can’t make this kind of list without a James Bond movie. In this sequence, Bond, his future father in law Draco and his men were on their way to rescue Draco’s daughter and Bond’s soon to be bride, Tracy. She’s being held captive by film’s villain, Blofeld. Bond and the men were in two big helicopters and once they reached Blofeld’s lair, there were shootouts, explosions, hand to hand combats and then it ended with a bob sled chase that would rival any modern day action sequences. Since this is Christopher Nolan’s favorite Bond film, he decided to copy this sequence for his film Inception, fans of that movie will see some similarities.
3. The car chase through the streets of Moscow in The Bourne Supremacy
The film that kick started the crazy hand held shaky cam and quick editing craze that plagued most action films the last few years. I’m not a fan of this kind of style, as I already ranted about it a while back. BUT for this film the style fits perfectly and the car chase near the end was one of the best car chases ever put on film. Paul Greengrass and his crew staged the whole sequence so well that it was exciting to watch and I love how the sequence ended. Since I’m quite sure most people have seen the film, I won’t have to describe it.
2. The final shootout in The Wild Bunch
This Peckinpah’s masterpiece pretty much kick started the over the top shoot outs in films we’ve seen through the years. The film opened in the summer of 1969 and it’s now considered one of the best films ever made. Up until this film, most westerns and action films didn’t have this kind of action sequence and that’s why Peckinpah’s been known as a revisionist. I assume most film buffs have seen this movie so I won’t have to describe the scene. I just love how Peckinpah move his cameras and how well he staged the action. I think this scene should be shown to any directors who needs to learn how to shoot action scene properly.
1. The final battle in Terminator 2
This summer hit has so many climax sequences that I couldn’t just name one. First the shoot out at Cyberdyne building where Arnold blew up a few of the police vehicles, he then kneecapped about dozen of the cops. After that, there’s a chase involving a swat van and a helicopter; then a big chase between a truck and semi-truck. It finally ended in a factory where the two Terminators engaged in a hand to hand combat.
James Cameron is a master of spectacle and this film is a good example of that. It’s the first film that actually cost $100mil to produce and it shown on the screen. There were so many big action scenes in this film and all of them were quite impressive.
The motorcycle chase in Mission: Impossible 2 – I would’ve included this sequence on my top 5 but I thought Woo just recycled the sequence from Face/Off.
The final chase in Fast Five – This over-the-top chase to close out the film is one of the craziest car chases I’ve ever seen and it was a lot of fun to watch. I just thought it went a bit too long and some sequences weren’t that creative.
The final battle in Avatar – I’m one of the few people who didn’t really care for this movie but again Cameron showed that he’s the master of spectacle and the big action scene near the end is top notch. It didn’t make my list because I didn’t like the film.
The battle sequences in Star Wars Ep.1: The Phantom Menace – I love the light sabers fight between Darth Maul, Obi Wan and Quai Gon Jin and the space battle with little Anakin. But I can’t stand the sequence with Jar Jar Binks and his clan battling the robots, it annoyed the heck out of me so I couldn’t include it on my top five list.
She offered moi a chance to participate in the endeavor since we’re both big fans of the progenitor for the modern comic superhero film, Superman: The Movie. Here is my contribution.
“Ever since ancient times, humanity has sought to use stories to explain the world in which it lives. Just as ancient man used stories of gods and monsters to explain the world, modern man uses stories of godlike heroes and monstrous villains to do the same. Comic books are modern mythology, in that they are modern man’s method of explaining the world around them through the fantastical.”
In just twenty four days (well 21 days for me :D), THE most anticipated movie of the year will arrive in theaters. There have been few movie events in the past decade, but for me, THIS would count as the one of the biggest one to date. In preparation for Man of Steel, I’ll be posting various Superman-related posts in the next three weeks. Stay tuned for posts from Michael @ It Rains… You Get Wet, Terrence @ The Focused Filmographerand Bubbawheat @ Flights, Tights and Movie Nights in the coming days and weeks!
Superman and Me
I have been a fan of Superman all my life. It’s perhaps not a surprise to most of you if you’ve been following my blog for some time. A throng of superheroes have come and gone in the last three decades since I saw Superman: The Movie for the first time. In fact, the number of comic-based films have quadruppled in the last ten years and there’s no end in sight, but for me, the Kryptonian hero shall always be my favorite.
If you ask me why that it, I don’t know where to start really. I mean, I was far to young to know the cultural or social allegory of the time, that the hero was created in the context of the Great Depression in the early 30s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. After all, I was in preschool when the movie was released. But somehow, it appealed to me and was way more indelible than any other movie I had seen in my youth and perhaps since.
I wish I could find it, but I remember seeing a photo of me in my family album dressed in a Superman outfit that my mother must’ve bought me. One of my aunts who was living with my family at the time often told me how much I was so in love with Superman that I wore that suit often and I had gone to the theater a few times to see it. Now I don’t remember that part, but I definitely remember renting Superman I and II repeatedly when I was a teenager.
This is the first movie I saw a the theater… and I think I’ve gone more than once. I remember my uncle finally buying me the VHS as I kept renting it over and over again. This is probably what makes me love the superhero genre, so even if the technology looks dated now, it’s got all the ingredients that makes this one stand the test of time: the perfect actor to play Superman, a rousing score and epic, memorable scenes that truly made us believe that yes, a man can fly!
Of course the ‘flying’ thing is truly a fantastical element in and of itself. The first time I saw Superman fly, in the iconic chopper rescue scene that never fails to render me awestruck and teary-eyed, there’s such a huge rush and excitement. Even in so-so Superman movies and shows, the moment his feet leaves the ground and wooosh!!! Up, up and away he soars to the sky, it always leave me giddy like a school girl.
He chose goodness
I know a lot of people think Superman is boring because well, he’s such a goody goody, a model of piety that even Lois made fun of him when he asked Perry White to transfer half of his Daily Planet salary to his earthly mom Martha Kent in Smallville. “Anymore at home like you?” She asked. “Uh, no, not really.” Clark replies. No, there isn’t of course, well, not one from a planet called Krypton anyway.
The Biblical allegory of Superman as a Christ-figure is more than obvious. JK Muir’s splendidly-perceptive review of Superman: The Movie said it best:
… Superman: The Movie lyrically captures the mythic, spiritual nature of the long-lived Superman legend… Jor-El (Marlon Brando), an Elder God-figure, sends his only son (a Jesus Christ surrogate…) to Earth to walk (and fly…) amongst humanity. Immaculate white and gleaming, Krypton is a visualization of an extra-terrestrial “Heaven,” a world far in advance of our own. But just as Heaven faced an insurrection in the form of Lucifer, so does Krypton quell an insurrectionist named Zod… one who is cast to a Hell-like dimension (The Phantom Zone) for his crimes…
Ok so God the Father and his Heavenly realm was never in any danger so it’s not like He sent Christ as a ‘refuge’ for His Son, but the pronounced parallel is Kal-El’s love for humanity. So to me, the fact that the Kryptonian luminary epitomizes GOOD doesn’t make him boring at all. In fact, it makes him utterly fascinating as he’s such a rarity… a being who’s SUPER because he not only epitomizes perfection on the outside with his external powers, he also represents inner goodness we all aspire to. Superman has all this power at his disposal, and really, he could practically do anything he wanted. After all, what does he owe us earthlings anyway? Nothing. We can’t expect him to protect nor save us as we don’t even deserve it, but yet, he takes it upon himself to be our savior.
He’s not without his share of tragedies, after all he not only lost his parents but his entire home world of Krypton, if that’s not ‘excess baggage’ I don’t know what is. But yet he doesn’t wallow in self pity and spend his days sulking or rebelling against his adoptive parents because he feels ‘entitled.’ I love how Mr. Muir puts it:
A real hero can still choose to take to the skies instead of lurking in the shadows, or seething in the dark of night.
I may not be able to relate to Superman with all his superpowers but power is a relative term and each of us has a certain degree of power and the choice to use that power for evil or for good. So in that sense, I can surely aspire for greatness, to be inspired by his heroism and altruistic notion. Superman has always been about hope and I’m sure glad Man of Steel will be so as well. As you’ve seen at the end of the second trailer, Superman tells Lois that the ‘S’ on his chest means hope. So long as there’s tragedy and misfortune in our world, hope shall never go out of style. …
The Ultimate Immigrant
Now, later on, as I move to the United States to go to college, I soon identify with the Man of Steel because he too is an immigrant. No, I didn’t come from a dying planet like Krypton nor did I have adoptive parents in the US, but the idea of feeling alienated and an outsider in the community I live in is something I definitely identify with. Reversely, I was born in a Metropolitan City (Jakarta) and came to live in a small town in the US (St. Cloud, about 1 hr away from Minneapolis), but just like Clark Kent, I too have long come to love my ‘adopted’ country.
Superman is very much an American, but he’s also very much an alien. As they were raised by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Siegel and Shuster perhaps also struggled with issues of immigration and assimilation as Clark/Superman does on earth. But through his struggles of concealing his identity and living a dual life – like many immigrants trying to fit in — Superman rise above all that and choose to be a champion for humanity, a citizen and protector of the entire planet Earth, not just United States. …
Wanting to be Lois Lane
If there was a movie character I wish I could be for a day (or even weeks), it’d be Lois Lane. I mean, she’s a cool career woman with a spunky personality. She was the best reporter at the Daily Planet and lives in a swanky apartment in NYC even Carrie Bradshaw would envy. As if that weren’t enough, she doesn’t only get to interview Superman, she becomes the only woman who captures his heart.
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a journalist. Yes I even enrolled in a Mass Communications major and was intent on pursuing that degree with a focus in journalism. Well, after a few classes, I realized it’s not for me (I got into Advertising & Graphic Design) instead, but that goes to show how much the character from the Superman comics resonated with me.
It’s in the genes
Seems that my connection with Superman have began even before I was born. Back in 1974, my late father produced and wrote Rama, Superman Indonesia (perhaps the first Indonesian superhero movie ever – at least as far as I know). I actually have never seen the film on the big screen, the only token I have of that movie is this photo of the movie poster (I knew my dad used to do some poster illustrations too but I’m not sure if he did this one).
Now, even though it has the word ‘Superman’ in it, the story is quite different as it’s actually closer to The Greatest American Hero as a young paperboy named Andi is given a magic necklace by an old man he helped, which could transform him into a superhero. Veteran Indonesian actor August Melasz played Rama in one of his earliest roles. According to the Indo Wiki, the film can’t ever be Internationally-marketed due to copyright infringement of the use of the word ‘Superman’ [sigh]
Now if you’re curious about and wants to see a super cheesy, SFX-free superhero movie ( I mean, the entire movie’s production cost probably only amounts to Man of Steel‘s catering budget for a day, ahah!), someone actually uploaded the entire movie on Youtube! …
When the actor and the character meets
My admiration for Christopher Reeve, who shall always be my favorite Superman, pretty much set the bar in terms of my Hollywood crushes. I’m glad I was able to separate fantasy from reality though as Superman is, in Lois’ own words, a tough act to follow 😉 But when it comes to movie star crushes, I guess Reeve sets the bar high. You never forget your first one, they say, and Reeve was my first ever crush. But not only that, he’s the ONLY actor I’ve written a fan letter to in my entire life, and he’d also be the last. I was in my Junior High, I finally did it with the encouragement from my late mother who also helped me write it in English. It took nearly a year to receive a reply, but I ended up getting not one, but two autographed photos from him (arrived separately).
Later in his life, Mr. Reeve himself suffered a personal tragedy when he was thrown from a horse in an equestrian competition in May 1995. He became a quadriplegic due to his spinal cord injury. I remember crying when I heard the news. But in the nine years that he lived with such an extreme physical disability, he became a champion for people with disabilities through the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. He was a hero even when he couldn’t walk, let alone fly, but then again, inner strength and courage is what truly makes a hero.
Speaking of actors playing Superman, I also had a premonition in regards to Henry Cavill. Back in 2002 when I saw The Count of Monte Cristo on the big screen, I distinctly remember whispering to my hubby when I saw the then 18-year-old Cavill came on screen that he could play Superman when he grows up. Now a decade later, imagine my delight when I first heard he was indeed cast!
Interestingly enough, the actor playing his father in that film, Jim Caviezel, was also considered by Bryan Singer to play Superman in Superman Returns. But reportedly, Singer was hesitant to cast Caviezel as he had just played the ultimate Savior in The Passion of the Christ.
It’s been a while since I’m THIS giddy with anticipation the way I am with Man of Steel. I was stoked for Superman Returns seven years ago, but nowhere near at this level. So I’ll end this post with this awesome featurette that talks about the characterization of who Superman as a ‘conflicted, lonely and lost person’ and ‘the most powerful but also the most vulnerable.’ I’m liking these themes here, which makes the message about hope all the more compelling.
Well lookie here!! Turns out that the latest Man of Steel trailer titled Fate of Your Planet was out the same time I posted this.
Oh boy, is it ever intense!! It made me reflect on just how much Supes truly love people of earth and how much is at stake against a ruthless enemy like Zod and Faora…
For every human you save we will kill a million more. – Faora
OMG! That quote made me shudder! I think it’s wise that they save the most action-packed trailer to last, starting with a more dramatic and emotive one first. This convinces me more that the movie’s gonna have a good balance of being action-packed and packs an emotional punch!
BRING! IT! ON!
Hope I still have your attention after all my personal rambling, ahah.
What are your thoughts about Superman and/or Man of Steel? Let’s hear it!
The Star Trek fever is full on this weekend. At least it seems like it is, though only a blockbuster THIS magnitude that an $84 mil four-day total is still considered a box office disappointment. Apparently Star Trek Into Darkness did not quite hit the warp-speed at the box ffice, well-short of the studios’ – Paramount, Skydance Pictures and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions – $100 mil expectation. I have a feeling they won’t have trouble making up the $190 budget (+ marketing) when it’s all said and done though.
So did you all see it? Well, if you read my review of sorton Friday, you’ll know that Abrams’ have now piqued my interest about the whole Star Trek universe. So this weekend my hubby and I were planning on seeing the first feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s not available on Netflix Streaming. I didn’t want to see the follow-up The Wrath of Khan as people have been saying I should watch them in order. I’m even more curious to see the first movie as apparently Robert Wise directed it, known for classics like West Side Story, The Sound of Music and also his Oscar-winning film editing for Citizen Kane. In any case, we ended up watching Shatner’s documentary titled appropriately…
The Captains (2011)
The Captains is a feature length documentary film written and directed by William Shatner. The film follows Shatner as he interviews the other actors whom have portrayed Starship captains within the illustrious science-fiction franchise.
I was already curious about this documentary for some time but I think after seeing the latest Star Trek film, and before I embark into watching more from this franchise, it definitely is the right timing to watch this. This is a must for any Trekkie, but I’d think that casual Star Trek watchers would appreciate this documentary as this is such an iconic franchise and most likely you’d know the people playing the Captains even if you haven’t seen the shows/films.
I’m glad Shatner decided to do this film, and I found him to be a good interviewer, even if it’s challenging to get into much depth when you’ve got half a dozen people to interview in just 1.5 hour. He first traveled to England to meet up with Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart, who portrayed the second most famous after Shatner’s Captain Kirk, and that is Jean-Luc Picard. I really enjoyed the interview in his beautiful home with magnificent English garden, and I feel that this is one of the most enlightening interview in regards to the two of them. It’s perhaps because Shatner was a huge admirer of Stewart’s talents and stage performances, but they’re also closest in age compared to other actors. I didn’t know that Shatner was also a classical Shakespearean actor, and was an understudy of Christopher Plummer. He also interviewed Plummer briefly as he later on played a one-eyed Klingon. This is all very amusing!
Shatner showed genuine interest in every single one of the subjects he interviewed, and he seemed intrigued about how playing The Captain has changed each of their lives, the good and the bad aspects of it. Shatner commiserated with all of them on how the crazy hours and laborious filming schedule took a toll on their families, especially on a single mother like Kate Mulgrew. At times, the conversation got really personal with Kate as she lamented on her struggle being the sole female captain ([protagonist) in a man’s world like Hollywood whilst raising two young kids by herself.
Shatner seems at ease with each of the actors, I guess his personality is such that people are naturally drawn — and perhaps amused — by him. The highlights for me was the Patrick Stewart interview and Shatner arm-wrestling with Chris Pine, 50 year his junior, ahah. I learned a bit more about each of the actors, and discovered Scott Bakula and Avery Brooks’ musical roots. I had known Brooks from his days playing Hawk in one of my favorite 80s show Spenser For Hire. I love the duet of them at the piano. The bits of Shatner at the Star Trek convention delighting unsuspecting Trekkies are a hoot, and it really keeps things in perspective. Some people might consider him pompous for being embarrassed for being known as a Star Trek captain, but I kind of understand where he’s coming from given his classical training.
I really enjoyed this documentary, and the fact that I found Shatner amusing helps make it so. Yes he’s got an ego the size of Texas and he’s at times ridiculous, but the 82-year-old sci-fi icon is well aware of that and that makes him so darn entertaining. Definitely give this one a shot if you’re looking for a fun and enlightening documentary!
4 out of 5 reels
Oh, I also went to a press screening for 20th Century Fox’ latest animated feature EPIC. I quite enjoyed it, visually dazzling and surprisingly moving. I can’t review it yet due to embargo, but I’d recommend it for kids and adults. It’s not nearly as goofy as FOX’s more slapstick features like Ice Age and Rio btw, which is a welcome change actually. Not sure why they’re calling it EPIC, I mean it’s not quite as epic as say The Lion King, but still a pretty darn good one.
So that’s my weekend roundup folks. How about you, seen anything good?
Well, one of my most anticipated movies of the first half of the year has come and gone. I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night and you know what, despite the huge hype machine working overtime for this film, this film somehow lives up to it. So yeah, I really enjoyed it. Instead of doing a straight review, I feel like jotting down my change of heart of sort, in regards to this franchise.
Now, Star Trek fever has been high the past few weeks not only because of the studio’s marketing machine, but also sparked by various bloggers and sites posting all kinds of Star Trek-related stuff in anticipation for the new movie. Strangely enough, instead of being blasé or even rolling my eyes about the whole thing, for once I was actually intrigued. I guess it was started back in 2009 when I saw JJ Abrams’ Star Trek for the first time. For some reason, the whole franchise sort of eluded me when I was growing up, as I had never followed any of the TV series nor seen any of the previous films. Ok I did see clips of the 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this Spock swimming with the Whale scene is such a hoot! It’s one of the best ‘fish out of water’ comedic scenes ever, pardon the pun 😀
Oh and I did see the comedy satire Galaxy Quest which is not only hilarious but spot on – one doesn’t have to be a Trekkie to recognize the obvious subject of its parody. Nonetheless, I was practically Star Trek virgin four years ago. The only ‘knowledge’ I knew of Star Trek is from pop culture, the iconic phrase Live long and prosper, the Vulcan salute that I have to admit I have trouble doing, that Spock & Kirk are cross-species BFF and that Klingons are their longtime nemesis. But other than that, I’ve no clue about their universe, so I’ve got to admit that whole Spock + Spock scene in the first movie was quite discombobulating for me. My hubby had to explain a lot of the basic Star Trek 101 and all the jargon, ahah. I guess perhaps his enthusiasm might’ve rubbed off on me a bit, but I think it’s more than that.
As I mentioned in my review of the 2009 version, I think the casting and the chemistry of the cast is what I really enjoyed about the film. But what I didn’t mention then is how timeless the story of Star Trek stories, depicting the adventures of this group of humans and aliens on board the Enterprise spaceship. The underlying themes war and peace, loyalty, personal courage, the role of technology, etc. are human motifs that still relevant to this day, but of course it’s now enveloped in a shiny and cool wrapping with the latest special effects and gadgetry… oh and of course, sprinkled with lots and lots of lens flares! 😉
Thankfully Abrams’ obsession with the lens flare didn’t bother me as it did in the first movie (maybe I just chose to ignore ’em), but what we still get in this sequel is the zippy and fun tone, boosted by the chemistry of its cast and spectacular special effects. Despite the title, the movie is really not as dark as we’re led to believe. Yes it’s slightly darker than the first, but by no means grim. Everything I like about the first movie is present, the bromance between Spock and Kirk are funnier and snarkier – Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine are one of those perfect casting choice that gets even better the more I watch them together. More screen time for Karl Urban‘s McCoy (yay) and also Simon Pegg‘s Scotty relishing in his Scottish brogue whilst being in a hysterical state of panic for most of the movie.
But really, the REAL star of Star Trek Into Darkness is the villain. Much like The Dark Knight‘s The Joker, Benedict Cumberbatch villainous turn as the intergalactic terrorist John Harrison stole all kinds of scenes every time he’s on screen! As the superior being – in every way, as the character pompously claim – Cumberbatch is such a perfect choice for the role and he brings that same cocksure swagger from his role as Sherlock Holmes. Yes his delivery is a bit too theatrical, perhaps intentionally so, but there’s no denying his screen charisma. Cumberbatch is unconventionally good looking, but he made those who are classically handsome oh so boring! Oh, and I think there should be law that require him to wear long, cape-like coat in every movie, yes?
I think in terms of the characterization of the villain, it’s definitely an improvement over the first (no offense Eric Bana!). Somehow Cumberbatch’s role isn’t the typical two dimensional bad guy hellbent on destruction, though certainly it’s not an excuse on his means he chose for his mission. What really works is how the series of destructive events truly test those in leadership roles of the Starfleet, particularly Kirk as he often has to make split-second decisions with the crew’s life hanging in the balance. Despite the eye-popping action in 3D (those warm-speed scenes are pure geek-gasm stuff), sleek set pieces and futuristic fashion, it’s not really style-over-substance (thank goodness!). I’d readily give the movie a 4.5/5 rating!
Thanks to the trio of writers Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci in creating a reboot that still pays homage to the original, but yet feels fresh and cool. In a way, it’s kind of like the motto that Gene Roddenberry created back in 1966.
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Well, one thing for sure, the journey of the Enterprise crew seems endless. With a projected box office take of $100 mil in four days, even without Abrams at the helm (as he’d be too preoccupied with yet another behemoth franchise Star Wars), we’re likely to see more sequels in the works. Hey I’m fine with that, fingers crossed that somehow Cumberbatch would return as well?
In the meantime, I’m inclined to check out previous Star Trek films, starting with the original William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (particularly The Wrath of Khan) . Then later on I might move on with The Next Generation with Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, especially since Keith highly recommended Star Trek: First Contact.
So I guess thanks to Mr. Abrams bold and exciting voyage, I just might jump into the Star Trek bandwagon after all. No, I don’t think I’ll be a Trekkie nor would I start be buying a Captain Kirk action figure any time soon, but somehow now I see this 47 year-old franchise in a whole new light 😀
So tell me where do you stand in regard to this sci-fi franchise? Let me know your thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness, too!