Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review – The good, the bad and the ugly

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By the time I sat down to write this, I’ve actually seen BVS twice in a week. Yup, you probably think I’m a masochist and I don’t blame you. But hey, it’s really out of solidarity with my dear hubby that I saw it again a second time, as we weren’t allowed to bring guests to the press screening and I actually couldn’t wait for him to see it so we could discuss this drivel movie together.

I have a lot to say here so it’s best to break things down in three categories, like I did w/ some award commentaries. Let’s start w/ the positive.

The Good

I tweeted when I sat down at the press screening that despite the title featuring two of the world’s biggest superheroes, I was mostly excited for Wonder Woman. And well, she did NOT disappoint. In fact, I was literally giddy the first time we saw Diana Prince dressed to kill in a skintight red dress at Lex Luthor’s party. The biggest audience cheer throughout the entire movie was when Wonder Woman finally showed up in costume.

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Gal Gadot slayed it, she was all badass and heroic. I wish they hadn’t revealed that exact moment in the trailer, I mean they could’ve shown ANY other WW scene besides THAT one, heh. Oh and the WW theme song, OMG I’m seriously obsessed w/ it now. The score is written by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL who just did the awesome Mad Max: Fury Road score, and this particular track has Junkie XL written all over it.

Like most moviegoers, I was more curious than excited about BVS and it’s to see the Batfleck. Ben Affleck followed up on the strong impression left by Christian Bale in the best Dark Knight trilogy, but y’know what, if we’re just judging on Ben Affleck’s portrayal alone as Batman/Bruce Wayne, I’d say he nailed it. Right from the moment we saw him driving around the wreckage of Gotham as Superman and his Kryptonian foes are wrecking havoc from the sky, we get a grizzled, world-weary and indignant Bruce Wayne. I gotta say Affleck looked damn good as Batman and his alter ego. He certainly has the gravitas of an older and wiser caped crusader, though he’s certainly far more brutal and doesn’t have qualms knocking down bad guys and even killing them. But then again, the supposedly more gracious Superman is nowhere to be found here either.

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The actual BVS battle itself was pretty fun to watch. It could be because we’ve spent nearly TWO hours waiting for the damn thing to finally happened. I was like FINALLY! The action scene here was well-staged and there were moments where I thought they could do serious damage to each other. It’s not quite the level of suspense of Batman vs Bane in TDKR however, I think Nolan crafted that sense of dread and serious peril much better than Snyder. But still, within the grim and dour universe of BVS, this scene was one of the highlights.

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Which brings me to…

The Bad

Oh dear, where do I begin.

Basically everything I didn’t care about the third act of Man of Steel is back with a vengeance. All the clanging noise that threaten to do serious damage to my eardrums are ever present as soon as Doomsday showed up. It’s an eyesore too. The world of Gotham/Metropolis are so severe and somber, and the ugliness of the Kryptonian/human monster hybrid so potent I had to look away a few times.

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Doomsday is a cross between Lord of the Ring’s Orc, the Hulk, Ninja Turtle and King Kong, also with a penchant for leaping into tall skyscrapers. That whole battle between the three heroes and this grotesque monster is a colossal CGI smash that went on far too long. It’s a sensory overload that feels like an endurance contest for the audience. If it weren’t for Wonder Woman forming the trio, I think this entire battle sequence would’ve been a total bust.

Speaking of Wonder Woman again, all of the wonderful things about her awesome intro, it is offset by the perpetual damsel-in-distress situations of all the women in Supes’ lives, be it Lois or her mother. It’s like, for one step forward in the right direction about female empowerment, there are three or more that took us back. It’s not Amy Adams‘ fault really, but I’m not fond of THIS Lois at all.

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Now, what I’m about to say is going to make Henry Cavill fans furious but y’know what, a huge fan of Superman it actually pains me to say it. Superman is actually the least interesting character of this movie, thanks to what Snyder created in Cavill. Neither Superman nor Clark Kent was a character worth rooting for. Gone is the heroic and sympathetic alien who cares deeply for humanity, he even refused to take ANY blame for all the monstrous destruction that could’ve been easily avoided if he went around the buildings instead of flying through them! Not only that, he was delusional enough that he told Bruce Wayne that nobody saw him as a liability and that the world was entirely on his side. Cavill’s Clark Kent is no longer the meek, mild-mannered reporter, as he’d rather argue relentlessly with his boss Perry White and had the worst work ethic. Yes Clark was always MIA in previous movies too, but we actually saw he had a good relationship with his boss and there’s a mutual respect between them. None of that is displayed in Snyder’s version.

Don’t get me started with the cringe-worthy scenes between him and Lois. Gone are the sweet and flirty banter between the two, instead we get cheesy lines about hope and what have you, and the supposedly romantic gestures just doesn’t compute at all because none of it felt true. And what’s with the constantly-constipated look on Cavill no matter what circumstance his character finds himself in.

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He had the same baffled/sad/forlorn/reflective (all of the above? none of the above??) whether he’s talking to his mom/Lois, at the courthouse, surrounded by strangers during Day of the Dead festival, etc. I think he only switches to something of immense rage when he’s facing Batman, which doesn’t exactly make me like him one bit as he comes across more like a bully than a wise and gentle hero we’ve seen in Christopher Reeve. What’s more, Snyder sexualizes Superman so much here it’s putting me off. There’s a scene of him jumping into a bathtub and a gratuitous scene of him cooking with no shirt on. Sorry but that had the opposite effect on me. I don’t want a sexually-alluring Superman, I want a Superman I can believe in.

The Ugly

[SPOILER ALERT]

Ok, one of the screenwriting rules I’ve read often says to steer clear of dream sequences. Unless something is hugely integral to the plot (like say, in Inception), there are very few narratives in which this structure fits. Well, guess what, there wasn’t just one but MULTIPLE dream sequences. I literally was gonna throw things at the screen when it happened, and after seeing it twice I STILL have no clue what the heck those scenes are about and how it served the story. It has no purpose being there other than to infuriate the audience. Seriously, the movie could’ve easily been trimmed to under 2 hours long without these inconsequential scenes.

The scenes of Batman in the desert fighting a bunch of goons wearing Supes’ emblems in their uniforms followed by some ethereal-looking ghost talking to Bruce, what the hell was THAT?? And the whole Superman talking to his dead earthly dad scene in the North Pole. Heh, we already know Supes has daddy issues. Same with the wholly extraneous scene of Bruce’s parents being gunned down. The whole thing is played out with the most irritating slo-motion as if seeing Thomas & Martha Wayne dying a slow death would make us care more about them. Is it so that the movie can start AND end with a funeral scene?? [shrug]

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Forget daddy issues though, this movie seems to be more about the moms. The filmmakers used the fact that Bruce and Clark’s mothers share the same name as a plot device. Good gracious, it’s not only trite, but it’s simply lazy writing. So they needed a good reason for why Batman would stop from killing Superman and that’s all they could come up with?? We’re talking about a writing duo comprised of David S. Goyer (who co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy) and Chris Terrio (who won Best Screenplay Oscar for ARGO).

[END OF SPOILER]

That said, it begs the question whether it’s actually possible to forge a worthy script that tells SO many origin stories in a single movie with SO much going on there’s absolutely no room at all for any character development. My hubby and I were talking about it this morning on the way to brunch that this movie could perhaps work as more of a Batman story, with Superman treated as a supporting character (plus cameo from Wonder Woman) so it could be more focused on a single character whilst still serve as a launching pad for other characters in DC cinematic universe. But perhaps the studios want to appease the fans for Man Of Steel 2 being delayed indefinitely, as the ‘battle’ between these two characters, no matter how epic, just can’t make up for the messy storytelling.

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All the intriguing ideas about deity and humanity seem so half-baked and completely lost in a sea of clanging CGI death-match. I roll my eyes every time the characters are saying some philosophical mumbo-jumbo about hope and that ‘man is still good’ or whatever, because the film hasn’t earned them. The quasi-spiritual themes feel tacked on instead of being an inherent part of the narrative.

Other Observations

I haven’t mentioned Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, whose take of the villain is more of a deranged and power-hungry tech megalomaniac who likes to play god. He played it much like his Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, but with more than a few screws loose. He’s hellbent on destroying these demigods, liken them to Biblical demons, but it’s never clear what he’s true agenda is. But y’know what, he’s at least amusing in his nervous ticks that he actually offered a bit of relief from all the drab and grave mood of the movie.

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Alfred is portrayed as being more of an equal as Bruce, more akin to James Bond’s Q than the traditional English butler in previous screen adaptation. I have no problem with that and Jeremy Irons rocked as the dry, sarcastic and no-nonsense Alfred who looked like he could’ve been a perfect Bruce Wayne in his younger days. I also love Laurence Fishburne as the commanding Perry White, he’s definitely a more authoritative version of the Daily Planet editor. He respects superstar reporter Lois Lane but doesn’t let her walk all over him either. Perhaps that’s what’s needed to head a newspaper in the digital age, though I have no idea how they’re still in business.

The intro of other DC characters which will live on as part of Justice League and in various stand-alone movies are handled pretty well. At least it didn’t feel jarring to me, though at that point I really didn’t care so much about them as I struggle to muster up sympathy for the characters in BVS.

Final Verdict

It’s mind-boggling just how haphazardly-constructed this whole movie was. It proves that no amount of money ($250 mil production cost) can guarantee quality. Surely it’s a challenging task for even the best director to make a smorgasbord of plots to interweave seamlessly and no director is less than up for the task than Zack Snyder. The transition from one scene to the next is so mind-numbingly jumpy and disconcerting. It’s not quite a complete disaster but still, the bad far outweighs the good for me and trust me, I already had a very low expectation for this one.

I can’t believe Warner Bros entrusted so much of DC universe to a one-note director who has absolutely no talent for storytelling. So he’s known for his visual flair, but to be honest with you, I can’t even think of a single truly spectacular scene that took my breath away. Ok so there’s the moment where Batman drives his Batmobile into his Batcave through a secret entrance hidden in a dam that I thought was pretty darn cool. But that is all I could remember from an entire 2.5 hour movie, which is saying a lot.

It’s unforgivable that Snyder & co. has made a formidable hero like Superman so tedious and impossible to root. After this, I can’t be bothered with any other DC movies in the future. The only one I’m looking forward to is Wonder Woman and that’s mostly because a female superhero on the big screen has been so long overdue. The fact that it’s NOT directed by Zack Snyder is another reason to cheer, but since Dawn of Justice hit a big box office record on its opening weekend ($170 mil), I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him yet. Alas, Snyder will still be allowed to make more movies, and that’s the real travesty of it all.

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So what did YOU think of ‘Batman V Superman’? Did you like it more or less than I did?

February Viewing Recap + What I’m looking forward to in March

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Well, one thing for sure, I’m REALLY glad award season is over. I’ve posted my thoughts on the Oscars and all, but to be honest with you, it kinda felt like a chore. I don’t even know if I want to do it next year, I might skip blogging about award season next year, that’ll surely be quite liberating.

What I REALLY want to do is to finally write about Sam Riley… I want to talk about just what a tremendous actor he is and review all his movies! He’s a huge part of my February viewing and that’s a VERY good thing! 😀

So here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

(in order of viewing)

Unfortunately I missed the press screening of Demolition w/ Jake Gyllenhaal but hopefully there’ll be another one later this month. But I skipped Gods of Egypt because there’s no way I’m watching that rubbish, seriously how in the world did that even get made?? Its director’s born in Egypt but he cast a Scot AND a Dane as Egyptian gods??! SMH. It’s a new low even for Gerry Butler!

TV series

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I only have two more episodes to go. I’ll do a review of season 1 when I’m done. We wanted to finish it before Daredevil season 2 is out on March 18!!

Rewatches

Yes, I can’t get enough of Sam Riley, can’t you tell? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the first 2016 movie I saw twice on the big screen and I’d easily go for a third if they’re still running in the cinemas! #sorrynotsorry

MOVIE OF THE MONTH

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There’s simply no other film that affected me more than this rock biopic on Joy Division’s frontman Ian Curtis. Sam Riley‘s performance is beyond mesmerizing… to say it’s a soulful performance is putting it mildly. It’s like he became the character and I felt like I was watching a documentary.

No blindspot for this month, but since I’ve had a huge blindspot on this amazingly talented actor, it more than made up for it. In fact, Control should’ve been on my Blindspot list to begin with!


Two screenings I look forward to in March

Batman vs Superman

The press screening’s been scheduled for 3/22 in IMAX. At this point, I just want want to be proven wrong about what my gut’s been about this movie. I just hope it won’t be a load of crap the way the trailers made it look. But hey, if anything, there’s Batfleck, who just might be the saving grace of the movie. Him and maybe Wonder Woman. I have to say though, this Jimmy Kimmel’s skit made me LOL. Hot dayum Henry Cavill is one beautiful man, too bad about his utter lack of charisma.

 

Knight of Cups

I’ll be seeing this on Wednesday and I can’t wait!! I know the reviews haven’t been stellar, and Terrence Malick’s films are definitely an acquired taste, with a cast featuring Christian Bale AND Cate Blanchett, I simply cannot resist!


Stay tuned for my spotlight post on Whiskey Tango Foxtrot & my interview w/ the author whose book is the inspiration for the Tina Fey movie.


Well that’s my recap of February. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

FlixChatter Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015)

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I saw this at a very early press screening three weeks ago but there was an embargo to even tweet about it. By now I could barely remember much about Guy Ritchie’s movie, but if I were to describe it in one word, it’d be frothy. Just like Mission Impossible, this movie is based on a 1960s TV series of the same name. I actually never watched it, but basically U.N.C.L.E. is an international counter espionage agency, and the acronym stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Ritchie certainly got the retro look right for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., just as he did with Sherlock Holmes‘ Victorian London in the 1800s. In fact, the style is the only thing going for this movie – from the exotic Mediterranian locales to the extremely good looking actors wearing those stunning 60s clothing. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play enemies-cum-partners, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, respectively. They reluctantly have to work together on a mission against a mysterious criminal organization. It’s set during the Cold War so naturally the [clichéd] plot has to involve nuclear weapons proliferation. It only seems alarming on paper but given the humorous tone of the movie, you’re not supposed to take any of it seriously. The movie has a deliberate Bond vibe but perhaps more in line with the mischievous spirit of Roger Moore’s era.

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Ritchie has experience with bromances, pretty much every film he’s done from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Rocknrolla to his latest Sherlock Holmes with Jude Law & Robert Downey Jr. has bromance elements. I think Hammer and Cavill have a decent chemistry, though not as effortless as Law and RDJ, and neither has quite the star power. As much as the two male mannequins are gorgeous to look at, unfortunately they’re as bland as a Minnesota hot dish. [Actually, it’d be an insult to my home state’s cuisine as I actually think tater tot hot dish is pretty tasty!]. I suppose there’s not much the actors can do when their characters are only as deep as a cardboard cutout. They give each of them a backstory of sort, i.e. Solo was a criminal before he was a spy, but still the characters are pretty much one dimensional.

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Ritchie assembled an International cast for this movie which results in an amusing hodgepodge of accents. We’ve got a Brit playing American (Cavill), an American playing Russian (Hammer), a Swede playing German (Alicia Vikander) and an Aussie playing Italian (Elizabeth Debicki). Not to mention Irish actor Jared Harris (son of the late Richard Harris) doing his best Texan drawl as Cavill’s CIA boss. Overall the actors did okay with the accents, though Hammer’s Russian accent is quite hilarious and rather distracting. I guess I find Russian accent even coming from Russian actors as amusing because it always sounds so exaggerated. Thankfully Hugh Grant as the leader of U.N.C.L.E. sticks with his own British accent.

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I really want to love this movie and I have to admit there are some fun moments and the setting and costumes are fun to look at. But overall, no matter how pretty the package is, it can’t really fix a hollow story. I think Ritchie aims for cool escapism from the dreaded Summer heat, but really, it wouldn’t hurt to inject just a teeny bit of substance into the whole glamorous affair. It feels like watching a two-hour retro fashion commercial, with ocassional gadgetry and gun play that never feels even the least bit threatening. The quota of beautiful people is off the charts, even David Beckham has a cameo and we’ve got Italian model Luca Calvani as Debicki’s sidekick.

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I was impressed with Debicki in The Great Gatsby but she’s barely given anything to do here, I think Vikander’s character fares a bit better but barely scratching the surface of her talent considering what she could do in Ex Machina. I have to mention that even though Cavill is a beautiful man built like a Greek god [I mean he IS Superman], I find him lacking in virility on screen. He doesn’t quite have that sparkle in his eye that make him belieavable as a ladiesman, to me anyway, I have a feeling a lot of ladies would disagree.

One thing I find distracting is the music that’s overused or used in an overblown way that it becomes a sensory overload with all the frenetic CGI action. There is one particularly funny scene when Solo nonchallantly watches Kuryakin fights for his life in a speedboat chase whilst he snack on a sandwich he found on a parked truck. But for the most part, all the action is forgettable as you could barely invest in the story. I’m not saying The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a bad movie, but it’s the quintessential style over substance. There’s a not-so-subtle hint of a sequel at the end but I don’t think there’s enough going for it even for a single movie.

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Have you seen Man from U.N.C.L.E? Well, what did YOU think?

Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Supporting cast you wish got the leading role

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I can hardly believe half of the year’s already come and gone! It’s been a rather odd month for me, but in terms of movie watching, it’s rather uneventful. I sure hope the later part of 2015 have better films in store for us… and looking at Katy’s list of highly-anticipated movies for the rest of 2015, I think the chance of that is VERY promising! I’d add Southpaw to the list, which I’ll be seeing on the third week of July, and The Man from UNCLE which looks like fun!

Ok so about those links…

Since I’m currently embarking on my first screenplay project, this post on opening sentences in fiction from my pal Cindy, who happens to be a novelist herself, is definitely an inspiring read

I won’t have a Music Break post this week, so take a listen to Josh‘s pick of Movie Song of the Week

Khalid reviewed Terry Gilliam’s comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Andrew is back with his Oscar series 4 Ways a Best Picture, and the year is 2009

Jay just reviewed a film I still haven’t got around to but will have to soon, Calvary

Though Summer’s just starting here in the States, Michael‘s veering into cold, dark horror territory with his book-film duo post on The Shining

And last but not least, Eddie‘s talking about Orphan Black season 3, a series I’ve been curious about for some time.


Time for question of the week!

So this week’s question is inspired by my recent viewing of Self/less. My review of it is done in my draft folder, but there’s one thing that’s stuck with me whilst I was watching it. In fact, I kept thinking about it as I was writing my review. Why isn’t a perfectly talented actor like Matthew Goode leading this movie? Now I’m not saying the movie would’ve automatically been stellar as no matter how good an actor can’t overcome a bad script, but at least Goode would’ve been more enjoyable to watch for two hours than Ryan Reynolds!

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I had the same feeling when I watched Tristan + Isolde a few years ago. I kept wondering why they cast James Franco being all sullen and morose as Tristan whilst the much hunkier Henry Cavill was stuck playing third banana. Now I’m not saying Franco is a terrible actor, I just think Cavill would’ve suited the role better. Heck, even Rufus Sewell who’s another supporting actor in the film left a more lasting impression to me than Franco did. I even dedicated a post here.

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The New World is another one that came to mind as I think Christian Bale would’ve been great in the lead role instead of Colin Farrell. The last 20 minutes of the film with Bale is the highlight of the film for me and I actually bought the DVD because of it.

Interesting that both Cavill and Bale have ended up becoming Superman and Batman, respectively, I didn’t purposely select them because of it, but clearly both have leading-man qualities.

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I’m sure there are others but let’s just start there. I bet you’ve also felt the same when you watch certain films.


So tell me, which films have you seen where you wish one of the supporting cast got the lead role?

Five for the Fifth: September 2013 Edition

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Hello folks, welcome to the first FALL edition of Five for the Fifth!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item, observation, trailer, actor/director spotlight, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. I always like to spotlight a filmmaker/actor who’s having a birthday on Five for the Fifth and today happens to be Werner Herzog’s 71st Birthday today.

WernerHerzogI have to admit that I actually have not seen a single film by the German director, though I have seen one that he produced, that is The Act of Killing and saw his acting for the first time in Jack Reacher. My friend Vince and I was just talking about him not too long ago, in which we talked about his interesting love-hate relationship with Klaus Kinski. In fact, he’s going to lend me the documentary My Best Fiend – Klaus Kinski.

Even if you’re not familiar with Mr. Herzog, just reading his IMDb bio would give you a glimpse into his um, enigmatic character. Apparently he saved Joaquin Phoenix once when he was on a car crash, but then vanished after calling an ambulance. Speaking of car accidents, have you seen his PSA on Texting While Driving which was sponsored by AT & T and other phone carrier companies. It’s interesting as according to CNN, Herzog doesn’t even own a cellphone! But the article says, “… he looks at the statistics for texting-while-driving incidents — as well as our smartphone obsession and its cost in simple human contact — and recognizes the necessity of saying something.” Here’s one of the PSA video:

I’m curious what you think of Mr. Herzog and what’s your favorite film that he’s done?

2. Seems that in the movie world at least, the geek shall inherit the earth… with J.J. Abrams as the geek god. Having completed two Star Trek films, now he’s busy working on the Star Wars sequels. I’ve got to admit I didn’t really pay attention to the whole Star Wars VII development… well that is until Benedict Cumberbatch is [rumored] to be cast. Boy, this has been quite a year for crazy casting rumors isn’t it, as I was quite convinced that Bryan Cranston has indeed been cast as Lex Luthor in the Man of Steel sequel and I was rejoicing in that fact! So now Cumberbatch is apparently the latest, shall we say, victim of casting rumor ran amok. Clearly some of his fans had fun making GIFs of Benedict with a lightsaber 😀

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Alas, it’s all apparently is JUST a rumor. But I like the first line of the NY Daily News article that debunked it:

Reports that Benedict Cumberbatch was cast in “Star Wars: Episode VII” seem to be full of Sith.

Full of Sith, ahah. Ah well, that’s too bad really, as I quite like the idea of him as a Sith Lord. And I think the actor would surely take that on, as he told Total Film early this year that he’s a Star Wars fan: “I was much more connected to [Star Wars] as a kid, in the way that a lot of kids are because it’s immediate storytelling, very simple – a beautifully, outrageously simple narrative in a way – and a wonderful three-act melodrama, opera. And I loved them. I really, really loved those films and I always wanted to be Han Solo…”
 

Well, what’s your thoughts about this casting idea folks? Would you be happy with Benedict Cumberbatch joining the next Star Wars movies?


3. This question is inspired by my recent viewing of MUD, in which two boys end up befriending a drifter with a shady past. I’ve always loved films about unlikely friendships. There are quite a few films with this kind of topic, and it spans multiple genres. A lot of buddy comedies often made up of people who didn’t initially get along but ended up becoming well, buddies. That’s certainly a popular variation of that theme, but I’m focusing mainly on dramatic or thriller genres.

Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman
Richard Jenkins + Haaz Sleiman in The Visitor

Some of my favorites of such films are The Intouchables, The Visitor, The Professionals, Finding Neverland, Mrs. Brown, just to name a few. I also just read Steph’s recent review of My Afternoon with Margueritte, which I might check out.

In the spirit of recommendations, please share YOUR favorite film(s) about unlikely friendships.


GravityPoster_Bullock4. One of the Fall films that’s been generating all kinds of buzz this week is Alfonso Cuarón‘s GRAVITY. The first trailer doesn’t really give us anything other than Sandra Bullock spinning out of control in space whilst her shuttle suddenly breaks apart around her, and George Clooney‘s voice speaking to her.

This second trailer gives more background to her character, Dr. Ryan Stone, described as a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission (per Wikipedia). Clooney plays a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky, the only one Stone is able to communicate to in her desperate hour. Pretty gut-wrenching stuff.

“Is there somebody down there looking up, thinking about you?” Kowalsky asks.

“I had a daughter,” Stone whispers, “A little girl with brown hair. Tell her that I’m not quitting.”

Check out the latest trailer below:

I’m even more intrigued now, even before James Cameron calling it “the best space film ever done,” which was all over Twitter yesterday. I’ve always liked Sandra Bullock and this is a role I don’t usually associate her with but I know she’s a capable actress. Cuarón‘s a formidable director, whose Children of Men is one of my favorite sci-fi films. Sounds like he might give us another sci-fi classic with this one.

What say you folks? What’s your level of interest on GRAVITY?


5. Last but not least, now here are two films based on TV shows that definitely piqued my interest. Both of them star sexy, crush-worthy Brits of course 😉

IdrisElbaLutherThe first one is the BBC crime drama series LUTHER starring Idris Elba. According to the series creator, Neil Cross, the movie adaptation’s script is already written. Per Total Film, speaking at the Edinburgh TV festival, Cross confirmed that a feature film is going ahead, and announced that the plot will take the form of a prequel story following Luther’s early career. Mr. Elba is reportedly set to return as the protagonist. Well I sure hope so, who’s actually going to watch if he’s NOT in it??

Now, the other one is The Man from U.N.C.L.E, which is based on the  movies based on the mid 60s TV series of the same name. I love the cast so far: Two impossibly gorgeous guys, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, are playing CIA and KGB agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, respectively. The movie could’ve been called Superman Twins or something like that as I could totally see the 6’5″ Hammer as Superman as well.

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So far Hugh Grant (who’ll be playing the head of British Naval Intelligence) and Jared Harris have joined the cast as well. I’m sooo glad Henry got the role, I remember months ago that Tom Cruise was originally cast in his role. I think Henry is a better choice as he’s much closer to Armie’s age (not to mention height).

Set in the early 60s at the height of the Cold War, the film is set to begin production next week in England, with location filming in Rome and Naples (nice!). Scott Z. Burns (a Minnesota native!) who wrote The Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion, Side Effects, etc. is penning the script. I think if Guy Ritchie is making this more like a action-adventure comedy like his Sherlock Holmes films, this could be a lot of fun. 

What are your thoughts on either one of these projects? Or you can also tell me what other TV series you’d like to see being made into a feature film.


That’s it for the September 2013 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now pick one or do them all!

Weekend Viewing Roundup … and Question of the Week

Hello everyone! To those who celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday, I hope you had an excellent time with your family.

ManOfSteelHenryCWell, sounds like many of you have seen Man of Steel by now, judging from the stellar box office take $125 mil so far in four days (including the $12 Thursday night tally). It’s apparently broken a record for highest opening ever in June (ahead of Toy Story 3‘s $110 mil) according to Box Office Mojo. Well, it’s sort of made a record for me as well as this is the first film ever that I’ve seen twice on the big screen within a week 😀

Yeah, after the press screening on Tuesday, my hubby and I re-watched it again (also in 3D) Friday night. You know what, I actually liked it more the second time around, though I still have issues with the CGI-action overload in the second half. But the good still outweighs the bad for me so I settled with a score of 4/5 in my in-depth review. If you haven’t read it already but you’ve seen the movie, I’m curious to see if you agree with my praises and gripes about it. No matter how you feel about it though, it’s hard to refute the fact that Man of Steel was a major movie-going event of the year and I certainly felt a certain rush of excitement going into it (yes I’m not gonna lie, Henry Cavill in the role of Supes certainly has something to do with it, too!) 😀 I had a hunch he’d be perfect for the role when I saw him in The Count of Monte Cristo, but he still exceeds my expectations! I sure hope this means he’d get more prominent roles in Hollywood, the guy’s certainly earned it!


Now before I get to the recap, I’m curious to hear whether you’ve felt the same way I did this past week, that is wanting to re-watch a particular movie fairly soon after seein it. So my question for you this week is this:

Which movie(s) have you seen twice (or more) in a single week?


Now here’s a brief recap what I saw this past week besides Man of Steel:

MonstersU

Monsters University
(review done for posting later next week)

OutsourcedMovie

Outsourced (2006)
Apparently this movie is the inspiration behind the NBC TV series back in 2010 set in
a call center in India. It’s a pretty hilarious cultural comedy. It’s on Netflix streaming,
so it’s worth renting if you’ve got that subscription.

TheTudorsI actually watched a few episodes of this a few years ago as I quite like historical dramas
based on the British monarchy. I only watched a couple of episodes of season 1 this time
(if you guessed it’s because Henry Cavill then you’d be right 😉 )
Not sure how long I’d want to continue watching this one though.

Screenings this week: The Bling Ring & World War Z


That’s my recap folks. Please take the time and answer my question above and/or tell me what you’ve watched this weekend.

Musings on Man of Steel: What works and what doesn’t in the latest Superman reboot

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Oh boy, where do I begin… Some films are tough to review and I find this one to be particularly so because I feel like I’ve invested myself in this movie even long before I saw it. It’s strange I know, and perhaps I shouldn’t have been sooo incredibly pumped but if you’ve read my ‘history‘ if you will, with this character, I can’t help myself. And really, Warner Bros have done a tremendous job building the marketing for this movie and pacing the trailers to get fan boys/girls like me to wait with baited breath.

Well, at 7:30 pm last Tuesday night — after two and a half years wait, and numerous countdown posts — my hubby and I finally sat down and watch this film. I’m glad there were only two trailers before this film came out, though I wish one of them had been for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, as I didn’t want to wait a moment sooner for this film to start. Now, here’s my thoughts after a few days processing it… pardon the long post, but you know I’m rather indulgent when it comes to Superman 😀

What Works

An absorbing backstory of the hero and his planet

When the filmmakers said this is going to be an origin story, they REALLY meant it. The film opens with our hero still in his mother’s womb and his father, the brilliant scientist Jor-El, helping her deliver him. We know he’s a special ‘man’ on earth, but he’s also a special baby in his native planet, as Kal-El is the first baby born of natural conception in thousands of years. We get a glimpse of a more organic version of Krypton than I’ve ever seen. The landscape and creatures from the alien planet reminds me a bit of Avatar, brushed with much more warm color scheme than the icy, futuristic look of the Richard Donner version. We see the ‘S’ symbol as a prominent element of his family, and I like that this film gives that iconic emblem a bit more background than in previous movies as it’s such an integral part of the character.

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The send-off is an emotional one, giving us a picture of the kind of people brought Kal-El into the world, and the grim circumstances of the world he was born into. The extended history scenes was explored pretty well here, which certainly makes me think of Krypton in a different light, that’s it’s a world that’s not so entirely different from our own. It’s definitely a thought-provoking Superman film that lingers with me for days after I saw it.

Exploring the sci-fi aspect

It’s interesting that I never regarded the previous Superman as a science-fiction movie, but this time you could say that Man of Steel is a sci-fi action/drama as it really tackles the ‘science’ of the two worlds of Superman. Words like terraforming, codex, world engines, etc. are terms I never associate with Superman, and we also get vibes of The Matrix or Gattaca in earlier scenes.

There’s a scene that touches upon the fact that Superman’s no longer used to his native Kryptonian atmosphere, as his body’s adapted to earth’s oxygen after living here for three decades. It seems to have a similar weakening power the way Kryptonite does, though there’s no mention of that in the film. It’s fascinating stuff and adds a different layer to the Superman story that’s overlooked in the past.

The non-linear storyline

This is sort of a Christopher Nolan‘s trademark if you will, and I’m glad David S. Goyer decided to interweave the Clark Kent’s upbringing in flashback mode as the adult Clark is grappling with the notion of ‘Where do I come from?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ This narrative style isn’t confusing to me because well, I (as well as most people) already know the story, but it’s still good to see it being played out in a whole different way. I think it helps pace the story as well, because let’s face it, when you’re in the theater watching a Superman movie, you yearn to see Supes in THAT suit. The buildup makes the moment when he comes out of what we’ve come to know as Fortress of Solitude, with his cape billowing in the wind, all the more sweeter. Not a moment too soon, I’d say, and though I’ve seen that clip a bazillion times in the trailer, I’m still getting goosebumps watching it.

Supes ‘super’ Dads

It’s perfect timing that Man of Steel is released on Father’s Day weekend, as both of his fathers in the film are so awesome they’re even worthy of their own ‘My Two Dads’ spinoff, ahah. The reviewer at HitFix.com astutely pointed out one of the most fundamental difference between DC’s two flagship heroes “…Batman is defined by his missing parents, while Superman is defined by his surplus of parents.” That’s so true! And it’s nice to see the excellent casting for both roles. I really enjoy watching Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Supes’ Kryptonian and earth-bound father, respectively. It’s interesting that both Oscar winners have played Robin Hood and Cavill was quite the masterful archer in Immortals, I guess it runs in the family 😀

I appreciate seeing Jor-El’s character being covered in more depth, with Crowe is in top form here, as valiant and heroic as he was in Gladiator (the ‘This is madness’ line cracks me up a bit though, an homage to Snyder’s previous hit film perhaps?) Thankfully, he’s not relegated to just a talking head like Brando and he appears throughout the film in a hologram, traveling with his son in ‘spirit’ if you were, just like God the Father is in Christ the son. The Judeo-Christian theme in Superman films are always palpable, and here Clark becomes the earthly savior at the exact age of 33. Thus the father/son scenes are easily the highlights of the film for me, and Crowe’s Jor-El is perhaps my favorite character in the film next to the title role.

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Costner hits all the right notes as as the humble and wise farmer from Smallville who loves his adopted son so much he’s willing to lay down his life. I’m glad we get to see Jonathan Kent interacting with the adult Clark in one scene, which happens to be one of the most emotionally-charged moment that no doubt shapes the rest of Clark’s life. The strong moral compass in the hero’s early life is covered in great depth, which made the first half of the film the more compelling part of the movie.

Henry Cavill as Superman

Naturally, to portray someone as iconic and beloved as Superman, in the year of its 75th anniversary no less, it’s crucial that we get an actor who could bring that character justice. Let’s face it though, Christopher Reeve was a tough act to follow in the role, and the comparison is inevitable. Truth be told, Reeve’s Superman will always have a very special place in my heart, I don’t think anyone could ever take his place.

MOS_Cavill

That said, I’ve been a fan of Cavill’s casting from the get-go, obviously he looks every inch the part both in chiseled physique and down-to-earth mannerism. But the true test is really seeing him on screen, BEING Superman and interacting with the people in the story. Well, I can say with confidence and positive giddy-ness that Cavill did the character justice. Sure we didn’t get the bumbling Clark trying to get Lois’ attention, but that doesn’t mean this version is one dimensional at all. In fact, Cavill believably portrays a more layered persona, showing the vulnerable side of such a larger-than-life character. Not quite the tortured soul the way Bruce Wayne was, but appropriately solemn as a conflicted man haunted by the past dealing with a constant internal struggles within him. Seems like some critics are expecting a wisecracking character with a slew of one liners at the ready, but you know what, I’m not expecting that from Cavill. I’m glad he made the character his own instead of simply channeling Reeve. I like that he’s a man of a few words, someone who wisely prefers to listen than being heard.

Michael Shannon as Zod

MOS_Zod

I was glad when it was announced that General Zod was going to be the main villain, and boy, did they get an excellent actor to play the part. In some interviews, Michael Shannon said that he never thought of playing a comic-book character and that he found something sympathetic about his character. I appreciate his take on the role as a staunch military leader who’s loyal to a fault. So he’s not simply a megalomaniac who enjoy making people suffer, though of course his mission to save his own kind is basically genocide, something that neither Jor-El nor his son would ever condone. Ok so his bowl cut and goatee is not exactly an attractive look on Shannon, but it’s nice to see a villain who also looks physically menacing. Shannon’s athleticism makes him a formidable foe even for the mighty buff Cavill.

The chemistry of the Cast

The fantastic ensemble cast would be for naught if they don’t have chemistry with each other. But there’s none of that issue in this film, all the performances are strong here and they play off each other well. Despite being the youngest and least experienced actor amongst the key players, Cavill’s able to hold his own effortlessly. I love all his scenes with Crowe and especially this one with Diane Lane as his earth-bound mother. It’s one of the cheeriest moments in the movie where Clark came home after being away from Smallville for some time. The mother & son moment is poignant and sweet.

MOS_Clark_MaKent

The visual imagination of the film

As I’ve mentioned above, the long opening sequence of life in Krypton shows the vast planet where Superman came from. The scene is beautifully realized, with lush valleys, caverns and water mass, with what looks like a primeval animals and wing-like creatures that serve as means of transport.

MOS_KryptonWar

The look of Smallville captures the picturesque small town sensibilities and the iconic Kent farm that’s apparently built from scratch looks appropriately earthy next to the massive corn fields (Kevin Costner must’ve felt a sense of déjà vu from filming Fields of Dreams, ahah). Contrast that to the design of the baby Kal-El’s rocket ship that launched him from Krypton. The key word here once again is organic, with its clean lines and a more rounded shape that forms the S-shield. Oh, and if you look closely, seems like Pa Kent’s been collecting all kinds of books about aliens, UFOs, etc. which of course leads to him saying “Youre the answer to ‘Are we alone in the universe?'” when the time comes that he can’t hide it from his adopted son anymore.

I LOVE, LOVE the costume design of this film! The texture and ornate design is just fantastic, and the armor that Jor-El wore has an interesting dichotomy of being ancient looking as well as futuristic at the same time. The iconic Superman suit is re-imagined with a darker, more monochromatic hue. Again, the sleek texture beautifully accentuate the perfectly-sculpted physique of Cavill, and certainly a heck of a lot more bad ass without the red underwear on the outside. I’d love to see Man of Steel being considered for Best Costume Design come Oscar time.

Lois Lane’s larger involvement in the story

I never thought that Lois is merely a damsel in distress in the Superman movies, I mean she’s always been a shrewd career woman. But here, the stellar reporter actually gets more to do in the story and actually gets to be a part of Superman’s mission in saving humanity. No doubt Amy Adams is perhaps the best and most ‘decorated’ actress (with her four Oscar nominations under her belt) to play that character. Though I think Margot Kidder’s spunk in the role remains unmatched, Adams is quite believable and more importantly likable, as Supes’ love interest. Despite the relatively brief screen time between them (less than what I’d have liked to see anyway), Cavill and Adams have a nice chemistry together. But seriously, what girl wouldn’t have a good chemistry with Henry Cavill! I’ve got to admit the scene of them locking lips gets me green with envy! 😉

MOS_SupesLoisKiss

It’s no surprise that Snyder likes a strong female character in his films and in this one, we’ve got one on both sides of good and evil, as Zod’s right hand woman Faora (Antje Traue) is a force to be reckoned with!

Last but certainly NOT least…

The flying sequences

Flying is the quintessential powers that makes Superman different from other superheroes. So I’m glad that Snyder put a lot of effort into it and truly makes the whole flying thing SUPER cool! There’s a scene where Jor-El tells his son to ‘keep testing his limits’ as neither of them knows just how powerful the earth’s sun would fuel him. There’s even a sequence of Superman learning how to fly properly, and the scene of him flying all over the globe seemingly faster than a speeding bullet is awesome!

MOS_flying

At the same time, though Supes’ super strength here is magnificent, I’m glad the suspension of disbelief required of us doesn’t go beyond risible grandiosity such as turning back earth axis and turning back time. I mean, I love Superman: The Movie as you all know, but that’s just stretching the preposterous meter way too far even for a superhero movie.

What Doesn’t 

Ok, now you all know how much I want to LOVE this movie. I want to clap and cheer when the end credits roll and shout out ‘awesooooooooome!!’ at top of my lungs. Well, it didn’t quite happen at first viewing, and here’s why…

The fight scenes go on way too long

Yes I know that from the trailers and featurettes that there are going to be some significant butt-kicking sequences in this one. I mean, after such a lengthy battle-free exposition if you will, naturally people are expecting more robust stuff, but I think it ends up being a bit of an overkill as the fight scenes grows increasingly relentless. As soon as Zod descend on earth with his small band of Kryptonian army, all hell breaks lose!

The destruction in Metropolis would make Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich green with envy. It’s as if Zack Snyder is over-compensating for some people’s complaints that the previous Superman movie didn’t have ‘enough’ action. Seriously, by the time Superman fights Zod & co. for the fifth or sixth times, and it just gets tedious. There’s also an overlong scene of Superman fighting these weird alien creatures with long tentacles towards the end, it’s really hard to see what the heck is going on. It’s a case of CGI-overload, which is never a good thing.

MOS_battleinSmallville

Seeing Supes and his nemesis going through building after building, leaving heaps of destruction in its wake, it quickly becomes pointless as we all know these Kryptonians are all indestructible. Plus, their fights actually cause more human casualties as skyscrapers are collapsing all around them.

Lacking one stand-out scene that exemplifies Superman as the ‘savior of humanity’

Ironically, with sooo many battle scenes and so much time devoted to Supes kicking all kinds of butt, there is not a single defining moment, if you will, that makes me want to get up and cheer. Superman: The Movie has that iconic chopper-rescue scene with Lois, Superman II has the battle at the end with Zod & co. that leads to the finale at the Fortress of Solitude, and even Superman Returns has that rousing plane rescue scene that earns Supes a thunderous heroes’ welcome! (Btw you can watch all of those scenes here).

The most memorable part for me is the scene where Supes first tackles Zod, destroying his helmet that protects him from being overwhelmed by his heightened senses. I think it’s brilliant that they show an insight to just how crucial Clark’s parents teaching was in getting him to control his powers. But it falls short from being a truly glorious scene, and most importantly, we never quite see Superman as being welcomed by the people of earth as their alien hero, even though the stake in this film is even greater than anything Lex Luthor ever posed to humanity. There’s only acknowledgement from a few military people and some Daily Planet employees, but most earthlings pretty much are still in the dark as who Superman is.

Hans Zimmer’s score didn’t quite hit an emotional high for me

This is really a bummer as I’ve grown to enjoy this soundtrack, and accept the fact no score is going to be as iconic as what John Williams’ has done (even Zimmer himself realized this). I’ve actually been listening to the score on its own and really enjoyed it. But somehow, I don’t really remember the music being all that memorable in the film. Perhaps it’s intentional to make the score to sort of blend in with the story, but I expected it to give me this emotional rush like it did in the previous film, but it wasn’t quite there. Perhaps on second viewing I might have a different opinion on it, but as it is now, it’s a bit underwhelming.

The Verdict?

Despite the flaws I’ve pointed out, there are still a LOT to love in this film. So yeah, I still LOVE Superman and Man of Steel certainly did not dampen my love for the character. The bold new interpretation certainly didn’t frustrate me the way Superman Returns did with the ‘Supes boy’ twist, though it could’ve been more engaging all the way through. The first half of the film before we even see Kal-El donning the suit is definitely more compelling to me than the later when Superman perform all kinds of impressive heroic stunts. I think Richard Corliss in his TIME review sums it up nicely: “The super part of Man of Steel is just O.K.; but the man part is super.”

MOS_CavillSuperman

I do want to point out that there IS a beating heart amidst all the booming spectacle and I do think the filmmakers deliver on the promise of a ‘first contact’ story. In addition, just because it’s a darker and grittier interpretation, it doesn’t mean it’s gloom and doom. The message about hope is not lost on me here,  I think Christopher Nolan + David Goyer + Zack Snyder‘s vision certainly has the potential to launch a lucrative franchise for DC. I for one wants to see more of THIS version of Superman, surely with Henry Cavill in the title role!

So no, I’m NOT disappointed in this one. In fact, the longer it sits with me the more I appreciate it and I’m still eager to see it again (in fact I’ve already got my tickets for an encore later tonight) 😀 Well, after a second viewing, I’ve now settled with the higher score than what I’ve originally intended…

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What are YOUR thoughts on this film? Let’s compare notes on this one, folks!

Superman: A History and a New Hope

Yet another SUPER post on my favorite superhero!

Special thanks to Terrence for taking part on the Man Of Steel Countdown festivities. I love this post and especially his closing statement…

Is Man of Steel the beginning of a new era for Superman? I think so. It brings in a new era and with it a new hope. That is, afterall, what the “S” symbol stands for!

The Focused Filmographer

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a mother and father on a doomed planet called Krypton sent their one and only son, Kal-el, on a crash course to Earth in an attempt to save him from the impending doom of their homeworld. With the similar appearance of the inhabitants of Earth, young Kal-el differed in a very remarkable way from those who took him in as one of their own: powered by the rays of the sun, Kal-el (now living under the pseudonym “Clark Kent”) began to exhibit and harness powers of a super nature. Under the direction and guidance of his adopted parents, Clark learned that with great power comes great responsibility and as he grew he quickly learned just what that lesson would mean for him in his futuremanofsteelquote

Not only would Clark (soon to be known to the world as Superman) have a…

View original post 810 more words

Everybody’s Chattin’ – Vol. 26

EverybodysChattin

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 😉

Kavalier & ClayWell, 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.

Cavill_ManOfSteelRich 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 Sati just 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.

WaltzWithBashirRyan 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 Bashir that 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 FilmHipster to take a stab at his latest Guess the Movie & Win sweepstakes 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?

Man of Steel Countdown – Superman and me

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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 Filmographer and 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.

SupermanTheMoviePosterIf 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.

No surprise I included Richard Donner’s movie in the Films That Define Us blogathon back in 2010. And this is what I said:

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.

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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

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Siegel (writer) and Shuster (artist) creating the iconic character

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.

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Who doesn’t want this kind of ‘friend’ stalking you at the office, ahah

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).

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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!

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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!