FlixChatter Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

I started writing this review just a day after seeing it. It has become a rarity for me to be able to write reviews so soon after I saw it but I felt… compelled, yeah that’s the right word, to get my thoughts out as the film opens. Thankfully the embargo ends Wednesday night!

I’m not going to lie. Like many people who care and support gender equality in Hollywood and want female filmmakers, or just women in film in general, to succeed. We all want Wonder Woman to succeed. It’s no hyperbole that much is riding on this film, even if it’s not exactly the first big-budget superhero film, though really we should perhaps forget those who came before this because well, let’s face it, they’re not any good. No doubt there’s an unfair amount of pressure put on director Patty Jenkins, whose last film Monster, was 13 years ago. (Wow, seriously?? I had to double check on IMDb on that fact).

There’s also a sizable amount of pressure on relatively unknown Gal Gadot. I have to admit, I wasn’t crazy with her casting initially. But like my qualms with Daniel Craig as Bond, it was quickly squashed when I first saw the first trailer. I was immediately on board with Gadot’s portrayal. The fact that she was part of the Israeli army, no doubt she looked the part. But more than sheer athleticism, she is also extremely charismatic and has such a genuine ‘goodness’ the way Christopher Reeve was as  the first cinematic Superman. It’s perhaps no surprise that the scene of Diana saving Steve in a London alley is reminiscent of Clark saving Lois in a NYC alley in Superman The Movie.

Superhero films can live and die by casting… it is extremely crucial that we believe in the person playing the role. Gal Gadot absolutely rocks as the mighty Wonder Woman as well as the sweet and compassionate Diana. More so than her two fellow DC boys Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman combined. That’s why she’s the best thing about Batman V Superman despite her less-than-10-minutes running time. She’s also got a pretty effortless comic timing that works in the film’s many lighter touches. Plus she’s got such an earnest quality that made lines such as ‘I can not stand by while innocent lives are lost!’ works, instead of coming off lame or corny.

It’s superb casting all around. The Amazonian women. Diana’s mother Hippolyta is played with such grace by Connie Nielsen (I so miss her since Gladiator) and Robin Wright as Diana’s aunt Antiope is in phenomenally bad-ass form here (man she deserves her own superhero franchise!) I truly enjoyed the scenes in the paradise island Themyscira. The production design in Greece is absolutely beautiful, I’d love to see more scenes set here perhaps in the sequels? I also love the first big action scene on the island between the Amazonians and the German army set in WWI. It was so much fun to watch these fierce women looking amazingly cool in various acrobatics… on a horse, leaping in the air, etc. I would rewind that scene over and over when I get the Blu-ray!

Now, I’m not saying I love every action scene in this movie. In fact, I gotta say the slo-mo stuff gets overwhelming after a while as the movie goes on. Towards the end the pyrotechnics of the final battle dull my senses, though nowhere near as bad as all the bombastic blasts at the end of Man of Steel. I quite like the music though, and I’m glad they use the main theme by Hanz Zimmer and Junkie XL sparingly to make a real impact.

As for the villains, I’m not too fond of Danny Huston’s rather over-the-top performance and he’s basically forgettable. SPOILER ALERT [highlight text to read] I don’t think it’s that huge of a surprise that Ares God of War takes the form of a British cabinet member (David Thewlis), I didn’t think that part and the subsequent battle between him and Diana are all that interesting.

In any case, there are plenty to like in this movie that offset my quibbles. The always-watchable Chris Pine is charming and sweet as Steve Trevor, Diana’s love interest. He’s got that rogue-but-sensitive sensibilities down pat, and his attempt at a German accent is hilarious! Plus he’s nice eye candy and we got to see quite a lot of him in a particular scene, ehm. The tentative romance is handled well, akin to Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter in Captain America movies in that you immediately want them to be together.

Right from the trailer, I also love his secretary, played with such glee by Lucy Davis. My only complaint is that she’s not on screen enough. The rest of Diana’s earth-bound rag tag team are a hoot as well, played by Saïd TaghmaouiEwen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock.

I enjoyed the fact that the movie isn’t as dark as previous DC installments but it’s also not all fluff and style over substance. There’s an emotional scene between Diana and her mother as they part ways, and Diana’s compassion and heartbreak at seeing people injured from the war is palpable. That’s what makes the first earthly action scene, Wonder Woman vs the German Army, is so powerful to watch. She’s driven by compassion and love for humanity, and she doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder like many of her male superhero counterparts.

Overall it’s a terrific start to what I hope will launch more and more female-led comic-book films. For me, any female-led films is a great thing in my book, regardless of genre. It helps to actually have an actual comic book writer, Allan Heinberg, amongst a team of writers that also include Zack Snyder. But mainly, kudos to Patty Jenkins for being a capable captain of the ship and Gal Gadot for portraying a symbol of female empowerment with such strength and grace. It’s not just the best DCEU film so far, it’s a solid and hugely entertaining film, period.


So have you seen WONDER WOMAN? Well, I’d love to hear what you think!

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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?

Guest Post – Musings from a part-time cartoon artist: Maybe some comics shouldn’t be movies

Special thanks to guest contributor Rich Watson from the film blog
Wide Screen World for today’s post.


During the opening weekend of the new Fantastic Four movie, I saw a discussion on Facebook in which people were putting it down, and more importantly, praising the original incarnation – the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961 which signaled a sea change in the industry. Among the comments included one by my cartoonist buddy Scott Roberts, whom I’ve talked about before on my blog. He questioned a notion that, in this age of comic book superhero movies, we’ve perhaps taken for granted:

“Maybe some properties are better left as they were. We’ve become conditioned to thinking that everything that was ever written, drawn, sung or even thought MUST MUST MUST be made into a movie (or “the” movie) ASAP, or it will never be an official, top tier part of our pop culture.”

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I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Fantastic Four was the comic that got me into comics, long ago during my youth – the art, the writing, the cosmic-scale adventure and the unique family dynamic all appealed to me from the start – and like many fans, I had hoped that this new movie, directed by young turk Josh Trank, would be an improvement over the Tim Story duology from less than a decade ago. It mattered to me, for what amounts to the same reason that Scott brought up, though I never admitted it to myself: I wanted it to be “legitimate” somehow. I wanted an FF movie that I could hold up next to Avengers, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man and Superman and have it judged as good as those movies, for the sake of my childhood memories of enjoying the comic. Instead, it looks like it’s going to be one of the year’s biggest bombs.

On the one hand, this attitude is indicative of the exalted place movies still hold within our culture. In a time in which television and video games have improved their standing in the eyes of Fandom Assembled, movies are still considered the gold standard. Even with the prose novel I’m currently working on, in the back of my mind, I’ve thought about who would play which character if it ever became a movie. However, are we so in thrall to the spell movies cast on us that it blinds us to the inherent value of “lesser” media – especially when comics are concerned?

F4ComicsComics were considered “lesser” for years, looked down upon by many as juvenile and inferior. Then groundbreaking titles like The Dark Knight Returns, Maus and Sandman got noticed outside of the industry, and the way the public thought about the medium began to change. When more fans permeated Hollywood, the current wave of comic book adaptations took off: superhero material like Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man; avant-garde films like American Splendor, A History of Violence and Ghost World; and small-screen adaptations like The Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD and Daredevil. Even Broadway has caught the bug now, with the lavish spectacle Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the Tony-winning Fun Home. Still, for many fans, movies are the default medium of choice when imagining live-action adaptations. But why do we expect Hollywood to come calling for every hit comic?

Watchmen scribe Alan Moore has said that when he created that book with artist Dave Gibbons, he did it with an eye towards taking full advantage of the strengths of the medium – things like the deliberate nine-panel-per-page pacing, the visual transitions from one scene to the next, the way words can tell one story and pictures another simultaneously, etc. – and the result was a work that was resistant to a movie adaptation for many years, though Hollywood tried its best. Director Zack Snyder finally succeeded in 2009, and while certain elements were unable to make the original theatrical cut, such as the comic-within-a-comic “Tales of the Black Freighter” – which ran throughout Watchmen and provided a counterpoint to the main story – he came about as close as any filmmaker possibly could to capture the book’s spirit. And the film’s existence, while it may be anathema to some, doesn’t negate that of the book.

WatchmenWas it inherently wrong of Snyder to have made a Watchmen movie? Moore thought so; he had his name taken off the credits. And while some have mocked him for what could be considered an absolutist view, he’s been burned by Hollywood before. He saw no need for a Watchmen movie, but many people, many fans of the book, did. Personally, I was ambivalent at most on the matter. I didn’t really believe it would happen, and once it was announced, I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of Snyder directing it – his heavily stylized visual aesthetic, to me, seemed all wrong for an adaptation of a book by Moore, whose work is highly cerebral – but once I saw the first teaser trailer, I was as eager to see it as everyone else. Why? Because I was in thrall to the idea of a Watchmen movie, too – no matter how questionable an idea it may have seemed.

I think what it comes down to is the simple excitement one gets upon seeing what used to be static images on paper come to life – especially images first encountered as a child. That’s a terrific experience, no doubt about it, but what has happened within the past fifteen years or so is that we’ve become like the kid who loves ice cream so much, he pigs out on gallons of the stuff. We’ve become spoiled from so many successful film adaptations of beloved comics, plus adaptations in other media – but not every comic book film is an Avengers, or an American Splendor, or even a Watchmen. Sometimes we get a Fantastic Four, and when that happens, the disappointment seems more acute – especially when all three FF films have been underwhelming at best (four if you count the Roger Corman movie). And yet, Fandom wails, if only they would get X director and Y writer who will do A, B and C, they’d have the perfect FF movie! How hard can it be?

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We expect that comic-as-movie. We demand it. Appreciating comics as comics – appreciating the things they can do that set them apart from other media, like we did with Watchmen – is no longer enough anymore, in part, because we come from a very recent history of comics being under-appreciated and disrespected. I could be wrong, but I believe the idea that comics are “less” than movies remains within our collective psyche today, if only on a subconscious level.

So do we need to take a step or two back from this insatiable demand for our favorite comics to become movies? Do we need to rebuild our self-esteem when it comes to our faith in comics-as-comics? Maybe, though given how profitable comics-as-movies (and television) have become, and continue to be, for Hollywood – due partially to the slow increase in quality – this would be difficult to achieve. Fandom Assembled pores over the tiniest aspect of the development of each new comic book movie, dissecting each detail down to the microscopic level. The studios know this, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon.

And while there will always be those who don’t need a movie adaptation to love a particular comic… is it possible this notion is beginning to become a quaint one?


Rich Watson is entering his sixth year as the creator of the film blog Wide Screen World. As a writer, his work has been recently published in the anthology magazine Newtown Literary. As a part-time cartoonist, his works include the graphic novella Rat and the comic strip City Mouse Goes West. He can be reached at ratzo318@yahoo.com.


Well, any thoughts on this topic? Let’s hear it!

FlixChatter Review – 300: Rise of an Empire

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After almost a decade, Warner Bros. finally released a sequel to their sword and sandals hit 300. Before I go into the review of this new movie, I wanted to point out that I was never a fan of the first movie, I didn’t hate it but I thought it’s like I’m watching a video game with nonstop carnage and I was bored with it.

Now I’m not sure if I should call this new movie a sequel since it took place the same timeline as the first movie. It opens right after the end of the first one, we see King Leonidas and his men bodies laying dead and Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) came by and chopped Leonidas’ head off. We hear an exposition voice over by his grieving wife Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), she’s basically telling the audience what’s going on in the movie. Then the movie flashes back and showed how Xerxes became such a powerful figure. We were also introduced to a new hero, Themistokle (Sullivan Stapleton), he’s the general of the Athens’ army. Upon learning that Greek is being invaded by the Persians, he tried to team up Leonidas’ army but the Sparta king refused to even to talk to him. Then we were introduced to another character, Persian’s naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green). She’s of Greek ancestry but something happened to her when she was a child and she vowed to kill every Greeks as much as she could. After the introductions of these characters, the rest of the movie’s basically a non-stop battles after another, just like the first one.

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So apparently the movie was based on Frank Miller‘s graphic novel called Xerxes but since the novel’s really about Xerxes rise to power, the script was written so that it focuses again on the Greeks’ army. The script was written by Zack Snyder, he’s too busy with Man of Steel so he decided not to come back and direct the flick. He and his co-screenwriter Kurt Johnstad didn’t really come up with anything new for this one. Heck they even included a little subplot of a father and son who’re part of the army. Instead of the father losing his son in that battle like the first movie, here the son lost his father. Wow that’ so genius of them to come up with a such a cool twist, I had to roll my eyes when I saw that scene.

Director Noam Murro, whom I never heard of before this movie, stepped behind the cameras this time and basically copied Snyder’s style from the first movie step by step. I wondered if since Snyder’s also the producer, he may have given Murro a style guide on how to shoot each scene the way he likes it. To his credit though, Murro did stage some cool action sequences, much more elaborate than the first movie. But still he didn’t bring anything new to the table for the sequel.

As for the performances, Evan Green looked like she had a lot of fun playing the vicious baddie. Unfortunately for the new hero, Stapleton didn’t really established himself as a leading man here. Even though I didn’t care for the first movie, I thought Gerard Butler was quite effective as the lead in that film. I always thought Lena Headey overacted her role in the first film and she didn’t change my mind in this one. Santoro‘s Xerxes didn’t really have much to do again in this one, he walks around looking like a super villain.

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I can’t say I hate this movie because I didn’t have any expectations for it and in a way, it lived up to my lack of expectations. It would’ve been better maybe if the movie actually focuses on Xerxes’ rise to power but since the studio folks only care about getting the big bucks at the box office, we got the same exact movie as the last one. Nothing new or original here. I’m giving this a two stars rating partly because I enjoyed some of the action sequences and I loved the Dolby Atmos surround sound mix. Fans of the original will probably enjoy this one and get their money’s worth. As for everyone else, this was a waste of time and money.

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What do you think of the 300 sequel?

Five for the Fifth: MARCH 2014 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, 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.

VeronicaMarsPoster1. With March here, it’s the start of Spring movie season. Well, one of the eagerly-anticipated movie this month is Veronica Mars. I never watched a single episode of the show nor do I know how massively popular it was until I read their record-breaking Kickstarter campaign! Per IMDb trivia, it was the fastest project to reach $1 million and then the fastest to reach $2 million! It also got the most project backers (91,585) of any project in Kickstarter history!

The film itself was shot in 23 days, exactly 11 months later after the Kickstarter campaign was launched. Apparently the Kickstarter idea came from the meeting between Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas, who was the executive producer of the series and now directed the film, and Warner Bros. WB gave their blessing to the project and agreed to help distribute the movie, apparently they said, “if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.” Well, they certainly did with $5,702,153 pledged of the $2,000,000 goal!

I’m curious which TV show’s Kickstarter project would you happily donate to?

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2.  My hubby and I was catching up with trailers on our Apple TV and came across this indie thriller The Retrieval.

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On the outskirts of the Civil War, a boy (Ashton Sanders) is sent by a bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted freedman (Tishuan Scott) and bring him back to the South, but as they begin to form an unexpected bond, the boy must face a gut-wrenching decision.

The trailer looked quite gripping, but I like that it’s not just an action film with shootouts and chase scenes, but there seems to be an emotional story between the boy and the man he’s supposed to retrieve. The film by Chris Eska has won several film festival awards (including the White Sands International Film Festival), and Tishuan Scott won Breakthrough Performance Award at SXSW Film Festival last year. Looks like the young boy also turned in a good performance. Check out Terrence’s review from WSIFF last year.

So what do you think folks, intrigued?

3. I’t been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on Batman vs Superman. To be honest, I kind of tuned it out after Ben Affleck was cast, seems like it was ages ago. The casting sparks one controversy after another. It almost seemed that poor Henry Cavill‘s been all but forgotten in his own project, I mean when was the last time the news actually involved him?? So the latest casting news was Jeremy Irons is cast as Alfred [though I’d have been thrilled to see Timothy Dalton in the role], and we’ve got The Fast & Furious Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and The Social Network‘s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. I read this article that Kevin Spacey, who played Lex in Superman Returns, endorsed Eisenberg’s casting, “I think [Jesse Eisenberg] is a remarkable actor. He’s just going to f**king own it. I think it’s a great idea and I wish him the best with it.” Check out these fan art of the two of them in the role:

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Now of course we don’t even know if Luthor would actually be bald in this movie, given that Zack Snyder‘s been quoted as saying this movie’s “…not as tied to the mythology” in this recent LA Times interview. In the beginning of the interview, he went all geeky about the Batsuit and the Superman suit, and really who wouldn’t be considering the historical significance that for the first time, Superman and Batman would actually exist in the same frame together in the movies. I know there’ll be a plethora of fan art/posters of this flick, probably more than any other comic-book adaptations out there. This is one of my favorites of the ones I’ve seen:

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Back to the interview, this is how Snyder responded to the whole casting uproar: “… We know the material. Unfortunately, the fans don’t know the material. So, we’re casting according to what’s happening in the script … I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint.” 

Ok fine, the casting just might work fine, but this next quote is what really worries me: “[The movie] literally takes the “Man of Steel” and “Batman” universes and explodes them. You’re not as tied to the mythology.”

Heh, I sure hope he really does know what he’s talking about as right now, even as a huge Superman fan, I’m far less interested in seeing this flick as I ever was. I sure hope he doesn’t literally mean *exploding universes* the way he destroyed Metropolis to shreds in Man of Steel [face palm]. Apparently filming is supposed to start next month for this, so they’ve got about a year to shoot the film until it opens on May 6, 2016.

So what do you think about Zack’s latest quotes, are you still excited for this project?

4. Now what award season is over, I’ve got just one more *award* to talk about, but no worries this is a fun one that surely EVERYONE would have an opinion on. The 34th RAZZIE “Winners” have been unveiled!

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Fortunately I haven’t seen a single movie from the Worst Picture nominees: After Earth, Grown Ups 2, The Lone Ranger, A Madea Christmas and Movie 43. But still I was aghast to learn that Adam Sandler didn’t *win* a single Razzie, what what??! I’m saddened to see Naomi Watts was one of the nominees for Diana AND Movie 43, oh no!! But y’know what, even without seeing the movie, I’m super glad that Will and Jaden Smith won multiple awards.

AfterEarthPosterJaden was named Worst Lead Actor, and the combination of father & son, described in the ceremony as being “stranded on Planet Nepotism”, took the award for Worst Screen Combo! [per Razzie Press Release]

Are you happy with the Razzie *winners*? Who do you think should have been nominated?

VeronicaRothDivergent5. Now last but not least. Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Divergent‘s author Veronica Roth, as well as cast member Ansel Elgort, as part of their press tour to promote the film. I’ve never interviewed an author before so I’m very excited.

Who hasn’t dreamed of having their literary work not just published, but being adapted into a movie! It made me think of which other authors I’d love to have the chance to interview about their work. Right of the bat I think of Jane Austen as she’s the one author whose work I’m most familiar with. As far as living authors, perhaps J.K. Rowling or Stephen King just to find out what makes them tick.

Now, my last question is, which author (living or dead) do you wish to interview, and what would your question be?


Well, that’s it for the MARCH 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Musings on Batman casting… and the actor who gets my vote for the role: Richard Armitage

Perhaps one of the BIGGEST news out of Comic-con this year was the fact that Warner Bros. is developing a Superman & Batman film coming out in 2015. Zack Snyder (via actor Harry Lennix who played Gen Swanwick in Man of Steel) announced it to 6,500 screaming fans at Hall H, and the reaction was uproarious. Whether it’s a positive or negative reaction is hard to tell at the moment, as it was hugely unexpected.

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My knee-jerk reaction was WTF??! I mean honestly, why on earth would they do such a thing? Seemingly a desperate move to get the ball rolling for the Justice League movie, throwing away all that work developing a compelling origin story on Superman. As much as I like both of those DC characters, in fact, I’ve always said I’m more of a DC than Marvel girl because of Superman AND Batman. But yet, the idea of seeing those two characters on screen TOGETHER in a film seems so… ill-advised. Darryl wrote this in-depth post on how the Superman & Batman film might change the character of Batman as we know it, which further suggest the complicated [read: thorny] predicament of the two co-existing within a feature film.

That said, I have to admit that this news rouse my curiosity whether and how that adaptation would actually look like. Is it one of those ideas that’s so crazy it’s brilliant… maybe?

This piece of news also threw the entertainment media into a frenzy, as article after article not only report the news but dissect or lambast the very idea. Naturally, it’s a pretty BIG news, and one that’ll surely keep on buzzing amongst entertainment fodder and comic geeks alike. I reckon that IF this idea was ever going to work, a SUPER script of EPIC proportion is in order… I mean, it was tricky enough for Marvel to bring all those superheroes together in The Avengers, I think the challenge for Batman & Superman is a thousand times bigger. The other precarious issue is the casting.

Now, before we get to that, I just want to briefly talk about Batman: Year One, an animated feature based on Frank Millers’ comics released in 1987. The story recounts the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman and Jim Gordon’s with the Gotham City Police Department, which has been corrupted as much as the rest of Gotham. Bruce Wayne is at the age of 25, having just returned home to Gotham City from training abroad in martial arts, manhunting, and science for the past 12 years. I love the dark tone, grit and realism of the story and the humanity of the titular hero, which obviously inspired Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Now, the one thing that strikes me, as my pal Ted also pointed out, is how much Bruce Wayne in THIS adaptation looks like Richard Armitage!!

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Just the past 10 days alone, I’ve read countless of articles speculating just who’ll don the Batsuit and share the screen with Henry Cavill as Superman. My friend Terrence dedicated his Time to Vote Tuesday poll last week on it, combining both TV and Film actors. Now, a bunch of major sites also made their picks of who they’d like to see cast as Batman. Total Film, The Playlist, Screenrant, Nerdbastards, just to name a few, have posted their picks, listing all kinds of actors that got me either nodding enthusiastically or shaking my head in disgust [Joe Manganiello?? I mean, seriously??] But all these sites have one thing in common… all of them got it right to list this classy Brit on their list!

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Seriously, this is a no-brainer folks. I mean, he’s already working for Warner Bros for The Hobbit, so why doesn’t the studio just offer him another contract? I don’t think the fact that he’s already playing Thorin Oakenshield is a disadvantage, I mean he doesn’t even look like himself in that role. He’s playing a dwarf under all that beard and stringy long hair which camouflages his tall, lean figure, so I doubt people would confuse the two roles. He’s not a household name yet [which boggles the mind], but I think that fact works in his favor as he doesn’t have a ‘baggage’ if you will, of being associated with a previous role.

Whether it’s the Superman & Batman film or reboot of the Batman franchise, it’s always fun to talk about the casting of this beloved DC hero. I was going to list my top five picks to play Batman but you know what, for me there’s only one actor who I think is PERFECT for this role… so I might as well just list the seven reasons why he’s the obvious choice:

His looks

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Let’s face it, this is the kind of role where the look of the actor is of the essence. The 41-year-old Englishman has the entire package. At nearly 6’3″, he’s all lean muscle with a chiseled yet rugged features, rockin’ a permanent five-o’clock-shadow look like nobody’s business. Yes I’d rather not see THAT face covered with the Bat cowl, but that’s ok, there’ll be plenty of Bruce Wayne scenes to make up for that. Even without seeing him in person, he’s what you’d call text-book handsome, but with an edge. There’s the right amount of danger, that rugged masculinity that makes him the perfect go-to guy for various anti-hero roles [i.e. in Spooks, Strike Back, Robin Hood]. It’s time that he makes his big-screen breakthrough, in fact it’s been way long overdue.

His intensity

I don’t often agree with The Playlist, but I LOVE what their post said about Armitage, saying that he “… has a similar, Bale-like intensity and the ability to convey a number of emotions through a glassy stare or purse-lipped facial expression. When it comes to the mood of the Dark Knight, especially when he’s at his darkest, Armitage could easily bring that to life.” Yes absolutely!

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I first noticed Richard as John Thornton in BBC’s North & South and one thing I noticed right away is the fierce intensity he brings to the character. Plus he’s got that enormous screen presence even with no words spoken. But don’t confuse his stillness with being wooden, in fact, he always comes across as a sensitive loner who’s got a lot going for him that he simply can’t reveal to the world. Now who does that remind you of? 😉

He can act

Looks alone just won’t cut it, but thankfully Richard certainly CAN act. His versatility allows him to go from one genre to the next, whether it’s a period drama, fantasy adventure set in an ancient universe, or modern-day spy thriller, he always fits right in. He described himself as being ‘quite a detailed actor’ and he has this controlled ferocity that’s so mesmerizing to watch. I really think he’d bring so much to the role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and casting him will be the making of that character.

He already looks good in black

Richard seems to wear a lot of black, on and off screen. But dark colors suits him… it brings out the pale complexion and those piercing blue-grey eyes nicely. He was clad in ALL black leather to play Guy of Gisborne in the BBC Robin Hood series, which seems to prepare him for a Batsuit, no? I mean, all he needs is a cape and he should be set 😀

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I LOVE this Photoshop work someone did with Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991). It’s be a bonus if Rickman has a supporting role in the movie as well, that’d be heavenly!!

He already looks like a billionaire

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Sometimes people just have that look that gives an aura of class… and Richard definitely has it. I mean sure, there are lots of actors who are far more ripped for those inevitable shirtless scenes, but are we going to believe them as a business magnate? I have trouble picturing some actors as someone who’ve stepped foot in an office, let alone being the owner of an establishment like Wayne Corporation. Richard has the right combo of brain and brawn, entirely convincing as a bad ass fighter as well as a brilliant thinker. He’d be as convincing in a Batsuit as well as pinstripe suit.

He’s got the tortured soul thing down pat

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Ok so this trait isn’t exactly a make-or-break thing, but I do think for certain roles, i.e. Jane Eyre‘s Rochester, Hamlet, and certainly, Bruce Wayne, such quality would really come in handy. Richard has played a number of these roles, so yeah, portraying the troubled, conflicted persona of Bruce Wayne should come naturally to him. Most importantly, he can make the whole angst and heartache disposition look irresistibly sexy.

His deep, baritone voice

Now, even the most die-hard fans of Nolan’s Batman films have to admit that Batman’s disguise voice is awful and downright hilarious. I know there’s a certain popular actor who’s one of the top picks for this role but sorry, not only does his smug face bugs me, but that guy sounds like Mickey Mouse! One thing I like about the animated features are the voices of the cast are pretty good. Benjamin McKenzie did a good job providing the voice of Bruce Wayne in Batman: Year One, but really, it’s still no match for Richard’s smooth baritone voice. He’s one of those actors who’s as delightful to look at and listen too (eye candy AND ear candy!).

As we’ve seen briefly in his villainous role as Heinz Kruger in Captain AmericaRichard can pull off a convincing American accent too, as do most Brits. I love it when the voice matches a man’s stature, and Richard certainly has that signature commanding voice fit for a superhero


Well, I hope you’re convinced now that Richard is the one and only choice for Batman 😀

Curious to hear your thoughts on the Batman & Superman movie… and of course the Batman casting, so let’s hear it!

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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! 😉

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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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…

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Trailer Spotlight: Man of Steel – the S stands for smashing – now the countdown begins!

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I knew I would be inside of a movie theater watching Disconnect when this trailer hits … so I was super excited when I got home to see it on my big screen TV! Well, all that waiting is not for naught. I have a bunch of superlatives I could use for this trailer… but I’m going to restrain myself. As you could surmise from the title, it’s absolutely smashing!!

Hope is the key word in this latest Superman adaptation … that “S” on Superman’s chest doesn’t stand for “Superman” or “Smallville”… Apparently it’s not even an “S.”

“In my world it means hope.”

That’s what Kal-El told Lois in the interrogation room. Superman has always been portrayed as the beacon of hope for humanity as he identifies and cares more with his adopted universe than his own. And in practical term, this is the movie that Warner Bros and DC is most hopeful about, as it holds the key to the future of the DC comic franchise in its cinematic universe. Looks like Zack Snyder, in collaboration with Christopher Nolan as producer & David Goyer penning the script, just might deliver the biggest movie event of the year!

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Now, as a big fan of this DC hero, I’m super hopeful that this would live up to my expectations and the signs are pointing in the right direction. I love that there are going to be more Krypton scenes with Russell Crowe channeling Marlon Brando as Jor-El, as well as stirring moments of our Kryptonian protagonist with earthly parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). Of course mostly I’m looking forward to Henry Cavill rockin’ this role, Michael Shannon as a menacing Zod and the flirtatious banter between Supes and Lois [lucky Amy Adams!!] 😉 To me, this trailer promises us that high-octane action and emotional pay off are not mutually-exclusive.

The only gripe I have is the lack of a truly mighty score that’ll go with our mighty hero… I mean Hans Zimmer himself has talked about being intimidated by the task of following John Williams footsteps [per Collider], though I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’d create something great. But after hearing his score here, I’m afraid it only makes me miss Williams’ iconic creation, THAT’s still the score that immediately evoke the image of Superman for me.

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It’s no secret that this is THE one movie I’m looking forward to ALL year. Yes it’s a superhero movie and I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes. I mean, to some it’s just another one in a string of comic book movies that Hollywood’s been churning out the past few years. But no, when it comes to Superman, I’m not jaded, yet, not sure I ever will. I’ve loved that character since I was three years old, with Superman the Movie being my first memorable movie-going experience and Christopher Reeve as my first official crush. So yeah, even though there have been some disappointing films along the way, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a Superman fan.

Now the countdown to Man of Steel officially begins here at FlixChatter!

I’ll have Superman-related posts a few times a month all the way to its US release date on June 14! Thanks to Bubbawheat from Flights Tights and Movie Nights and Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet and Terrence from The Focused Filmographer for agreeing to participate in this mini blogathon of sort. So stay tuned for some super posts!! 😀


Well, what say you? Thoughts on the trailer and/or Superman in general?

TAKE TWO: How would these films turn out had these directors made them?

Many of us who follows Hollywood knows that a film goes through several writing stages before it hits the big screen; we also know that many directors were involved in this process, most of the time these directors decided to leave the project on their own terms or get fired by the studio. Then the studio would bring in another director to take over the project, sometimes it works out, many times the second or third director would end up leaving or get fired from the movie.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Mission Impossible 3 playing on TV and thought to myself, this film really blows and I really wished Cruise and Paramount went with David Fincher’s version. (You can read here as to why that didn’t happened).

So I decided to come up with a list of films that could’ve been directed by a different director and maybe the final product might be better than the ones we got.

Watchmen

Back in the late 80s, Terry Gilliam was put in charge of bringing the popular graphic novel to the big screen. The studio hired Sam Hamm to write the script, for those of you who are old enough, you probably remember Hamm; he wrote Tim Burton’s Batman and was the most popular writer in Hollywood at that time. But after several attempts at rewriting the script, Gilliam determined that the project just won’t work for the big screen and suggested that it should be made into a mini-series. Well, the studio disagree and so he left the project. By the way, if you want to read Hamm’s Watchmen script, I believe it’s available online but be warned, it’s quite awful.

So in early 2000s, Paramount hired Paul Greengrass to take over the project and his version was going to take place in our modern day society. In fact Paramount has so much faith in the movie; they even set up a website for it, well over a year before the film’s release date; it was scheduled to open in the summer 2006. Well in early 2005, Paramount then CEO Sherry Lansing decided to step down and Brad Grey took over. When Grey became the CEO, his first priority was to cut many of Paramount’s big tentpole projects, of course this includes Watchmen. Originally Paramount was going to have two big films opening in summer of 2006, Grey decided to just release one and the one he chose was Mission: Impossible 3. Now, I don’t blame Grey for making that decision because the M:I films are a well known franchise while not many people know anything about Watchmen.

I do feel bad for Greengrass and his team though since they worked on the project for several months trying to bring Watchmen to the big screen and suddenly they’re jobless. Of course things turned out well Greengrass, after he lost the gig he went and made United 93, which he got nominated for an Oscar and then he made The Bourne Ultimatum, which became the highest earning film of that franchise. M:I-3 on the other hand was a box office disappointment. I couldn’t stop thinking though, how would Watchmen turn out had Greengrass directed it? I’m pretty sure it would’ve been much better than Snyder’s bloated and too much slow motion crap fest.

Mission: Impossible 2

After the massive success of the first M:I film, Paramount and Tom Cruise wanted to move quick and make a sequel. They got Oliver Stone to come on board as the director after Brian De Palma declined to come back to do another one. Stone and screenwriter Robert Towne came up with plot about a big pharmaceutical company trying to spread a deadly virus to the world and the M:I team has to stop them. I remember Stone even tried to convince Paul Newman to come out of retirement and appear in this movie, he would’ve played Cruise’s Ethan Hunt’s boss, which went to Anthony Hopkins in the final film. The film was scheduled to open in the summer of 1999 but Cruise was stuck shooting Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, so they had to push the shooting date of this film way back. After several months of waiting, Stone decided he couldn’t wait any longer and left the project so he could shoot Any Given Sunday.

After Stone left, the project was handed to John Woo, who’s still high on the success of Face/Off. When Woo took over the movie, he told Robert Towne to rewrite the script and make it more of action/romance which is what we got. Now I enjoyed M:I-2, but I really would have love to see what Stone could’ve done with the movie. I’m pretty sure his version won’t have tons of doves flying around, slow-mo shootouts and cheesy love triangle storyline.

I Am Legend

Back in the late 1990s, Warner Bros. was gearing up for their 75th anniversary celebration and they wanted to release two big films in the same year. The new Superman film was supposed to come out in summer of 1998 and for the holiday season they were going to release a remake of I Am Legend. Ridley Scott signed on to direct and Arnold was inked as the leading man. Mark Protosevich wrote the script that was truer to the original novel, minus the one liners intended for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Everything was ready to go until they did some math and realized the film would cost well over $100mil to make. Remember this was back in the 90s, so a $100mil film was rare. By comparison, today the average cost to make a tent-pole picture is $150mil. Well, after they couldn’t figure out how to bring down the price tag, the project was put on hold.

The film finally opened in December of 2007, almost ten years after its original release date. Of course we all know it starred Will Smith and directed by Francis Lawrence. I enjoyed this version but I think Scott would’ve done a better job than Lawrence.

Dune

Alejandro Jodorowsky spent years in the 70s trying to bring this popular sci-fi book to the big screen, but after he spent millions on pre-production, he ran out of money and couldn’t shoot it. According to Frank Herbert, the author of the book, Jodorowsky’s script was the size of a phone book and it would’ve been a 14 hours movie, which was one of the reasons why it never made it to the big screen.

So in the late 70s, the film rights were sold to producer Dino De Laurentiis and he hired Ridley Scott to take over the project. Scott intended to split the book into two movies but after realizing it would take over 2 years to complete the movie, he decided he didn’t have the strength to do it. Also, his older brother has just passed away around that time, so he needed time off to grief.

In the early 80s, De Laurentiis decided to hire David Lynch to direct the movie because he was so impress with Lynch’s previous movie, The Elephant Man. Lynch decided to take over the screenwriting duty as well, even though he’d never read the book. After a 135 pages script was finished, Lynch started shooting the film in early 1983. The film finally came out in December of 1984 and it was a huge box office failure. Lynch was so distraught by the film’s failure, he vowed to never again work on a big budget movie.

Dune is one of a rare film where I didn’t hate it but didn’t really like it either, but every time it’s on TV, I’d watch it. In fact I bought a Blu-ray version last year and watched the entire thing again. I always wonder what kind of film it would be had Jodorowsky or Scott directed it.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Originally Stanley Kubrick was going to direct this movie, in fact he started developing the concept of the film way back in the 70s. By the 80s, he thought the technology was ready and he hired a few writers to write the script for him. He didn’t want to hire a kid actor to play the lead role, so he went to automobile manufacture such as Honda and Toyota and asked them if they could build him a realistic child robot that he can use for filming. Of course they told him that was impossible, so he decided to put the project on hold until the technology would be more advance.

In the early 90s after he saw Jurassic Park, he thought the technology was indeed ready and he again started working on the script. But when he saw some CGI pre-visualizations, he was not impressed and again he put the project on hold. He decided to start working on his other movie, Eyes Wide Shut, hoping by the time he finishes this film, the technology would be advanced enough so he could start shooting A.I. Unfortunately he passed away in early 1999 and we never know what his version of the film would’ve been like. From what I remember reading, his version would have been much more darker than Spielberg’s and it wouldn’t have included that “happy” ending with the super intelligent robots ruling the earth.

– Post by Ted S.

You can find all of Ted’s contributions here.


So folks what do you think? Do you wish these films were directed by another filmmaker or are you a fan of the final product? Also, feel free to name other films you thought could’ve been better with a different director behind the camera.