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!

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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.

[Fan-Made] Posters of the Week: Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises

I wanted to do a poster post and there’s nothing that interest me from Impawards site. But a few days ago I came across these two awesome fan-made posters of two of my most-anticipated superhero flicks! I’ve posted fan-made posters before, like this broken-glass one for The Dark Knight Rises, as they’re often much, much cooler than the ones the studio churned out.

There are a plethora fan-made ones for Nolan’s final Batman flick, but I’m guessing there’ll be more popping up for Man of Steel as well in the coming months. This is the first one I’ve seen so far that looks pretty darn cool. I really dig the color scheme and the decidedly-darker tone instead of the usual bright and buoyant sentiment of Superman. According to ComicBookMovie site, the artist is Daniele Moretti.

Image courtesy of comicbookmovie.com

Instead of Photoshop-ing Henry Cavill’s head on to it, the designer went with a comicbook style, but the figure is clearly inspired by the now super-buff Brit’s on-set photos wearing the suit. There’s even a helicopter in the background, and from this new set of action shots, for sure there’ll be some helicopter rescue scene in it somewhere.

Now, this one for The Dark Knight Rises is set in the same bluish tone as these official versions for the second film.

Image courtesy of Shockya.com

I LOVE this, the rainy setting makes it even more dramatic and the bat signal amongst the futuristic-looking skyscrapers is a nice touch. It almost have the same theme as the Man of Steel one in that our hero is surveying the city below with the cape blowing in the wind.

Now I hope the official posters will be even better. We’ve seen this awesome teaser for TDKR, but I’m most curious about the Superman one. If anything, they should be as cool as the posters for Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (I especially like this one), but perhaps a bit darker and grittier.


What do you think folks? If you’ve seen other fan-made posters you think are awesome, please do share the link!

Weekend Viewing Roundup: House of Flying Daggers, Legend of the Guardians

It’s kind of an uneventful weekend for me… it’s just another super cold January day. And when I say cold, I mean face-numbing, ears-hurtin’, still-freezing-my-@$$-off-despite-wearing-two-thick-layer-under-my-pants type of subzero temp. It’s kinda depressing when someone said on the way home from work that “hey, it’s actually 20 degrees ‘warmer’ than this morning” and it’s barely 3 degrees above zero! As if the freezing temp wasn’t enough to dampen one’s weekend, for Vikings fans it’s really quite a blow to see the Green Bay Packers make it to the Superbowl when we didn’t even make it to the Playoff! 😦

So yeah, it’s another hibernation weekend for me. We were thinking of seeing that Natalie Portman movie, no, no No Strings Attached, sheesh, I was talking about Black Swan. The subject matter of that rom-com just doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever, but clearly I’m in the minority as it was the box office winner, toppling last week’s Green Hornet. In any case, we didn’t make it to the theater but we had been waiting to see House of Flying Daggers, the Zhang Zimou-directed critically-acclaimed romance drama that my friends recommended me a while ago.

Set during 829 AD China as the Tang Dynasty is in decline and political unrest is on the rise, one of the most powerful rebel groups is the House of Flying Daggers. Two local military captains, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are ordered to capture the new leader which brings them to a local brothel where they meet a beautiful and captivating blind dancer, Mei (Zhang Ziyi). What follows is a journey through forests and meadows, with Jin posing as a lone warrior vying to gain Mei’s trust as they set out on their journey to the House’s secret headquarter. The plot thickens the further they go, with love blossoming, danger mounting, and nothing is what it seems.

Though I grew up in Asia, I’m not too familiar with Kung Fu movies, nor am I drawn to them. But this film is visually inventive and just all out dazzling, from the exquisite ‘game of echoes’ dance scene to the spectacular fight scenes in the bamboo forest as well as the blizzard battle at the end are breathtaking and a must-see for anyone who appreciates gorgeous cinematography. Apparently the use of colors is Yimou’s signature — kind of like John Woo is with his doves —  and scene after scene is drenched with dramatic colors that is nothing short of a visual feast.

Acting-wise, I think it’s decent, though I have nothing to compare it to as I’m not familiar with any of the actor’s work. Zhang Ziyi is believable enough as a blind person, and as a woman torn between two lovers. Kaneshiro and Lau also deliver strong performances and I see now what the fuss is about Kaneshiro, who’s massively popular in Asia. He’s got quite a screen presence and that valiant quality perfect for a heroic leading man role (he’s like the Asian version of Legolas in this movie with his archery skill). The main issue for me though is the overly convoluted plot and as the film reaches its climax, one revelation after another just keeps piling on top of each other that not only it’s hard to keep track, but also throws me out on a loop. Overall though, it’s more of a style-over-substance kind of film but still far more unique than most of the formulaic fares Hollywood’s got to offer. Highly recommend this one.

Three and a half stars out of Five
4 out of 5 reels


The other movie I saw over the weekend is Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians. I was mostly interested to see how the heck does a director known for violent, R-rated action movies handles an animated feature. Snyder’s style isn’t for everyone, but I happen to be a fan of his work which usually have an epic feel to them. This one is no exception. Well, I guess this is like 300 with owls, even the warrior owls have the same helmet as Leonidas… which makes it um, Le-owl-nidas? Sorry, I can’t help myself.

It starts off innocently enough with story of the legendary owls of Ga’Hoole, which are admired greatly by a young owl named Soren. But then he and his brother get kidnapped and brought to an orphanage of sort called St. Aggie to be brainwashed as soldiers. Soren manages to escape and somehow ends up finding out that the legend of the guardians aren’t a myth after all. The noble owls must fight the wicked rulers of St. Aggie and free the young owls.

This film is rated PG and rightly so, it’s dark tone and intense battle scenes would perhaps scare little children. But my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by it and enjoyed it all the way through. The visuals obviously is the main strength, in fact, as I watched it I wish I had seen it in 3D glory. The flying sequences are especially gorgeous to watch and of course, Snyder’s slo-mo signature are ever present in the various battle scenes. The pace is fast moving and once the action starts, it never lets go, which is what you’d expect from Snyder. The narrative doesn’t quite live up to the amazing visuals, so it’s not as memorable or affecting as How to Train Your Dragon. As Andrew @ theFILMblog said in his excellent review, the drama between Soren and his parents could’ve been developed a lot more. But still, it was engaging enough not to derail the entire movie

The all-star cast boast many British & Aussie thespians such as Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish and Richard Roxburgh. Overall, this is a classic story of good versus evil fantasy done in an imaginative & stylish manner.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

So folks, what movie(s) did you get to see this weekend? Or if you’ve seen either one of these, feel free to add your thoughts.

Random question of the week: Which celeb do you wish to be retweeted by on Twitter?

Happy Friday all!

Those who are a bit of a Twitter addict (like me) or have a Twitter account you visit from time to time, y’know all it’s #FF time (it’s follow friday in case you didn’t know, which is an effective way to promote friends & followers by recommending them to your own followers).

I don’t use Facebook at all, never had much interest in it and I don’t think I ever will. But I LOVE Twitter! In fact, watching the Golden Globes last Sunday was much more fun as I’m ‘conversing’ with my Twitter pals, 140 characters at a time.

Well, one of the coolest things that happens on the micro blogging site is when someone retweet your tweet so their followers can see it, too. It’s quite a compliment when someone thinks your tweet is interesting enough to share to others. It’s apparently such a phenomenon that there are even a bunch of paraphernalia out there displaying sentiments about retweet, such as this t-shirt. And given its popularity, a Twitter movie is inevitable. In fact, someone made a mock trailer of a Twitter movie, as you can see they’re poking fun at the other popular social network site 😉

Anyway, I had the idea to post this when I saw this tweet that was retweeted by director Edgar Wright whom I follow:

I thought that was amusing. Well, I guess that guy/girl got their wish after all. It’s cool that Twitter somehow allows regular folks to potentially ‘converse’ with famous people like that. I don’t follow a whole bunch of celebs as of now, but out of the ones I do, I’d love to get retweeted by Russell Crowe or Zack Snyder, or Simon Pegg. Oh and Nathan Fillion!

So my question to you folks, which celeb do you follow that you wish you’d get retweeted by?

P.S. If you haven’t already, would you follow me on Twitter? 🙂