Monthly Archives: June 2013

My take on ‘The Man of Steel’

When it comes to comic book movies, Superman has been in a bit of a slump for the past thirty years or so, there hasn’t been a real quality Superman film since 1980 (same year I was born, in a nice coincedence), now, he’s flourished in the interim years in television..mostly, we don’t talk about the late 80’s Superboy tv series..  But when it comes to the big screen adventures of Superman, it’s been all downhill since Superman II.   Some try to argue that Superman Returns wasn’t that bad, and I’ll give them that Brandon Routh made a decent Superman, and Kevin Spacey is always entertaining in anything he does, but still the movie itself was terrible.  

 So now a few years have gone by since then, and Christopher Nolan managed to revive the Batman franchise out of it’s nipply bad pun filled hell, plus Marvel’s been owning the silver screen with their cinematic universe franchises, so Warner Brothers and DC took to Christopher Nolan, and director Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, 300, Watchmen), to try and revive not only the Superman franchise, but to form the beginning of their own cinematic universe, which will later be populated with a Justice League movie, and other new superhero movies, all of which as a comic fan and a movie fan I’m doubly excited for.  But none of that will happen if they don’t score a home run with their Superman reboot, ‘The Man of Steel’

 Now, like all Superman origin stories we have to start with the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, and we meet his parents, Jor El (played by Russel Crowe), and Lara (Aylet Zura).  But this time it starts out different from any other Superman origin story filmed before, we get to spend a good few minutes on Krypton, seeing the planet itself briefly, then there’s a coup by General Zod (Michael Shannon), and more Jor El action than ever seen in a Superman movie, and then the traditional set up.  Zod and crew get trapped in the Phantom Zone, and Krypton blows up, but not before Kal El is sent to our planet to start his destiny.  

  I liked how scriptwriter David Goyer and director Zack Snyder did this  opening, you expect to see the same old story we’ve seen before, but it’s not the same here.  And then from here we get Clark as an adult, wandering from town to town, helping people and walking the earth, like some latter day Bruce Banner, and we flash back to his childhood in scattered scenes, and we get some great stuff from Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent.  

From there the rest of the movie starts to take off, and we meet Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and then the rest of the movie takes off, leading to one of the best super battles I’ve ever seen, you really feel the power that both Superman and Zod have as they beat the hell out of each other, and just about everything else standing in the way of the fight.  

    It’s not a perfect film however, there are some underdeveloped characters, namely the ‘controversial’ Jenny Olson played by Rebecca Buller,  whom you’d only know is Jenny Olson, a female stand in/relative of Jimmy Olson, traditionally ‘Superman’s best friend’ in the comics, if you’re a comic fan that goes on the internet and saw this casting news a while back.  It’s like she really could have been just anybody, and so hey, there’s no Jimmy Olson in the movie, no big deal, he’s never really been used in the movies that well anyways.  

  Also, some spots of the movie felt like they were taken from Marvel’s repetoire.  You have the big super fight in the small town, that conviently product places certain store names before they blow up, like in Thor, and the big city alien invasion from The Avengers.  Also….being a Whovian   I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few episodes in there too with The Master and The Doctor, not unlike Zod and Superman they are now the the last of their kind, and the ‘You Are Not Alone’ thing, also there’s a flash on the screen in one of the battles for a Utopia casino, which was also the name of the planet where The Doctor met Professor Yana, (Yana as in You Are Not Alone, a.k.a. The Master), which may have been an Easter Egg to something from the Superman comics, but those two things instantly made me think Doctor Who reference.  

 Speaking of Easter Eggs and  references, there are a lot to be found for clever eyed comics fans, a cameo from Carol Ferris from the Green Lantern stories, a Wayne Enterprises logo on a sattelite, and oh, also, the movie seems to have taken a play out of the latest Spider Man reboot, with not starting the new franchise off with the lead businessman arch villain (Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Spider-Man) or Lex Luthor here, in fact we don’t even see Lex anywhere, but you see LexCorp, his company, in a lot of places throughout the film, so you can bet we’ll be seeing him in a future installment.

  All in all, despite some weak minor character development, this movie in my book kept me going from start to finish, and as it stands it’s currently tied for my favorite summer movie so far with Star Trek Into Darkness.  If you’re a comic fan or just love good fun summer movies, you should definitely check out Man of Steel, and I can gaurantee you will have a great time.  

 

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Writing challenge: Ninja Rabbi

So, earlier, my friend Megan texted me, asking for a story, in specific, a story about a ninja Rabbi and his epileptic turtle sidekick.   Usually I’ll text a story, but this kind of setup can’t be done justice with a text message.  So, I figured this to be my perfect time to challenge myself to a bit of flash fiction.  Not slash fiction…that’s not my style.  But flash fiction, as i’ve recently learned, is a really short story, shorter than a short story even.  I want to say there are word restrictions, to technically be in that category, but I’m just going to write what I can right now, and we’ll see where this goes, eh?

 

      “Oh, gawd, Oh, gawd, we’re gonna die!”, Sheldon screamed!   Sheldon poked his head out of his shell and saw that he and his friend/partner Murray Rabinowitz, Brooklyn’s own….and only ninja Rabbi, were surrounded by an army of ninjas.  

Murray pulled out his katana blade.  

“No, we’re not Sheldon, calm yourself”, said Murray.

“This is nothing that we can’t handle.”

“Oh, really Ninja Rabbi….You think you can defeat my army!”   Screamed the man known only as the Shadow Walker, his mechanically altered voice echoing throughout the warehouse.”

“Yes, this is nothing, just mountains and molehills.”  Murray said.

“We shall see about that Ninja Rabbi….we shall see….Ninja…..ATAAACCCKK!”

The surrounding ninjas leaped down in a sea of black from the rafters.  

“Gaaaaaahhhh!” screamed Sheldon, who fully retracted into his shell and slid off into a corner quickly.

There was silence soon after, and Sheldon popped his head out of his shell, to see Murray standing in the middle of a circle, more of a pile really, of dead ninjas.  

“You did it, you really did it!” Sheldon exclaimed.   

“Like I said, this is nothing, said Murray.”

“Now for you Mr. high and mighty Shadow walker, two things.  One, your ninjas did not have my skills, and two, my name is not Ninja Rabbi….It’s Murray Rabinowitz….and I’m not a ninja….not anymore, I’m just a rabbi now, and for three, Sheldon, my ninja Stars of David!”

Sheldon ducked back into his shell and tossed three ninja Stars of David at Murray, who swung his katana quickly, hitting the stars like a baseball bat directly at the shadowy figure called the Shadow Walker, pinning him to the wall.  

“So, you think you have me beaten..do you….Ninja…Rabbi.   Well, I have one more trick up my sleeve”  And with his slightly more  free hand, he dropped a strobe light  down to the floor, lighting up everything in a quick, flashy manner.   Sheldon’s eyes flashed in time to the light, and then he started shaking in an epileptic fit.  

“Sheldon, nooooo! ”  Murray swung his sword at the flashing light, but then right at that moment, he saw it wasn’t just a strobe light, but also a bomb, that was ticking down from ten….nine….eight….

 

Will Ninja Rabbi and Sheldon escape this flash bomb?   Can Sheldon be saved?   Find out next time..in Ninja Rabbi….

 

 

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O Doctor, My Doctor

 

  When I was in high school in the ’90s, my friends tried to get me to watch this show they said was just awesome, little British show called Doctor Who.  Now, at the time, it just aired on PBS here and there over here in the states, alongside the assorted Monty Python reruns, Fawlty Towers, and Are You Being Served?   And I may have seen a bit of the Tom Baker era, nothing that I can really recall, but I’m sure I did.  It never stuck with me at the time, though I did watch the 1996 Fox tv movie with the only appearance of the 8th Doctor, and I thought it was pretty neat.  

 Cut to a few years later, and I again see another random Doctor Who episode on PBS, was the episode ‘The Stolen Earth’, didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me at the time, there was a lot going on there, Daleks, Davros, Torchwood, Rose, Sarah Jane, they were all there, didn’t know who they were at the time, but still, I was intrigued.  

A few more years pass, and then after another good friend’s insistance, and the availability of the program on Netflix, I start watching the 2005 relaunch of the series, and I’m instantly hooked.  Well I watch the first two episodes anyway, and I just let it stay at that, until earlier this year, when I really, really started watching it, and I got hooked, I fell in love with the characters, and the stories, and just everything in a way I haven’t since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer days.  The finale for series 2 when…well I don’t want to say, since I still know people who I’ve gotten into the show who just started watching, but suffice to say, there are feels I haven’t felt for a show since the Buffy season 2 finale.  

So, over the course of a few months, and plenty of flooding my facebook news feed with Doctor Who quotes, memes, etc to the delight and annoyance of people that follow me depending on their nerdyness level.  Also during that time, I got caught up in time for the second half of series 7 to start up, and got one of my roommates hooked on the show as well, which put a bit of a delay in my watching, but I figure it’s only courteous, if you get somebody else into a show, you don’t skip ahead..don’t be that guy.  

   I go through that whole story to say this, I’d read today that it’s official now that Matt Smith will be departing the role after this year’s Christmas special, so this is the first Doctor I’ve been able to see through the entire role, from the beginning, well since I got to that part on Netflix anyway.  And I remember when I finished up David Tennant’s great run, who’s still my Doctor by the way, and I didn’t want to like Matt Smith at first, but there were moments, the standing up to the Atraxi, the speech to the weeping angels, and of course the Pandorica speech from the end of series 5, I was 100% sold on Matt Smith as the role.  

While it wasn’t the same as any other Doctor that I’d seen thus far, he brought out a sense of sillyness to the role I hadn’t seen before, but it totally worked for me.  Not to mention, his Sonic Screwdriver is just a bit cooler looking in my book.  

    The seventh series just wrapped up, with one hell of a conclusion, and now the waiting game begins for the 50th Anniversary special, and the Christmas special, which is as we now know the end of Matt Smith’s run with the role.  It’s sad, but I’m also excited at the same time, to see who will be the next Doctor..no pun intended.  Ginger maybe? A woman? Karen Gillian..in a weird twist that I would be totally okay with, by the way..  But, If there’s one thing I’ve learned with watching the show, it’s that anything is possible.  And I can’t wait for the next adventure, Geronimo!

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Awesome or Awful? : Reviews of Now You See Me, and After Earth

So far this weekend, I’ve had the opportunity to see the two big movies that have been released,  ‘Now You See Me‘,  the magician heist movie from Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans *2010) and now I just saw ‘After Earth‘, the new movie starring Will and Jaden Smith, and directed by M.Night Shamylan.   Which one is more deserving, if any, of your dollars? Well let’s just read on and find out.

I’ll do Now You See Me first, since that was the first movie I saw, yesterday.  The movie is about a group of four street magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg(The Social Network, Zombieland), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Hunger Games), Dave Franco(21 Jump Street, Scrubs ), and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), who are brought together in a magician super team by a mysterious unseen fifth individual.    Cut to a year later, when the group, now called The Four Horsemen, are now attempting their grandest tricks ever, a three act mega trick, that robs from the rich and gives to the poor. 

 And in doing so they run afoul of the FBI, who sets Agent Dylan Rhodes (played by Mark Ruffalo of The Avengers) on his case, along with a French Interpol agent, played by Inglorious Basterds‘ Melanie Laurent.  The movie is a fun, cat and mouse game, full of clever dialogue, plot twists, and magic tricks that even the audience actually believes in until they are explained.  

Also involved are Michael Caine in a small role as Arthur Tressler, the businessman who at first funds the magic quartet, only to be scammed by them later on, and Morgan Freeman, as a former magician who now sets out to expose magicians as the fakers that they truly are in his television show. 

I have to say I really enjoyed this movie, it was fast paced, funny, and it makes you care about the characters, and it keeps you guessing the entire time.   If I could sum the movie up in a twitter friendly review it’d be that it’s Lucky Number Slevin meets The Prestige, and it’s an odd coincedence that the movie features actors from both of those films as well.    I’ll give this one four out of five stars, and this is the movie that you should be spending your money on, if you see any of the weekend’s new releases at all.  

 Now on to After Earth….well, guess I spoiled that one for you early, in what I thought of the quality of this latest M Night Shamylan…movie.   Now this movie I was actually really looking forward to seeing until about a few days ago when I found out who the director was.  The studio was wise to keep his name off the marketing, as it would seem that the director’s best days are behind him yet still.  In my opinion he hasn’t had a good movie since 2003’s Signs.   

 In any rate, After Earth stars the father and son duo of Will and Jaden Smith, playing…what else, father and son, in a far off future, not really specified as to the time of it, just that it’s been about 1000 years since humanity left earth because we had destroyed it for living conditions, and found new life in the stars.   Of course, when humanity landed on the planet they ran afoul of the aliens living there, who we never see, but they set loose their beasts, these blind, fear smelling beasts to kill humanity, until Will Smith’s character discovers a way to not feel fear at all, and he Daredevil’s his way into killing them.  

 It would seem that that’s not that big a stretch for his character, who doesn’t seem to have any emotion whatsoever, either that or Will Smith (even though he wrote the damn story) didn’t want to be making this movie either.    So we cut to later on, and Jaden Smith has failed out of becoming a Ranger like his father.  In an effort to bond father and son, Will decides to take Jaden with him on his next interstellar voyage.    Then something happens, causing the ship to crash on earth.  

Now, it’s a survival story, Will and Jaden are the only survivors, but Will’s legs are broken, and has to stay behind, so it’s up to Jaden Smith to overcome his fears, and get the neccessary beacon from the wreckage, which is conveniently located a nice life lesson building journey away  from their location.  

 That’s enough summary right there.  This was one of the worst movies I’ve ever, ever seen.  Will Smith pretty much phones this whole movie in, as it seems this is his way of letting his son take center stage, and carry on the tradition…or whatever.   And his son isn’t that bad an actor, but the movie doesn’t let him do anything other than be whiny and afraid, and angry, which brought to mind thoughts of Anakin in the Star Wars prequels.     

The special effects are horrible as well, I’ve seen better effects in certain episodes of Doctor Who than I have in this big budget motion picture.   No wonder their ship couldn’t make it, I thought as Jaden Smith gets to the wreckage, the ship’s made of balsa wood and styrofoam.  Also, plot logic, which I can forgive sometimes, is just way too many holes for me.  

1.  so, everything on the planet has evolved to kill mankind, (in a revenge scheme for nearly ruining the planet?), or so Will Smith tells his son before he sets off on his journey.  But nothing really seems to have evolved, animals are still the same, except for the snake that flew or whatever for a second.   I would assume after 1000 years of forced evolution, that some kind of sentient being would have evolved from that, or something cool looking.   Also, I’m pretty sure they ripped the scene in the Eagle’s nest and the tiger off the opening of Disney’s Tarzan movie.  I’m almost certain on that.

2. They’ve ‘invented’ tech that allows their suits to glide along the air like Batman, or hang gliders, or whatever, and can communicate with each other, but nothing for temperature variations to keep them warm in cool climates?  Though, the color change, “Hey kid, it’s freaking cold outside” variant of Jaden Smith’s suit looked like a cross between 1982’s Tron and Michael Jackson’s Captain EO outfit.  

Those are just the two big things that really bugged me….no wait also, going back to the animals have evolved to kill us thing…why weren’t the whales attacking the ship as it flew over them at the end of the movie? Seriously.  

 Still, the movie was not as bad as ‘The Last Airbender‘, but only a step above that.  I’d rather watch ‘Van Helsing‘, and ‘Van Wilder: Rise of Taj’ on an endless loop, whilst being kidnapped by a creeper who lives in a van, down by the river, than even think of this movie again after putting these words to pap…er…..screen.   Terrible movie…I wash my hands of thee.

 

So, there you have it folks, one awesome movie, and one awful movie.   Til next time, be sure to keep it Reel.

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