Kicking the season off, Clark fights a bizarro version of himself, picking up the cliffhanger from the previous season. Great start. Then things get even more cool with the emergence of a super . . . girl? Yup, you guessed it, Supergirl herself has arrived on Earth. Her name is Kara. She is Clark’s cousin from Krypton and Laura Vandervoort does a fantastic job as the Girl of Steel, who not only proves that blood runs thicker than water, but also has no fear of heights like her farmboy cousin and does plenty of flying to prove it.
Not only is there one Supergirl in this season, but two. Kinda. Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in the 1984 movie of the same name, made an appearance as Clark’s Kryptonian mother, Lara, in the episode that shared her namesake.
Season Seven was a load of fun and was one of the best ones of the series so far.
The only episode I didn’t really like was “Wrath,” where Lana gets Clark’s powers and uses them to get her revenge on Lex. Again, this kind of thing was done before in Lois and Clark (the power transfer), and I was getting tired of seeing these repeat ideas as they had done Lois and Clark-type episodes in the past. Speaking of which, the Dean Cain episode, “Cure,” made me feel like I was watching Lois and Clark all over again and though this episode was more filler than moved the Season Seven story arc along, it was cool to see Dean Cain back in the Superman universe. They even called his character Curtis Knox (see the initials?).
The last thing that bothered me about this season, more specifically the episode, “Quest,” was the major playing up of Clark being some sort of messiah. I’m a Christian, so this probably bothered me more than most, but that aside, it still was overdone. Okay. We get it. Clark’s going to save the world one day. Move on.
This season was a step up from Season Six, so 4.5 stars out of 5.
Superman: Unbound (2013) Written by Bob Goodman Directed by James Tucker Runtime 75 min. 4 out of 5
When Brainiac shows up and threatens to destroy Metropolis, Superman and his cousin Supergirl must rise to the occasion and put an end to a foe that has deep ties to Krypton.
This was a good flick. Hey, it’s Superman and lately DC’s been pulling out all the stops and every time Supes gets the DVD treatment it’s done really well. Supergirl’s presence added a new dimension to the Man of Steel’s animated movie exploits. Giving a quick showcase of her past, what happened to Kandor, and how those events created the motivations behind the Supergirl of this movie proved that sometimes less is more. Also understanding where she was coming from gave Superman a glimpse into a part of himself that he wasn’t really ready to face: the need to sometimes go hard on bad guys for the greater good. Yet, being true to who he was, he was also able to soften Supergirl around the edges, which just goes to show how much you can learn from family.
The animation was smooth, the colors were clear, the action was great and the art was fantastic. The slightly too-long-of-a-face aside, I like the way Superman looked in this. The Clark Kent was so-so. More of a fan of the thick glasses than the more stylish ones, but whatever. In the animated series he had two thin circles for frames and that was it.
Lois looked good, too. My only gripe is, while I understand these movies are being made more and more for adults, there are parents out there who buy these flicks for their kids because a) they’re superheroes, b) it’s cartoons, and having Lois giving Brainiac the finger wasn’t cool. Though I doubt it’ll ever happen, there should be some sort of bold labeling or disclaimer on the package aside from the MPAA rating that lets parents know if there’s content inside that is inappropriate for kids. This “giving the finger” is why I won’t let my kids see this movie now. Something for DC to think about.
As a Superman fan, I’ve been loving all this attention the Man of Steel has been getting lately and since Batman was the focus of so many shows and animated features, giving the Last Son of Krypton a shot and a large amount of screen time helps balance all that out. I also hope DC has plans in the works for other animated movies for other characters, JLA stuff aside.
What can I say? DC and Warner Bros. keep knocking these flicks out of the park. Now, if they translate this awesome sensibility and sensitivity to the comics to the big screen on a consistent basis, then superhero fans will truly be living in a new golden era of superhero cinema.
Superman (1978) Written by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman and Robert Benton Directed by Richard Donner Runtime 143 min. 5 out of 5
Before the doomed planet Krypton explodes, Jor-El and wife Lara send their infant son, Kal-El, to Earth to save his life. Discovered in a field and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, Kal-El—renamed Clark—grows up to discover he has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. After leaving the farm after high school, Clark heads north and meets a holographic projection of Jor-El and learns who he really is and what he is meant to do. Twelve years later, Clark re-enters the world and becomes Superman, a symbol of hope in a world that desperately needs it.
Upon observing Superman’s debut, the greatest criminal mind of our time, Lex Luthor, hatches a clever real estate scheme to destroy the Man of Steel while also making himself filthy rich.
With millions of lives in the balance as well as his own, can Superman stop Lex and put an end to the madman’s plan?
Like most kids, I watched this flick a thousand times. Okay, maybe not a thousand, but as often as I could considering my parents taped it for me and I knew how to work the VCR. At one point, I think we even had a VHS tape that had all four Superman movies on it from when they aired on TV. Anyway, I’ll freely admit this review is totally biased as we’re talking about a movie—especially a Superman movie—from my childhood, and it’s impossible for me to watch the movie now without memories of being a kid, holding my Superman action figure and watching Superman catch Lois Lane falling from a helicopter that’s stuck on the side of a building.
That said, this movie is still aces for loads of reasons. One, it was taken seriously. I read somewhere that Christopher Reeve—who plays Superman/Clark Kent—put forth that he wanted to do it straight-laced. Up until then, you had the Batman TV series for men in tights (unless you counted the Green Hornet TV series, which was semi-serious), and then the cartoons. There was the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series in the ’50s and the Kirk Allen series before that, but in terms of immediate “superheroes in people” memory, you had ’60s Batman and that was it.
By taking the source material seriously, by playing Superman as if it’s really happening, this was the first time audiences were treated to superheroes in real life and the filmmakers weren’t kidding when they said, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” I know I did, both now and when I was a kid. Superman was larger than life on the screen, whether he was using his powers or not. He inspired hope, and the film didn’t shy away from showcasing a Superman that fought for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”
We got to see Superman enjoy being Superman, especially during his first night out saving a cat stuck in a tree, stopping Air Force One from falling to the ground, apprehending a jewel thief and putting an end to a criminal/police car chase.
Christopher Reeve as Superman has been the benchmark every other Superman actor has tried to reach. His Superman is bold, idealistic, hopeful and kind. As Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, he did a fine job of really making you believe he was two different people when all he really had to use was a change of clothes, a new hairstyle and a pair of glasses. The guy changed his voice, his mannerisms, his speech—everything. I bought it. Go ahead. Put a picture of the two side-by-side and it’s like two different guys, so I don’t believe it when people nowadays say a pair of glasses is a stupid idea to conceal your identity. Ever have someone you know really well not recognize you after a haircut? It’s happened to me and that’s just a haircut not something covering part of my face like glasses. Anyway . . .
Margot Kidder was a solid Lois Lane: brash, driven and totally obsessed with Superman while being dismissive of Clark Kent. Her way of treating the two totally made the bizarre love triangle that is Superman/Lois/Clark work. Aside from some bad decisions that maybe we wouldn’t expect a smart-as-a-whip reporter to make, she still sold it.
Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. His version was good. I don’t know much about the comics of the time, so I can’t say how faithful he was. But in terms of being a good villain, for sure. And he was a bad guy here, an actual criminal and not the revered-but-shady businessman he would later become in the comics world.
The overall story: hey, it’s simple, but so were most movies back then. At the same time, the superhero movies of today—as good as they are—could learn a lot from Superman and sometimes keeping things simple instead of just non-stop explosions and action is the better way to go. So much more room for character development and interaction.
This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning John Williams’s iconic score. The “Theme from Superman” is right up there with Beethoven’s Sixth. You play the tune anywhere and people recognize it. It’s iconic, inspiring, heroic and like one of the folks who worked on the movie said—I think it was Richard Donner himself—you can actually hear the song say the word, “Superman.”
Man of Steel (2013) Written by David S. Goyer Directed by Zack Snyder Runtime 143 min. 5 out of 5
A sole survivor of the doomed planet Krypton grows up on Earth and discovers he has abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Once grown, he sets off to find out who he is and where he comes from. The answer is discovered in a spaceship in the arctic and Krypton’s Last Son, Kal-El—Clark Kent—meets a hologram of his long-dead father, Jor-El, who reveals to him his destiny: to be a beacon of hope for humanity, and also someone who could one day restore the doomed Kryptonian race.
Enter Zod, a harsh general and one who has fought his whole life to protect Krypton and its people. During an altercation with Jor-El prior to Krypton’s explosion, he finds out that Jor-El has sent his newborn son off-world and, along with the child, plans for Krypton’s future. A battle ensues and Zod is sent off-planet, too, him and his cohorts banished to the Phantom Zone for rehabilitation. When Krypton explodes, the containment units holding Zod and his followers release them and he spends the next thirty-three years combing the stars, searching for Jor-El’s son.
Locating Kal-El on Earth, Zod sends an ultimatum to the planet, forcing Kal-El to reveal himself to the humans and to stop Zod from using Earth as ground zero for a new Krypton. Zod, like Kal-El, is now powered by the Earth’s yellow sun and is empowered with superabilities. An enormous battle ensues between Krypton’s general and Kal-El, the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance.
What can I say? This movie is mind blowing! It’s epic, it’s incredible. So much was riding on this film to deliver a Superman movie that would captivate audiences and restore the Man of Steel to his rightful place as king of the superheroes. Man of Steel does just that and then some, bringing with it the awesome sci-fi factors of Star Wars to the dense storytelling of The Dark Knight Trilogy.
There has never, ever been a superhero movie like this before. Henry Cavill as Superman nailed the part. He’s a nice guy, a caring guy, but he’s dead serious about doing the right thing and exudes the confidence that only one who has sold himself out for the good of all can portray. He did something that was never done before by any other Superman actor: showing Clark Kent before he was Superman or even the bumbling reporter of the Daily Planet. (I’m referring to the movies, not Smallville). In fact, he’s this version of Clark Kent for nearly the whole movie. You see him making the big decisions, weighing his upbringing against this new task of saving the world that was suddenly dropped on his lap. You journey along with him as he wrestles with his being different and how those differences apply not just to his life, but to the lives of others.
As Superman, he’s the Superman. I never thought Christopher Reeve’s performance could be outdone, but Henry Cavill matches, if not exceeds, what Mr. Reeve brought to the character. Cavill’s Superman is one hundred percent devoted to staying true to who he is, his abilities, his upbringing, his quest for truth and justice, and for putting his foot down both with men and rebel Kryptonians when needed. I can’t really comment on his reporter Clark persona because that’s not a big role in this movie. I hope, however, it will be in the sequel and we’ll see plenty of Lois and Clark interaction in the next one, especially after the way the Lois and Clark relationship is portrayed in this movie. You’ll have to see for yourself for what I mean.
Michael Shannon as Zod was crazy good. The guy can act and his Zod is much different than Terrence Stamp’s. Yes, both are ruthless, but whereas Stamp’s Zod was more about power grabbing and his desire to rule, Shannon’s is about giving his all to restore the former glory of Krypton at any cost, even if that means eradicating all of Earth’s population to do it. The best villain is always the villain you accidently find yourself rooting for, and that happened to me throughout this movie. Every so often I felt for Zod and understood what he was trying to accomplish. It made sense and made me consider that maybe if I was in his shoes I would’ve done the same thing or something similar.
Amy Adams as Lois Lane was a good choice. I wasn’t sure at first, as I know Amy Adams as more of the happy-go-lucky girl from other movies far removed from the superhero genre—though she was in one episode of Smallville during its first season—but she sold me on the part and she reminded me of the Lois Lanes from the old cartoons: warm, but cut and dry; funny, but serious about what she does and her desire to go the distance to get a story.
The action in this movie was crazy huge. The bar has been set so high in terms of superhero cinema in recent years and Man of Steel makes every superhero movie that’s come before it look like a puppet show by comparison. The wide-scale destruction wrought by Superman and Zod—never mind Zod’s right-hand-woman Faora and the other rebel Kryptonians—is what you’d expect if people with god-like powers let loose in an all-out brawl across a city. And the speed, man, the speed! Normally superspeed is shown as either a big blur or done in slo-mo, with the superspeedsters moving quickly while everyone else is frozen. In this one, you see Superman et al. zipping around, pausing, breaking sound barriers, and bringing the viewer along as if we’re in his boots the whole time and experiencing the thrill of superspeed ourselves.
The way Superman flies in this is unlike any other portrayal before, and while I loved how he flies in the other movies and TV shows, in this one he seems to hurl himself through the air at times, while at others flies with precision and care. The heat vision effect in this was stellar, too. The glow beneath the skin around the eyes and to see the veins beneath its surface made it all the more menacing. The superhearing and X-ray vision were familiar territory to those who’ve watched Smallville, but there was no all-out X-ray vision where everything was dark blue and white.
The fighting between Superman and Zod was serious business and was truly a portrayal of two warriors going toe-to-toe and not just wrestling or tapping each other out. It was one crazy hard blow after another, some slow, some rapid, even some in the sky! Insane! So many times I was blown away and just going “Wow, wow, wow!” Zod fought with the skill of a trained warrior, whereas Superman fought with brute force.
Man of Steel is a crazy good movie with a strong story, an incredible cast, and superhero action that has now become the benchmark for anything to follow. To be honest, I don’t know if it can be followed. Hopefully in Man of Steel 2.
All-Star Superman (2011) Written by Dwayne McDuffie Directed by Sam Liu Runtime 76 min. 5 out of 5
The Man of Steel is dying after receiving an extreme dose of solar radiation. Trying to live out his last days and wrap up all loose ends, he spends it with Lois and gives her a special serum that grants her superpowers for twenty-four hours. When unexpected twists and turns arise, the two must save Metropolis together. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has plans of his own and when he gets his hands on the serum that granted Lois superpowers, he becomes as powerful as Superman.
Can the Last Son of Krypton stop his arch nemesis while also saving the Earth from a damaged sun before he perishes?
When I think of classic Superman, I think of this story. The reason is because this story involves all of the classic elements of Superman lore, everything from the basics like Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, all the way to the Fortress of Solitude, the bottle city of Kandor, a full array of superpowers—and in the case of this story, some new ones, which reminds me of the “bonus” powers portrayed in Superman IV (though they’re not silly in this one like they were in that flick)—the Phantom Zone, Superman using not only his super brawn but also his super brains, Lois having superpowers (which has happened quite a lot in Supes’s history—she’s got a cool costume in this, by the way), and a ton more.
Based on the graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, this flick asks the hard questions about Superman’s mortality, if such a thing is possible, and if it is possible, then how would that possibly play out? Unlike Superman’s death when the Man of Steel went up against Doomsday, this story isn’t about a giant slugfest, but about a slow death caused by the very thing that gives Superman his powers: the sun. It’s about him coming to terms with his own mortality and setting things in order before his final moment arrives.
One of the great things about these direct-to-DVD super flicks from DC is they’re all stand-alone features based on a graphic novel and by being so, they also carry with it the same art style from the book. In this case, it’s Frank Quitely’s art animated. I admit it took a while for his art to grow on me. Perhaps because it’s so simple and clean, yet by being that way, he’s able to create some pretty realistic-looking superheroes. Seeing it animated like we do in this flick brings Superman et al. to life and makes this comic book fan very happy.
Out of all the Superman adaptations done thus far, All-Star Superman is one of the greats and gets high props for being an awesome animated flick with a great cast, great art direction, a great story and, most importantly, having the greatest hero of them all, one who’s definitely an all-star: Superman.