• Tag Archives Clark Kent
  • Canister X Movie Review #134: Batman v Superman (2016)

    batmanvsupermanBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
    Written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
    Directed by Zack Snyder
    Runtime 151 min.
    4 out of 5

    After witnessing the battle between Superman and General Zod in Metropolis, Bruce Wayne takes it upon himself to ensure the Man of Steel isn’t a rogue alien who might one day enslave the human race. In the meantime, Lex Luthor has sworn to ensure humanity’s survival by securing for himself Kryptonite, which is later discovered to be the one thing that can weaken Superman. Worse, Luthor has a secret project tracking metahuman activity across the globe, which prompts Diana Prince to obtain the confidential data he has on her. To complicate matters, Luthor has also acquired the body of General Zod and creates from it an unstoppable killing machine—Doomsday, a being more powerful than even Superman. It’s going to take Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to take down the beast lest the city—even the planet—is destroyed by this destructive force.

    Okay, this is a first impression review, with some processing time after.

    Batman v Superman is a comic book movie, and not in the campy sense. It has the feel of DC’s direct-to-video animated features and there’s an atmosphere to the movie that superheroes belong in the world created.

    The downside to the flick is it doesn’t work as a stand-alone film. There’s no strict A to B to C to the story. It’s more an introduction of story elements that will all play out in future DC movies instead. It’s like the first part of a giant graphic novel, and it is my hope that years down the road when all the other DC movies are released, what we will have is one massive story instead of what is usually given to us in today’s superhero flicks: each one a self-contained tale with subplots running through them that culminate in team-up adventures. If indeed DC’s plan is to make one giant movie, then that’s something never attempted before and never in the superhero genre. If this is the case, that’s brilliant and should be applauded. It’s jarring for moviegoers, but once they catch onto what’s going on, they’ll no doubt be amazed. After all, we do like our epics both on the big screen and TV.

    Superman/Clark Kent. Once again, Henry Cavill delivers as the Last Son of Krypton. In fact, I think his performance is a step up from his previous outing in Man of Steel. That first flick was about Superman finding his footing, and while there is still some of that here, it’s more about the world finding its footing now that Superman is on the scene. You can tell Superman has become a beacon of hope to the world despite how some might view him as a threat. He’s bigger, stronger, and carries with him that air of awe and wonder Superman should. We’re not supposed to relate to this god-like being, but instead look up to him as something and someone to aspire to, and Superman is very much coming into that form as the flick goes on. As for the Clark Kent side, reporter Clark in this flick was pretty much just Average Joe. There wasn’t all that much involved in creating a clear line between Superman and Clark Kent, that strong sense of two separate people. I wish there was, but I also see how Average Joe works better in the reality established in these movies than someone who’s an over-the-top nerd. At the same time, it would’ve been nice to see Clark trip over his own feet or bump into a desk or something to really give off that whole there’s-no-way-this-guy-can-be-Superman thing. There was also one scene I had so hoped for in this movie that never came and that was the classic Clark ripping his shirt open to reveal the S. Perhaps in another movie.

    Batman/Bruce Wayne. When Ben Affleck was cast, I got behind it right away. I’m an Affleck fan and knew he could deliver on what would be a worn-out Bruce Wayne, which would eventually give way to a worn-out Batman. What can I say? Affleck did a superb job. He did the playboy thing—though he could’ve played up the douche bag part a bit; yet at this point in his life, a cocky playboy might not be in the cards for him—and also did well when it was just him and Alfred. As Batman, this is the Batman we’ve been waiting for. Finally, oh finally, we got to see the comic book Batsuit and a Batman who’s fighting and action was the stuff that made the Arkham games so darn good. He also played the detective, which was never really in the other movies. And the bat-atmosphere? That part where he’s hanging in the corner in the dark and the light shines on him? Spooky and gorgeous. I also enjoyed the final fight and how Batman was portrayed. His limits as a human being with gadgets was shown, which is good, because I’m tired of stories where Batman somehow saves the day instead of the beings that are so much more powerful than him. I’m really excited for the forthcoming Bat-flicks with Ben Affleck in the lead.

    Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Small hero part in this movie, comparatively speaking to the two male leads. As Diana Prince, Gal Gadot was mysterious and intriguing. There was also a sense of detachment about her which, once you learn who she really is, makes perfect sense since she’s from Themyscyra. When the Wonder Woman reveal happened, she stole the show. Sorry Superman and Batman, you were outshone big time. She had a heroic entrance—which is so important in superhero movies—a killer score, and was completely badass when she got down to business and helped in the fight against Doomsday. What was also interesting is while the movie didn’t get too much into who she was, she stilled carried her own weight and felt fleshed-out anyway. Of course, this could all be in my head since I know who Wonder Woman is and enough of her backstory to fill in the gaps. With the Wonder Woman movie in production as of the writing of this review, I know I’ll be one of the first in line when it comes out. She was that good.

    Lex Luthor. If Jesse Eisenberg is good at one thing, it’s playing the prideful I’m-smarter-than-everybody-else-in-the-room guy. And, yeah, that’s who Lex Luthor is. He’s a genius, and despite what he tells the public, has a contempt for humanity because he thinks he’s above it. Of course, the paradox is that he himself is human. In that regard, Jesse Eisenberg did a fine job. However, I still feel he was too youthful for the role since Lex is older than Superman in other incarnations, and Lex—as crazy as he can be sometimes—is more of a reserved crazy than someone more animated. It was this animated part that brought Lex down, in my opinion. Crazy is fine. Smart crazy is even better, but this kind of Joker-esque displays that happened now and then were out of place. Maybe given the ending Lex’s personality will change and he’ll be more reserved. We’ll see.

    Lois Lane. Amy Adams works for me. She does the hard-nosed journalist thing quite well, and the standard Lois Lane thing of getting herself into hot spots so only Superman can come to the rescue. I don’t mind this trope so long as it isn’t all the time. Her role in this flick wasn’t a main one like in Man of Steel. She was more part of Superman’s support team despite her entanglement in some of the later conflicts in the movie.

    Alfred Pennyworth. What can I say? Jeremy Irons did a good job as Alfred, who is also Batman’s co-combatant. Sure, he didn’t don a costume and get out there and fight bad guys, but helped Batman from the Batcave as a sort of special ops overseer. More importantly, he acted as Bruce Wayne’s conscience and wasn’t afraid to go up against him when he disagreed with something. As much as Robin’s job is to keep Batman grounded, it’s Alfred’s job as well, and since he is older than Bruce, he can provide wisdom in areas Bruce isn’t familiar with. Good choice having Jeremy Irons in the role.

    There were a few moments in the film where I wished things had gone in a different direction, but that could just be my taste as opposed to my ideas being better.

    Unfortunately, WB and DC marketed this movie as one thing and what it was was something different. Once you get over that hurdle and see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for what it’s meant to be in the greater DC Universe, then a lot of pieces fall into place and it’s highly enjoyable.

    Go see it.


  • Canister X TV Review #8: Smallville, Season 8 (2008 – 2009)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Smallville, Season 8 (2008 – 2009)
    5 out of 5

    If any one season of Smallville made me feel like I was deeply immersed in Superman mythology and was watching a true, live-action version of a DC comic book, Season Eight was it.

    Not only is Clark Kent and Lois Lane working at the Daily Planet, but Doomsday, the monster that killed Superman in the comics, is the over-arcing plot this season. He comes in the form of Davis Bloom whom, we learn, experiences these mysterious blackouts as he transforms into the Kryptonian beast and murders anyone that crosses his path.

    To make matters worse, Davis has a soft spot for Chloe and despite her best intentions, giving in only sets off a chain of events that screws up her relationship with both him and Clark.

    Also introduced this season—and taking the place of Lex Luthor—is Tess Mercer. At first she’s as loyal to the Luthor name as anyone, but when she learns what kind of a man Lex Luthor truly was, everything changes and we encounter a woman who is just as evil as her predecessor.

    I have to admit I was unsure how Smallville was going to work without Lana Lang and Lex Luthor as key characters, and for the first few episodes, the show did feel a little empty, but that was more than made up for with the breakneck pace the show took and the dark path it led its viewers down while creating the Doomsday saga. With Tess Mercer and Doomsday as the central villains, you forget all about Lex Luthor and instead try to read between the lines to see how he’ll one day return as Clark’s rightful foe, while watching Tess and Doomsday lead the world into destruction.

    I was really happy with how this season turned out after my initial skepticism. The episodes were great, the appearances of other DC alumni like Zatanna, Maxima, Jimmy Olsen, the Legion of Superheroes and more just made Season Eight fantastic.

    Like I always say, this show just keeps getting better and better and I cannot wait to see how everything pans out from here on in. Too cool.

    Recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #85: Superman: Unbound (2013)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    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.


  • Canister X Movie Review #84: Superman Returns (2006)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Superman Returns (2006)
    Written by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
    Directed by Bryan Singer
    Runtime 154 min.
    3 out of 5

    The Man of Steel had vanished for five long years.

    The world moved on.

    So did the one person everyone thought never would: Lois Lane. She even wrote about it in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article entitled, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.”

    But that’s not all that changed. Lex Luthor had swindled his way out of a double life-sentence with a new plan: create his own continent and wipe out all the others.

    He just wasn’t prepared for one thing—Superman returns.

     

    It’d been almost twenty years between Superman movies when this one came out, the last being Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Expectations were high, the hype was through the roof, a star director (Bryan Singer) was attached to it, huge names played some of the key roles . . .

    The payoff: an embarrassing movie.

    I remember feeling ashamed of my hero when I walked out of the theatre. Being a lifelong Superman fan, I thought Superman Returns would nail it and kick a certain red-and-blue wallcrawler off the box office charts.

    I was wrong.

    The story of Superman Returns is okay. It’s nothing new, pretty much a rehash of Superman: The Movie, just updated with a different spin.

    There are also several terrible and nonsensical moments in the film: Superman’s son, Superman in the hospital, Superman lifting a massive island made of kryptonite and flying it into space even though just before that scene being around kryptonite made him virtually mortal.

    It was tempting to give this movie two stars, but Brandon Routh’s portrayal of the Man of Steel saved the day. He did a stellar job as both Clark and Superman. Aside from Christopher Reeve, he’s my favorite boy in blue.

    Kevin Spacey did an all right job as Lex Luthor—evil, funny, selfish, manipulative, king of understatement. But he wasn’t evil-evil, unlike Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville. Though I realize they’re different continuities/series, you’d think a grown-up Lex would be darker than his younger counterpart.

    Warner Brothers et al. erred with this film because they didn’t remember the secret to Superman: people don’t want to relate to him. He’s an icon, an ideal. He’s not Spider-Man. We want to be amazed, put in a state of awe. People only want to relate to Clark Kent, not his cape-wearing alter ego. They blurred the line between the two when it should have been crisp and clear, and that is where this movie failed.

    Hopefully the sequel will not be a drama, but a serious yet fun superhero movie, one filled with wonder, eye-popping action and a story worthy of the Man of Steel. I just hope they don’t use kryptonite as a weapon against Superman. If they do, they’re going to have to use a whole planet’s worth to make a dent seeing as how a kryptonite island didn’t stop him.


  • Canister X Movie Review #82: Superman: Brainiac Attacks (2006)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Superman: Brainiac Attacks (2006)
    Written by Duane Capizzi
    Directed by Curt Geda
    Runtime 75 min.
    3.5 out of 5

    When Lex Luthor proposes an alliance with Brainiac to take down the Man of Steel, Superman must pull out all the stops to stop the seemingly unstoppable Kryptonian cybervillain. Meanwhile, Clark Kent examines his relationship with Lois Lane and considers telling her who he really is, but after she is poisoned, the clock starts ticking as Superman must try to find a cure while also stopping Brainiac and Luthor.

     

    I love the animated style developed by Bruce Timm. It worked wonders on Batman: The Animated Series and then later they did Superman: The Animated Series the same way, and then after that they did Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited. It’s a great style and this flick was done in that style.

    This movie was pretty good. Wasn’t awesome, wasn’t terrible, was just above down the middle, I’d say. Brainiac is a cool villain, a very powerful one because he’s nearly unstoppable. Throw in some Lex Luthor action and have them go up against the Man of Steel and you know Superman is in trouble.

    Everyone was who they were supposed to be in this, except Lex Luthor. He wasn’t as dark and serious as he was in the animated series and acted out of character. That’s too bad because Luthor is a big part of Superman’s world so you want to get him right.

    Tim Daly—I love that guy as Superman. He has the right voice, the right delivery and every time DC does an animated movie and he’s voicing Superman, it makes those movies all the better as a result. Too bad he’s retired as of this review and his son, Sam, has taken over. Maybe he’ll come back one day.

    I won’t spoil it, but it did have a satisfying ending and, since this was Superman’s last solo animated adventure in the Superman: The Animated Series universe, it brought a smile to my face. I won’t spoil it here. You’ll have to see it for yourself.

    Containing all the elements that make Superman such a beloved character—the Lois-Clark-Superman triangle, Lex Luthor, the Fortress of Solitude, Perry White and the Daily Planet, even Metropolis—Superman: Brainiac Attacks is a fun movie, kid-friendly and is a great addition to any Superman fan’s movie shelf.


  • Canister X Movie Review #77: Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)
    Written by Mario Puzo, David Newman and Leslie Newman
    Directed by Richard Donner
    Runtime 115 min.
    5 out of 5

    Superman is back, and when he inadvertently releases three inmates from the Phantom Zone, he has to go up against three supervillains every bit as powerful as he is. Complicating matters, Lois Lane is getting wise to the possibility that Clark Kent might not be who he claims to be and that, just maybe, beneath those glasses is the Man of Steel she so desperately loves.

    As the two become close and spend time together, the three Kryptonian villains arrive on Earth and wreak havoc and destruction. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor seizes the opportunity to cash in on the aliens’ arrival and tries to exploit their powers for his own gain.

    With the fate of the world hanging in the balance and Superman nowhere to be found, will the Earth fall to General Zod forever?

     

    This version of Superman II, the Richard Donner cut, was made possible by the outcry of fans. Eventually, the studio and Richard Donner—the director of Superman I and the original director of Superman II—responded and thus this version of the beloved super movie was born. Tracking down loads of old footage—most of which was shot when Superman I and II were filmed simultaneously, but then later discarded since with a change of director came a change in vision—fans finally got Superman II as intended.

    This version is way better, in my opinion. Better paced, better story—well, it’s the same story but the “new” scenes are better and more well-written than the 1980 Superman II ones—and lots of heart and Superman fun.

    For performance reviews, see my 1980 Superman II review as the actors did just as well in the alternate scenes shown in this flick.

    While, yes, you can watch this movie after Superman I, you’ll notice some overlap but don’t let that distract you. When there was a change of director behind-the-scenes, it affected even the cut of Superman I that made it into theatres.

    While attending a panel with Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) back in 2007, I asked her how this version of Superman II came about. Aside from giving a detailed backstory—however, I can’t remember the specifics, it was so long ago—I do remember her saying that had it not been for the screen test footage that was used in the Lois-finds-out-Clark-is-Superman scene in the Niagara Falls hotel room, the one where she shoots him with a blank, the Richard Donner cut would’ve been released in theatres. I don’t know if this is fact or wishful thinking on her part, but I know I would’ve paid to see this on the big screen. Easy. Obviously, the official Lois-finds-out-Clark-is-Superman scene in the Niagara Falls hotel room was never shot due to the change of directors and with Mr. Reeve’s passing, it couldn’t have been reshot anyway. I’m sure with Hollywood magic the reshoot could’ve been pulled off, had he been alive.

    The big battle between Superman (Christopher Reeve) and General Zod (Terrance Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O’Halloran) is more exciting in this version, and likewise we find out what happened to the bad guys in this flick as opposed to them just dropping into a foggy chasm in the Fortress in the 1980 film.

    The Lois and Clark relationship is better portrayed in this one, too, and that new scene with Lois trying to make Clark reveal himself as Superman when she jumps out of the Daily Planet window is more exciting than the “I’m going to drown myself in a river” bit that was in the 1980 flick.

    There is also plenty of Jor-El (Marlon Brando) and Superman/Clark interaction, stuff that wasn’t in the 1980 movie. It totally adds to the mythology and the overall sense of awe and wonder that is Superman.

    For the Superman completist, this movie is a must-watch and a must-own. I know, for me, when I go to watch the Superman movies, I watch Superman I then Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. I feel I’m getting the original story this way as the original script was so massive it had to become two movies.

    Watch this movie. It’s awesome.


  • Canister X Movie Review #76: Superman II (1980)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Superman II (1980)
    Written by Mario Puzo, David Newman and Leslie Newman
    Directed by Richard Lester
    Runtime 127 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    Superman is back, and when he inadvertently releases three inmates from the Phantom Zone, he has to go up against three supervillains every bit as powerful as he is. Complicating matters, Lois Lane is getting wise to the possibility that Clark Kent might not be who he claims to be and that, just maybe, beneath those glasses is the Man of Steel she so desperately loves.

    As the two become close and spend time together, the three Kryptonian villains arrive on Earth and wreak havoc and destruction. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor seizes the opportunity to cash in on the aliens’ arrival and tries to exploit their powers for his own gain.

    With the fate of the world hanging in the balance and Superman nowhere to be found, will the Earth fall to General Zod forever?

     

    This is a great follow up to Superman I, and is basically a direct continuation of that story, with seeds for this one planted in the first movie. This is also true behind-the-scenes as Superman I and II were shot simultaneously but due to various complications, the version that came out in 1980 wasn’t completely what was intended, and thus the birth of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, which is the subject of another review.

    Regardless, this version is fantastic, beginning with a recap of the Superman origin and mythology during the opening credits, and jumping right into Superman action pretty much from the start. The ante is upped by putting Superman against not only someone who is his equal power-wise, but three people who are, never mind Lex Luthor as well, who is a big challenge to Superman in the struggle of brains vs brawn.

    This movie at its center carries a lot of heart as it goes into the relationship between Lois and Clark and Lois and Superman, making for a love story that is every bit as good as some romance movies without transforming this whole film into a romance flick. The ending is heart-wrenching as you understand the cost of being Superman and even the cost of being someone close to him.

    Like its predecessor, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder know their roles and fulfill them to a T. Same with Gene Hackman. Obviously, a great deal of this has to do with them filming Superman I and II simultaneously, but in the interest of watching them from one movie to the next, that seamless transition adds to the believability of the whole thing.

    Terrance Stamp stole the show as General Zod, easily holding up against Christopher Reeve and oftentimes overshadowing him. He carried with him a powerful presence, and gave off a rage that only one who had been—in his eyes—unrightfully imprisoned in the Phantom Zone could give. Sarah Douglas as Ursa and Jack O’Halloran as Non did just fine in their roles, but their main score was their reverence and allegiance to Zod, which then added to Stamp’s performance.

    The super battle at the end was great and awesome for its time. Most of the effects were practical effects—the best kind, in my opinion—and so while nowadays these guys wouldn’t look so tough fighting it out on screen, back then I remember being in awe at how mean and powerful the bad guys were and how Superman really had a run for his money.

    Superman II carries the same awe and wonder that Superman I did, even more so depending on what angle you want to tackle it from (i.e. Superman II showcases all of Superman’s powers whereas the first one didn’t).

    Whether as a kid or an adult, I love this movie.

    Recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #75: Superman (1978)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    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.”

    Watch this movie. Just watch it.

    You’ll believe a man can fly.

    Highly recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #73: Supergirl (1984)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Supergirl (1984)
    Written by David Odell
    Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
    Runtime 125 min.
    3.5 out of 5

    After accidentally losing the Omegahedron, Argo City’s power source, Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater) embarks on a journey to go recover it before Argo City perishes. Upon arriving on Earth, she discovers she has superpowers and adopts the identity of Supergirl, which she uses to help others while on her quest to recover the Omegahedron.

    Elsewhere, the Omegahedron has fallen into the hands of Selena (Faye Dunaway), a flunky witch who quickly becomes powerful because of it and who sets her sights on Supergirl, ready to eliminate the Girl of Steel the first chance she can get.

    Can Supergirl recover the Omegahedron before Argo City goes dark and Selena is victorious?

    It’s superheroine versus supervillainness in this ’80s classic of Good vs Evil.

     

    This flick is every bit a part of my childhood as the Superman movies were. At the time, of course, I was too young to understand the story, but now older, it’s not too bad. Sure, it has some flaws and continuity issues, but at its heart it’s the story about someone trying to right a grievous mistake, something that most of us can relate to.

    The visuals and hints of Kryptonian mythology put forth quickly link it to the Superman movies—Supergirl identifies herself as Superman’s cousin while in costume, and also as Clark Kent’s cousin when she’s in disguise as Linda Lee; her supersuit is basically the Christopher Reeve costume from the waist up—and it has a cinematic score that carries a similar heroic tone to that of its male counterpart. Likewise, Marc McClure reprises his role as Jimmy Olsen from the Superman movies and appears as Lucy Lane’s boyfriend (Lucy is Lois Lane’s younger sister).

    They seem to want to jump right into Kara being Supergirl so don’t give an explanation as to why she leaves Argo City in that bubble ship in one outfit then transforms inside the ship and flies out of the water in her supersuit, but whatever. They do a good job of showing her discovering her powers, the joy of having them, and also the satisfaction of using them for good.

    As hopeful and cheery as this flick is at times, it’s also equally dark thanks to Selena being a witch. There is a ton of occult imagery and when you’re watching this stuff as a kid, it creeps you right out. And that funhouse that Supergirl’s “man in distress” has to find his way out of? Shivers, man. But who isn’t afraid of creepy funhouses, right?

    The pacing was pretty decent and each obstacle Supergirl must overcome as the movie rolls along keeps getting bigger and bigger until the end when it seems all hope is lost and even the Girl of Steel is helpless.

    What was especially cool is during the time of Supergirl’s tenure on Earth, Superman was elsewhere in the galaxy doing his thing, so when the story wraps up, Supergirl asks those who knew of her presence to forget she was there and flies off triumphant back to Argo City. This, of course, kept the two super franchises separate while still linking them. I heard Christopher Reeve was supposed to have a cameo in Supergirl but it didn’t work out, with Reeve citing personal reasons (whatever those might’ve been). Would’ve been amazing had the two teamed up for it. Maybe we’ll finally get to see Supergirl and Superman together in Man of Steel 2 . . .

    In the end, Supergirl is an overall enjoyable flick that is from a time before superhero movies got all dark and gritty, the hero was filled with angst and turmoil, and it enjoys itself for what it is: a movie about a girl who can fly.


  • Canister X Movie Review #60: My Super Ex-girlfriend (2006)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    My Super Ex-girlfriend (2006)
    Written by Don Payne
    Directed by Ivan Reitman
    Runtime 95 min.
    4 out of 5

    What would you do if you found out the woman you were seeing was actually a superhero? It’s exactly what happens to Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) when he discovers his shy but very controlling girlfriend, Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman), is really G-Girl. Aside from being able to fly, bend steel bars with her bare hands, shoot lasers from her eyes and a host of other classic powers, she’s also every guy’s nightmare girlfriend and soon Matt can’t take it anymore and breaks up with her. While he tries to get on with his life—which is way easier thanks to Hannah (Anna Farris), a pretty blonde in his office with whom he’s got good chemistry—Jenny’s not having so easy a time and makes his life a living hell, barraging him with super trouble and threats that only a super ex-girlfriend can bring. Meanwhile, G-Girl’s arch nemesis, Professor Bedl