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.
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.
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.
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.