• Tag Archives Lex Luthor
  • 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)

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    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 TV Review #6: Smallville, Season 6 (2006 – 2007)

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    Smallville, Season 6 (2006 – 2007)
    4 out of 5

    This Season Had Me Seeing Green . . . Green arrows, that is.

    Justin Hartley joins the regular Smallville cast as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, billionaire business tycoon by day, daring Robin Hood do-gooder by night.

    At first I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard Green Arrow was going to have a place in Smallville‘s continuity. Of course, I was, like, “Hey, cool, another superhero joins the show and this one actually wears his costume!” Whereas the other part of me was, like, “What does Green Arrow have to do with Superman growing up, again?” All I can say without giving anything away is having Green Arrow join the show was a brilliant move. Not only does he demonstrate a good example for Clark, but his past and present conflicts with Lex Luthor also add a nice twist to the storyline.

    Of particular note this season was the episode, “Noir,” where everything was in black and white and took place in the ’30s. Reminded me a bit of the Lois and Clark episode that did the same thing, but Smallville‘s was much better written and not as cheesy.

    The over-arcing storyline of the phantoms that escaped from the Phantom Zone was cool and gave Smallville its trademarked horror-esque twist, but without continually going into Twilight Zone territory like it usually did.

    I should add there was one more green element to this season: Martian Manhunter, played by Phil Morris. The only downside, though, was no alien visage but rather his shape-shifted human form instead. Oh well. The budget can only go so far, I suppose. Still, would have been cool if Martian Manhunter had more screen time, but this isn’t his series.

    The only thing that I didn’t like about this season was Lex and Lana getting together. It really bothered me and didn’t make much sense when looking back over the first five seasons. This is the reason I give it 4 instead of 5 stars.

    Recommended.


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

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    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 #83: Superman: Doomsday (2007)

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    Superman: Doomsday (2007)
    Written by Duane Capizzi
    Directed by Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery and Brandon Vietti
    Runtime 78 min.
    4 out of 5

    Digging deep beneath the planet’s surface, Lexcorp accidentally unearths the merciless killing machine known as Doomsday. Immediately, the behemoth of rage goes on a rampage, destroying everything in its path, and all efforts to stop it fail.

    The Man of Steel, learning of the destruction and deaths in Metropolis, takes it upon himself to bring the monster down before more lives are lost.

    The battle is epic.

    The action is huge.

    The consequences are dire.

    Superman fails, falls . . .

    Dies.

    Adapted from the biggest and most shocking comic book story of all time, Superman: Doomsday is the emotional and action-packed tale of the life, death and return of the world’s greatest superhero.

     

    This story is dark, and not just because Superman dies. This isn’t a kids cartoon. The themes are mature (i.e. Lois half-naked in the Fortress of Solitude), Lex Luthor, distraught over Superman’s absence in his own weird way, is the most evil Lex ever seen in a cartoon and the things he does at some points in the film make you go, “Man, that’s evil. Not just evil. Hugely evil.”

    What was most astonishing was the swearing. I never would have expected that from a Superman cartoon.

    On the plus side, the battle between Superman and Doomsday is the greatest slugfest this reviewer has ever seen in a superhero cartoon (and I’ve seen nearly all of them). The story is solid and packs a lot in given the amount of time Warner Brothers seems to allow for these direct-to-DVD animated movies of theirs.

    The animation is dynamic, the coloring bold, the art in the style of the Justice League cartoons.

    This DVD includes a few special features, most notably the enthralling documentary on the life, death and return of Superman, chronicling the death saga from conception to fruition, with interviews with the many artists, writers and editors on the project.

    A very awesome movie.


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

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    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 #81: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

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    Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
    Written by Stan Berkowitz
    Directed by Sam Liu
    Runtime 67 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    The Man of Steel has been framed for the murder of Metallo.

    Now on the public’s radar as a wanted man, Superman must team up with his greatest ally—and closest friend—Batman, to clear his name and show the public what really happened the night Metallo died. But before he can do that, he must survive an onslaught of superheroes and supervillains alike, all of whom have come to cash in on the bounty for his capture.

    Meanwhile, a giant kryptonite meteor is on a collision course for Earth, making things even worse for the Man of Steel who has no way to stop it, especially since the President of the United States, Lex Luthor, wants to destroy it himself with nuclear missiles.

    Will the Earth survive and will Superman restore his good name?

     

    This movie, based on the graphic novel by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, is a comic book fan’s dream come true. Not only does it feature all of comicdom’s two most popular icons, but also a super supporting cast consisting of Power Girl, Captain Atom, Major Force, Black Lightning, Starfire, Katana and a host of other familiar faces, including, but not limited to, Captain Cold, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Lady Shiva and a ton of others.

    The story is solid, simple, but enough to really showcase each character: Superman as the one who doesn’t kill; Batman as the disgruntled detective; Lex Luthor as the glory-seeking, power-mad President—it totally works. The pacing was bang on and not once was I bored. Even the humor was in-step with the rest of the movie and didn’t come across like jokes from left field. Case in point, the giant robot in the end would’ve come across as goofy had not an explanation been given for the way it looked.

    There was a good give-and-take between Batman and Superman in this flick, too, both in their banter with one another, their approach to doing things, and also in saving each other’s bacon. Sometimes it seems that whenever the two team up, it’s always Batman that saves Superman. It was awesome a balance was finally struck between who helps who and when.

    I’m a huge fan of Ed McGuinness’s rendition of Superman and to see that they mimicked that art style in this feature made this fanboy happy. His Superman is big and strong and powerful. His Batman is top notch, too, same with the other characters.

    Of course, having Superman voiced by Tim Daly and Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy only adds to it as these guys were the voice talent behind these characters on their respective animated series. I really wish they would’ve been used for all the animated movies, but sadly that’s not the case and, of course, there’re different behind-the-scenes reasons as to why that is. Regardless, each actor captures each character perfectly, their tone, inflections and presentation reflecting the hero they’re supposed to portray.

    Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was one of the early feature-length DC animated movies and still holds up to this day as a classic.

    Highly Recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #79: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

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    Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
    Written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal
    Directed by Sidney J. Furie
    Runtime 134 min.
    3 out of 5

    The world is on the brink and Superman takes it upon himself to rid the planet of all nuclear weapons. Of course, war is big business and Lex Luthor sees an opportunity to use the Man of Steel’s quest for peace as a way to make big bucks. By promising various war moguls that he’ll destroy Superman for a cut of the profits, he puts a genetic stew made from Superman’s own DNA aboard one of the rockets he knows Superman is going to throw into the sun. After the Man of Steel does, Nuclear Man is born, a being bent on the destruction of Superman and to do Lex Luthor’s bidding.

    Will Superman stand against this solar villain or will he fail and let the world fall along with him?

     

    This was the last box office outing for the Man of Steel for almost twenty years. I remember my parents taking me to the theatre to see it when I was just six and a half. At the time, sure, I loved it. It was Superman, it was at the movies, and I had no clue what the story was about. Just Superman fighting bad guys and that was all that mattered.

    Nowadays . . .

    As a general premise, it’s a basic idea: save the world, your main villain doesn’t want you to and thus creates something powerful to defeat you.

    But something gets lost in translation and there are so many laughable moments in the movie that it’s the worst of the Superman movies when it could have been the flick to redeem the franchise after the misfire that was Superman III.

    The special effects are terrible. I don’t understand how the SFX from the movies nine years earlier were better. Most of the flying scenes were like a cut-out of Superman against a still back drop. Even in one of them, when he’s flying along the river, you can see the wake of the boat from the camera crew.

    The fight choreography was overly-dramatic and something you’d see in a school play.

    It seemed they either tried too hard with this movie and it all fell apart, or they just didn’t try at all.

    As always, Christopher Reeve was amazing as Superman. That’s who he was.

    Margot Kidder was back as Lois Lane in this one and you can see glimpses of the connection she and Superman had in Superman I and II, but nothing comes to fruition in this. Granted, this movie didn’t have any romantic elements other than one scene where the two fly together, which was just repeated footage cut over a multitude of backgrounds. (They fly around the whole world in that sequence in record time, too.)

    There is a lot wrong with this movie with plenty of story and continuity inconsistencies, never mind the introduction of new superpowers that are not in the comics or other films (i.e. Superman rebuilding the Great Wall of China just by looking it).

    There were, however, some things right with the movie. One of my favorite parts is when Clark and Superman are invited up to Lacy Warfield’s (Mariel Hemingway’s) penthouse. Clark has to keep coming up with ways to disappear and become Superman and vice versa without tipping Lois and Lacy off that the two are one and the same. This was well done and the ways he does it are very creative.

    Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor—yes, he is the greatest criminal mind of our time and for good reason. He does the part just as well as he did back in Superman I and II. Who else would come up with a way to destroy Superman that would also make him stinking rich in the meantime?

    This is one of those movies that if you go in and see it for what it is, you’ll be fine with it. Won’t change your life, but you’ll be fine with it. If you go in expecting a stellar superhero movie, especially one that could stand toe-to-toe with the super flicks of today, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.