• Tag Archives Phantom Zone
  • 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.

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

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  • Canister X Movie Review #57: Man of Steel (2013)

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    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.

    Super recommended.

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  • Canister X Movie Review #1: All-Star Superman (2011)

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    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.

    Highly recommended.

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