Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel (2013)

Original Theatrical Release Date: June 14, 2013
Director: Zack Snyder

Kal-El was sent from his dying planet, Krypton,  as an infant by his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his mother Faora-Ul (Ayelet Zurer). With him, they sent the hopes and wishes of their entire Kryptonian race. Raised by human parents after crash-landing on Earth, Kal-El was renamed Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and eventually had to come to terms with his extraordinary and god-like abilities, using those abilities to help others though they didn’t always realize it. However, when another survivor from Krypton – Zod (Michael Shannon) shows up and demands that Earth give up this “Superman” or face dire consequences, Clark/Kal must choose a side. The Kryptonians or the Earthlings.

Now, before I get down to brass tacks, I need to say something: I am not the biggest Superman fan in the world. Don’t get me wrong. I love the basic idea of his character, and his abilities are cool for the most part…but the dude is just too invulnerable. Sure, he’s got his weaknesses but they sort of change over time depending on the needs of the story line (in the comics, anyway). Plus, they’re really specific weaknesses – like Kryptonite, a rare green rock from space – really?! Also, Superman is an alien and it’s hard to identify with him already on account of his insane god-like abilities – but when you also throw in the fact that he’s not even human, then there is definitely a disconnect.

With that said, I don’t think this was the worst Superman movie I’ve ever seen.

I came into this film with no real expectations other than to be entertained for a while. I was entertained for the most part, for sure. Zack Snyder’s direction was the usual fare of fight sequences and thoughtful, introspective scenes. The writing by David Goyer was decent, but some of the elements were too clearly designed to be almost like a parable. The acting was decent by Henry Cavill and the rest of the cast, and it was nice to see Russell Crowe back in shape a little bit. He’d been looking a little chubby the past few years. However, some of the special effects were wonky and some of the story elements had me going “really?”, and that’s all on top of the movie being way too long. Two and a half hours with not much really to show for it.

Now, I had been entertaining the idea that this would be sort of a darker version of Superman, sort of how Christopher Nolan brought Batman back to his gothic roots. I was right in a way, but wow…I was not expecting the level of wanton destruction Superman caused during the fighting with Zod. In other incarnations of Superman, Supes would have tried to direct the fight to the countryside or somewhere uninhabited….but in the film, Superman uppercuts his opponents through skyscrapers, toppling the buildings, and he doesn’t have time to save anyone. Crazy. My other gripe was the way in which Jonathan Kent’s (Kevin Costner) character was handled. The writers wanted him to be “Uncle Ben” to Clark but it didn’t translate nearly in the same way as the poignant character of Uncle Ben did to Marvel’s Spider-Man.

All in all, it was decent as an action flick. I wouldn’t go in thinking much more than that, even if you’re a Superman fan. I am interested to see if they change anything up during the sequel. Guess we’ll find out! (EDIT: I’m feeling like the upcoming sequel will be a shit show, but I hope they prove me wrong. They are CRAMMING IN so many characters. It’s crazy.)

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Man Of Steel

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Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins (2005)

Original Theatrical Release: June 15, 2005
Director: Christopher Nolan

Billionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), was made an orphan when his parents were brutally murdered in the streets by a common thug. Vowing revenge, as an adult he began training himself to fight before ending up as a student of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) – both in a shadowy group dedicated to eradicating evil called the League of Shadows. When Bruce disagrees with their methods, he takes what he’s learned and finances himself as a vigilante superhero called Batman. With enemies from his past and present arrayed against him, Batman has a lot of work to do to clean up Gotham.

This isn’t your 1989 Batman, that’s for sure.

This movie starts and ends with a bang. There isn’t much time to think about anything except for the awesomeness up on the screen, but there are just a couple of scenes that are a little too slow or bog down the action.

The acting is all top-notch (aside from how anyone looks at Christian Bale’s Batman voice) and the characters from Batman’s canon were all brought to life, more vibrant than any incarnation that came before it. We had the amazing Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Michael Caine as Alfred. Not as great was the wooden Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, but hey, she’s still easy on the eyes.

Nolan’s vision ties everything together and by the end of the film, we see a story that has been artfully pieced together that leaves us nodding our heads in appreciation as the credits roll. I still think the second film, The Dark Knight is the best in the trilogy, but this is a close second.

All in all, this is a wonderful start to the Batman Trilogy by Christopher Nolan, and I’m glad that we’ve gone away from the campy nature of the Batman films of the 1990’s.

Batman is pretty damned serious.

JOE Rating:

Movie Trailer For Batman Begins

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002)

Original Theatrical Release: May 3, 2002
Director: Sam Raimi

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is your average high school student from New York who has a lot of troubles in his young life. Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is the girl of his dreams but doesn’t really give him the time of day. He gets bullied, and doesn’t even live with his real parents – instead living with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). Next to his rich best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), Peter’s life looks pretty lame. Well, until he is bitten by a radioactive spider and is granted great powers. As young Peter finds out in a very hard and tragic way with the murder of his Uncle Ben, with great power must also come great responsibility. Peter dons the identity of Spider-Man and fights crime, and the menace of the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), in New York City.

When this movie first came out, I was ecstatic. I never thought I would see a Spider-Man movie on the big screen. Not only that, but it was being directed by Sam Raimi, the same guy who made those Evil Dead movies that I loved so much.

The film mostly lived up to my expectations. Tobey Maguire has always been questionable to me as a good Peter/Spider-Man, but I think he pulled it off (quite a bit better than James Garfield, I’m sorry to say….but I’ll tell you why in my review of the newer Spider-Man movie when I finally do it) for the most part. I always thought of Peter as really dorky and Maguire can certainly pull off dorky.

I know a lot of folks had a problem with Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, but I enjoyed her in that role. It’s probably the only role of hers I actually like. (Not sure on that, yet)

James Franco was okay as Harry Osborn, but he wasn’t amazing. In fact, I like him in almost any other movie. I felt like he was hamming it up too much in this film. I dunno why. Maybe just because it was a comic book movie and he felt he had to be Shakespearian?

Willem Dafoe was AMAZING as Norman Osborn, but the choice to put him behind a metal mask as the Green Goblin was atrocious. We could have had some really demented scenes with Dafoe, especially if he wore prosthetics or a different mask, but instead we got fights that were reminiscent of Power Rangers….where you hear the voice of the villain but if the sound were off you would just see him shaking his head around a lot when he’s “talking”. I know it’s possible to do this with some range, just like in V For Vendetta, (the link to my review for that film) but whatever their technique…it didn’t work.

Almost everything else was great, though. I didn’t like the organic webshooters, though it DOES make sense…that’s not who Spider-Man is. I wanted to see him create the web shooter devices as he does in the newer movie (and they do it quite well) because that was integral to his character in the comics. I feel like he was dumbed down a lot in the film.

So, overall, it was a decent movie (the second one was much better) but due to a lot of weird problems, I didn’t think it was as amazing as it should have been.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Spider-Man