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Posts Tagged ‘Man of Steel’
It’s not a spoiler to let you know the Avengers save the world in The Age of Ultron. The spectacular six have rescued the planet before and, no doubt, will save it again in future. In superhero movies the globe is always on the eve of destruction.
The original movie, 2012’s The Avengers, saw the team protect the planet from Thor’s evil brother Loki while in Superman II the Man of Steel battles three Kryptonian criminals set to obliterate our orb. A baddie named M tries to wage world war in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and recently the Fantastic Four prevented a giant cosmic entity called Galactus from gobbling up the earth.
“I see a suit of armour around the world,” says Tony Stark in Age of Ultron. “Peace in our time, imagine that.”
The movies get bigger every time out and with thirty more superhero flicks scheduled for the five years—including Deadpool, Doctor Strange and Gambit—the mind reels at the ways villains might endanger our world. It sounds entertaining but haven’t we’ve already been there? Where do you go from the threat of total annihilation?
Diminishing returns in terms of audience reaction, that’s where. We all know The Avengers will pull out all the stops to save the earth. Buildings will crumble, trucks will go airborne and giant cracks will appear where city streets used to be but by the end credits you know everyone will emerge relatively unscathed, with the bad people vanquished and the good guys grinning from ear to ear. Viewers are left with CGI fatigue, but dammit a catastrophe was averted. Again.
But we’ve been there, done that. Why not freshen things up and turn back the hands of the doomsday clock a few minutes to create tension in the form of different kinds of situations? It sounds counter intuitive—bigger is always better, right?— but imagine Captain America going mano a mano with Kim Jong-un or Iron Man shrinking down to the size of a microbe to battle cancer from the inside à la Fantastic Voyage.
The real world is a very complicated place. Every day the news delivers more bad information than all the tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles combined. Stories of beheadings, terrorism and all manner of terrible behaviour flood the airwaves aching to be corrected by some sort of superhero. How great would it be to see warrior princess of the Amazons Wonder Woman unleash the Lasso of Truth on the Canadian Senate or weather maven Storm get all medieval on climate change?
An injection of real world issues might not make for big box office, but it certainly would infuse the movies with a sense of unpredictability—just like real life events. Real life is messy and volatile and that’s what keeps it interesting.
I understand one of the reasons we go to movies like The Avengers: Age of Ultron is to see things we’ll never witness in real life, but it’s hard not to agree with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) when he says, “We’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow—it makes no sense!” These movies try to dazzle our eyes—and they do!— but bringing them down to earth, literally, might help us engage our brains as well.
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This weekend in Man of Steel the square-jawed Henry Cavill becomes the latest to bring the Last Son of Krypton to life on the big screen, joining a list that dates back to 1941 when Mel Blanc voiced the superhero in a cartoon called Goofy Groceries.
Bud Collyer next voiced Superman in a series of animated Oscar-nominated short films. The actor played the character three separate times: on the radio, in this series and the late 1960s cartoon show The New Adventures of Superman.
The Collyer years brought with them some innovations to the character.
In June 1943, when the actor took some time off, the radio show’s writers came up with the idea of kryptonite to explain his absence. While Bud sunned himself, the Big S was held prisoner under a sheet of the radioactive element.
Six years later the comic books adopted the toxic ore and it has been part of Superman’s story ever since.
Animators on the original series felt that Superman’s ability to leap buildings in a single bound looked strange on screen, so with Detective Comics Inc.’s permission, they had him fly instead.
The first live-action Supermen were Kirk Alyn and George Reeves. Alyn was a Broadway actor who played the Man of Tomorrow in Atom Man vs. Superman, reportedly the highest grossing American movie serial ever, but couldn’t sustain a career in film after he retired the cape. In 1981 he starred in a spoof called Superbman: The Other Movie, partially set on Planet Krapton.
George Reeves became a mega star playing Superman in 102 episodes of Adventures of Superman, but later felt his popularity as the character inhibited his ability to earn more serious roles. The Reeves biopic Hollywoodland, starring Ben Affleck, examines the actor’s life and mysterious death.
Others played Superman — John Newton, Gerard Christopher, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, and Brandon Routh — with varying degrees of success, but the best-known has to be Christopher Reeve, who starred in four Big Blue movies between 1978 to 1987.
Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed after a horse riding accident, and passed away in 2004, once asked Sean Connery how to avoid being typecast.
Connery said. “First you have to be good enough that they ask you to play it again and again.”
SYNOPSIS: The story begins on Krypton, as all good Superman origin stories must. To save his son Kal-El from perishing on the doomed planet Jor-El (Russell Crowe) rockets him off to a safe haven—Earth. There he is raised by Ma and Pa Kent, (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), humble farmers who raise him as their own and keep his alien heritage a secret, but his (Henry Cavill) extraordinary powers are exposed when a snoopy reporter digs (Amy Adams) into his life and the last surviving Kryptonians, led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) try and invade the planet.
Richard: 3 Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, Man of Steel plays kind of like a Nirvana song. It starts off quiet, then gets loud, then quiet again and then REALLY loud. Thing is Nirvana songs were usually under four minutes and this movie clocks in at well over two hours. Much of it is entertaining, but I have to say my eyeballs felt scorched after the protracted blow-‘em-up scene that eats up much of the last forty-five minutes of the movie. It’s all crash-boom-bang and not nearly as interesting as the stuff that preceded it.
Mark: Richard, I always liked the Superman movies-even the bad ones-for their charm. Although there’s some good scenes toward the beginning of the movie, it becomes bombastic and self-righteous; way too serious for its own good. That forty-five minute scene you’re referring to made me long for headphones with Enya songs playing on a long loop. And I know it’s an origin movie, but I longed for the comic contrast between Superman and his journalist alter ego Clark Kent, which is mostly missing from the movie. Then again, we no longer have phone booths. Any of the actors appeal to you, Richard?
RC: I thought Cavill was suitably square-jawed and blue-eyed enough to play the icon lead character and Michael Shannon brought the crazy (as usual for him) to Zod, but I was let down by two other leads. Russell Crowe was fine, although I couldn’t help but imagine Ralph Fiennes really eating up the role of Jor-El. Finally, I’m not sure Amy Adams is plucky enough to play Lois Lane.
MB: Cavill was square-I mean, square-jawed, wasn’t he? Crowe was fine, but somehow Kevin Costner got to me in a very sentimental turn as Clark’s dad. As for Michael Shannon, I can only assume he was forced to overact at gunpoint, with lines like “Unleash the world machine!!!!” For a movie that cost a few hundred million dollars, it was often close to a Flash Gordon serial at times.
RC: I think I wanted more Flash Gordon and less of what was on the screen in front of me. It’s an entertaining movie for much of its running time, but the word overkill comes to mind. I feel like less—shorter running time, fewer explosions, not as many fights—would have been more.
MB: And did you notice that so many of the action scenes had the same basic gimmick- concrete being torn up over and over again? And I had to laugh when the entire city of Metropolis is collapsing under alien attack and there are scenes of people just staring at the buildings falling around them. If I see one brick on the ground, I’m outta there!