Posts tagged #Superman

A Batman, A Batman, My Kingdom For A Batman!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have a new Batman and he is Daredevil. Affleck is the Dark Knight Detective.

So its been awhile since I posted anything. Having a new baby, a child starting school, and big life decisions to make will do that to you. So, I'm trying to get back into the game. Hopefully, this will be a regular occurrence. Anyway, like the title says, Ben Affleck is Batman. Warner Brothers confirmed it this evening along with Zack Synder. I'm not going to get into my opinion of this decision just yet, because I need to write up my (very late) piece on Man of Steel. It's been kind of a down summer at the movies (especially after last summer), and out of the movies I saw I only had two really stand out. Pacific Rim and Man of Steel. I want to really get into an in-depth review of this summer at the movies as a whole, so I'll save the commentary til then. I will just say one thing, "never would have thought of Ben Affleck, but sometimes there are smarter people in Hollywood than I am. Perfect." If you are a Ben Affleck hater, you might want to rethink your movie watching habits (he does have more Oscars than you). There is always French foreign language films you may be interested in, just saying. Full press release after the jump.

Ending weeks of speculation, Ben Affleck has been set to star as Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne. Affleck and filmmaker Zack Snyder will create an entirely new incarnation of the character in Snyder’s as-yet-untitled project—bringing Batman and Superman together for the first time on the big screen and continuing the director’s vision of their universe, which he established in “Man of Steel.” The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.
The studio has slated the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015.
Last month’s surprise announcement of the new movie featuring both Superman and Batman created a wave of excitement and immediately fueled discussion and debate—among fans as well as in the media—about who would put on the cape and cowl of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.
Snyder successfully re-imagined the origin of Clark Kent/Superman in the worldwide blockbuster “Man of Steel,” which has earned more than $650 million worldwide to date, and climbing. The director will now create an original vision of Batman and his world for the film that brings the two DC Comics icons together.
Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill, who will reprise the role of Superman/Clark Kent. The film will also reunite “Man of Steel” stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.
In the announcement, Silverman stated, “We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.”
Snyder also expressed his excitement about the casting of Affleck, noting, “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”
Kroll added, “We are so thrilled that Ben is continuing Warner Bros.’ remarkable legacy with the character of Batman. He is a tremendously gifted actor who will make this role his own in this already much-anticipated pairing of these two beloved heroes.”
Affleck recently starred in the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture “Argo,” which he also directed and produced, earning acclaim and a BAFTA Award nomination for his performance in the film, as well as a number of directing honors. In 2010, he starred in and directed the hit crime thriller “The Town.” His recent acting work also includes “The Company Men,” “State of Play,” and “Hollywoodland,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Earlier in his career, Affleck starred in and co-wrote (with Matt Damon) “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won an Oscar® for Best Original Screenplay.

Man of Steel - Nic's Impressions

Well Internet, I've seen Man of Steel. And, well, much like I was after seeing Star Trek Into Darkness, I'm conflicted.

Warning, SPOILERS follow...

In fact, for us here at the Inner Dorkdom the scene after the movie was very similar to the one after Into Darkness. We were having our post-movie credits-are-rolling conversation about the movie. Some in our group really liked it. Others were not impressed. When it came for me to give my input, there I was again, in the middle, only able to say, "I'm conflicted." I couldn't give a simple, "loved it," or, "hated it." In some ways and on some levels I really enjoyed it. And in others I was disappointed. And, again, just like immediately after Into Darkness, I couldn't initially sort my feelings out and put them into words. On the drive home with Josh (who loved it) and Liz (who hated it) I started trying to, particularly what disappointed me about the film. But it didn't go well. Again, too many emotions and responses all intertwined.

I think the reason this happened with Man of Steel is the same reason it happened with Into Darkness. In both cases we have a reboot of a franchise (sorry J.J. Star Trek, but for most intents and purposes that's what you are) that I have a familiarity with, an affinity for, and thus, expectations regarding.

So to sort out my feelings, I'll begin by doing what I did while pondering Into Darkness.

If I evaluate it just as a summer action movie:
No doubt it's a well made action movie. There are plenty of action-packed scenes (especially in the latter half of the film), heroics and villainy of a very high order, and lots of stuff that goes boom (grain silos, Sears stores, IHOPs, 7-11s, dozens of Metropolis skyscrapers). Indeed, the action scenes themselves are full of impressive imagery and intense kinetic action. My problems with it on the purely action movie level are the same that I have with any film that really goes in for the distinctively modern trends in action movies (shaky cam, muted colors, action sequences that go on a bit longer than I'd like, a Hans Zimmer styled score--in this case composed by the man himself).

If I evaluate it as science-fiction:
And I should. Superman is an alien. Superman stories, though the extent to which they emphasize this varies, are science-fiction stories.

And as a science-fiction film, I think it really works. It's not as deep as some sci-fi, no doubt. But, for my money, it works much better on the sci-fi level than Into Darkness does. In Man of Steel the science-fiction elements are more than just the backdrop used to give flavor to a story that with minimal tweaks could be set in realistic modern day. (Which is, as you guessed, how I felt about Into Darkness, although perhaps I'm being too hard on it.) The science-fiction elements are integral to the story and plot here. But, it should be noted, they don't completely overshadow it.

If I evaluate it as Superman:
Again, having been a fan of Superman for years, this is where I bring certain personal baggage with me. That is, expectations, or at least preferences, based on my previous experience with the franchise (which is not in-depth on the comic book side, although I did read Superman comics as a kid).

With my Into Darkness impressions I tried to filter out the Nic-specific baggage and evaluate it just in terms of it being Star Trek. I think that approach made sense because Star Trek, a franchise less than 50 years old, has only had (and, I admit, technically still only has) one continuity. Different shows and films have their own unique flavors. But nonetheless I think one can look at Star Trek as one cohesive thing.

But it doesn't make as much sense for me to do that here, because Superman is a much more varied franchise. There have been many continuities over its 75 year history. Superman stories have been told in a number of different media, with no one medium being thought of as the one true official one. And the stories themselves have varied greatly in terms of content, tone, themes, and so on. So its more difficult to nail down certain elements, whether they be of story or style, and say, "Regardless of one's personal preferences, this is what Superman is." I do think some exist. But they are far fewer than the one-continuity of Star Trek.

So all I can do is evaluate it as Superman with my personal tastes in view. And what is the result?

First, and I think foremost, it makes my problems with the modern edgy action-movie stylistic sensibility more acute. Because it's Superman. Yes, he's the Man of Steel. But he's also the Man of Tomorrow. The boyscout. The kindly flying super-powered space alien from an old-fashioned small town in Kansas. Also, even amongst superheroes he is distinctive and one-of-a-kind. And I personally want a Superman film to tonally reflect those values and ideas. I certainly don't want it to drink so heavily from the modern "gritty realistic" style. Now, even though I think of most of them fondly, I'm not asking for a straight up emulation of the Christopher Reeves films, or even Superman Returns (which, in my mind, was a Christopher Reeves film without Christopher Reeves). I understand filmmakers today are highly unlikely to go that far. General audiences' tastes have changed a bit over the decades. But I would like a Superman film that at least, when compared with other films of its day, leans noticeably in that direction. I want a Superman movie to standout from its peers as a bit "classic," when it comes to its presentation. Man of Steel doesn't do this. In fact, quite the opposite. The film takes up the gritty style more so than most Marvel films, and ends up being, in my eyes anyway, tonally closer to The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Truthfully, of all the recent movies I've seen, I feel like Captain America: The First Avenger did the best job of capturing the vibe I'm wanting in a Superman film.

Don't get me wrong. When evaluating this as a Superman movie, it's not all bad. Not at all. For example, I thought the cast did a wonderful job. Although I still miss Brandon Routh, I was pleasantly surprised with how well I felt Henry Cavill works as Superman. He could play the serious, almost brooding side, and also the warm optimistic side (on the very rare occasions he was given opportunity to do so). Amy Adams as Lois Lane is great (though early on I feared Lois' spunkiness was going to come across more like witchiness, but fortunately that didn't pan out). Of course Ma and Pa Kent and Jor-El were wonderful. I know there's been some controversy over Michael Shannon's performance as Zod, but I personally liked what he did with the role. Laurence Fishburne was great as Perry White (indeed, his scenes helped make the whole affair feel more like a Superman movie, though I'm not sure why). And the other bit players performed admirably as well.

As for the story, which is no question the heart of any film (except for 'artsy' films, and by the way that's a technical term I learned when studying film criticism in college), no doubt there are changes made here, including a couple of significant ones. I'm personally not of the "They changed something thus its ruined forever" mindset, at least when a film is creating or working within its own continuity. Change by itself is neither good nor bad in my book. You have to look at the changes themselves, evaluate them on their own merits. For sake of time I'll only point out the one change that had the largest impact on my enjoyment of the story, and by extension, the film itself. That is, they decided to play up his alien nature to the point where, it seems even growing up in Smallville, he was an outsider. A loner. And them, upon graduation, a drifter.

Let me say that I do think the filmmakers executed that idea well. But, that choice had a profound impact on the film. And in a way that worked against my enjoyment.

On the ride home with Josh (who loved the film) and Liz (who hated it), I started trying to explain my feelings. I talked about warmth. Josh was amazed I didn't see that in the film. Liz and I talked about the film lacking a sense of fun, and again we had trouble communicating.

I've been thinking about it, and I think I've figured out how to articulate it.

Some folks say difference between 2006's Superman Returns and Man of Steel was action. The former had too little, while the latter, at least for some, had too much.

I think it's deeper than that. It seems to me that Superman Returns emphasized Superman's compassion, his relationships, his personal warmth, his emotional side. In Man of Steel, because he's a loner for much of his life, this side of him doesn't have a chance to be explored, let alone emphasized. Rather Man of Steel emphasizes his resolute moral character. Here is a 'man' who has deep convictions. He has great power, but he also has great restraint. He is not one to seek vengeance, even on those who often treat him poorly (that one guy's big rig notwithstanding). Indeed, he shows himself, at a young age even, to be willing to protect even those people. And, perhaps most important of all, he is highly selfless, willing to live the life of a drifter because of the combination of two things: 1) he cannot stand by and not use his powers to help others, and 2) his earthly father instilled in him the importance of not revealing himself to the world too soon.

Both elements, his compassionate personal relationship side and his moral resolve and strength of character, are important parts of Superman. Both are needed. If he's compassionate but not resolute he might use his powers in dangerous/harmful/vindictive ways due to those he personally loves (this is what the Jedi during the time of the prequels feared could happen if they allowed themselves to form attachments). If he's resolute but not compassionate, he comes across as distant, his desire to protect humanity becoming merely a philosophical decision.

Superman in Man of Steel is not devoid of this personal connection and compassion (just as Superman in Superman Returns isn't devoid of strong moral resolve). He clearly loves his adopted parents. And at the end of the film as he begins his new life as Superman and Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet, it starts to come through again. But, again, because the story is structured as it is, throughout the film we don't see much of this side of him. He just doesn't have many relationships. He cares about 'humanity,' but we don't get many chances to see that abstract idea made personal and, well, human.

And that is why I, and I suspect others, feel like the film, and Superman himself, was lacking a sense of warmth. (It's like, I know this Superman would care about me if I were falling out of the sky or something. But I don't know that he'd want to be my friend.)

Incidentally, the scenes that did help bring some warmth to the film were somewhat stifled by the pointless shaky-cam and other facets of postmodern action cinematography (I'm looking at you, scene with Pa Kent after the school bus incident).

His being a loner also probably accounts at least somewhat for what I call the lack of 'fun' in the film. The type of thing I refer to when I talk about a sense of "fun" typically comes from personal interactions. Or, at least, it's expressed typically through personal interactions. Characters commenting to others (usually associates or friends) about what's happening ("You and I remember Budapest very differently," "Well, I hope this experience hasn't put any of you off flying. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel," "Another happy landing"), or interacting in other ways (Steve Rogers giving Nick Fury ten dollars, acknowledging his losing their bet). But, again because the filmmakers chose to tell the story they did, Kal-El/Clark/Superman doesn't interact with many other people in the film. Here's who I remember: His parents, computer ghost Jor-El, girl and jerk at diner, Lois Lane, a priest, Zod's lady sub-commander, Zod, couple of military guys. That's it. Thus, even if he wanted to give us some fun (and this Superman, being a bit broody until he truly finds his place in the world, probably wouldn't), there are few people around for him to play off of.

(Incidentally, I'd read a review that said Superman and Lois' relationship in the film isn't the big iconic romantic thing we might expect, but we can see how it could bloom into that. Having seen the film, I think by in large that's an accurate description. And I'm ok with that. But, I was thus a bit surprised at the kiss. I didn't expect it, since they hadn't really had time or opportunity to fall in love or develop anything more than an initial attraction and respect for each other. I personally would have been OK without the kiss. Let that come in the next film.)

I don't know about cinematography, editing, and music, but as for my other disappointments, I think there's a small amount of hope for the future, if the last five minutes of the film are any indication. First you have Superman's response to Lois's line about first kisses (a wry humor "fun" moment). Then there's the scene with the general and the destroyed drone. I read someone say it comes off as a poor attempt at Tony Stark / Nick Fury banter. I disagree. Does the scene channel a bit of that Marvel movie fun? Yes. But Superman isn't being anything like Tony. He's still clearly Superman, making valid and mature points. He even acknowledges his rural Kansas upbringing. And the military personnel are definitely a bit less, theatrical, than Fury. So to me the scene feels very natural...and fun. Then there's the final two scenes, where Clark explains to his mother what his job will be (guess he doesn't have to go to college for that?), and we see him arrive for his first day at the Planet. Maybe it was partially seeing the standards of Superman mythology finally start to fall into place, maybe it was the resolution of the broodiness of earlier, but whatever the reason, I couldn't help but have a pretty big smile as I watched those two scenes. (Then the music continued to be Zimmer's score, and the smile lessened slightly).

OK, I guess I may as well say a little something directly about the score. I'll save more in-depth observations for a dedicated article. For now I'll just say that I for a Superman score, I personally want something else. Something more traditionally orchestral (but not necessarily exclusively so). Something with a bit more melodic and rhythmic complexity. Something with a touch of classic heroicism and patriotism, maybe even with at least one trumpet or woodwind instrument somewhere in the score.

In a publicity interview, Zimmer said that Nolan's Batman is inward and brooding, and the Dark Knight films were serioius psychological explorations. But Superman represents hope, and even traditional Midwest Americana. As I read that, it made me think that perhaps his Man of Steel score would be different from his Dark Knight scores. Perhaps his themes would do a more adequate job of embodying the specific characters, and not just conveying the basic psychological journey of the character.

But I have to agree with others on this, I don't think that's what happened. On the contrary, the music to this film feels very similar to his Batman scores. To me the music Zimmer wrote for Man of Steel doesn't reflect Superman's inspiring hope in others. It doesn't embody his heroicism. (That's what John Williams' themes did.) Rather, when it isn't being just ostinato triplet pattern driven action, it seems to be more of a reflection of Superman's inner psychological journey. When I hear Zimmer's 'main theme' it conjures in my mind the image of a person who had been kneeling because of something oppressive finally standing up. But the nature of that person, and that oppressive force, isn't specified. It could be any number of people, dealing with any number of oppressive circumstances. It doesn't convey the particular image of a man in a cape with super powers flying through the skies saving the world. It doesn't contribute to the film as a whole being the kind of rousing, awe-inspiring experience I, and others, wanted it to be. And that's the kind of score I personally wanted. Even if it had only displayed those qualities right at the end, that would have been welcomed.

Well, Internet, there's the broad strokes on my feelings about Man of Steel. In some ways I enjoyed it. In some ways I didn't. In the end, I wish it had been a bit less dark and brooding.

I have some other thoughts about specific plot points, stylistic choices, etc., that hopefully, along with a more detailed discussion of the score, I'll share with you soon. But until then, I remain,

 - Nic

Posted on June 18, 2013 .

Let's Talk Superman - Take 2

Alright, let's try this again.

Last night for some reason I was on a Superman kick, so my article today is going to be about the upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel.

Before I begin, I think it best to let you know 'where I'm coming from.' I'm a big of the Superman. From childhood until only very recently he was far and away my favorite superhero. His time of complete supremacy came to an end when Disney and Marvel introduced me to a guy named Steve Rogers, a.k.a., Captain America. But even now he is still in my top two.

You also need to know where my appreciate of Kal-El comes from. I'm not The Inner Dorkdom's resident comic book expert (that's Todd, no question). In fact, growing up I had very few comics. It's not that I disliked them; I just didn't collect them. And unless my memory fails me, I've never owned a single Superman comic. So when I talk about Superman, I'm not approaching it from the perspective of someone who knows all about Kal-El's decades of comic book exploits. My knowledge and appreciation of Superman comes from film/television (the Superman films and the old Superfriends cartoon show most notably).

I tell you this because someone might read my about-to-be-shared-with-you concerns about Man of Steel and say, "Come on man. This kind of stuff has been happening in the comics for years. Get with the program. Get with post-modernism. This us just the superhero genre growing up." I'm just going to go ahead and head that off at the pass: Yeah, that's great, and very well may be true. But I don't read the comics. And if I did, and if what you say is true, I'd probably feel the same about them as I do about what it looks like Man of Steel will be.

Ok, now with that behind us, let's talk about Man of Steel. The truth is we don't know that much about it. A couple of trailers have come out recently that have shed a little light, but we'll talk more about them in a minute.

It's a reboot. The all-news cast includes greats like Kevin Costner and Russel Crowe, and relative newcomers like Britain's Henry Cavill (Kal-El himself). Hans "I write superhero themes that consist of 4 notes" Zimmer is doing the score, and has said he won't be using any of John Williams' themes. And given the screenwriter (David S. Goyer), director (Zack Snyder), and producer (Christopher Nolan), folks have inferred that the film will give us a dark, more gritty, 'realistic' take on the story of the last son of Krypton.

And this is what concerns me. I'm just not a fan of applying the "darker and edgier" trope (overused these days anyway, in my opinion) to Superman. I'm ok with a Batman movie being dark. It fits with his character. "Dark" is even in one of his nicknames. But Superman isn't Batman. The story of Batman is the story of a man overcoming a great personal tragedy and using his wits and fortune to fight for justice in a corrupt place, channeling the darkness within him into his Batman persona. The story of Superman is the story of an alien...from outer space...orphaned as a newborn, who finds he has extraordinary invulnerability, flight, and laser eyes...and chooses to use them to protect the people of his adoptive home, fighting for truth, justice, and freedom wearing a blue and red uniform with a cape and a big bold S on the front.

I know that the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy has done very well for DC. The films were praised critically, and made boatloads of money. But that doesn't mean that the same formula should be, or must be, followed for all superhero films in order for them to perform well. Marvel's recent films I believe prove this conclusively (The Avengers, anyone?). I fear that the powers that be in the DC world are afraid to embrace the 'lighter' side of their properties on film. Maybe The Green Lantern is part of the reason. Then again, maybe I'm completely off-base on why they would choose to make Superman gritty.

But, with the release of two trailers now, I think it's safe to say that's exactly what they've done.

Or it is? I think we need to throw out a little disclaimer here, to keep us from jumping to conclusions.

See, the thing about trailers is they can very easily be misleading, because they exist for marketing purposes, not artistic purposes. They are made in order to 'sell' the movie to us. That being the case, they aren't designed to purely reflect the final film. Sure, they use footage from it, and attempt to give us at least a sketch of what the film will be about. But accurately previewing the tone, pacing, style, or overall vibe of the film is not the top priority. Now, this is nothing new and earth-shattering. Many of us have been the victim of a misleading trailer, going into the theater expecting a film very different (sometimes better, sometimes worse) than the one we actually saw. And there's an entire genre of videos on YouTube that exploit their inherent potential unreliability.

So information gleaned from trailers is somewhat suspect. Always good to remember that. But, bearing that in mind, I think it's safe to say the new trailer does give the impression that Man of Steel is going to be the grittier, darker, edgier, and 'more realistic' take on Superman that we were expecting.

First, so we're all on the same page, here's the trailer:

So all the usual suspects for "darker and edgier" are all here. Enya-style, chorus-filled, this-is-stinking-serious-folks-so-take-it-serious music: check. Muted color palate with a hearty helping of blue tint: check. Quick fades to people suffering: check. Tripod-free shaking cinematography: check. Random shots of water over rocks: check. Superhero outfit that has been modified from the traditional outfit in such a way that it almost seems to be apologizing for its roots: check.

But let's also notice the story points the trailer seems to be sharing with us, because that's where I think we get the 'more realistic' take stuff.

We begin, despite the initial images of him as an adult splayed out in the water (somewhat Jesus-style), with Clark as a small child. He's talking to his mother, presumably about the hardship his super-hearing is giving him. The world is too big, the voices are too many. It's making him cry it's so bad. And so his adopted mother is apparently trying to teach him how to cope by focusing only on one voice.

See? He has super-hearing, and it's not just coolness and rainbows for him. If someone really had super-hearing, yeah it would have advantages, but it would also be a total burden, man. This is realism.

(If you'll allow me the opportunity to be especially dorky, I don't think this is actually more realistic. His super-hearing is apparently an innate ability all Kryptonians have, and is, barring hearing sounds on other planets despite a vacuum between them and Earth, just a souped up version of our hearing. So why would he need his mom to help him learn how to filter sounds? We humans have that ability on a smaller scale, and no one has to teach us. Our moms don't have to sit down with us when we're at the mall or supermarket or some other place with a lot of voices and sounds and help us learn how to focus on just one. We just do it. It is an innate ability, and seems to be a part of the "ability to hear" package. So it seems odd that if Superman's natural hearing ability is just a better version of ours, his sound sorting ability would be a thing that had to be learned, making it worse than ours.)

The second story point in the trailer takes us a few years further into Clark's life. He's in high school it looks like. A school but plummets into the water, and he saves everyone. His dad is concerned, because saving a bus full of children puts the secret of his abilities in danger. Should Clark have just let them all die? "Maybe," his dad says.

See, Clark's parents have to wrestle with the fact that a person with superhuman abilities isn't just going to be accepted and welcomed. People will be curious, fearful, jealous. They'll want to know why he can do those things. They don't want that for their son, so they wrestle with whether or not he should use his powers. This also is realism man.

The third clear story point (as the second half of the trailer includes tiny snippets of all sorts of action-filled scenes) is an extension of the second. Clark, apparently in military custody, is telling someone that his dad (presumably Pa Kent) thought that if the world knew who he was, it would reject him. He believed people weren't ready for him.

See, this is realism man. An alien with superpowers shows up on Earth, puts on a suit and starts flying around fighting evil, it doesn't matter that he's fighting evil. That's going to freak people out. They're not going to respond with gasps of joy, thunderous applause, and looks of awe, admiration, and gratitude. He won't be man of the year. He'll be public enemy number one.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not against realism completely. I don't even know how one could be, unless you're all into strange French cinema. You need some realism. This is not a matter of absolutes. It's a matter of balance. And while it is true in many types of stories, it is perhaps especially true that in superhero stories you're always having to find that good, balanced amount of realism. You need to have some minimum amount, so that characters behave in believable ways and plots feel cohesive and believable. But if you have too much realism then, well, Superman can't fly (no dense molecules and amazing strength because the gravity of his star...not even his own planet...was higher, no zero point energy, no telekinesis).

So my concern isn't that there might be some realism in a Superman story. My concern stems from the fact that, at least these days, realism seems always to be of the 'dark and edgy' variety. It's as though in many people's minds, "realism," inherently includes, "dark and edgy." Just note the three examples from this trailer: A boy crying because he hears a bunch of stuff a lot, a parent who tells his young son that maybe he should have let a bus full of children, his own peers, die, and a person trying to do good bound with chains.

So if Man of Steel is going to give us a more realistic take on Superman (a.k.a. a flying space alien in a tight suit who fights crime), that means it's probably also going to present that realism in a dark, gritty, edgy way. In a way that (maybe until the end of the film) lacks any vibe of optimism. That is, it won't be like, "Life is rough but then comes Superman to give us all hope and help! Hooray!" It'll be, "Life stinks, even for one trying to be a hero."

Again, don't misunderstand. I'm not anti such ideas being explored. When done so in a thoughtful and skilled way the results can be thought-provoking and emotionally moving. But, and this is just personal preference, I don't want to see them explored in Superman. My reasoning is simple: because the character for so long has been the one voice of optimism when everyone else in the room was being pessimistic. To fight the dark, Bruce Wayne embraces the dark. To fight the dark, Kal-El stands in the light. To take that character and give him the dark treatment, and to do so in the name of realism, I just don't think it fits.

This is also not to say that I doubt that the film will be executed well. Zack Synder is a skilled director. David Goyer is a good writer. The cast members whose work I'm familiar with are all talented actors and actresses. And I suspect the editing team, sound designers, etc. will do well with their unsung but oh so important contributions.

My suspicion is that I'll roll away from the film thinking, "That was a good film. But it didn't feel right. It didn't feel like Superman."

Hans Zimmer's score in general, and the lack of the classic themes in particular, I think will be a major contributing factor. It's not that I hate Zimmer. He's a better composer than I, no question. But I'm typically not impressed with his scores. They feel less like "underscore" to me and more like "background music." That's not my attempt at being a musical elitist or anything. I'm not trying to make any kind of normative (look it up) statement. What I'm trying to articulate is just a difference in style. When I talk of, "underscore," I'm thinking of music that complements the on-screen action, but also stands up well on its own. When I talk of, "background music," I'm thinking of music that complements the on-screen action, but isn't the sort that stands up on its own. That doesn't make it inferior, it just makes it different. It's a different style, one that I personally don't enjoy as much, especially in genre films.

And of course there's the matter of themes. As I've already mentioned twice now, the indication is John Williams' themes will not be used. I find that disappointing, because...

Now that's what I'm talking about! That's how I personally want it done.

Obviously I'm not alone in that sentiment. But on the other hand there are many folks who feel just the opposite. Some people may want to chalk the difference up to a generational thing (the old folks who grew up on Williams want his themes, whereas the young whipper-snappers who grew up with this modern trend in film scores want Zimmer). Some may think it's just a fanboy thing (some folks love Williams, and others, like one person whose comment I saw on YouTube want Zimmer, because "he's f-ing Hans Zimmer").

Those explanations account for some of the differences, sure. But I think the most real, the most artistically relevant reason, is one of tone. Someone I know referred to the Williams themes as "cheesy," and not suited to Man of Steel. One person on YouTube said the Williams music won't fit "with the tone and type of superman movie" that Man of Steel will be.

Allow me to be the old fogey: If that's true, it's because they aren't trying to make a Superman movie that is positive, optimistic, hopeful, inspiring, and fun. Because Williams' music fits perfectly with that type of film.

Alright, well, I guess I'll leave it there for now. I'm sure there'll be much more Superman discussion in the weeks and months to come.

Until later, I am,

 - Nic

Posted on January 18, 2013 .

!!! The Discovery Channel Presents Deadliest Catch The Movie Starring Clark Kent !!!

Well, we saw The Dark Knight (my review comes soon, very soon) and in a word, WOW! Great stuff! Go see it, you'll like it. We also got to see the teaser for a small movie called The Man of Steel (or just Man of Steel, because the "the" would make it less dark and edgy). Color me unimpressed. My first thought was, Deadliest Catch the Movie (I fully expected Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive to start playing), and my second thought was,"WTF is this crap?" If they wanted me to go, "Wow, the Man of Steel trailer", they were sorely mistaken. The only indication of what it's about was the shot at the end of Superman flying (at least he wasn't jumping). The voice over, I found out later, could have been one of two, either Russell Crowe as Jor-El or Kevin Costner as Pa Kent (Jonathan if you want to get technical). Both great actors and I have no doubt that they will do fine in those roles (the voice overs do give me slight hope because they seem to be well written), but the rest of the teaser, nothing, nada, zip. Didn't feel a thing. No excitement, no holding my breath, no chills, just a whole lot a nothing. So far, Warner Bros. is 0 for nothing when it comes to this version of Superman. Maybe I'm wrong and maybe they'll pull a rabbit out of their hats, wait, who am I kidding no they won't. Superman will crash and burn and Warner Bros. will have to pick up the pieces. Wait, maybe I'm being to hard. I just know that the whole, "let's chunk everything that came before and do the dark and edgy thing" is seriously rubbing me the wrong way. Superman is the Donner movies, Superman is Christopher Reeve, and Superman is John William's score. Without those as a basis, the castle will crumble. I'll reserve final judgement for when I see it, until then give me something that get's me excited, quit jerking everyone around.

In the teaser they use Howard Shore's music from Lord of the Rings (the scene in Khazad-dûm to be precise). Well, if you've been keeping up, that there is crap in my book. That worked for Lord of the Rings, but I don't see a Balrog in Superman. Where is the classic John Williams theme? Thankfully someone has made that change for us and can I say the result is 100 times better. They also included the Jor-El voice over by Marlon Brando from the first Superman movie (you know the one, "They are a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way." I get chills just typing that). I'll include all three versions below and you can decide for yourself. Thanks to Cinema Blend for the recut trailer. Sit through the first two but stay for the third.

Todd "I Got A Pocket Full Of Kryptonite" B.

Kevin Costner

Russell Crowe

John Williams, Yea!!!

Cleanse the Palette, Cleanse the Palette

Nic here, trying to get the bad "dark and edgy Superman" taste out of all of our mouths (I wholeheartedly agree with Todd's commentary on the Batmanification of Superman being a bad thing), by pointing to a Superman-related product that actually appears to be good.

I'm talking, of course, about LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes!

Y'all may not know this yet, but I'm a big fan of LEGO, and have been for a long time. Some proof:

1. My swisscheesed brain (i.e., I don't have the greatest memory) can't recall anything about my first day of elementary school, but can recall quite well when I got a LEGO cement mixer set for Easter.
2. I had a LEGO monorail set when I was a kid.
3. I made my own Star Trek: The Next Generation LEGO sets in the early 90's (thus foreseeing a time when LEGO would get into the licensed properties business).
4. I played with LEGO regularly through middle and into high school.
5. Even when I officially entered my LEGO Dark Ages (google it), I still jumped at the chance to dabble with them when over at Josh's house. (Josh is six years younger than me. As such my friendship with him was a great excuse to play with toys and play make-believe long after it was age appropriate.)
6. I let my nephews (17 years younger than I) borrow my Super Nintendo and all my games (which, incidentally, know one knows the whereabouts of), but they couldn't borrow my LEGO collection. If they wanted to play with my LEGO bricks, they had to do so at my parents' house.
7. My Dark Ages started to end in 1999 with the release of the first Star Wars sets.
8. I have at least 93 different LEGO sets, with an estimated retail value of more than $2,947.
9. That retail value figure includes seven LEGO videogames (a few Star Wars, one Indiana Jones, LEGO Rock Band).
10. Next year when my family, Todd's family, and hopefully Josh go to Orlando, FL, I've already demanded that we go to LEGOLAND.

Why am I telling you this? I'm not sure...hmmm....

Anyway, here's the point of this post: today the newest LEGO videogame came out for all major videogame platforms. The game is, as I said, LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. As the subtitle suggests, this game isn't just about Batman and the Boy Wonder. No, the scope is much bigger. Other DC superheroes also are playable in the game. There's Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash (Yay Dawson's dad!!!), and the Man of Steel himself, Superman.

I haven't played the game yet, so I can't give you a review. But the folks who have, and have, say it's great. The addition of an original story, open-world gameplay, and voice acting (yes, the minifigures talk) take the already enjoyable LEGO videogame formula and make it even more enjoyable.

So if you have a chance, check it out. You can find reviews for the game at many of the major gaming sites (IGN says it's the best Superman videogame ever). In the meantime, I leave you with three of the game's trailers.

Miss Teschmacher!!!!

 - Nic

Posted on June 19, 2012 .

!!! Wait, What? Oh No, They Ditnt! (Man Of Steel News) !!!

You Will Lick John Williams' Boots For This!!!

John Williams is a master! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. He has written more music that you instantly recognize than anyone else on the planet. He is a modern day Mozart, no "foolin'" (Def Leppard, 1983). I have recently been buying all the John Williams soundtracks I can find (for those interested, you can find them "here" and "here"). I have found that iTunes has a great selection of Williams' music. The other day I got the soundtrack to "Superman: The Movie". The Superman theme from that film is easily known worldwide by billions of fans. It is synonymous with the red and blue tights and the huge "S" symbol on the "Man of Tomorrow's" chest. To me, there will never be another theme for Superman. Bryan Singer knew this when he made his movie and Zack Snyder should know it now (oh, he knows, but he can only do so much). You see, the powers on high at Warner Bros. have a case of the "Dark Knights". They have decided that every DC Comics movie has to be "Dark" and "Edgy", or people won't come to see it and, consequently, they won't make a gazillion dollars off of it (because ya know, the Avengers didn't just make over a billion smackers and counting). So, what better way to do that than to chunk everything from the previous films and go with a Batmanification (my own word) to the entire world of Superman. Well, if Siegel and Shuster haven't already turned over in their graves they might as well get to turning and digging so they can get to China before they completely decompose, because that's a "STUPID IDEA"!! Superman is the opposite of Batman, that's why they are both the perfect friends and the perfect enemies. If you screw that up, you got two Batmans and one of them will kill the other (because there can be only one... Sorry).

So, it is with no small amount of dislike, that I hear a certain bit of news about the "Man of Steel". Hans Zimmer (he of "Begins" and "Dark Knight" ear splitting, "one notes all I got", scores) had flatly turned the job down saying, "My heart belongs to Batman." He also stated that, "I wouldn't even know how to go and give voice to it." Good, go away then. But noooooooooooo!! Today, Variety is reporting that he has now excepted the job to turn Superman into Batman! Great, that's just great! Hey, Warner Bros. you screw up Green Lantern (hard to do) and now you're screwing up Superman (extremely hard to do), what have you got to say for yourself (I don't expect an answer, but you can leave me a comment explaining your ridiculous decision below)? This goes to show you that no matter how successful a comic to movie adaptation that sticks closely to the original version is (Avengers), some idiot in a board room somewhere insists that he is right and the original creators were wrong (even though their characters have been beloved by millions for 70+ years as is). I don't usually go on a rant like this, because I believe creators should be able to make their vision however they like. This has just made me mad. Even Christopher Nolan's Batman is true to the spirit of the comics, it's not trying to be something it's not. Superman needs to be Superman, not what's "hip" or "happening" right now. Certainly, Superman shouldn't be dark and brooding. He shouldn't be bleak and edgy. Even Grant Morrison knows that, get with the program people!!

I'll leave you with one more quote from Hans (can I drop him out a window like Bruce Willis in Die Hard?) and you can discuss why he changed his mind below. Comment till your hearts are content.

"[It] happens to be one of his greatest themes," Zimmer said, calling Williams "the greatest living composer." "So no. And I’m not thinking of rewriting Beethoven’s ninth either. It just sounds like a thankless task, you know? So that’s unequivocally a no."

Hans, you are right. You are no John Williams! Go back to your Bat Cave!

Todd "Jimmy Olsen" B.

[ and The Hollywood Reporter]

!!! Boy, Those Superman Underoos Make You Look Fat (Man Of Steel AndTransformers News) !!!

I went to Krypton and all I got was this lousy cape!?!

The Licensing Expo 2012 is taking place in Las Vegas the week and the studios are pushing the merchandising world hard to support their upcoming slate of films in an effort to bring about world peace (actually they just want to make a lot of money, peace is secondary). There are a lot of posters of upcoming movie that basically just show the name of the movie and nothing else. Rarely, you might have a studio bring props or costumes from a highly anticipated big budget bonanza to whet the appetite of the companies with deep pockets. Such is the case with this years expo, because Warner Bros. has pulled out the big guns too woo said merchandise pushers to license it come next summer. What is the said movie, you might ask?

None other than Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan's Superman reboot "Man of Steel". Check out these suckers. They brought "the suit" (Superman's in case you are slow on the uptake), Jor-El's duds, and the as yet unknown character Faora's costume. Interesting to say the least. The iconic Superman Suit has changed quit a bit since Christopher Reeves put one on in Richard Donner's 1978 version. For you comic fans out there, you will already be familiar with the absences of the red underwear that the character has worn for 73 years, since DC Comics did away with them for their universe wide reboot "The New 52". I'm still on the fence about this movie because on the one hand I love Christopher Nolan's take on Batman and Zack Snyder's ability to take a comic book and put it on screen, but I don't want a darker more edgy Superman (Batman doesn't call him a boy scout for nothing) and I don't like the fact that they are ignoring the past movies. They may surprise me and that certainly has happened before, but call me old fashioned, because I want my Superman to be about Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Batman is the Dark Knight (I'll post my review of "Rises" after I see the movie), Superman is the Man of Tomorrow, that's just how it is. Don't screw this up Warner Bros. (like you screwed up Green Lantern). Check out all the coverage of the expo on

Also, in video games news, Peter Cullen and Gregg Berger are in Transformers : Fall of Cybertron. The two will voice the characters that they made famous in the G1 Transformer animated series in the 80's, Optimus Prime and Grimlock respectively. You can find more info "here".

Well, go on people. Get to getting.

Todd "I Had Robin Underoos" B.