Man of Asbestos

Man of Steel

Man of Steel (2013): I had very high hopes for this. I love director Zak Snyder’s update of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and his comic book movies, 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009). These fooled me into thinking he was a great director. He then made the vanity project, Sucker Punch (2011), which was truly awful, despite having some nice visuals.

Christopher Nolan co-produced and co-wrote the story. David S. Goyer co-wrote the story and penned the screenplay. He worked on all three of Nolan’s Batman pictures. This was a really good sign as all of those were tightly, smartly written. The only concern would be that Batman’s darkness would carry over to Superman. Unfortunately it did in a number of areas and the titular Man of Steel does not feel like Superman.

The good: Some of the fight scenes are intense and quite well done. There are a handful of cute moments (when Lois first decides what to call him, a scene involving a copier, Lois finding out what anonymous means).

The bad: Everything else. Seriously. Henry Cavill is not bad as Superman but he is certainly no Christopher Reeve and he has absolutely zero chemistry with Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Russell Crowe underplays well in what should be a cameo as Jor-El but is in way too much of the film and many of his later scenes undercut any tension. The writing of Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent is pretty much the exact opposite of the way Jonathan has always been played and his final scene is absolutely ludicrous. The most egregious offender is easily Michael Shannon as Zod. Every scene has him playing his character on ’11’ – moderation and nuance are not in this actor’s repertoire.

Snyder uses flashbacks willy-nilly and to terrible effect. Ditto with his soft-focus on the camera. Ditto ditto with his jump cuts. The special effects are serviceable but many of them look cheap. Hilariously, the flying in Superman from thirty-five years ago looks better than the flying in Man of Steel (except the sonic booms).

The dialogue is pretty bad. The re-imagining of Krypton started off interesting but quickly became ridiculous and went on for far too long. Man of Steel could have used about thirty minutes cut from the running time. Man of Steel also appears to have used last year’s blockbuster, The Avengers, as a template, particularly the last half hour.

Finally, as with Iron Man 3, the ultimate resolution could have been used much earlier, saving countless lives. At least Man of Steel has less unnecessarily slow dipping mechanisms to employ than Iron Man 3. Also less fun.

Wife POV: “Superman: now with less chemistry, less logic, and more flying insect dragons than ever before. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’re welcome.”

Rich Superman, Poor Superman

Rich Superman: Superman (1978) became Warner Bros. biggest selling film of all time (since surpassed) and spawned four sequels. Well, not unexpectedly, the reboot Man of Steel did record-setting business over the Father’s Day holiday ($125 million for the weekend – biggest June opening) and Man of Steel II has already been greenlit.

Man of Steel

I was a very small part of that. Jenny and I caught it at Biltmore Grande’s super deluxe RPX theater on Sunday. I used a FREE ticket from my Cinnamon Toast Crunch for hers and upgraded a FREE Regal Crown ticket to RPX ($5.50 even though the actual difference in ticket price is $4, go figure) for mine. The machine spat out a FREE popcorn (woohoo!) and Jenny and I both used their $3 off a soda mobile coupon of the week. Woot! $11 for two large sodas, a small popcorn, and two RPX tickets – score! Plus the tickets also spat out a FREE advance showing of The Heat on Tuesday evening for RCC members.

RPX

Speaking of RPX, the picture and sound quality are undeniably awesome. However, one of the major benefits is not listed on their advertisement. Because the base price for an RPX ticket is an additional $4, the theater is sparsely populated while the regular ones are full. Still I couldn’t imagine buying multiple $12 – $15.50 tickets without the various offers I take advantage of.

Poor Superman: Well, that would be Man of Steel in a nutshell but first, what happened after Superman?

Superman II (1980) was really just a continuation of Superman (especially as much of it was filmed at the same time) and was quite good. Many consider it better than Superman and there are two versions on home video – one by Richard Donner and one by Richard Lester.

Superman III (1983) was pretty bad – No Zod, no Luthor, no Brainiac, our villain is just a businessman. Worse, Superman essentially shares top-billing with a computer hacker played by Richard Pryor. Worse again, Lois receives less than five minutes of screen time. The only thing likely to make you forget how bad Superman 3 is…

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987): Yay for bringing back Hackman as Luthor and Kidder as Lois Lane but this movie is just awful. The special effects are horrendous, the story (co-written by Christopher Reeve) is just as ridiculous as Superman III (though more heartfelt), and only Christopher Reeve seems to want to be in this.

Superman Returns (2006): Almost two decades since the last sequel, they got the brilliant idea to have Bryan Singer helm this. Strangely, this was disastrous on two fronts. First, because Singer was helming this, directorship of X-Men: The Last Stand fell to Brett Ratner. Second, Singer, a marvelous director and clearly skilled at handling comic book movies, decided to slavishly ape the first two Superman movies. Themes that worked in the first two Superman movies had become trite and cornball in the new century.

Kevin Spacey was a good choice to replace Hackman as Luthor though he wasn’t able to do much with the role. Luthor again is an egomaniacal real estate tycoon (as in Superman) – making the plot feel stale. Adding to the staleness is the return of Marlon Brando as Jor-El in some previously unused footage. A salient plot point revealed late in the film is obvious to everyone from the beginning, except, apparently, Superman.

Superman Returns was not a disaster – it just wasn’t good. It wisely ignores the events of Superman III and IV and you can ignore it.

Man of Steel: Tomorrow

Super Mid-June Netflix Updates

Lots more instant Netflix movies this week thanks to the usual mid-month flood – my recommendation is Super.

Rolling Thunder

Action: Rolling Thunder, Miami Connection, Branded

Classic: Of Human Bondage, Hell’s House

Super

Comedy: Reggie Watts: Why $#!+ So Crazy?, Not Suitable for Children, The Love Section, Flypaper, Elf Bowling: The Movie, Super, American Wedding

Documentary: Reincarnated, Unfinished Spaces, Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream, Code of the West

Drama: Samuel Bleak, Deadline

Faith: Loving the Bad Man

Family: Lego Hero Factory: Breakout, Lego Atlantis, Lego Friends: New Girl in Town, Delhi Safari, Bionicle: Mask of Light, Bionicle 2

Foreign: Himmatwala, Totem Blue, Maria Di Nazaret, 12 Signs of Love

Silent Hill: Revelation

Horror: Silent Hill: Revelation, Blackenstein

Television: Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu, Lego Ninjago: King of Shadows

Thriller: True Nature

FREE Summer Kids Movies at Carolina Cinemas

Carolina Cinemas

Not to be outdone by Regal’s cheap kids movies, Carolina is offering a slate of FREE children’s fare. Carolina’s kids movies are shown Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m.

June 18th & 19th – The Smurfs

June 25th & 26th – Madagascar 3

July 9th & 10th – Kung Fu Panda 2

July 16th & 17th – Megamind

July 23rd & 24th – Despicable Me

July 30th & 31st – How to Train Your Dragon

 

Happy Father’s Day

Wow! Almost all of the ‘Dad’ portrayals on Netflix are pretty negative. I hope your Father’s Day is a wonderful one. I have two wonderful daughters and a precious granddaughter so I’m sure I will.

American DadAmerican Dad (2005-11) – Rated TV-14

“”Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane strikes again with this animated comedy about politically conservative CIA agent Stan Smith and his eccentric brood, a family unit that includes a talking goldfish with the brain of an East German athlete.”

Possibly the worst dad on TV – even worse than his animated counterparts on Family Guy and The Simpsons.

Ghost DadGhost Dad (1990) – Rated PG

“When workaholic widower Elliot Hopper (Bill Cosby) is killed in a tragic accident, his three children — Danny (Salim Grant), Amanda (Brooke Fontaine) and Diane (Kimberly Russell) — are left parentless. Now, Elliot has three days to return from the dead and get his family’s finances and priorities in order. Will he be a better father in the afterlife? Sidney Poitier directs this family film that earned three Young Artist nominations.”

I’ll withhold any jokes about Bill Cosby as a father but Ghost Dad is widely considered one of the worst films of all time.

Mum & DadMum & Dad (2008) – Not rated

“Polish immigrant Lena accepts a ride with her cheerful co-worker Birdie — only to find herself knocked unconscious and imprisoned by a deranged family of murderers. Now Lena must find a way to appease the demented clan or suffer an agonizing death.”

 

Sunset of the Drive-In

I love the concept of drive-in theaters. I prefer the comfort of a normal theater but the drive-in is an experience not to be missed. I have several good memories of going to the drive-in in Miami. I made sure to take both of my girls (well three if you count my delicate flower of a wife) to the drive-in while we lived in Waynesville, NC. Sadly the Waynesville Drive-In, as with most drive-ins, has since closed.

There are only about 300 operating drive-ins left in the United States. As with small local theaters, the greatest current danger to them is the conversion to digital film. Many new films are being released only on digital prints and even those that have 35mm releases are becoming increasingly rare and expensive. Wikipedia lists digital conversion ‘beginning at $70,000 per screen’ and drive-in theaters just don’t have that kind of money.

Go to a drive-in movie while you still can and take your children so that they will have something to remember. I’m just waiting for my granddaughter to be old enough to remember to go again (say when she turns five).

Sunset Drive-In

The Sunset Drive-In, in Shelby, NC, is still open and runs double features every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This past weekend they ran Fast & The Furious 6 and After Earth. Admission is just $10 a carload. Gates open at 7 p.m. and features start around 9.

Bessemer CityThe Bessemer City / Kings Mountain Drive-In Theater is still open as well. They usually run the same films as Sunset. Prices and times are likewise the same.

Altered Beast Beneath Rodentz Species

I love a good monster movie. Unfortunately these don’t fit that bill. They are however currently available on instant Netflix.

Rodentz

Rodentz (aka Altered Species – 2001) – Rated R

When a medical experiment goes awry, a group of lab rats develop psychic powers and turn homicidal. And one rat that gets an extra dose of the serum grows to human size and terrorizes a group of teenagers.”

Really bad with Asylum quality special effects, yet not digital. They go from using tons of tame small rats to using a man in a giant rat suit. This is hilariously bad and filled with many unlikable characters.

Beast BeneathBeast Beneath (2011) – Not rated

“A couple discovers an old map in a family heirloom music box. The map shows the location of a treasure on the former estate of a Spanish land baron, but guarding the hidden fortune is a huge netherworld creature, a terrifying, cave-dwelling beast.”

Like Rodentz but with an even smaller budget. The acting ranges from meh to truly awful. The creature is a man in a beast suit – it is not shown often as they try to tell a bit of a convoluted story with the beast being more of a side plot.

More New June Titles on Netflix

Here’s a few more goodies now on instant Netflix (okay goodies is stretching it in Madea’s case but my taste may not be yours):

Madea's Witness Protection

Comedy: Jim Breuer: More than Me, Madea’s Witness Protection, And Now a Word from Our Sponsor, The Magic Flute

Upstream Color

Drama: Ecstasy, Upstream Color, Lost and Delirious

Family: Brother Bear II, The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure

Foreign: Deadball, The Four, No Rest for the Wicked, Mere Dad Ki Maruti, El Cielo en Tu Mirada, La Ultima Muerte

The Glades

Television: Hit & Miss, Bob the Builder: Building Buddies, Moonshiners and new seasons of The Glades, Pretty Little Liars, Private Practice

June This ‘n’ That

Just some ramblings

Amazon Prime* Amazon Prime signed some more exclusives with NBC/Universal for the first seasons of Grimm and Suits and the first two seasons of Covert Affairs starting now. Hannibal will come in the fall and Defiance next year. I’m always glad to see Amazon pony up the bucks to compete with Netflix, even though these shows don’t interest me.

* Amazon just released Season 7 Part 1 of Doctor Who to Prime and season 3 of Downton Abbey is not far behind.

Xbox One* Microsoft announced the Xbox One and, unlike Sony’s invisible Playstation 4, they showed their new system. While there wasn’t much information on games, they sure want to take TV watching to the next level. You hook up your cable to the Xbox and then control it with your hands and/or voice – without a controller. As if I wasn’t lazy enough, now I’ll be able to just say “Xbox on, Netflix on, play Arrested Development marathon” and never get off the couch. Cost: $500

* As if that wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft has applied for a patent on ‘television achievements’ – pretty soon I’ll get my¬† 10 points for that Arrested Development marathon and another 10 for not getting up to use the bathroom since the Kinect knows when you leave the couch.

Spock Glass* Returning to Mighty Dollar, they had put out some Spock glasses making my set complete. Instead of a starship and the character, the Spock glass features Spock and Classic Spock. I now have two of each glass except Kirk (meaning no one can use Kirk :P)

It’s Time to See the Doctor

TMI Warning is in Effect!

Well, I just got back from my best physical ever. As usual, my doctor seemed younger than my daughters. I got told to lose some weight (what else is new?) and exercise more (same). They took my weight (comfortable), blood pressure (slightly less comfortable), my blood (less comfortable still), and, being a male fast approaching fifty, a DRE (I don’t want to talk about it).

As the doctor is feeling around (prior to the DRE thank you very much), he casually informs me that I have a hernia. Crud, this makes my third one and they’re moving up my body. I have a nice groinal scar and a smiley face right underneath my belly button.

Enough of my visit to the doctor, let me recommend some other doctors to you (on Netflix):

Doctor WhoDoctor Who (2005-11) – Rated TV-PG

“After more than a decade off the air, the epic sci-fi series returns with an all-new look — and the ninth (and beyond) incarnation of everybody’s favorite time-traveling doctor, who promptly sets about fighting nefarious aliens and other foes.”

The modern incarnation of Doctor Who is one of the most upbeat, life-affirming shows I know. This is funny because Torchwood, a spinoff also available on Netflix, is a depressing take on similar subject matter. This Doctor is good for what ails you.

Doctor in the HouseDoctor in the House (1954) – Not rated

“Soon after medical student Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) arrives at St. Swithin’s Hospital to begin his training, he’s engulfed in a high-stakes world that includes sports cars, cocktails and women. With all these distractions, it’s difficult to keep his eye on his books — and that’s where strict chief surgeon Sir Lancelot Spratt (James Robertson Justice) comes in. Ralph Thomas directs this farcical comedy, based on a novel by Richard Gordon.”

Silly hijinks ensue in medical school – warning: this British comedy from the 50s does feature some offensive ‘blackface’. This was followed by the (also available on Netflix) sequels, Doctor in the House and Doctor at Sea.

Doctor ZhivagoDoctor Zhivago (2002) – Not rated

“As political turmoil rumbles through Russia, Doctor Zhivago is trapped in a love triangle between his wife and his mistress. Meanwhile, the Bolshevik Revolution will change all their lives forever in this miniseries remake of the classic 1965 film.”

Anyway I trust your time with the Doctor, whichever you choose, will be more pleasant than mine.