Old Fairy Tale…Not for Newborns (Quick Review)

Timing is everything in life. Period. So when I heard about another Fairy Tale
movie coming to the big screen I thought…”OK, I know how this is gonna go, Ive
heard it a million and one times”. NOTHING could be further from the truth. While
Jack and the Giant Slayer is yet another fairy tale movie on the big screen, it’s a
COMPLETELY new take on a familiar formula. You may know the order in which
things happen but let me tell you…it all makes sense now! It’s more like a story for
adults instead of children.

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Everything makes pure sense, no filler, mature subject matter. Everything a
grown adult would want in a movie. It has much more content that adults would
want but I will not spoil it. Let’s just say “Survival of the Fittest” is key. When you
start cringing don’t say I didn’t warn ya! The movie feels like it’s made for a the
masses, it has a lot of elements from movies people have loved through the past
decade. I highly recommend this movie to people that just want to have a good time
and see something they didn’t expect.

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ATTACK OF THE CARTOON TOMATOES

Just when you thought it was safe to eat your salad again, the killer tomatoes return… again. But this time, their creator Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen and these vicious veggies are even more hell bent on revenge and world domination.. and they’re animated for a Saturday morning cartoon.

 If you expected the ‘90s cartoon to pick up where Return of the Killer Tomatoes left off, then you’d be wrong. Much like the sequel, the series (which only lasted 2 seasons) picks up after The Great Tomato War of the first movie (much like the sequel). The characters are all pretty much the same as Return of the Killer Tomatoes also.  A few things occurred to me while watching this; 1. Why would they make a cartoon series out of this? and 2. Why did I not find out about this sooner?

Though the plot may be quite similar there are some subtle differences between the movie sequel and the daytime cartoon. In the ‘80s movie, the characters are old enough to be out on their own (the main character of both, Chad Finletter, even has his own apartment) but in the series, the characters are school age (10 years old, I believe). Since they’re too young to really have a relationship, Tara is not Chad’s girlfriend but his best friend in the cartoon. Like, the movie, she flees Dr. Gangreen’s lab after being considered a “failure” and refusal to get on board with his evil plan.

If you were worried that they left out the best character, have no fear! F.T. (a.k.a Fuzzy Tomato) is also in the show! He was also a failed experiment of the Doctor after he ended up cuddly, fuzzy and incapable of causing any harm to anyone. He’s my favorite character of the show because of his cover. Because society has a very anti-tomato stance, F.T. goes by “the world’s ugliest dog” in order to live among the general population.

Another difference between the show and the movie(s) are the tomatoes themselves. In the original, the tomatoes can’t talk but make some weird noises that is probably a language of their own (but not understandable) and in the sequel, Dr. Gangreen turns tomatoes into humans so they are able to speak, but only when they’re in the human form. In the cartoons, the tomatoes speak english and actually have leadership roles. For example, Tomacho (they got super creative with the names) has control over South America and Ketchuck rules over Asia. But all the tomatoes weren’t bad, for example, there’s a rogue tomato named Phantomato (a clever nod to Phantom of the Opera) who hides in the sewer due to his deformity (again, Phantom of the Opera) who repeatedly saved Tara’s life (way to be the weakest link, lady).

Much like many other horror series, this show was short lived. I feel like people were not fully ready to see a horror show (especially in Saturday morning programming). With the success and acceptance of the horror genre on television nowadays, I think the show could be successful now. Maybe it’s time for a revamp…any takers?

Anime Review: Fatal Fury – The Motion Picture

 

With my love for SFII: The Animated Movie pronounced greatly as per my earlier bullpen bulletin, I bet you were wondering where I went from there.  As I was riding high after watching SFII and preserving it for posterity at the time, I came across a commercial about anime movies, made for TV, being shown on the Sci-Fi channel (years before it became SyFy).  As I watched the clips, I came across a certain figure.  I saw a red cap-wearing blonde in a sleeveless t-shirt, torn blue jeans, a red jacket, and red Converse sneakers.  He raised his fist up, drove it into the ground and yelled out a phrase almost as iconic as, “Hadoken!”  The phrase was “Power Wave!”  The intention of this commercial was clear.  If you liked SFII, look what else was on the horizon: another fighting game translated to anime on cable television.  The name of the game series: Fatal Fury.  The movie on deck: Fatal Fury – the motion picture.  The review: right here and right now.

 

Fatal Fury is a fighting game series that was created by Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, the original planners of Street Fighter before departing for SNK.  Fatal Fury was to be a more technically sound fighting game focusing on counters and precision strikes, not so much on combos.  This was in stark contrast to what Street Fighter became, and of course, comparisons were drawn.  Fatal Fury maintained more than a handful of sequels in the series that, unfortunately, started to wane very early on.  The series would receive resurgence with its final game: Fatal Fury – Mark of the Wolves, which stands as arguably the best title in the series.  The game was more of SNK’s way of attempting a new gameplay system reminiscent to Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter 3, using more in-depth animated sprites and a newer generation of fighters.  And, that’s a brief synopsis of the series.  So, how and where does the anime fit in?

 

Fatal Fury had three animated movies adapted from the series itself.  The first movie was based on the first game and the second was based on the sequel.  The movie I saw was actually the third movie which came out before the King of Fighters game and even the third Fatal Fury game.  So, it’s a completely different story with no connection to the games, save for cameos and such.  The first two movies were animated specials as opposed to this, which was an actual feature film.  The story covers the legendary artifact known as “The Armor of Mars”.  The armor was imbued with the power of Mars, the god of war.  It was initially utilized by Gaudemus, a tyrannical despot who used this power to take over various parts of the Middle East, like Alexander the Great.  This armor makes for a great archeological find as Cheng Sinzan had come across one piece.  The only problem was others were looking for it, too.  These other people are the antagonists of the film, with powers connected to the elements of earth.  Their leader, Laocorn had come across the first two pieces of the armor and wastes no time taking the third from Cheng.  As his search continues, the only chance to stop him lies with his twin sister, Sulia.  Sulia finds Terry Bogard in Japan who initially was in town to see Joe Higashi’s kickboxing fight along with his brother Andy, and Andy’s girlfriend, Mai Shiranui.  Once they all meet, we get a cross-country race to obtain all the pieces before the unthinkable occurs: the potential return of Mars and the world’s destruction.

 

While the movie makes a concentrated effort to tell a solid stand-alone story involving those in the Fatal Fury universe, I found this movie in comparison to Street Fighter to be, well, not as solid.  The big selling point of the film is Terry’s falling for Sulia in hopes to protect her from death, as he failed to do with his first love interest.  This never happened in the game, sure, but it really takes away from Terry’s bravado, making him seem wimpier in some cases.  There’s also a lot of humor to a very raunchy degree.  In fact, this movie is best seen on DVD or VHS, as it was heavily censored on Sci-Fi when I saw it.  That could be the fault of Sci-Fi trying its best to keep it clean or the fault of the director who makes it a point to allow for more raunchy material in his work.  If you want a full analysis on the director, watch the review of this movie done by Bennett the Sage on Anime Abandon.  My biggest problem with the film was the pacing in a sense.  There was a lot of time between battles to exposit story.  It can wear on you if you’re looking for some battles.  In fact, compared to the first two features, this probably has the least amount of fighting in it.  This makes sense as it is more of an adventure and not a tournament.  However, if this is your first film of the three to watch, you may be disappointed seeing your favorite characters look pale in comparison to the villains in the film, knowing that your favorites are much stronger than that.  I also wasn’t high on how the characters were drawn as they all looked very lean and not too muscular.  Other than that, it was an interesting approach to the story of Fatal Fury.  Just don’t expect it to be as dynamic as that of Street Fighter.

 

It seems that Fatal Fury and Street Fighter not only differ in game mechanics.  They also differ in motion picture motifs.  While Street Fighter II based itself on the actual tournament, giving more depth and story to the characters themselves, Fatal Fury took a different turn by telling a new story unrelated to the series itself.  The action seems a bit lop-sided, coercing you to watch the initial two films if you want to see how the protagonists handle themselves in battle.  The drama does leave a bit to be desired, as the mood shifts around a bit and the pacing may seem a bit off.  Still, it makes for a different approach to a movie about a fighting game as it has a whole new story.  So where does this lie?  Just like Terry Bogard’s catchphrase, it’s “OK!”

RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES

There’s been a slight change in programming tonight. Instead of the scheduled review of Return of the Killer Tomatoes, we now present to you…

Just kidding, but who doesn’t like a gratuitous dose of girls from the 80s in their high waisted bikinis!?

 In what has to be one of George Clooney’s best performances, the campy franchise returns for a second round. Don’t be fooled by the title though because even though  it may say that the killer tomatoes have returned but it wasn’t much of a comeback for the vegetables… or was it?

After a glorious victory against the blood hungry vegetable during The Great Tomato War, the human race tries to resume their normal lives but there’s one difference; tomatoes are outlawed.

Our hero from the last movie has also tried to regain some normalcy by opening up a pizza shop (that have the most disgusting looking pizzas ever. ) and hired his nephew Chad(Anthony Starke), to work there along with his buddy Matt (Clooney).

On a delivery to the mysterious Professor Gangreen’s house, his crush Tara(Karen Waldron) answers the door. After trying to make small talk with the gorgeous blonde (who is not much of a talker), he discovers that she is the lover of the Professor (she also cooks and cleans). Crushed, Chad heads back to the pizza shop but what he doesn’t know yet is that he’s about to get a second chance.

There’s something odd about Tara. Besides the fact that the wide-eyed bombshell isn’t much for conversation (and when she does, it’s pretty awkward), she’s also not human.

*SPOILER*

Tara is actually a tomato and one of the Professors experiments. His big plan? Instead of actual tomatoes infiltrating the human race, why not be a little more inconspicuous? He will convert tomatoes into humans and no one would think twice.

Even though Tara knows about the evil plans of the Professor, she doesn’t seem bothered by him or his wicked plot until she sees his abusive side to a failed experiment; a fuzzy tomato that she dubs “FT” (or fuzzy tomato).

Because she has been locked up in that house with the Professor for so long, she doesn’t know anyone and has nowhere to go when she decides to take FT and run. The only person she even knows a little bit is Chad the pizza boy, so she shows up to the pizza shop on a dark rainy night.

 This is pure luck for the shy pizza boy who, unlike his roommate, never seems to get the girl. So when his crush shows up out of nowhere, there could be nothing sketchy about this, right? What Chad doesn’t know is that he’s about to get himself into a situation that he is in no way prepared for.  Will it ever be safe to eat veggies again?

In a movie that makes a complete mockery of itself from the start, it’s hard to not love it. One could say that maybe it tried too hard to be ridiculous and campy(it had a huge bit about being so bad and expensive that they had to use endorsements to fund the film), but seriously, it’s a movie about killer tomatoes, what’s not ridiculous about that from the start? It’s streaming on Netflix now.

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My Live WWE SmackDown Experience

 

 

Wrestling fans have a lot of things they enjoy.   You’ve got matches, match types, merchandise, PPV, television shows, feuds, stables, characters, so on and so forth.  But, if there’s one thing that encompasses all of this in one glorious way, it’s experiencing it live and in-person.  My first live wrestling experience came in 2004 when I attended WrestleMania XX.  I was in the upper section with my two best friends, Dion and Jon.  The experience was phenomenal.  No matter if the event was good or bad after the fact; the experience was worth every penny.  I didn’t get into attending wrestling events live until 2008 with my first ROH show.  Since then, I had to attend live wrestling shows if it was in my area and if it was affordable.  Now, for as many live events I’ve been to, I have rarely gone to that of the WWE variety.  I have been to a live PPV, and even some regular live events, but I’ve never been to a television taping, until now.  As the title states, here’s my experience at a SmackDown television taping.

 

To start, I had a chance to get the tickets in advance, thanks to a co-worker that sent me an email about it.  She happily took me to a SmackDown show on a Friday a few years ago.  We had great seats and great food.  The event itself was decent; after all, it was a house show.  Since then, I had gone to about one more house show on the Saturday in MSG before the Fatal 4-Way PPV in 2010.  The seats were a bit further back, and the show was practically identical to the PPV.  What would make this show different?  It was a taping of an episode of Friday Night Smackdown.  I got to be part of television history.  What was it like?  I’m glad you asked….or noticed…or something.

 

I went to Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn to wait for my fiancé and my best man to travel there together.  See, Smackdown was in what is  known as the “Tri-State Trio” of arenas.  Every live event report for the affiliated area had their standard places.  For me, it was the Meadowlands Arena (now known as the Continental Airlines Arena), the Nassau Coliseum, and the big one, Madison Square Garden.  I’ve been to MSG for the RAW show and for WrestleMania.  I’ve been at the Nassau Coliseum for the Smackdown house show.  For this occasion, I would be returning to Long Island and the Nassau Coliseum for the taping.  We met up around 5:30 and went on our way to the event.  The show started at 7pm, even though the taping doesn’t start until 8.  We would be treated to one hour of tapings for other shows like WWE Superstars and WWE Main Event.  When we got there, we had to make the choice between cheap or expensive parking.  The difference: about a 10 minute walk to the arena.  As we got to the arena, we showed our tickets to the usher and we were on our way in.  And that’s when the madness began.

 

We were greeted to two throngs of people going in two directions, as long as we kept to the right of each other.  That didn’t stop the endless hustle and bustle.  There was a cavalcade of fans here, with all types of shirts and such.  We saw older fans with much older t-shirts, younger fans with newer shirts, and all types of groups in between.  There was no shortage of fans with championship belts, as well.  Sorry, but if I have to spend that much on a replica instead of the actual thing, I’ll pass.  But, they did look nice.  Vendors were selling all types of food and merchandise, all ranging from standard arena fare to just a bit too expensive.  That didn’t stop us from buying chicken fingers, nachos with cheese, and the complimentary WWE cup with various WWE stars on it.  My best man went to his seat early so we could track him down later after getting concessions.  Much to our chagrin, the seats were very far up, about 4 rows from the back.  Thankfully, our noses didn’t bleed.

 

When it was time to get settled, we saw the ring clear as day.  Sadly, pictures were not going to happen because of our distance.  That, and Kodak doesn’t make the best digital cameras.  The fans were very vocal and very loud.  They definitely were having a great time.  The loudest pops of the night went to the likes of Sheamus, Zack Ryder, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and even the Shield, as well as Fandango.  If there’s one thing New Yorkers have in common, it’s that we know who we like and we aren’t ashamed to say it.  We also aren’t ashamed to be a bit obnoxious.  But, I digress.   The action for the night was very solid from top to bottom.  Some of the segments dragged on, but as expected, it was standard WWE fare.  Overall, the show was pretty good.  As for the pyrotechnics, cover your ears when possible.  Also, it will get hot when Kane sets off his fire.

 

Afterward, we slowly made our way out, although many left way before us to beat the traffic.  Various people were waiting on line for tickets to the next time the WWE returned to the arena.  That date would be late November for a live taping of Monday Night RAW.  How awesome is that?  It would be just as awesome if I could manage to go.  I couldn’t.  Regardless, my experience was a great one.  I suggest that you do it sometime if you haven’t already.

ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES

Picture this: you’re washing dishes in your kitchen on seemingly normal day when suddenly, you hear something disturbing… and it’s coming from the sink your cleaning in. You look down, nervously and cautiously and you see it…. a tomato. Naturally, confusion is the first thing you feel until that thing starts moving, after a brief WTF moment, you realize… you’re done for. *cue epic intro music*

It seemed like just a harmless veggie, who would ever suspect the delicious tomato? Well, as the intro to the movie explains, people laughed in the ’60s when Hitchcock made his legandary film The Birds but no one was laughing when millions of birds attacked a town in Kentucky in the ’70s (much like the attack in the film), no one was laughing.

So when did vegetables become hazardous to your health? It happened back in the day (the day being 1978) when reports of the vegetable attacking people started to occur and these attacks were hilarious. Now, before you go thinking I’m sick for enjoying someone being attacked, hear me out. One guy dies from drinking tomato juice (the juice was made from a killer tomato) and my favorite attack, a parody of Jaws where swimmers are eaten alive while enjoying some time in the bay.

The government doesn’t handle the damage control very well after these attacks, saying there’s nothing to worry about and none of the reports are credible. So even though the President is telling everyone to relax he’s forming a special forces team behind the scenes. The team includes a disguise expert, an Olympic swimmer and a solider. Now, the team member selection really confused me and I figured it was due to me missing some social relevance in the ’70s. After a little research, it turns out I didn’t miss anything (that I could find) and it was just suppose to be ridiculous.

During this crisis, a secret committee meeting was held to discuss what the plan of attack should be to defeat these killer tomatoes. The members of that meeting were not too careful because an editor of the paper gets a hold of a pamphlet and assigns his sexy reporter Lois Fairchild to the job telling her to “use what she’s got” to get the story (use your imagination on that one). Jaws isn’t the only movie that gets a parody in the film, but I won’t spoil this one for you.

In the end, it comes down to a battle of good vs evil, man vs. vegetable. Who will win this battle of epic proportions? The ending might surprise you (or make you never want to eat a vegetable again). As far as movies go, this is about as campy as they get. If you’re one of those people who can’t take a campy movie for what it is, then you’ll turn it off midway and tell all your friends how bad it was but for all you campy film fans, this is definitely one to watch.

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Man of Steel Review: SPOILERS

 

Warning: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MANY SPOILERS OF THE MOVIE MAN OF STEEL. IF YOU AIN’T ABOUT SPOILERS, COME BACK LATER.

 Don’t agree with this review? Check out Nick’s review of Man of Steel in Four Color Fiend!

Unknown-1I’ve been a Superman fan all my life. In fact, in my particular brand of comic book nerdom its probably one of my most defining characteristics. I was raised and reared on a healthy diet of Superman movies, cartoons, comics, and toys. I can recite the words to Superman: The Movie the way people can sing their favorite songs. So suffice it to say that I was pretty disappointed following Superman Returns when the move was unimaginatively bound to the previous interpretation of the mythos without adding anything terribly worthwhile. Superman Returns was like the High School play version of Superman: The Movie and when I left that film, I was saddened to think that it was the Superman movie of my lifetime. A few years passed and on the heels of enormous success on the part of Marvel’s cinematic movieverse and the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, Warner Brothers and DC decided to once again try to make us believe that a man can fly. Enter this weekend’s Man of Steel.

Many people have had negative, or at least mixed, things to say about Man of Steel and I will tell you that I think they are wrong. As not only a life long comics fan, but also a fan specifically of the Superman franchise I can tell you that this movie delivered to me what was a renewed faith in the ability of the film medium to make a modern take on the Superman mythos. The emphasis that I must lay here is the modern take on Superman. Currently DC is engaged in a company wide reboot (the New 52) that is seeing its characters take on a grittier, edgier, and more timely vein than they have in almost the totality of their existence, and in that respect Superman is no different. The company has taken a particular point to spin the focus of Kal-El’s personality that I grew up with (that Superman is the act and Clark Kent is the whole person) to a position that bends that prism more towards a subdued or filtered man in both aspects—and the true man only shining through in the most comfortable of situations. This New 52 Superman does in fact feel alien, alone, different, and still tied to Earth and the human race in a way that firmly lays his allegiance there. This Superman is also markedly younger and greener than previous in-continuity portrayals have been, It is this take on the character that director Zach Snyder and screen writers David Goyer and Christopher Nolan approached the character with.

In that respect, Man of Steel does a wonderful job of showing us a Superman that feels suspended between worlds—and not truly a part of either—for most of his life. Without knowing his actual roots, Clark wanders the world under a series of nom de voyages and earning his way as a drifter by working odd jobs in bars and on boats—occasionally saving men on burning oil rigs and presumably cats from hurricane stricken suburbs building something of an urban legend around his acts of angel-like guardianship of complete strangers. Clark is waiting for the day that he can reveal himself against a threat so great that he will deliver mankind from perilous doom…but in the meanwhile he scours the planet looking for some clue as to his point of origin. Eventually he finds it. And we go through the undisclosed motions of Clark deciding to be Superman—even if without a name—after he has a heart to heart with a hologram of Jor-El, his birth father. And while this may seem beat-to-beat with Superman: The Movie it isn’t.

To begin with, the movie employs an entirely different visual language than previous incarnations. The beginning of the movie is set on the Planet of Krypton which is, rather than an icy crystalline world, a hot, craggy, mountainous place with reptilian winged steeds, exotic armors and jewelry, and a fancifully militaristic looking science fiction world. While their technology is more than a little phallic the designs and depictions of familiar characters, events, and places are entirely fresh and different. Shaky camera shots attempt to give the world authenticity and give the viewer a sense of being a fly on the wall as they witness the last days of Krypton and the political strife they endure even in the planet’s violent death throes. From there on out we are treated to a partially non-linear story that disperses Superman’s origin re-telling with the “in time” action and story in a move that successfully manages to only tell relevant information about Superman’s childhood which builds into his isolation, alienation, and reluctance to enter the public eye.

These origin sequences really hit a high point in a scene which depicts young Clark first having to learn to cope with his extraordinary senses. As a special education teacher with years of experience working with students with hyper-sensory issues it was refreshing to see a young Kal-El have difficulty in focusing X-Ray vision and becoming overwhelmed by talking and sounds well beyond the ear shot of others. The flood of sensory overload and his understandable attempts to retreat show the ways in which heightened senses could be a maddening burden if not properly trained.

This is not the only instance in the movie where yellow sun radiation powered super abilities are shown to have some limitations or even drawbacks. In the previously mentioned oil rig scene, I was very impressed to see that even though Superman was able to catch a falling tower and hold it, physics still had some sway, as the platform could not handle the pressure of that weight distributed to a single point under his feet. More reasonable limitations were put in place as Kryptonian flight was revealed to be a kind of controlled jumping which required energy output and focus to maintain (originally Superman couldn’t fly, he could only jump 1/8th of a mile at a time). Additionally, Kryptonians were not seen as being indestructible gods. Missiles, bullets, and shells all take their toll in one way or another, and as such Kryptonian battle armor (as depicted in the New 52 continuity) serves a purpose of protection as well as looking like Underwear and old school dive suits from a steampunk future.

The movie was fast paced and action packed taking moments here and there to dip into some expository information that was either relevant to the next step or had required some context by delving into the past. The super battle sequences were bar none the best usage of Kryptonian super powers I’ve even seen and in many ways rival those as portrayed in last year’s Avengers movie. The special effects were phenomenal and the 3D was very well executed. The colors however, were muted and dull and did add a general malaise to the tone of the movie.

In so far as character development is concerned, the character that received the best treatment in the whole flick is really General Zod who has made the transition from being a cartoonishly villainous bad guy to being an anti-hero with a reasonable motivation to want to murder every living thing on Earth. There are times when Zod’s complexity has you wondering if he is, in fact, right in opposing humans’ right to exist over that of his own people. Superman and Lois’ relationship isn’t given too much service in its development, though the fact that Lois figures out who Superman is, before he is Superman immediately alleviates the silliness of her knowing Superman and Clark so well that her investigative skills are defeated by a pair of horn rimmed glasses. The fact that she is in on the secret and keeps it a secret out of respect and honor at least makes the Clark Kent, reporter guise (to be developed in the next movie hopefully) that much more possible. Other than that the character development is somewhat lacking in this movie. There are some touching scenes of parenthood on the parts of the Kents and the Els respectively, but it is probably fair to assert that if you somehow knew absolutely nothing about any single piece of the Superman mythos going into the movie, then you may not know why the hell certain characters were acting as they did. Luckily, there is probably not a single human American who can make that claim. With a 75 year history, commemorated this month with the release of this very movie, it is safe to say that anyone in America could probably identify Superman and some aspects of the staple stories and tropes of Superman stories.

While I did in fact say that I could not have made a better movie for Superman than this one when I left the theaters, that doesn’t mean this movie isn’t without its faults. Superman does very little to save innocent bystanders, and due to that millions of people probably die throughout the movie. I chalk this up to two key factors: this Superman is totally green with his powers, and is probably not aware of the full extent to which he can be helping those around him. (or he is limited as illustrated in other places in the movie), and also that there needs to be a sense of consequence for modern audiences to feel the danger of a situation. The Battle of Metropolis scene is intentionally and overtly evocative of 9/11 imagery with collapsing buildings, rushing crowds, and avalanches of debris and dust—and while the appropriateness of such is debatable, these images are images of disaster and consequence that are tattooed into our collective minds of what a city under siege looks like. To somehow make a greenhorn Superman able to save every life in the city…or even a majority of them…if too much to ask in an interpretation that, if anything, has attempted to put these fantastical elements of science fiction into a reasonably real world context. However, the small amount of times Superman does manage to save the day is too low, and he is not nearly outraged enough at the level of destruction he is participating in.

The movie also heavy handedly paints Superman as a messianic figure in more ways than one. From shots of Superman talking to a priest with a stained glass image of Jesus behind him, to evoking the post of the cross, to his blood being the salvation of his people its all a little much. That isn’t to say that Supes hasn’t always been a messianic figure but rather that the treatment here is hammered hard and Superman doesn’t really deliver all that much except on panty soaking good looks and abs that made my eyes cross with envy. There’s no moment of him giving people hope, and no moment of childlike wonder at the all-good man here to save us all from ourselves at his expense…just many moments of him drawing lines in the sand and proving to people that he is standing for Earth.

1770130-zod1One of the big bones that I know people are picking with the movie is that Superman kills General Zod. I knew that he would kill Zod from the start…as soon as Zod killed Jor-El. This doesn’t bother me. For one, I feel like there is a time to kill your enemy whether your Superman, Batman, or Ant Man. Sometimes villains gotta die—not in cold blood murder, but in the moment and without alternative. Sometimes it is the most moral thing to do. Another reason why this doesn’t both me is because in the continuity of Superman that I grew up with in the 90s, Superman did kill General Zod. Yes. Superman killed General Zod in the comics. Even though it was a General Zod in an alternate reality and he did it using that reality’s Kryptonite (which did not effect him), Superman did kill Zod and his two henchmen, in continuity that one time. So, not only is there a precedent for Superman killing a villain, but there’s precedent for him killing specifically General Zod. To be fair though, it wasn’t by the quick snapping of a neck, it was by painfully slow radiation poisoning.

All in, I think this movie was a success, and was totally engrossing and engaging to boot. It had some points that clearly could have used more work, I think you could say that about most movies. For those who say the movie was lacking wit and humor I have to say that this seems to be what audiences want in order for Superman to be credible. Superman III and IV received a lot of criticism for being preachy and campy, wehre as Nolan’s Batman Trilogy was praised for a realistic and gritty world. While some argue that they don’t want anything to do with a Superman that is angsty, angry, and troubled, others seem to gravitate towards it because they are themselves those things. Superman has always been nothing if not a reflection of the heart of America at the time. If America believes it still has a strong sense of right and wrong, but is lost, angry, and troubled then Superman reflects that. I know there are many days that I feel just that way. Additionally the movie is fairly consistent with the current Superman comics product being put out there—it is consistent with the current take of the character, company wide in comics. Many people hate the New 52 take on characters, so they hate the take in this movie. Some are on the fence so their feelings are mixed. I’m willing to try new things and see if the heart of the character can stay the same, as the trappings are made more accessible and relevant to the masses. I think they can. I think they got it right, for this time and place, and the audiences that are paying to see movies. For longtime fans there are easter eggs and name drops throughout the whole thing (watch out for LexCorp!). In closing I’d like to restate that I wouldn’t have been able to make a better Superman movie…without having seen this one first.

 Don’t agree with this review? Check out Nick’s review of Man of Steel in Four Color Fiend!

 

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Written by Brandon Melendez