Tag Archives: clark kent

Man of Steel

You know what everyone loves? Comic book movies and reboots. And Man of Steel is both. Henry Cavill stars as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman/the Man of Steel in Zack Snyder’s latest comic book adaption. The movie begins fittingly on Krypton during its final days. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) decides the best way to preserve the Kryptonian race is to send his infant son to Earth. That pisses off General Zod (Michael Shannon) and he vows to track down Kal-El, thus setting the plot in motion. The movie jumps ahead a few years, and you see a dejected Clark Kent trying to find his place in the world. He moves around, he uses false names, he is running from something, but he doesn’t know what. All that changes when he comes across a spaceship, meets the electronic ghost of his alien father, learns his true name and history, and gets a spiffy new spandex suit complete with cape. He spends a few glorious minutes teaching himself how to fly, and then General Zod arrives with his Kryptonian henchmen, eager for some space vengeance. Zod demands that the people of Earth must hand over Superman, but he’s got ulterior motives involving terraforming the Earth into a new Krypton. And Supes isn’t having any of that.

There have been a lot of mixed reviews about this movie. I don’t know why. It’s pretty solid. The action scenes are cool, and some of the dialog/exposition scenes are cheesy, but it’s a summer blockbuster and that’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s smarter than most comic book flicks. The movie is non-linear and a lot of important moments are revealed in flashbacks. It’s important to note that aside from the opening scene, Clark has no direct contact with his two father figures. He only experiences Jor-El through the holographic representation of his consciousness, and you only know Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) through flashbacks. There are a few notable changes from the comics. For starters, Lois knows that Clark Kent is Superman pretty quickly. That kind of changes their whole relationship (traditionally she worships Superman and ignores Clark). For some unnecessary reason, Perry White is black and Jimmy Olsen had a sex change and became Jenny Olsen. Neither change has any effect on the plot whatsoever.

Superman is a Christian allegory and this movie really rubs it in your face. You only know Jesus as a baby, then briefly as a young adolescent, and then when he finally returns as a savior at the ripe old age of 33. That’s how you experience the Man of Steel in this movie. As a baby, as a tween, and again as an adult who mentions that he’s 33 a few times throughout the movie. He even does the obligatory crucifixion pose.

This isn’t your Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman… this is Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s version of Superman. It’s noticeably darker, more intense, and more gritty. It strives to be more realistic than fantastic and it succeeds for the most part. But Superman isn’t supposed to be gritty. He’s supposed to be about hope and he’s supposed to inspire you. That’s where this film falls short. It’s not as fun and not as thrilling as what you’d want from a Superman movie. There isn’t as much of a sense of wonder. There are no reaction shots of citizens craning their necks to the sky as Superman does something spectacular.

There are two major fight scenes that deserve to be discussed. The first takes place in Kansas, and Superman takes on two of Zod’s soldiers while simultaneously being attacked by the US Army. I think this is the best sequence of the film. The fight choreography is intense and explosive, and it’s set amidst a backdrop of Americana. A small town is suddenly host to an intergalactic battle, and the local 7-Eleven, IHOP, and Sears are all demolished in the process. The climactic fight between Superman and Zod takes place in Metropolis and the city gets leveled in the process. Building after building gets destroyed, and after a while you stop caring. It gets boring. The two invincible foes exchange punch after punch, blow after blow, fly around smashing into buildings and landmarks, and are stuck in a complete stalemate (until someone gets the upper hand and wins. Spoiler: Superman wins).

Man of Steel is not a perfect movie. But you can say that about any movie. I will be bold and say that this is the best Superman movie to date. It has great action sequences, great characters, great actors, and a serviceable plot. If you see one movie this summer, you should see the movie I made with your mom last night. If you see two movies this summer, Man of Steel should be the second.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment

The Amalgam Age of Comics: The DC Comics Collection (comic, obviously)

In the mid ‘90s, Marvel and DC brought their characters together for DC vs. Marvel, in which Marvel and DC characters fought each other to save their universe. One of the highlights of that story is when the two universes merge together to create entirely new character with DC and Marvel traits. The characters were cool enough to create new comics centered around them. The Amalgam Age of Comics: The DC Comics Collection contains six different #1 issues starring the Marvel/DC hybrid characters.

Amazon #1 stars Princess Ororo of Themyscira, also known as Wonder Woman. She’s a mutant with the power to control weather and she was adapted and raised as an Amazon. She deals with learning about her adoptive past, and with the wrath of Poseidon, the god of the sea.

Assassins #1 is about the crime-fighting duo of Dare and Catsai as they take on the evil New Gotham mayor, Enigma Fisk. Slade Murdock is blind and fights crime using the moniker Dare. She’s like a female Daredevil with a revealing costume. She teams up with Catsai (real name: Elektra Kyle), the crime fighting dominatrix to bring down Enigma Fisk, better known the criminal underworld as the Big Question. Imagine the Kingpin and the Riddler in a blender, and this strong and intelligent criminal mastermind is the result.

Doctor Strangefate #1 centers on Doctor Strangefate, a hybrid of Professor X and Dr. Strange. He’s your typical sorcerer/telepathic mutant. He sends a few of his minions to find the Access. If this story seems familiar, it’s because this issue was also included in the DC vs. Marvel comic.

JLX #1 is about a team of mutant superheroes called the Justice League X-Men. There’s a bunch of characters and I could tell you their names, powers, and affiliations but I’m feeling lazy right now, so I’ll just sum it up by saying there’s the JLX and they have a reluctant battle with another team of superheroes and then they go to Atlantis and have another battle with a team of super villains. There are a lot of characters and it’s fun to see which Marvel and DC characters they are composites of.

Legends of the Dark Claw #1 is about Logan Wayne, who calls himself Dark Claw when he’s fighting crime with his spunky sidekick Sparrow. His main nemesis is the Hyena, a former friend who used to be called Creed H. Quinn. Dark Claw is Batman and Wolverine combined, and the Hyena is the Joker and Sabretooth combined. This is one of the highlights of the collection.

Super-Soldier #1 is about a soldier who volunteers himself to be injected with alien cells found in a crashed rocket ship, becoming Super-Soldier. There’s a nice blend of Captain America and Superman mythology. It works because both those characters represent the best of the United States.

This collection of DC and Marvel mash-ups is worth exploring. The art is solid, distinctive, and beautiful. The panel layout adds momentum and movement. It’s fun figuring out which character traits and attributes belong to whom. Some of the character combinations are a little weird, but the majority of them are acceptable.

The Amalgam Age characters should be the next comic book movie franchise. Dark Claw on the big screen? Yes, please.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Superman for All Seasons

If you’ve never read a Superman comic before, start with this one. Superman for All Seasons is a character study of who Superman is and what he represents. This isn’t an origin story. It doesn’t go into Superman’s alien past and how he came from a dying planet and all that hoopla. Jeph Loeb’s story is about Clark Kent leaving home and facing his destiny as Superman. Tim Sale’s incredible artwork brings a sense of grandeur and makes the icon more iconic.

There is no central narrator. Each season has it’s own narrator with their own view on Superman and/or Clark Kent. It’s kind of like Citizen Kane; you get a sense of the man through other people’s opinions of him. The first season explored is Spring. Jonathan Kent narrates as Clark Kent is on the verge of graduating from high school, and Clark is trying to cling on to memories but knows that he can’t stay in Smallville forever. Jonathan is worried about Clark’s powers and what he will do with them, but one day Clark saves a guy’s life and decides that saving people will be his calling. The boy becomes a man and goes to Metropolis to start his new life as Superman.

Lois Lane narrates the Summer story. Her perfect reporter world was turned upside down by the arrival of the Man of Steel. She’s still trying to grasp the fact that things have changed, that a man can fly, that the old rules don’t apply anymore. Superman saves Metropolis and Lois from a nuclear missile and submarine attack, because he’s Superman and that’s what he does. He feels lonely and homesick so he goes back to visit Smallville and is dismayed at how it doesn’t feel the same. Martha Kent reminds him that’s what happens when you grow up and to shut up and go back to Metropolis. He gets back just in time to save a lady from a fire and he scolds Lex Luthor’s flying soldiers for almost killing her.

Lex Luthor is the narrator for the Fall season. He is in love with Metropolis and doesn’t like the new guy who also calls it home. He hatches a plot to make Superman leave. It involves poisoning the citizens of Metropolis and making Superman come to him for help. Lex finds the lady that Superman saved from the fire in Summer, and brainwashes her into becoming Toxin. Superman goes to confront Lex, but time is of the essence, so he takes Toxin and they fly around spreading the antidote. And then Toxin suddenly dies and Lex manipulate Superman into thinking it was his fault that Toxin dies. Superman gets all sad and goes back home to Smallville.

It is now Winter, and Lana Lang takes over the narrating duties. Lana reveals that she wanted to marry Clark, but had to let him go be Superman. Clark and Lana spend some time together catching up and reliving old memories. They walk around Smallville, feeling nostalgic about being home again. There’s a huge flood that threatens the town and Clark comes to grips that he is Superman and that he has to do something because that’s what Superman does. The flood is a wakeup call and Clark goes back to the city and accepts his life as Superman.

This is not an exciting comic. There’s not much action scenes. It’s a reflection on who Clark Kent is and why he does what he does. It’s about the impact of Superman, about how he affects other people and what he means to them. The story is great and the art is amazing. There are several pictures that take up two whole pages, showing Clark and Jonathan gazing at a sunset or Superman flying heroically across the sky.

Superman for All Seasons is required reading for a Superman fan. It’s worth reading even if you don’t like Superman. It’s a coming-of-age story, it’s about finding your place in the world. Everyone can relate to that.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Smallville (tv show)

Smallville is a TV show about Clark Kent before he becomes Superman. Tom Welling plays a young Clark Kent and you see him go from a nerdy high school freshman to a reporter for the Daily Planet over the course of ten seasons. The early seasons are about Clark discovering strange new abilities and learning how to control them and he also starts exploring his origins. The later seasons are about him accepting his destiny, and there’s tons of characters and references to the DC universe. The cast changed quite a bit over the years as well. The early seasons were about Clark’s life in Smallville and growing up on a farm with his parents John and Martha (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole). He hangs out with his friend Pete and Chloe (Sam Jones III and Allison Mack) and has a crush on the smoking hot Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk). Over the course of the series most of the supporting characters are phased out, but Allison Mack stuck around for most of the show’s run. In the pilot episode Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) hits Clark with his car and they both fall off a bridge and land in the water. Clark saves Lex and they become friends, but Lex becomes obsessed with how Clark escaped without injury. Lex and Clarks friendship dissolves over a few seasons and Lex gradually becomes a bad guy. Lex has one of the best character arcs of the series, even if Rosenbaum left after seven seasons. Clark pines for Lana for a few seasons and they even get together a few times, but eventually Lois Lane shows up. Erica Durance is pretty smoking hot too and you can’t have a show about Superman without having Lois Lane, so she was a great addition to the cast. There are lots of references to the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder both guest starred on the show. Terrence Stamp (General Zod in Superman II) provides the voice for Clark’s biological father, Jor-El. Other DC characters joined the show. Oliver Queen a.k.a. Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) became a series regular and other members of the Justice League show up like Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter to name a few. Bruce Wayne/Batman never showed up though. A few notable villains show up too. General Zod, Brainiac, Bizarro, Doomsday and other DC bad guys make appearances. The first season had a lot of one-time villains. Usually someone from Smallville has an encounter with Kryptonite and transform somehow before Clark tears shit up and gets things back to normal so that next week something else could happen. Later on the storylines become more complex and there’s more story arcs that last multiple episodes or span over a few seasons. Every once in a while there will be a random episode that doesn’t have much to do with the overall storyline, but that happened less and less as the show progressed. The special effects are pretty solid for a TV show. There’s some cool CG work when Clark is using his superpowers and there are some pretty awesome fight scenes. But there’s also a lot of soap opera drama going on. Sometimes the show was a little more Gossip Girls than a superhero series. But I’m ok with it because Clark usually punches something or someone and I like violence. Smallville isn’t the best show of all time, but it’s still pretty good. Ten seasons is a great run for a TV series. They turned it into a comic book, so you can keep following the ongoing adventures of Clark Kent. Give this show a chance if you haven’t yet. Superheroes, hot chicks, cool CG, cool fight scenes… that’s entertainment. Critically Rated at 14/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Superman Returns

Superman Returns is a very underrated comic book movie. It’s not a bad flick. It drags on in a few places, but it’s a pretty solid movie. The problem is that you either like Superman or you don’t. If you don’t like Superman, don’t watch this movie. Bran Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) directs Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel. Kevin Spacey plays Lex Luthor and a horribly miscast Kate Bosworth plays Lois Lane.

This movie is as much of a tribute as it is a sequel to the Christopher Reeve films. The title sequence is like a time machine that takes you back to the original Superman movie. This movie is a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and ignores the shitty third and fourth installments. Superman (Brandon Routh) left Earth to explore the remains of Krypton for survivors and returns after a five-year absence.

Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has a kid and a new boyfriend named Richard White (James Marsden), the nephew of Perry White (Frank Langella), her boss and the editor of the Daily Planet. Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is freed from jail and dupes an old lady into leaving him her fortune, and Lex is back in the game.

Clark Kent goes back to work at the Daily Planet. The only person who seems happy that Clark is back is Jimmy Olson (Sam Huntington). Lois is completely indifferent to his return and seems super preoccupied with her obsession with Superman.

Lex gets a hold of some Kryponite and devises a plot to create a new continent. Lex will get a bunch of valuable real estate and billions of people will die. So naturally Superman has to try to stop this.

Lois Lane is trying to find a story and can’t find a babysitter, so she and her son go onto Lex’s yacht and stumble into the middle of his diabolical plan. Lex catches them and holds them prisoner while he executes his plan.

The huge land mass that he creates causes some damage in Metropolis and Superman flies around saving people and preventing mass casualties before flying out to sea to rescue Lois. Shit doesn’t go according to plan and Lex gets the upper hand and Superman almost dies.

Superman doesn’t die though. He survives his coma and finds out that Lois and Richard’s son is actually his son from when he slept with Lois in the second movie. And now he has more of a reason to stalk Lois. The movie never discloses what happens to Richard. I think he killed himself. Wouldn’t you? You can’t compete with Superman, he’s fucking Superman.

This movie’s biggest flaw is that it acts sort of like an origin story, or a reintroduction to a classic character. The problem is that everyone already knows who Superman is and what he represents. Just get to the fucking action already. And Superman is a super man… it’s boring to see him face off with someone mentally rather than physically. I want to see him fight Doomsday or someone who would put up a fight. Superman versus Lex Luthor has already been done multiple times on the big screen, something new would have been nice.

Kate Bosworth is hot. She just sucks in this movie. She is way too young to be playing Lois Lane. It’s not believable that she would have a five-year old son. She doesn’t do anything to assume control of the role. Margot Kidder is way better than she ever could be.

Brandon Routh does a good job as Superman. He looks a lot like Christopher Reeve, but still does subtle things to differentiate himself. He had big shoes to fill, but he did as good of a job as anyone could do. He makes Clark Kent and Superman two different people.

Kevin Spacey is having a lot of fun as Lex Luthor. He isn’t overacting as much as Gene Hackman, but he plays him over the top at times. Sometimes he is downright scary. He can flip a switch and go from merry to maniacal in a half second. Kal Penn is his henchman for some reason.

I saw this movie in 3D IMAX. The movie was almost all in 2D except for a few scenes. A little icon in the corner of the screen would prompt you to put on your glasses and the effect was amazing. If you wear 3D glasses the whole time, the effect wears off. But if only a few scenes are in 3D, the effect is more apparent and more relevant. Only a few key sequences were worthy enough to convert to 3D so you appreciated it more.

Yeah, this movie drags. Yeah, there could have been a better villain. But it brought Superman back to the big screen and that’s worth something. This movie was not a flop. It almost made $400 million. But people still hate on it and I don’t get why. If you appreciate Superman, you should like it. It’s not the best Superman story, but it’s not the worst. It is what it is, and it’s better than a lot of comic book movies.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment