With “Man of Steel” coming out this weekend, I’ve been revisiting the old Richard Donner-style Superman films and even rewatched “Returns”. I haven’t seen some of these in years, and often never in their entirety, so it’s been an interesting ride. It got even more interesting once Richard Lester started directing, but we’ll get to that shortly. For now, here’s my Superman review blog thingy.
Superman: The First Movie
This was one I hadn’t seen in one sitting, and I’m honestly hesitant to call it a superhero movie. Sure, it’s about a “super” person who has “super” powers and happens to be called “Super”-man, but the overall pacing and atmosphere has more in common with a dream or fairy tale. I’m not actually saying this is a bad thing. It’s a very good approach for the movie; it’s very similar to the book “Where the Wild Things Are”. You have a simple set-up that leads into an experience with no discernible goals, and then Superman travels back in time and it’s over. Otherwise, it’s just a super-guy performing super-acts of kindness, treating his girlfriend nicely, and not hitting people. The end result is a very positive and charming movie, which could double as an orientation video in case one of us ever gets super-powers. But with all the Batman lovers out there, you just know our first superhero is going to be some guy who hides in the shadows and punches people.
Superman II: The One with Zod
Unlike the first movie, this one actually has the comic book/superhero vibe to it. Superman’s got a character arc, he’s got villains to punch, and buildings to punch them into. This is probably why fans regarded this as the best in the series. This time around, Superman’s showing us that he can do more than move our furniture. I loved this one when I was younger (partly because we got it from a pawn shop, and the previous owner had taped over some of it with lesbian porn), but when I watch them in order, it suddenly feels like a step back from the first one. Maybe that was because Richard Lester took over Richard Donner’s directing job at some point and invented several stupid powers for Superman to use. Or maybe it’s because Superman is suddenly a lot more violent. It especially bothered me how after defeating Zod and his generals, his first order of business was going back to a diner and killing a trucker. I’d argue that Superman works best as a non-violent superhero, but then there’s programs like “Justice League” that have to go and prove me wrong.
Superman III: The One with Richard Pryor
I actually don’t mind Richard Pryor in this movie. I don’t know his work outside the film, so he’s just a typical comic relief to me. And on the whole, the film could have been great with a different director. You’ve got Superman fighting the internet, a dark version of himself, and he gets to nail the bad guy’s girlfriend (and possibly his future mom if you’re familiar with “Smallville”.) The main drawback to the film is how completely retarded it is. It might have made more sense if Mxyzptlk were the villain. If that were the case, you could explain away all the weird slapstick and sight gags. Instead we get a Lex Luthor knock-off for a bad guy. Why a knock-off instead of actually Luthor? I don’t know. Meh, just watch it for scene where Superman literally beats himself up.
Superman IV: The One with The Quest for Peace and Throwing Nukes into the Sun and Solar Fetuses and Superman’s Fix-The-Great-Wall-Of-China Vision
Five words: Go home, Superman; you’re drunk.
Several years later, Bryan Singer decides to continue Richard Donner’s legacy. The verdict? Ehhhh, on the whole, it’s a watchable movie. Superman’s back to being the boy scout and a good role model… unless you count the whole illegitimate father thing. Otherwise, they put more care into letting Superman battle physics rather than battle people. Most of the time. The plane sequence is a great example of how Superman can run into problems without dumbing down his character. But then you have that weird bit where he’s throwing the kryptonite island and… doesn’t that go against the whole point of kryptonite? This movie is very vague on how kryptonite even affects him. Is it an allergy? Is it psychosomatic? Is it poisonous? And why does Lex think anybody would want to buy land on an unstable, jagged piece of radioactive rock? Otherwise, the movie is more of a love letter to Richard Donner than it is to Superman.
And that’s that. The last film acted like a closing chapter for the Richard Donner series, so we’ll have to see where Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” takes us. In the meantime, this is me, signing out and wishing I had some clever closing catchphrase I could put at the end of my reviews.
UPDATE: Man of Steel
My brain hurts when I try to write about this movie, so I’m just going to liken it to “9/11 meets Jackass” and leave a flaming bag of poop on Zack Snyder’s doorstep.
Sorry this one’s been taking so long! Do I have good excuses? Absolutely. Karaoke, girlfriend, writing a novel, working on Slugterra and dressing like a unicorn are all good excuses. So don’t worry – this one will get out the door eventually. And hopefully, the final cut won’t be 40 minutes long either.
AGS Awards over. Life goes on. Here’s what’s next on the menu.
For the last little while, I’ve been writing a lot more frequently. One of my friends suggested I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and somewhere along those lines, I wrote a full-length novel. But unlike my previous projects, I intend to do the unthinkable: make money off of it.
“Ancients’ Royale” is a mythological action-comedy set in modern-day Halifax. It’s about two brothers (and a tavern full of dysfunctional immortals from all over history) who must put their heads together and figure out how to save the city from an ancient band of demons who are searching for the key to Pandora’s box.
No – there won’t be any Kickstarter involved (not this time). I plan on self-publishing the book through Amazon Kindle where it will be available as a digital download for the low, low price of $2.99. While the book is still undergoing revisions, I plan on a late Spring release, and you can help spread the word by liking my Facebook page and then telling your friends to like my Facebook page as well.
So feel free to ask any questions or provide any suggestions regarding the book because I’d really like to get my first commercial project right, and that starts by listening to you.
The nominations are open for the 2012 AGS Awards! Now is the time to head on over to this site, get a forum account, and start spamming every category with SQInc nominations (well, except maybe best demo, non-adventure, short game, and voice acting.) But you can totally nominate for best game, best gameplay, best music, best story, best writing, best character (you know you love Doomtron), and everything else.
Additionally, I’d also like to cross-promote Akril’s “Pledge Quest” games for nominations. These fall under the “short game” categories, but you can show some love for Vohaul Cat by adding her nominations to the list. And if you feel you should nominate other people’s games, I’m a rather big fan of “Ben Jordan” and “Donna: Avenger of Blood”. The 2011 “Space Quest 2 Remake” is also in there, and I’ve thrown a few nominations its way (they DID deliver on voice acting). But totally nominate my SQ stuff instead. That’s how this competition thing goes. There can be only one!
Now go! Nominate! Make me proud! You owe it to your country!
Time for some updates on that whole “Geeks vs. Nerds” thingy I’m doing.
So back in December, I decided to go nuts and tackle two debates at once for one show. This was a monstrous mistake as prepping for a debate about four characters ate up way too much of my time.
First up was “Mr. Freeze vs. Sub-Zero: Who’s the coolest, cold-blooded killer”. I was on Team Freeze and I’ll damned if we didn’t have one hell of a case. Mr. Freeze should have been an automatic win on the grounds that 1) He is freakin’ Tony Stark meets John Lennon as far as being cool goes. 2) he is literally cold-blooded, and 3) you know those people he freezes? They’re dead. Nobody who gets covered in ice gets preserved or we’d have woolly mammoths popping out of glaciers. Ever see the same Gothamite twice? No, because Freeze killed them. Let’s match that up against Sub-Zero. Sub-Zero is 1) not the coolest because he’s a terrible ninja. Can you see him? Yes? Then he’s a terrible ninja. 2) Not cold-blooded. He is warm-blooded and can actually freeze himself solid by accident. 3) Killer? No. Everyone he kills comes back for the sequel. Also, take note: Sub-Zero can only do two things: freeze and hit. He can’t freeze Mr. Freeze, and even Batman can’t punch through his tank armor (that only ever worked once). The only way Batman beats Freeze is with science, and he needs more and more science every time to do it. Sub-Zero doesn’t have science. Therefore, Sub-Zero cannot beat Freeze. Unless all the loudest people in the room are rooting for him no matter what.
Secondly for December was: “Jack Skellington vs. The Grinch: Who’s the greatest unintentional holiday savior?” I landed on Team Jack and we got wasted just because Team Grinch decided to do theirs in rhyme. We could have sang, but didn’t have time for rehearsal. In any case, we had to argue on who saved Christmas most by accident, so we busted out some long-term effects for Jack’s screw up. 1) He made Santa go public, reaffirming people’s belief in Santa and therefore Christmas. 2) Jack’s merchandise helps boost the economy every holiday, and our heavy-hitter 3) By scaring people into carrying weapons on Christmas, Jack has accidentally helped us prep for the onslaught of Santa-Bot in the year 3000, along with any other holiday threats, thus saving not only Christmas, but the world. Our arguments against Grinch? Well, in reality, Ron Howard’s movie alone ruins Christmas every year, but our arguments meant diddly-squat when the other team is rhyming.
My major mistake with the last two debates was over-preparation. Reason being that the audience absolutely, positively, did not care about any “expanded universe” BS. Nobody had ever seen “Grinch Night”, so my arguments about the Grinch developing chemical weapons were lost. And nobody reads comic books, so when I say that Freeze can bust out of prison with just his bare hands and a crayon, then once again, I might as well be writing fan-fiction.
Ultimately, this led me to an epiphany: nobody comes to these shows to see anyone win. So let’s screw with their heads.
So, tonight: “Yoda vs. Gandalf: Who’s the wisest mystical mentor?” I did almost no research in prepping for Team Yoda, yet in spite of our Superman win a couple months back, tonight’s loss was still one of our best debates. Quick: what’s Yoda’s greatest accomplishment? If you said getting a Wookie ride from Chewbacca, then you are right. If you said teaching Obi-Wan to set Hayden Christenson on fire, you are also right. If you said appearing on a napkin doing it doggy-style with Gandalf as part of our new “expanded universe”, then damn, you were probably sitting at our table. Our tomfoolery even made the host shoot himself with his own nerf gun (a first for the show).
Ultimately, we lost because most of the audience had watched “The Hobbit” in the last week and still remembered the Star Wars prequels, but I can honestly say, we generated some heavy-duty laughs tonight. On the way out, some guy even stopped to thank us for saving the show.
And all we had to do is make everyone crave Wookie rides.
I think I’ll take a break from this stuff for a while now. Granted, next month it’s an all-women show, so I’m out anyway. But at this point, it’s starting to feel like work and I think I’d spend my nights doing something else. Like making Vegeta dance Gangnam Style.
P.S: My knowledge of Mr. Freeze and Sub-Zero came in surprisingly useful the other night at Denny’s, when at three in the morning, six of us randomly realized that these two characters could safely play ice trombones without melting them. I don’t know how this qualifies at useful, but it sounded useful after a couple tequilas and a Grand Slam. Do with this information as you will.
P.S.S. Any other time, Yoda should have taken this. His wisdom even doubles as relationship advice when you add “in bed” to anything he says.
P.S.S.S. I do agree with Gandalf’s non-pedo stance on Hobbits. They’re like the towels of Middle-Earth. Never leave home without one. Just never leave home with Gandalf. There will be spiders.
Here we go again. Another year, another bunch of movies. Oddly enough, most of my favorite films this year all came out between now and the last batch of reviews. So I’ll just skip the regular reviews and jump straight into my year’s top favorites.
Honorable Nods: “Rise of the Guardians” (Russian Santa!), “Ted”, “21 Jump Street”, and “Boats vs. Aliens”
5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I’m still miffed about one book becoming a trilogy, but I’ll let it slide for now. Part one of “The Hobbit”, in spite of the padding, was still thoroughly entertaining and had one amazing scene after another. The dwarf choreography alone looked amazing during the comedy and action sequences. “Hey! Let’s have thirteen dwarves and a wizard dangle from a swinging platform while battling goblins and still make it look logical!” I’m impressed that they even managed to work in a couple songs from the book without turning it into a musical. And the “Riddles in the Dark” segment boasts one of Andy Serkis’ best performances as Gollum. And did I mention Martin Freeman is an awesome Bilbo? Because he is.
What throws me for a loop is all the new content. Apparently they’re combining 3-4 books together to formulate a new side-story for the trilogy, but it does wreak havoc on my knowledge of the book itself. I spent forever wondering “aren’t they supposed to be at the trolls by now?” while some weird dude with a rabbit bob-sled played nurse-maid to some sick hedgehogs. Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy those scenes, but they’re aren’t integrated seamlessly. You can see the stitches for whenever creative liberties are taken. But that criticism aside, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is still a very enjoyable film, and the beards alone are worth the price of a ticket. This should have been a Movember release.
4. Resident Evil: Retribution
When asked which celebrity I most have a crush on, my top pick is always a tie between Mila Jovovich and Anne Hathaway. Then I decide that the tie can only be broken if both ladies come my place and wrestle in Jell-O for my affections. Then I put my money on Mila because she’s already survived five zombie movies without the help of Batman. Kicking Anne Hathaway’s ass would be a cake-walk for her. So Mila wins.
Of course, when Jell-O wrestling is a thing, everyone wins.
My celebrity crushes aside, god, I love this movie. I love how over-the-top and ridiculous these “Resident Evil” movies are getting. In the first movie, it was just a zombie outbreak that they were trying to contain. Now we have infected scientists unleashing giant nail-head hammer-monsters into simulations to study the commercial aspects of a super-virus that has already destroyed the planet. The scientists even dressed up their zombies as Russian communists! Russian communist zombies! Also, Mila Jovovich surfs a car down an escalator! And Michelle Rodriguez is alive again and again! And why would scientists be trying to sell a virus when they’d make a lot more money selling Mila Jovovich clones? I’d buy one! Hell, I’d buy six! Umbrella Corporation is marketing to the wrong target audience! This movie doesn’t make sense, yet I want a sequel! Right now!
3. Wreck-It Ralph
So, fun fact: this movie does not feature Sonic the Hedgehog as a main character, nor is he in the film for more than ten seconds. Another fun fact: over half the film takes place in a candy video game, with little to no game-jumping happening. Accept that Disney’s marketing team has exaggerated the truth like crazy just to get the film this far, and you otherwise have the best video game movie since “Scott Pilgrim”.
For what it is, “Ralph” is just great to watch. The variety of characters, cameos, and set designs look amazing, and story’s just what you expect: fun, clever, and family-friendly. The cameos and in-jokes work well too, and I would’ve liked to see more. In fact, my biggest criticism is that the core cast of characters is too minimal. I see the potential here for a “Toy Story”-sized supporting cast where Zangief and Q*bert should be right there in Sugar Rush helping Ralph and his friends. But alas, cameos will have to do for now. At least we finally have a Disney movie where Pac-Man can be seen chomping down a line of martinis.
2. The Avengers’ Cabin in the Woods
The short version: it’s been a good year for Joss Whedon fans.
The longer version: I happen to like both of these movies for the same reasons. They take well-known subject matter and flip it on its side. They show us a new take on something we’ve been watching for years. “Cabin in the Woods” is basically “Evil Dead” meets “The Truman Show” as it reveals the truth behind every horror movie ever made. Then “Avengers” comes along and actually makes a comic book movie that completely lives up to comic book standards (how have other film-makers been failing this?) Best of all, both movies feature climatic battle sequences that combine so many different elements together in the most fist-pumping ways possible. “Cabin in the Woods” was basically the dark precursor to “The Avengers” as far as experiments in kick-assery go.
I’m so glad I caught this over the holidays. Laika (aka “like Pixar, but with Stop-Motion”) has had a great streak with their films. I liked “Corpse Bride” and loved “Coraline”, but I feel this one is their best effort. A young boy who can speak to the dead has to save the town after a witch’s curse raises the dead. Sounds like a fun Halloween flick, but what sold me on the film was everything else. It’s just a damn good movie. Okay, the animation – this stuff is all stop-motion and yet it looks on-par with most CG efforts. Even the character design looks great. Just check out the enormous ass on Norman’s sister – that is an epic ass. They’ve created a Reverse-Jessica Rabbit. The performances are great. Each character is a delight to watch for their own personality and quirks. This is that expanded supporting cast I was talking about for “Wreck-It Ralph”. “ParaNorman” got it right.
And on the whole, I really love what they did with the story. They take some chances, they play with the genre, and they add some unique twists to it. Do they defeat the witch? Does Norman stand up to the bully? Does the boy get the girl? The story is good at pulling surprises. The movie can be very funny when it wants to be, but it can also be deep and sincere when it needs to. On the whole, if you were to take the best of “The Sixth Sense” and cook it up with the best of “The Goonies”, “Evil Dead”, and “Casper”, you’d probably discover a recipe for “ParaNorman”.
Woke up this morning. Couldn’t get out of bed. Only thing I could reach was a PS3 controller. Only thing in the PS3 was my Genesis collection. Decided to try beating the original “Sonic the Hedgehog” from 1990. I remembered why I don’t have fond childhood memories of this game.
If you run really fast, there will be spikes.
If you go around a loop-de-loop, there will be spikes.
If you bounce off a spring, there will be spikes.
If you hop down a ledge, there will be spikes.
If you hop up a ledge, there will be spikes.
If you try to jump on an enemy, there will be spikes.
If you’re waiting for an air bubble, there will be spikes.
If you try to jump on spikes, there will be lava.
To sum up, the whole game is booby-trapped and the only way to win is to go as slowly as possible. If you’ve ever seen one of those Mario mods where you can’t jump across a pit without hitting an invisible box, then you get the idea. The programmers were basically having too much fun watching the beta-testers scramble for rings.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea: how about we fill a pit with exploding robots, and then put fans on both sides that turn on at random and push Sonic INTO the pit? Also, the beta-testers really hated searching for air bubbles in the Labyrinth Zone. Wouldn’t it be funny if they got near the end of the game and suddenly had to play the Labyrinth Zone AGAIN?” “Ha! Do it!”