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Tag Archive: Man of Steel


Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s just what fans of DC Comics have been begging for.  Finally, a Batman portrayal worthy of Adam West and Michael Keaton.  The complete membership of the classic Justice League as fun as we all remember them from the comic books.  Homages to famous artists adapted to the big screen from the best of DC Comics, like cover artist Jock, plus throwbacks to the campy series of the 1960s.  And more homages to the musical scores from the best of the DC Comics cinematic adaptations of the past, including callbacks to Danny Elfman’s score to the 1989 Batman movie and John Williams’ Superman theme.

What was your favorite DC Comics adaptation before 2017?  How far back do you go?  Most superhero movie fans seem to agree upon the original Superman starring Christopher Reeve as the modern rebirth of the superhero film, and count Reeve among the best embodiments of a superhero on film.  But after Reeve, fans begin to disagree as movies based on DC Comics are concerned, and usually turn to the CW Network television series for the next best DC iterations of comic book adaptations.

So when all of it finally comes together, it finally comes together in 2017, after the likes of misfires including Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, we finally have an exciting and worthy DC Comics outing that is fun for the entire family, and best of all, it is all heart.

And as a bonus, it features villains worthy of a movie from the DCU.  Sure, you might expect a pantheon of villains like The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Egghead, Scarecrow, Bane, Clayface, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Man-Bat, Captain Boomerang, Crazy Quilt, Eraser, Polka Dot Man, Mime, Tarantula, King Tut, Orca, Dr. Phosphorus, Killer Moth, Magpie, March Hare, Frank Miller’s Mutant Leader, Dr. Hugo Strange, Zodiac Master, Gentleman Ghost, Clock King, Red Hood, The Kabuki Twins, Calendar Man, Kite Man, Catman, Calculator, Zebra-Man, and Condiment King.  But all in one movie?  And battling some of fiction’s other greatest supervillains, like Dracula and the other Universal Monsters, The Daleks, Lord Voldemort, Jaws, King Kong, Gremlins, velociraptors, the Wicked Witch of the West, Agent Smith from The Matrix, and Sauron?  Wait–was Darth Vader tied up in some other project?

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Syfy Krypton logo

Syfy Channel is jumping on the superhero series bandwagon and teaming up with DC Entertainment to launch a new series in 2015 about the family of one of DC Comics’ most popular characters.  Krypton will key in on Superman’s grandparents on his father’s side, with Jor-El’s father–Superman’s granddad–as the lead character.  One can quickly see a young Jor-El, twin brother Nim-El, and other brother Zor-El (Supergirl’s dad), and perhaps an Eddie Haskell-inspired neighbor kid Zod, as likely key characters in this new prequel story to the classic Superman tale.

Depending on the series you’re following, the grandfather of Superman (known at birth as Kal-El) was Jor-El the First or Seyg-El, son of Var-El and husband of Nimda An-Dor.  Will they select one of these names or start from scratch for the series?  It’s all being developed now.

The good part?  Other than Constantine, recent TV series featuring superheroes Arrow, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, and Gotham have proven to be critical successes.  The not-so-good?  Krypton is being developed by the scriptwriter (David S. Goyer) for the disappointing big-screen reboot Man of Steel (reviewed previously here at borg.com).

Superman 1978 Krypton

The 1978 Superman movie featured Marlon Brando and Julie Christie on an interesting, technologically advanced planet Krypton.

Here’s the studio description for the project:

Years before the Superman legend we know, the House of El was shamed and ostracized. This series follows The Man of Steel’s grandfather as he brings hope and equality to Krypton, turning a planet in disarray into one worthy of giving birth to the greatest Super Hero ever known.

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Cavill in new Superman Batman

We now have had a first look at director Zack Snyder’s Batman, and as of this weekend, his Superman, above, from the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Beginning with its wordy, clunky title, SvBDoJ has the cards stacked against it, if Snyder’s Man of Steel is any indication.  Man of Steel proved a cast of distinguished character actors can’t save a movie from a bad idea and bad direction.  We know Ben Affleck, the new Batman, can be very good, and we all hope Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred can save this film, or at least give us some fun scenes to pass the time.  But fans should demand more from DC Entertainment.

It starts with Snyder.  It’s difficult to list all the reasons Man of Steel was such a horrible superhero movie.  But we can sure try.  Maybe Snyder will review what he did with Man of Steel and realize that superhero movies can do so much better.  We can hope.  The elements of a good superhero flick?  Heart and gravity.  Heroism and compassion.  Passion and perseverance.  Man of Steel had none of this.  Even the poorly miscast Ryan Reynolds’ vehicle Green Lantern ran circles around Man of Steel.  It can’t be that hard to make a good movie for the DC Comics universe.  If Snyder is going to do better with the first big budget Justice League movie, he must learn from his mistakes with Man of Steel.

Affleck as Batman and new Batmobile

So let’s get it all out in the open, why Man of Steel is on my worst movies list, and should be on yours, too.

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RoboCop and OldmanReview by C.J. Bunce

If you’re a fan of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven science fiction classic RoboCop starring Peter Weller, you might have decided to avoid the reboot showing in theaters this month.  But if you skip the new RoboCop, you’ll be missing out on a great sci-fi vision realized with a stellar cast and cutting edge special effects.  Where recent remakes of classic sci-fi movies didn’t equal the original, as with Tron: Legacy, or completely missed the mark, as with Total Recall or Man of Steel, RoboCop manages to meet or exceed the original in almost every way.

Fundamentally, the original RoboCop is lauded for its social commentary on media, capitalism, and authoritarianism.  The new film hits all of these areas head-on in light of the changing realities of the 21st century.  This begins with a failed, televised peacekeeping mission in Tehran with the giant EV-109 robots (similar to the two-legged walkers in the original film)–predecessors to both the robot/android cops, and later to the man-in-the-machine RoboCop, played by relative newcomer Joel Kinnaman.  Timely elements help bring the storyline into the 21st century, like Detroit’s closed circuit surveillance grid, which makes the RoboCop effective, and parallels the current real-world controversy surrounding drones for spying.

Robocop tehran

The supporting characters are pulled from the headlines, too.  Michael Keaton’s leader of Omnicorp is the typical entrepreneurial Wall Street “big corporation” CEO you’d expect, and Samuel L. Jackson’s talking head Pat Novak might as well have been an impersonation of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (with some Stephen Colbert dramatics thrown in).

Where Peter Weller’s RoboCop was all machine with little soul, Joel Kinnaman’s version gets to flesh-out (literally) the physical and emotional journey from man to cyborg, in a way touched on in Jake Gyllenhaal’s equally riveting Source Code, but not otherwise fully explored on film before now.  If rumors become reality of Leonardo DiCaprio playing a big-screen version of Bionic Man’s Steve Austin, it will be difficult for audiences to avoid comparisons with this RoboCop, as the stories of both Alex Murphy and Steve Austin have many mirrored origin story scenes that unfold over the course of the film.  This includes a nice performance by Gary Oldman in a superb take on The Six Million Dollar Man’s Dr. Rudy Wells.

Joel Kinnaman;Gary Oldman

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By Art Schmidt

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and we were talking about comic book movies and the slow transition of the formulas for the ones which have succeeded to television format. My friend was grumbling about the lack of costumed heroes on popular shows such as Arrow or the new Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I have to admit, I hadn’t really noticed the lack of costumes in those shows, loving the first season of Arrow despite very few folks with traditional comic book costumes, and enjoying the first couple of episodes of A.O.S. (can you acronym an acronym?).

But the more I thought about it, the more puzzled I was.  Why weren’t there more costumes in Arrow?  Certainly Deathstroke’s mask was a pivotal prop in the series, and the Dark Archer had a cool getup, but they weren’t costumes so much as work attire fitting the villain’s nature.  And of course A.O.S. is a show about normal people, super spies and highly-skilled to be sure, but not superheroes.  And certainly without costumes outside of May’s black leather suit, akin to Fury’s normal wardrobe and the attire seen by many personnel aboard the Heli-carrier in The Avengers.

Speaking of which, The Avengers is a perfect case in point.  The evolution of the superhero sans costume.  I’ll get back to that in a minute.

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Red 2 long banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s interesting that the publicity folks for RED 2 have stressed in their latest movie trailer no Robots, Monsters, or Superheroes.  Although we’re not so sure RED 2 isn’t chock full of its own breed of superhero, it’s true you’ll find no monsters or robots here.  RED 2, previewed at borg.com here, is definitely not like any other film creating waves this summer.  But it is the most fun you’ll have at any movie this year.

You don’t need to ask, for example: Were too many people killed in the movie’s finale (as with Man of Steel)?  Or lower your normal standards a bit to allow yourself to just plain have fun watching a giant robot take on a giant monster from the ocean’s depths (as with Pacific Rim).  Or struggle with friends over whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch was cast appropriately as a sci-fi villain (as with Star Trek Into Darkness).  With RED 2, you don’t have to think about all those things that distract you from just having a good time.  Do the heroes kill a lot of people in RED 2?  You bet, and we like it that way.

Red 2 clip A

What RED 2 will make you do is think about where it stands in the line-up of the best of Bruce Willis’s movies.  When was the last time you saw such a good Bruce Willis film that made you work through that analysis?  The reality is that Bruce Willis’s performance as retired spy Frank Moses in RED 2 is up there with his first run as John McClane in the original Die Hard, and we haven’t seen him play a character this cool since Pulp Fiction.  Pull up your Netflix queue and take a second look at him in Striking Distance, Twelve Monkeys, and The Fifth Element and you might just add RED 2 to your list of Best of Bruce keepers.

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Journey from Krypton

Remember when summer movies were just plain fun?  No need for dark and dreary, just adventure and excitement?  No need for deep and poignant emotion, but an excuse to escape the heaviness of real-world problems for two hours?  Only one of the new preview releases seems to have that escapist romp vibe, and that film is The Lone Ranger.  Nothing serious there–just a goofy Western throwback with just a bit pulled from the classic original.  And Johnny Depp doing the kind of crazy characterization that earned him an Oscar nomination in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.  Who cares if they don’t have futuristic special effects and instead rely on a good old-fashioned train chase scene for their action and adventure?  To us it just looks like fun.  Check out this fun and action-packed new trailer for The Lone Ranger:

But you can’t have just one trailer and call it a trailer park so we have three more you may or may not want to check out.  Next up is the new longer preview for Man of Steel.  Man of Steel is starting to crystallize as a film that has a strange casting problem.  First, the lead, Henry Cavill, doesn’t seem to carry the mantle of Superman from any previews yet released–the zip, pizzazz, charisma, kindness and power of Christopher Reeve will forever be the comparison for anyone daring to fill the shoes of Clark Kent and his caped alter ego.  A chin dimple doesn’t make Superman.  Continue reading

Green Arrow and Superman

If there is a constant as we look ahead to movie franchises and other entertainment properties in 2013, it is the sequel, spin-off, and remake.  We’re sure someone will provide new content and stories for us for movies and TV from entirely new characters and worlds in 2013, but just take a look at the 24 biggest genre movies coming out next year and it is obvious that Hollywood is following the “tried and true” model of investing in current properties rather than investing money in “the new”.

So with that in mind, what are the big characters to watch out for next year–the characters we already know that seem like they can only get bigger?

Chris Pine as Jack Ryan

10.  Jack Ryan.  Back in the 1980s and 1990s it seemed like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan was everywhere, first with Alec Baldwin taking on the role in The Hunt for Red October, then mega-star Harrison Ford in two sequels, followed by a big break and then Ben Affleck in the prequel Sum of All Fears.  With Star Trek star Chris Pine bringing us yet another prequel effort next December, we think a wide audience will come back again to see what this CIA agent has been up to.

Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine

9.  Wolverine.  I’ve always thought Wolverine should be Marvel Comics’ key property.  Spider-man always relied on Peter Parker (well, until recently) who seemed pretty planted in the psyche of the past.  The Avengers seemed too cartoony with characters with too little in common to really be a huge property (happily I was wrong!).  But Wolverine has a certain modern grittiness that readers, especially young readers, would seem to really attach to.  Audiences seem to like Hugh Jackman’s take on the character and his incredible fifth outing as Logan/Wolverine in July, titled The Wolverine should tell us if this will be the end of a big-screen Wolverine for a while or whether he will only get bigger.

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Man of Steel clip 2

We discussed a teaser trailer for Man of Steel released at Comic-Con earlier this year, but we now have a full version showing very clearly a dark, operatic tone for the new Superman movie.  The theme is “Is the world ready for Superman?”  Fans are familiar with a spirited, positive and upbeat Superman so the theme for audiences may be “Is the world ready for a dark Superman movie?”  Even Christopher Reeve’s Superman II, which appears now to be the clear inspiration for the new Man of Steel, didn’t look as dark as this trailer.  But in any incarnation of Superman, would any Jonathan Kent ever value his kid’s anonymity over saving a bunch of kids?  Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?  And Kevin Costner sure seems young as Kent’s adoptive dad.

Check out the new trailer for Man of Steel, and fair warning, like a lot of trailers lately, they seem to giveaway a bunch of story elements here:

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iron-man-3-iron-patriot-closeup

They’re five months away, but that isn’t stopping the movie studios from giving us a sneak peek at next summer’s anticipated hit movies.

First up, Iron Man 3 is scheduled to be released on May 3, 2013.  Marvel Studios have already released several images of new Iron Man suits and Robert Downey, Jr. reprising his role as Tony Stark, including the new patriot armor shown above.  Here is the teaser poster showing Downey and the pantheon of Iron Man armor:

Iron Man 3 poster

Next, Star Trek Into Darkness is scheduled to be released on May 17, 2013.  Despite its clunky title, the Star Trek 2009 cast returns this time to face Benedict Cumberbatch as a yet-to-be-disclosed villain, which early press indicated might be Khan but seems more likely to be Gary Mitchell from the original TV series.  In this poster we see Cumberbatch in a pose similar to the teaser poster featuring the back of Shinzon for Star Trek Nemesis.  It’s similarity to this past summer’s Dark Knight Rises teaser poster with the silhouette of a bat mimicked here with the Star Trek delta shield, also lends some credence to those who believe JJ Abrams may be taking some queues from Christopher Nolan’s Batman series:

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