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Not the first time the general critic population and I have been in different worlds
I heard it said over and over that this movie is hard to follow if you're not in the know with the DC Universe, and I can see some of that from inside-looking-out, but I have to believe there's something for everyone here. It has timeless elements of storytelling; the much heard "God vs. Man", as well as Light vs. Dark; just lots of Yin and Yang. I LOVE how they show Batman's struggles, as well as Superman's struggles, and how their ideals end up in conflict. I had heard some reviews say that during the big Bats/Supes Smack \down there's hardly any verbal exchange between the two. After watching the movie I wondered if they put on earplugs for that scene. The clash of ideals is very much at play here.
Ben Affleck's Batman? The man hasn't had the kind of career so praised for bringing the kind of gravitas that Christian Bale (whose Batman I still back to the hilt) has in various roles, but he's got solid acting chops, and that combined with his lifelong love of Batman gave us a Batman IN SPADES!!!! I shirk not to say he's now my all-time favorite Batman. He defied all previous conventions of what kind of physique can be expected from an actor, and how well he can throw his weight around with it. He awesomely played the public facade for Bruce Wayne, brooding private Bruce Wayne, and tough-as-nails/don't-trifle-with Batman.
Henry Cavill once again delivered beautifully as Clark Kent/Superman, and his wanting to help people, along with hurt that no one will accept him runs deep to where you have to cry for the man. The man deserves a place alongside Christopher Reeve in Man of Steel honors.
There was a universal fear that Gal Gadot would become the Sarah Palin of the DCEU, and I would say not even close. The movie makes limited use of her, in such a way that would be expected in a movie that leaves her name out of the title. I say she positively adds to the movie whenever she shows up. Jesse Eisenberg as Luthor? You do get just that, a Jesse Eisenberg Lex Luthor, and I understand if that doesn't work for some, but for me it worked in spades.
I read about the plot being too crammed. Not to me. It has become quite clear that I can be entertained by setup of future related movies if it's handled right. For all the understanding of other DC heroes being included, they don't clog up the movie by any means. One thing I will understand when it comes to those uninitiated in the deeper DC universe that is akin to Thor's hallucination in "Avengers: Age of Ultron", just know you could easily get the idea with a simple Google search.
In the end it's about personal struggles, reconciliation and redemption; and BRILLIANTLY depicted. I wholly adore this movie
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
Take an 80's pill and enjoy
I don't know if it was on purpose, but here they took an 80's property, gave it the same flavor as "Commando" with all its extreme scenarios, and gave it 10's level practical effects. This is one movie I obligated myself to watch it. Why? It had my favorite Joe in Roadblock, who was given the best possible casting (seeing how Michael Clarke Duncan's passing made him unavailable). It's generally accepted that Dwayne Johnson makes good with his time on camera in every role, and I loved every minute of it here. No argument that the plot is paper-thin...OK--RICE paper, but you take on that 80's mentality, it becomes a worthwhile guilty pleasure. Cobra Commander's few scenes showed him being more convincing than what we saw in the 80's cartoons. It was something interesting to see Jonathan Pryce as a good guy, though he's cast to primarily use his bad guy acting skills. Too bad we didn't get much of Arnold Vosloo. I enjoyed Flint (though in the cartoon, he was much higher in command) and Lady Jay. So overall, a good bit of "check your brains at the box office fun".
Miracle on 34th Street (1973)
Nothing beats '47, but this is a decent remake
I thought the Thomas Mitchell version as OK as we'll, while Richard Attenborough's left a bitter taste in my mouth. What stood out was that it's set up blended so well into the 70's era. I confess, I always thought of David Hartman as a newsman, but here I realize he wasn't a bad actor at all. Cabot's Santa? Loved him! Convincingly kind and gentle, and showed brilliant Santa magic.
In some ways it does feel like you'd get lost following this if you didn't already know the story, because you don't get a lot to tell you just what the characters as set up are all about, and you don't get hardly any exposition of Karen Walker as an unbeliever, but familiarity saves it. As well, I feel like i wouldn't like it as much if not for wanting some reprieve from the forced resolution I got out of the Attenborough version. The Post Office miracle doesn't feel as brilliant, but still different enough to feel fresh, a nd believable enough to appreciate as a miracle.
I won't put as much diligence into making this a Christmas season must-see, but I'll definitely get to a point where it feels like another go is in order. Not a bad version at all.
Same SW positives and negatives
Star Wars (before "A New Hope" was added) was the first movie I ever saw in the theater, and I fell in love with everything everybody else did. It had an engaging story, interesting characters, great action, and awesome special effects. I was fortunate enough to get to see Empire and Jedi in the theater as well.
My love of the Star Wars kept with me, though during my late teen years i was starting see flaws in the dialogue and a few plot hole; but story, character, and action still kept that love going.
The comes this, the first prequel. Same engaging level of story, same calibre characters, same level of special effects (when you factor the time of release), same great kind of action. Dialogue is once again flawed at times, and there are plot holes. Acting? As good as it can be with the dialogue.
When it comes down to it, if I were to abandon this (and its sequels) for its flaws, I would have abandoned the original trilogy for the same reasons.
DIC's better? Not feeling it.
I'm live-and-let-live when it comes to personal taste. It's just here I feel the need to bring my perspective. I think on the Garfield strips and then the cartoons, and they complement each other well with story lines that gradually build to the big comedic payoff.Not so much with the DIC Heathliff episodes. They follow Garfield episode pacing, and yes, good comedic playoffs, but that doesn't jibe with what we get from Heathcliff comics. They were single picture strips (occasionally an extra panel) with single actions and usually a single line that made it an ingenious running gag. That's the spirit of the Ruby-Spears eps; fast- paced with the comedy running in the whole plot process. I often laughed during the start, sometime in the middle, and at the big payoff. I enjoyed DIC (A biig help that they kept Mel Blanc), but Ruby-Spears' fluidity in their presentation makes it my unquestionable preference.
Man of Steel (2013)
Finally after 33 years the Superman Movie Bar has been Raised!
One criticism that stood out as I was getting ready to see it was that the film get excessive with the actions scenes, alien aspects, and CGI. (Chiasmus Warning) Amid liking "Hulk" and the Star Wars prequels, I may not be the one to ask if a movie's CGI is excessive ore even good, but it worked splendidly and convincingly for me. I have to wonder if it's just an adjustment for the uninitiated to see more elaborate Kryptonian settings or images, because this film's props of such felt very familiar in light of what I've seen in the comics and on more recent Supes cartoons. I think about the Kryptonian v. Kryptonian fight scenes that do go for an extended period, realizing that such would be the norm for beings who can both give and take a lot of punishment. I tend to think on how long and drawn the Supes v. Darkseid fight lasted in the animated feature "Apokolips" based on the Superman/Batman comic mini-series. It had over a dozen cases of a big uppercut that sent the opponent flying for miles. So this was nothing new either, and the movements of these fights made the battles completely epic and adrenalizing.
What I loved so much about the 1978 Superman movie was the back-story, showing how much of an influence Jonathan and Martha Kent were on their special adopted son, and this film succeeded in upping the ante on that aspect, seeing Clark develop mentally and emotionally, while struggling to adapt to his incredible abilities. Prior to that we get the obligatory sequence involving Jor-El's facing his planet's destruction, and giving his all to seeing the preservation of his son's life. This too was a major upgrade. Then comes Kal El's pivotal moment when he masters all of his powers, followed by the arrival of General Zod, who created such havoc in his home world to offer the same to earth with hyper-megalomania, and the movie truly shines in creating some major conflict for our hero at this juncture, and Kal El (who, thankfully, does get properly acknowledged as 'Superman' during the movie's run, just won't say where) shows that he's got all the heart and will to meet the challenge head-on.
I saw no slouching by anybody in the cast. I was amazed at Henry Cavill, and how he was completely spot-on in showing his emotions during his many close-ups, he was extremely convincing as both a man struggling to find his place in the world, and a man with a sense of priority in protecting the world he had still come to love. Russell Crowe played Jor-El to the hilt as the wise Kryptonian patriarch, with his world's best interests at heart, and all the heart to help see to earth's defense. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane ably played Clark's adoptive parents, selfless and compassionate. Amy Adams was a wonderful Lois Lane, accomplishing that daunting task of coming off as a hard-working researcher without appearing to be too snoopy. My favorite kind of villain is the megalomaniacal kind, and we get that in spades from Michael Shannon as Zod, who you have to look upon with both disdain and sympathy. Laurence Fishburne's Perry White, Christopher Meloni's Colonel Hardy, Antje Traue's Faora-Ul, and on and on--were all great in their respective roles.
There is a bit of a problem with so many (mainly in Smallville) who are presumably privy to Clark's secret, but for all the scope the entire movie offered, it was worth overlooking. I liked "Superman Returns", just didn't love it for the fact that the action was so understated at a point where so many people were hungry for Superman to deliver on the action after being gone for nineteen years, and after not having been a very strong movie about the Man of Steel since 1980. This one suddenly made that wait worthwhile. It was incredible!
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
I really wanted to enjoy this
I tend to be cautiously optimistic when it comes to remakes, and had a little more faith than usual in this one, as much as I like Richard Attenborough. What bothered me more than anything is that what I'm seeing in this film is "Santa with an ego." For all of Santa's selflessness, compassion, and belief in what he does, it goes against all those qualities to see him on the defensive in terms of any heckling in a department store where kids are waiting in line to sit on his lap, as well as being quickly drawn to strike the same guy who presented no real threat to him on the street other than continued heckling. What also bothered me was the lack of substance I saw in the resolution. In the original, Kris's lawyer found a legal loophole for the government to recognize him as the real Santa, while here an apparent parallel philosophy to the belief in Santa is enough for a judge to make his ruling of--I'm not sure what. There is indeed plenty of holiday warmth in this film, but no strong reasoning to what is at stake, on either side, in the plot. I've read enough reviews to see what reasons others have found that lead them to like the movie, and I have no problem if they keep watching it based on that. For me, it just simply did not have a strong foundation to make it a good movie, even without comparing it to the 1947 version.
The Godfather: Part III (1990)
A serving of sirloin after 2 previous helpings of prime rib
It helped that I saw this, understanding that it was a major disappointment for those with high expectations after the first 2. It was interesting backtracking to this and seeing Andy Garcia as a young buck, much in the same vein as Al Pacino was in GF I, while Pacino is still his own man, out of Brando's shadow. It draws well from the previous 2, leaving you understanding why it waited 16 years to be made. I loved how it rounded out Michael's destiny after showing how much the years wore on him. Talia Shire shows herself as being more than capable of playing a tough mafia woman after her character had previously been so feeble. Overall, a more than decent end to the this epic film series.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A More than Fitting End to this Film Series Juggernaut
I'm a die-hard Batman fan and, at best, Luke-warm Burton/Keaton fan. The Nolan/Bale franchise was a welcome change in terms of what I see in Batman as a character. In this installment of that series, Bruce Wayne suffers enough guilt after the deaths of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes that he has been living a Howard Hughes lifestyle for the eight years that followed "The Dark Knight." He finds himself needing to get back into the game when a new threat enters Gotham city--a greater threat to him personally than he has ever confronted before. His ultimate struggle becomes that he has to pick himself up from rock bottom so he can save Gotham from its big threat.
The movie pulls from several great Batman stories, including "The Dark Knight Returns," "Knightfall," and "No Man's Land", and at the same time reminds us of historical events like the recent "Occupy Wall street" and even the French Revolution. It delves into the entire moral spectrum, where the good guys have to find their ethical core, while bad guys never even stop to consider theirs.
Christian Bale nails it as the conflicted Bruce Wayne, and the menacing Batman, while Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy all deliver in spades in their respective roles in a monstrous and powerhouse plot. This is one for the ages.
Conflicted, to say the least
Lately I've been taking every superhero click I can get my hands on whenever the chance comes. Certainly wasn't going to pay rent $$ when I knew sometime it was going to find its way to the tube. I'm guessing that Sharon Stone's career has hit the backburner enough if she's taking on a "Basic Instinct *Lite*" role here. The plot, of itself, has an interesting spin, but the characters that are supposed to hold it up have too many laughable moments to give it any structure. The dialogue quality goes up and down like an EKG after a mega-dose of Red Bull, that I stopped having any expectations about 2/3 of the way through the film. Catwoman as a character gets annoying when we're supposed to be entertained by her 'cat' attributes finding their way into the picture, but are completely lame. And while you're rooting for her to win the day, you couldn't care less about what else becomes of her social life or her career. Just an all-round hollow movie.