khaosworks: (Superman)
And a very happy 70th Birthday to Kal-El. Or rather, the characters introduced in Action Comics #1, which was released on on April 18, 1938, albeit cover dated June 1938. That means that Zatara and Tex "Mr. America" Thompson are also 70 today.

As [ profile] querldox points out, in continuity, Clark Kent's birthday is February 29th. Assuming that multiple Crises haven't retconned that away...
khaosworks: (Superman)
Christopher Priest (no, not that Christopher Priest, the one formerly known as Jim Owsley) tears Superman Returns a new asshole.

The Gospel According to Superman

Go read it. I'll be right here.

Comments after the cut that make more sense if you've read the review. )
khaosworks: (Superman)
This is spoiler-free — or as spoiler-free as I can make it — review.

Let me just say this so there's no mistaking what I'm about to write: It's not a bad movie. People who know me know I am an unabashed Superman fan. I love the character to death. I understand how the character works, and I know Bryan Singer understands it the same way.

I also know many comic fans enjoyed it, some just as curmudgeonly, if not more so, than I am. It has some wonderfully realised set-pieces, excellent special effects, better performances that I expected from nearly all concerned, especially Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth. It had a good emotional core, was quite exciting in spots, and an interesting new twist that really needs to be followed up in a sequel.

Let me also say this: I'm going to watch it again. Not because I didn't give it a fair shake, but because, oddly enough, the movie didn't give itself a fair shake. I'll try and explain.

I was sceptical of Superman Returns from the start. It was clear in my mind that Christopher Reeve cast a very large shadow that could not be easily replaced. I didn't like the costume, I thought Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth were too young to be playing the parts that were ostensibly five years down the road from Superman II, and generally I thought it would compare badly to the movies of my childhood.

This was why when I went into the cinema, I was trying desperately to think to myself: "Take it on its own terms; take it on its own terms; take it on its own terms. Don't compare it to the first two, don't compare Routh to Reeve, just see how good it is on its own."

Ironically, however, the movie just wouldn't let me. From John William's "Superman March", from the credits that duplicated the style of the Salkind movies, from whole passages of dialogue that were lifted/repeated from the first two movies, from Routh's Chris Reeve impression, and the glimpses of Hackman in Spacey's performace, as hard as I was trying not to compare this movie to the past, it kept bringing me back. Never has a movie worked so hard to stop me from trying to accept it on its own merits.

Again, let me emphasise — it's not a bad movie. But the shadow of Richard Donner, Tom Mankiewicz, John Williams and Christopher Reeve haunts the movie, and I think it does everyone involved in it a disservice. Some may say that it's homage, it's tribute, and for a fresh new generation who don't remember or haven't seen the originals in any big way, I'm sure it resonates. But for myself, and I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm in a minority of one, if you keep reminding me of how good the first two movies were and mining them for iconic moments, you're not going to convince me how good this movie is. I hope I'm making sense.

So I'm going to watch it again, and maybe this time I can adjust my mind so that I can accept the kisses to the past without being reminded too much about it.

The good bits: Routh, Bosworth, Spacey, Posey, Marsden, everyone, really, all turn in great performances. Even the kid that plays Lois's son isn't bad, and generally I hate the cute kid syndrome. Luthor is written and played as much more intelligent than the Hackman days, as someone who actually thinks things through, and the movie is much improved for that. Special effects, top notch. Script is witty. Climactic scene, suitably awesome, although mildly implausible. Did not mind the twist at all, although there are continuity problems with that which I won't go into because this is supposed to be non-spoilerish.

The bad bits: Plot is very, very thin. Concentrating on the emotional core is great, but as intelligent as Luthor appears in the movie, there's very little intelligence involved in his scheme. Also, despite the knowledge he's gained, he never makes use of it and thus leaves himself wide open for the way Superman defeats him. As mentioned, the movie also keeps wanting to invite comparisons with the earlier ones. The ending has at least three different denouements, which is always a bad sign, as if the movie can't decide which way it wants to end. Routh and Bosworth still too young to convincingly play a Superman and Lois five years on. Hate, hate, hate the costume: "S" too small, no "S" on the back of the cape, boots too short, stupid "S" buckle... please redesign it for the sequels.

In the end, the basic sin of this Superman movie, to my mind, was that, compared to every other super-hero movie, it was ordinary. So my first watching of it didn't stir any fanboy impulses, didn't make me feel nostalgic, didn't even make me all emotional (and these days, I'm a real sap and tear up at movies a lot, so for a movie about a character who has been my particular hero since childbirth not to do that takes some doing).

Given the frame of mind I went in, and how it was completely stymied by the way the movie structured itself, I think I should give it a second chance. So I'll take a second tilt at it, and hopefully I'll enjoy it more.

On a completely separate note, this week's issue of The Thing was hilarious. Dan Slott is probably the most underrated writer in mainstream comics now. One scene halfway through the book in particular had me chuckling and saying out loud, "Ben Grimm, you're such a bastard." You'll know the one I'm talking about when you read it.
khaosworks: (Superman)
I'm approaching the new movie the same way that I decided to approach the Star Wars prequels in the end: this movie isn't meant for me.

It's not meant for the kid who demanded his parents bring him to watch Superman: The Movie in 1979 and came out of the cinema believing a man could fly. This is for all the kids who were born in between who never had a big-screen Superman they could call their own.

So the neckline is too high, the cape hangs wrong, the boots are too low, the S-shield is too small, the S on the belt looks stupid and the overall look makes Brandon Routh — and I'm trying to say this in the most non-homophobic way I can — look gay. Maybe his costume was damaged on a planet of really camp fashion designers and this was the best they could do, Supes having persuaded them to lay off the pink glitter and the nipple tassels. Carson would weep.

In addition, Lois and Clark look way too young for something that's supposed to take place after the original movies, and the story just doesn't grab me from what I've seen. Spacey does a great Gene Hackman, though.

But it's not for me. It may surprise me and I may really enjoy it, but it's for a new generation. I hope they do come out of the movie feeling like that kid did in 1979. It was a good feeling.
khaosworks: (Superman)
In case [ profile] mrdankelly hasn't seen this.

A collection of wacky Silver-Age covers. Work-safe.
khaosworks: (Superman)
Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004 )

"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will,
they soon become inevitable."
khaosworks: (Jay)
I got an e-mail from one of my literary heroes, former Superman writer Elliot S! Maggin referring to one of my posts on USENET about Superman a couple of years ago, and saying I was one of the guys "who get the joke."

khaosworks: (Default)
Happy Miracle Monday!
A faint whooshing sound came from the sky. Pedestrians froze, and traffic slowed, as people craned their necks looking for a red-and-blue streak. But what they heard was the distant beating of police helicopters and what they saw were half a dozen of what appeared to be hang gliders, propelled by tiny jet engines and rotors. One of the gliders left formation and hovered over the Metro National Bank and almost instantly a low-pitched rumble shook the ground.

"Luthor!" Clark spat.

"What?" Lois said. "What are those things?"

"High-pitched sound coming from devices in the gliders. Probably at exactly the pitch that will shatter tempered steel. As in bank vaults."

"What? Clark, how do you know all that?"

"My nose for news."

"Is there a cliche you haven't hit yet today?"

"Look, Lois. You stay and watch what happens. Take notes. I've got to get a film crew on the roof for the show, anyway, so I'll let Perry know you're covering the story for the paper."

"Oh, no, Clark Kent. You've stepped on enough of my bylines, and the old man would hop at the chance to get your name over a front-page story. I'll call my editor myself, thanks." Lois elbowed her way into the restaurant and its public telephone.

By the time Clark had had the chance to smile at his own cleverness he slid into the lobby of a building that was emptying quickly. Once he found a corner safely away from onlookers he moved faster than any eye could follow. The glasses, the blue jacket and pants, the tie, shirt, and shoes peeled away in a twinkling. A curl of blue-black hair dropped over his forehead.

And for no more than another instant there stood the most powerful man on Earth.
khaosworks: (Superman)
Currently, in a thread entitled "Reinventing Superman (LONG)" on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe, people are debating the various versions of Superman and some are disparaging the Big Blue Boy Scout mode of Superman, saying basically that's too perfect. I didn't really want to get involved in the discussion because it's all a matter of opinion, anyway, but something pushed my buttons again and I came up with this. It's not for everyone, but if you're at all interested in my views on Superman or have a peek into my hero complex, it might just be worth a read, and tell me what you think.

Cut because it's long )
khaosworks: (Default)
Happy Miracle Monday!

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