After 19 years away from the big screen, ole Supes comes back in a weird way in “Superman Returns” (2006). Directed by “X-Men’s” Bryan Singer, a longtime fan of Richard Donner’s “Superman” (1978), this is a spiritual sequel to the original quadrilogy, but not a strict sequel. And that makes for a confusing viewing experience.
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In 1985’s “Rocky IV,” Rocky ends the Cold War with an impassioned speech. Two years later, “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987) offers a more sobering examination of the issue: By the movie’s end, the creation of nuclear bombs goes on, even though Superman (Christopher Reeve) has flung the existing arsenal into the sun. The latter is more grounded, but it’s not nearly as inspiring, which is why “Rocky IV” is a cult classic and “Superman IV” rates a 3.7 on IMDB.
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Having gotten the heavy backstory out of the way, franchise screenwriters David and Leslie Newman and director Richard Lester (who helmed the theatrical version of “Superman II”) cut loose with the character in “Superman III” (1983). While the film rates only a 4.9 on IMBD – suggesting that a lot of moviegoers would’ve rather missed this one, like the Bermuda-bound Lois — it has a lot to recommend it.
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“Man of Steel” (2013) ends with Superman ravaging Metropolis in order to defeat General Zod, and that destruction becomes a central issue of “Batman v Superman” (2016). The filmmakers had time in between the films to learn that viewers were bothered by the collateral damage of Supes’ fight, and either added that theme to the sequel or knew they were justified in doing so. Things were different in the original “Superman” film saga.
Continue reading “Superhero movie flashback: ‘Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut’ (2006)”
“Superman” (1978) is a product of its time, something that’s more evident today when contrasted with the muscular and modern “Man of Steel” (2013). Still, if a viewer puts themselves in the mindset of a 1978 movie-goer, it’s clear why this movie is beloved. Indeed, it even rates a 7.3 on IMDB on compared to 7.1 for “MoS.”
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Now a franchise of five films with the addition of “Justice League” this week, the DC Extended Universe launched in 2013 with “Man of Steel.” Written by the Dark Knight Trilogy’s David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan and directed by “Watchmen’s” Zack Snyder, “Man of Steel” attempts to balance everything we love about Superman with a fresh examination of his character and place in the world. Every subsequent DCEU film – despite having a variety of writers and directors — has followed that formula, to varying degrees of success. Here are three things that have become trademarks of the saga, for better or worse:
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“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2106) is the epitome of a movie where the end result is less than the sum of its parts. The three-hour Ultimate Edition, when watched at home in about six sittings, is better than the theatrical edition, but it still has problems at its core. It also has some cool stuff – when separated from the movie’s overall context. In advance of this weekend’s “Justice League,” here are six cool things and six dumb things about last year’s DC Extended Universe blockbuster:
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CBS’ “Supergirl,” which recently wrapped up its first season, raises compelling questions about the societal role of someone blessed with extraordinary skills. Although Supergirl is held up as a paragon of virtue by the citizens of Capital City — and the world – an observer could make a case that she’s barely doing the minimum for someone who is made of steel and who can quickly fly anywhere in the world without her arms even getting tired.
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“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the second entry in the DC Universe film saga that started with 2013’s “Man of Steel,” is more engaging than its rather boring predecessor, due largely to the novelty factor of seeing these two icons – plus Wonder Woman – in the same movie. As with “Man of Steel” — like this film, directed by Zack Snyder — there’s a jarring disconnect between the computer-generated fight scenes and scenes of characters talking to each other, and it feels like the former category dominates the film. (Spoilers follow.)
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“Supergirl” (8 p.m. Eastern Mondays on CBS) is a slickly produced and nicely acted but utterly unnecessary and unimaginative addition to TV’s comic-book superhero boom. Because it’s in the same timeslot as another DC adaptation, “Gotham,” and the year’s best new show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” my DVR wouldn’t record it and I watched it on the Internet. It was hardly worth the extra effort.
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