PinHeadLarry's Superman Marathon 2013!
With the release of Man of Steel already past us, the only thing left of the Superman film hype is the inevitable fallout. Was it good? Was it bad? The path seems to take many directions. I'm convinced that Man of Steel was one of the hardest films to form an opinion on. Not because of what critics say, or what your friends say, but because the film itself was just so hot/cold. At times it didn't even feel like a Superman film but it soon turned around and corrected that mistake.
Only to reverse it again.
But I'm not here to talk about Man of Steel. I'm here to talk about Superman. The reeeeeeaaal Superman. With Man of Steel being somewhat of a disappointment, I needed to scratch the Superman itch. The Superman Anthology BluRay box set was calling my name... I had only seen this one, and Returns. Both of those viewing were a loooong time ago. I was pleasantly surprised that this one held up, and much more. This was a film from a golden age where spectacle and quality could exist in the same realm. Where you could watch your favorite hero with a twinkle in your eye and forget you were in your own universe. Superman was a film that would later set the standard for the origin story and but strangely enough, barely a handful of superhero films could come close to the quality exhibited in Richard Donners heroic and shining masterpiece.
In 1978, the nation was probably just getting over the massive summer blockbuster Star Wars, and one year later Superman landed with similar large scale spectacle and heroic sense of adventure that jumps off the pages of any popular Superman comic panel. Superman not only was an immense success as an adventure film but also succeeded in not being a severe injustice to the character. Here is a Superman that is the big bright shining beacon of hope in the big tall city that represents the pinnacle of achievement and example in the Western world. The color scheme brings Metropolis to life and whether its the Daily Planet or Lex Luthors underground lair, every set feels like a real inhabitable place that you can walk through and marvel at everything to be seen and felt. Metropolis is bustling and alive and Superman appropriately interacts with its denizens and criminals. But Superman wouldn't have gotten to be Metropolis' protector if it weren't for the help of certain people along the way. From Krypton to Smallville, Kal-El's journey is impeccably paced and no scene feels any longer or shorter than it should've been. For being a film in 1978, Superman boasted some breathtaking visual effects that are both charming and effective at bringing out Superman's powers and the fantastic world he inhibits. Kryptons collapse, a helicopter rescue, and Superman realigning tectonic plates under the Earths surface are technical standouts. Today, a scene involving Superman moving Earths plates would be filled with shit flying everywhere and would be muddled and messy. In Superman its a grand scene done in a simple fashion. Practical effects and small models are to thank for most of the effects and this makes the film like some boyhood dream of playing with his toys and pretending to be Superman. Simply put, this film brings out the feeling of Superman without sacrificing the integrity of his character and suffering in quality. That's something that is sadly missing from a lot of Superhero movies, and films in general today.
Superman brings the fantastic to life and shows us everything it needs to show us. There is no such thing as needless exposition here. Kal-El's humble moments in Smallville, being picked on by bullies and his eventual founding of the Fortress of Solitude and the voice of his father are handled with care and not just like scenes to move the film forward. These scenes establish Clark's character and serve to reinforce the thesis of the film; vanity. This is a film of discovering power and responsibility, and refraining from small impulses and desires. Its the kind of Superman story that makes him more relatable. Christopher Reeve both makes Superman a physical presence and an emotional one. He is that big lovable guy who wouldn't hurt a fly and holds doors open for you. Christopher Reeve becomes an example for everyone to strive towards and doesn't waste time staring into the sunset with a sad look on his face. He takes his problems in stride and focuses on using his powers in moderation. Lex Luthor played by Hackman is a great opposer to this ideal and he becomes a particularly charismatic and mischievous villain. I hadn't seen this film since I was a kid, but I'm glad I still enjoyed Hackman's performance as much as I did back in the day. Everyone here is both a great service to the plot AND a good representation of their comic counterparts. Its an amazing balance that I was legitimately sad to see missing in Man of Steel. Unlike this film, Man of Steel wasn't sure how much to show us and when. This made emotional moments lack weight and Supermans origin felt kind of rushed but at the same time bloated. Just like Superman rushing through the air, this film felt like a lightweight bullet. And we were riding on top.
I always held Superman up in high regard when it came to superhero movies and nostalgic films in general. I honestly think there is nothing wrong with Superman and even if the effects are a little cheesy today, its still got more heart, humor, style and restraint than most superhero films of today. Like superman himself, those films should look at this one and strive to be the same.
Now on to the second one. Lets see how this Zod compares to the new one!
I'm sure ill miss Faora....
She was a fox.
Delmer Daves' classic western 3:10 to Yuma shines once more thanks to the incredibly slick Blu-Ray release by Criterion. The sizzling desert heat and intimate close-ups have never been sharper in this tense and slow-moving drama. Rather than guns-blazin' violence and a train robbery, which is what I stupidly thought it would be about, Daves is more interested in creating two interesting and rounded characters, one a rugged outlaw and the other a caring family man, and putting them in one room to see what happens. Portrayed by the excellent Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, the two leads are at a constant battle with each other that manifests not just in the dialogue, but is also visible in their faces and posture. The performances are very physical, with simple gestures telling more about the characters than words. In constant anticipation of a storm, the manners of the two become increasingly intense to the point of being unbearable.
As the time ticks the tension continues to rise and rise with every minute and keeping it up all the way to the end. The last ten or so minutes are edge-of-your-seat stuff and the ending is highly rewarding, the longing for Evans' life clearly written on Wade's face. It concludes Wade's character perfectly and the mutual respect for each other almost feels like a new friendship has been formed. 3:10 to Yuma masterfully handles both the drama and thriller aspects and balances them out just right to succeed equally in both. The characters are engaging, the acting universally great, and the visuals gorgeous, a real triumph of a western. Although I went into it expecting some sort of action thriller I left both surprised and pleased with how it turned out to be, a smart drama with rich characterization and riveting exchanges of dialogue.
None whatsoever. And what we were given in its place was just so forced, it's actually pathetic. Clark exposes himself in front of several dozen strangers on the oil rig, but a week prior, he couldn't do the same thing to save his own father? Bullshit. He wasn't "ready" then,…