This movie wasn’t on my original list of movies to watch for this year, it’s not a traditional superhero movie, and I personally considered it more of a sci-fi movie. But I recently read what was originally intended as an April Fools joke at Fog’s Movie Reviews as one of his Movies That Everyone Should See. He thought that it wasn’t that great of a movie with too much cheese and too much violence, but he wrote the article very seriously expecting the commenters to balk at the movie’s inclusion alongside classics such as Citizen Kane, Big, and Stand By Me. But instead of balking, the comments heartily agreed with the inclusion except for a few outliers who realized it may have been an April Fools prank. It definitely made me want to see it, and so I did. As I mentioned, I was initially reluctant to include it, but it did spawn a comic book series, and when compared to a superhero like The Punisher, he’s got a better costume, similar firepower, and more of what could be considered super power. So here we are.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths 2010
I’m writing this bonus review because my daughter picked out this movie when we were at the rental store through no provoking from myself, I was in a completely different section of the store at the time. It’s one of the DC Universe straight to DVD animated movies from producer Bruce Timm who was the big driving force behind pretty much all of the DC animated stuff since Batman: The Animated series. I’ve seen a lot of the movies and they’ve all been pretty fantastic and if I continue this blog into next year, I will definitely be adding them to the list. But like I said, she picked it out, I watched it and wanted to write about it so here it is.
This movie mostly takes place on an alternate Earth where the typical supervillains became the heroes while the typical superheroes became the villains, and once again the same people win. Lex Luthor and The Jester are the last of the alternate Justice League to still be alive and the Jester sacrifices himself so Lex can escape with a special power source. He escapes to our Earth to recruit the Justice League to help his Earth. In this point in the timeline Batman is just in the final stages of creating their space station base of operations. They agree to help but Batman stays behind to watch over Earth in the meantime.
One of the first things I noticed about this movie is I didn’t recognize hardly any of the voice actors, no Kevin Conroy, no Mark Hammil though that’s not a big deal since the Jester had a small part. After a while it wasn’t quite a big deal, but for most of the movie they just sounded a little off. Without going to too much more detail on the plot, when there’s a story like this you just know there’s going to at some point be a big fight between everyone and their double. And there is. And it’s pretty good. Superman’s double is Ultraman who’s more of a mob boss to the crime family. The Flash’s double is some british guy named Johnny and I don’t think I ever caught his superhero name. Wonder Woman’s double is some lesser character who she fights earlier but ends up being matched with Super Woman who seems pretty much on par with Superman, though she never uses any heat vision. Martian Manhunter’s double looks fairly similar in design, but has four arms, four eyes, and is taken out by the Jester in the beginning. Green Lantern’s double is also pretty similar and I never remember catching his name either. And Batman’s double is more or less the main villain even though he’s not the leader of the villains as Owl Man voiced pretty well by James Woods.
There’s also a lot of talk about the infinite Earths in this movie. I’m familiar with the comic book storyline Crisis on Infinite Earths, in fact my initial choice for the name of this blog was “Movie Night on Infinite Earths” before I settled on the current name. I’m familiar that the story exists, but that’s about it. This movie explains the concept pretty well including the concept of “Earth Prime”, the original Earth where all existences originated from, which thankfully is not the same as our Earth. And if Earth Prime is destroyed, then all other Earths are destroyed as well. My only problem with that theory is that Earth is in no way the center of the universe. It’s just a single planet. But aside from that quibble as well as one other, since when can Wonder Woman fly? It was kind of cute how they introduced this movie’s origin of her invisible jet. It was actually Owl Man’s jet which had a cloaking device that they used to escape the villains on the second Earth. While they were escaping, the villains created a lightning storm around them which fried the controls for the cloaking device, but the jet remained cloaked. And at the end, the Flash hits his head on it and Wonder Woman merely comments “Spoils of War”.
The animation was great as usual for these movies, and it was fun playing the guessing game when they were going around fighting the various lesser villains on the alternate Earth. Since almost all of the villains had anywhere from minor to major design changes, but there was still enough similarity that you could recognize them. I think my favorite was a huge bulked up Jimmy Olsen who was still good friends with Ultraman. That, and when Lex Luthor proves that he’s not a threat to the Justice League during their first introduction by being naked in the police station. It’s a fun romp if you enjoy these kind of parallel universe type stories. I hope you enjoyed this bonus review, Thursday’s review will be Super with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. Until then, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Captain America 1990
It’s Monday night, and even though I’m already headlong into this project it’s January 2nd and I’m ready to get started on the first movie of the year. I had someone suggest to me to watch the old Captain America movie so I looked it up. It was on my list, but I didn’t really know anything about it and honestly, I don’t even know that much about Captain America. I know the basics, he was created in World War II through America’s Super Soldier program to fight Nazis and he was frozen for a while somehow. I’ve seen him in the Marvel Animated DVD Ultimate Avengers, but that’s about it. And of course I know about the new movie that came out last year with Chris Evans but I haven’t gotten around to watching it. That’s another reason why I agreed with the suggestion to watch the old Cap, this gives me a chance to finally watch the new Cap in a few days or so. But this isn’t the new Cap, it’s the old Cap. And it’s not the old cheesy motorcycle helmet Cap that I originally thought it was. Those DVDs came out recently to cash in on the new movie and I’ve seen them in Wal-Mart, but this movie hasn’t seemed to have made a comeback. If you’ve checked out my list for this year, you might know that I’m limiting the movies I’m watching for the moment to theatrically released movies, and those Motorcycle helmet ones were either direct to video or made for TV. This one was actually released in theaters.
Mostly because I had never heard of it, and it’s one of those barely spoken of things, I was expecting a train wreck of a movie. And this just plain isn’t it. Yes the costume looks pretty bad, the action scenes are extremely low budget and badly edited to try and cope with that fact, and there are some implausibilities. But honestly that’s a minor part of the movie and the rest of it was pretty interesting and kept me hooked. That is until it throws me a hunk of major cheese, I have a great laugh at it, but then I’m back in the movie. It starts off confusing enough in Nazi Germany where some soldiers come in, take a smart kid, and kill his entire family while making him watch. They show off a smart, strong, stop motion or animatronic rat that doesn’t have any skin for some reason and appear to do the same thing to the kid. One of the German scientists is horrified by some part of it and runs off. 7 years later, that same scientist is working for the Americans to use the same process to some unsuspecting American schlub, though somehow she worked the whole creepy skinless kink out of the process.
They really skim over the whole Steve Rogers part of the origin, he’s in love with some girl named Bernie of all things, has an “it’s alive” moment and immediately saves the day from a Nazi spy trying to take down the whole operation, killing the ex-nazi scientist and wounding Steve. But the super serum works quickly and Steve is ready to go after the one behind it all or something like that. There’s a quick exposition explaining the fire-proof tacky suit and shield. Sorry, they don’t explain the shield, they just ask Steve if he got enough practice with it. Why would anyone practice with a shield? That doesn’t make any sense… unless you already know about Captain America, and if you do then they shouldn’t need to explain the suit either. He didn’t even spend a whole lot of time in the suit. He wears it in the first fight scene with the Red Skull, and then not really until the final fight scene. Which I didn’t have a problem with since the costume didn’t look all that great. I couldn’t believe they got straight to the fight between the main villain and the hero so soon. I mean, it was badly edited and Cap ends up strapped to a rocket and makes the Red Skull cut his own hand off with a little switchblade by moving slightly to the left. But the Red Skull did look pretty wicked. Even Bernie later on had some pretty passable old age makeup.
It’s pretty easy to talk about the silly things in this movie: kicking the rocket to avoid the white house at the last moment and ending up in Alaska instead? The boy taking photos of the white house at night capturing said rocket and then growing up to be the President? The President joining in at the end and taking out hired thugs with one punch? But aside from all that, the characters were very well played and I was really interested in them. Steve Rogers was a great character, he was pretty smart, cared about the people who were helping him, and resourceful. I loved the joke where he said he felt sick and used it as an excuse to steal the car, twice. I thought the relationship between him and Bernie’s daughter was well done and she played a pretty good role as well. And the Red Skull just had some major presence. I can’t speak for his accent but he chewed major scenery in every scene he was in, and I mean that in a good way.
I haven’t mentioned Jena much in this review because once again, she was MIA for a lot of it and talking up a storm about random things while she was there. She was there for the beginning and she reacted to the first bit of movie violence that we’ve seen so far and I briefly commented on in an earlier blog. Captain America gets shot up during his first moments as a super soldier and Jena asks “did his shirt die?” since it had a lot of movie blood on it. And of course he was pretty much better in the next scene so she was ok with it. Shortly afterward she went off and started playing with her toys instead. If you can find this movie anywhere and can overlook a little cheese/low budget effects I would recommend checking this movie out. Until next time this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Superman Returns 2006
I started watching this movie with a preconceived notion in my head. I originally watched this movie when it came out in an IMAX theater and I enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t too impressed with the few 3D scenes. I later bought it on DVD, but it wasn’t an immediate buy, I bought it because it was on a super-discounted sale and I don’t think I ever watched it after I bought it, maybe once, and I think I watched some of the special features. But instead I became influenced by the opinion of the internet which dubbed this a mediocre and boring sequel with a lot of dumb ideas. So when I started watching this movie again, I was expecting a certain level of mediocrity. I was wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t blown away by this movie, but I was interested and invested in it through most of the almost two and a half hours of it. I say most because it did go on a bit too long. I also noticed the starting of a dichotomy in the way I watched this movie since writing these review blogs. In some parts of the movie I caught myself watching with an extra critical eye, and yet other places I still got carried away in the movie. Jena in the meantime had to practically be dragged downstairs to watch it, wouldn’t stop talking, and really just wanted to go back upstairs and play. The only time she was mostly quiet during that 45 minutes or so was during the shuttle sequence.
One of the biggest things going for this movie is the fact that Bryan Singer knows his Superman. There are tons of references to all sorts of previous incarnations of Superman, some are nice and smooth like the fact that Lois doesn’t know how to spell, while others are a bit of “look at that, Superman is posing just like he did in Action Comics #1”. You could almost play a drinking game – take a drink anytime an older Superman is referenced. It helps a lot that I just watched the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies not too long ago, as the director himself has said that this movie is kind of a spiritual sequel to Richard Donner’s Superman II. There also seems to be a lot of the Christ metaphor that Richard Donner has said to have used in the original Superman movies, especially the scene where Superman is falling to Earth from space in the shape of a crucifix and more or less is resurrected shortly afterwards.
I almost disagree with the thought that this is a spiritual sequel to Superman II though, because in my mind it feels like it tries to cover a lot of the same ground as the first Superman movie. Superman’s been gone for 5 years so the world is more or less at a point where it’s like there’s never been a Superman. When he returns it’s just like when he first arrived, the only difference is that people are asking “where has he been?” instead of “where did he come from?”. Not only that, but Lex’s entire scheme is more or less the same as it was before, only bigger. Instead of buying up cheap land in the desert and knocking the rest of California into the sea, he’s creating new land and forcing most of the USA into the sea. There’s also no real fight scene, the biggest action setpieces are Superman saving people from disasters, not supervillains. He even reintroduces himself to Lois with a flight around town and an exclusive interview. But instead of falling for a single Lois, he’s trying to break up Lois’s steady relationship even though she’s practically dating a surrogate Superman/Clark Kent hybrid. He flies, he’s a reporter, and he’s there when she needs him. Not only that, but in her time of most dire need, Richard chooses her while Superman chooses Metropolis.
The relationship was almost the biggest part of this movie and when you look at it from that perspective, I thought it did a good job of portraying such a complicated relationship. Lois loved Superman, they got together in the second movie but her memory was erased of it. In fact I just realized that she supposedly had no memory of their night together as per Superman II, that leads the question of how quickly did Superman leave after that night, and how quickly did she get into a new relationship? Anyway she loved Superman but he left her without saying goodbye and she rightly moved on.
Aside from the relationships, there was some action in this movie. There were a couple disasters like the shuttle sequence near the beginning of the movie and the Metropolis destruction from the crystal’s EMP. Both of these scenes were well done with big budget special effects and kept me hooked. But the climax of the movie, where Superman gets beaten up on the Kryptonite crystal island, stabbed with Kryptonite and yet all it takes is a little sun and he’s got enough power to lift the entire Kryptonite island into space when in the first movie he couldn’t even get out of a pool with a little Kryptonite necklace around his neck.
And finally there’s the biggest all around complaint I’ve seen about this movie – Superman’s son. From the beginning it’s really clear to the audience that it’s Superman’s son even though all the characters are doing their best to deny it, claiming it’s Richard’s son. He’s also presented as an extremely fragile and sickly boy with various allergies, asthma, and whatever else he has. And yet after exposure to Kryptonite – my theory anyway – he begins to show signs of being Superman’s son, like violently crushing a man to death with a piano. Thatta boy! As well as hints of superhuman sight finding Superman in the ocean. I’m not mad that the kid is Superman’s son, but there’s just so much stuff that could have been handled differently. Like the fact that Superman’s been gone 5 years which would make him 4 years old, yet he looks and acts much older. He had no knowledge of the boy so he had to have taken off very soon after Superman II, and Lois had to have quickly hooked up with Richard for everyone to think it’s Richard’s kid. But in the grand scheme of things, most of those problems could have just been explained better without changing the movie.
Finally, how did I think this compares with the original Superman? I thought Christopher Reeve played a much better Clark Kent. Brandon Routh does an ok job, but I thought it was ridiculous when the jokes were made comparing the two and all the other characters laughed it off, when for me Routh’s Clark had a little too much confidence to be all that separate from Superman. I also thought the original flight with Superman and Lois had more wonder to it than this one, other than the whole “can you read my mind” voiceover. But the action scenes in this one were much better, the improvement in special effects really does a lot in this respect. And Kevin Spacey‘s Lex Luthor is a lot more cold and calculating, yet he still retains a bit of the old humor even if it’s a lot darker this time around, which I do like. And continuing my trend in finding interest in the side characters, I really enjoyed Kitty in this movie. I thought Parker Posey had a lot of fun with the role. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Superman Returns, next week I’ll be taking a look at the old and new Captain America movies for the first time. Until next time this is Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
So it’s Christmas afternoon, the presents have been opened and we’re just spending a relaxing Sunday Afternoon together as a family. And I decided to ruin it by looking up Supergirl for us all to watch together this holiday afternoon. Ok, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration but the movie was not that enjoyable aside from the ability to laugh at it when it got so bad it was just plain funny. Of course, since it was Christmas afternoon, and Jena got quite a few presents for herself, she paid almost no attention to the movie, preferring to play with her newfound Angry Bird plushies, Monster High doll, and a Rainbow Brite and Sprite doll.
This was made shortly after Superman III and it’s really in the same vein as that movie, but it didn’t have a well known comedian making funny on the screen, it just had Faye Dunaway hamming it up as Selena with a spotlight shining on her face in every single closeup. It reminded me of Morticia Addams in the Addams Family movies. I always thought in those movies it was done for some comedic effect, at least I thought it was funny. Anyway, she played a witch who seemed to have only recently converted because of her warlock boyfriend, although she felt she had already outgrown him and wanted to strike out on her own for more power.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, while she does take up an ample amount of screentime for her character development as a villain, and by development I mean that she wants power, she gets power, and she gets destroyed by a stronger power. The movie however starts out on Krypton. Well technically it’s not Krypton since that got destroyed, but it’s a city full of Kryptonians that somehow survived the destruction of Krypton and are now living using the power of the spinning globotron. That’s not what it’s actually called, but that’s how I remember it as. Zaltar “borrows” it and lets Kara play with it until she loses control of it, it gets sucked through the wall, into space off to Earth, and straight into Selena’s lap. Zaltar exiles himself to the Phantom Zone while everyone else worries that they will die in a few days without power so Kara takes it upon herself to follow the globotron to Earth and retrieve it.
Did I forget to mention that Kara is Kal-El’s cousin? So when she arrives at Earth she comes fully dressed as Supergirl even though no one was dressed like that on Krypton, I mean Argo City. She shows off some of her powers, including fighting off a couple drunk horny truckers before stumbling upon an all girl’s school and revealing her power to create clothes and change haircolor out of nothing. She cons her way into the girl’s school with a fake reference letter from her cousin Clark Kent and sets up a fake identity as Linda Lee. Because obviously if she would have used her real name Kara then everyone would know who she really was… um… yeah. And to tie her even more into Superman, she ends up rooming with Lois Lane’s little sister Lucy.
Now I’m only familiar with Supergirl from Smallville and from what I remember she’s not too far off from her Smallville counterpart. She’s rather naive but she’s a quick thinker and can take care of herself. Lucy Lane also has some familiar traits, like being headstrong enough to try and stop the runaway construction equipment herself. And Jimmy Olsen makes a return appearance as Lucy’s boyfriend and the only real tie in to the Superman movies aside from a poster in Lucy’s room and the quick radio announcement explanation why Superman isn’t around.
They tried to shoehorn a love interest into this movie by way of a personality-less prettyboy gardener for the girl’s school who Selina falls for and tries to concoct a love potion which of course goes awry and makes him fall for Linda Lee instead. I’m sure no one saw that coming. He supposedly snaps out of it halfway through the movie yet continues to have “real” feelings for both Linda and Supergirl making the connection between them through a kiss. The action scenes were all a joke as well, the first action piece is when Selina sends her shadow demon after Linda which has some pretty decent set up as a giant invisible monster. And yet Supergirl defeats it by charging a lamppost with lightning and shooting it at the beast. I wish I was kidding. The next action scene is when the boytoy gets captured by a giant piece of construction equipment that starts running loose around town. Supergirl stares at the destruction it’s causing for what feels like several minutes before finally jumping in and riding along with it for a bit and ripping the claw off, saving the guy. And the final action scene is mostly a bunch of wobbly glowing floor tiles and a big demon.
If I had to pick something about this movie that I liked, I thought Helen Slater’s performance as Supergirl was pretty good considering all the crap acting around her. There were a few of the flying sequences that were well done and I really loved Selina’s sidekick. I think she was about the best part of the movie. She reminded me a lot of Karen Walker since she always seemed to have either a cigarette or a drink in her hand. It was a shame that she got caught up with Faye in the Supergirl twister thingy that defeated them. And at least Supergirl didn’t have to give everyone amnesia kisses at the end, she just got them agree to not tell anyone about her before heading back to Argo City hopefully in time before everyone died. But of course we never know since it just happens during the credits. We do see the lights go on, but we don’t know if anyone besides Kara was still alive. Oh well. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace 1987
My stack of Superman DVDs are due back today and it’s time to finish it out. I think even Jena has a feeling that this one’s going to be bad because she’s not even interested in watching the movie with me today and doesn’t come downstairs until about 40 minutes into the movie. She vaguely pays attention but never really gets into the movie. Before I even watched this movie I was warned by several people over Twitter that this is an awful movie and they were completely right.
Now on the surface you might think it’s a good idea for a movie. It’s got Margot Kidder as well as Gene Hackman back in full force. Gene Hackman had left during Superman II after Richard Donner was fired and Margot Kidder was delegated to a cameo in Superman III after disagreeing with that same decision. And he’s got a big superpowered villain to face off against in the third act. But ultimately that wasn’t enough to save this movie because everything was just handled poorly by a company that couldn’t give them even half the money they needed to pull it off.
Early on in the movie, while Clark was troubled about a child’s highly publicized request for Superman to rid the world of all nuclear weapons, he revealed his secret identity to Lois so he could unburden himself to her while taking her on a flight around town just like in the first Superman movie. But during the flight he uncharacteristically let her go on purpose so she could start to freak out for a moment before he came back to catch her. That was totally an un-Supermanlike thing to do to her, and to top it all off, immediately after talking to her he gave her another amnesia kiss so she forgets it all once again, just like in Superman II. But unlike Superman II, which was still ridiculous but at least he was doing it to save her the heartbreak and torment of keeping his secret, in this movie he basically used her for his own needs and tossed her a forget-me-kiss so things would be back to normal.
There’s just ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene, like where Clark and Superman went on a double date with the new head of the Daily Planet Mariel Hemingway, who was this movie’s love interest for Clark, and Lois. But it was just excuse after excuse for Clark or Superman to leave the room for just a moment so the other could pop in. And Superman apparently agreed to get rid of the nuclear weapons by having the countries shoot them all into space where he collected them in a giant net and threw them all into the sun. I’m sure several dozen nuclear weapons being tossed into the sun wouldn’t have any major repercussions on Earth… riiiight. And the countries will all apparently forget how to make more nuclear weapons? I’m not even going to get started on Ducky, err John Cryer, Lex’s teenage slacker nephew.
But there’s a new supervillain who’s just as powerful as Superman, right? Well, he’s just as powerful as Superman as long as he’s in direct sunlight, because anytime he gets into the shade for a few seconds he completely powers down, and yet he flew around the world with no ill effects. He’s also so hot to the touch that Lex can light his cigar on his finger, yet he could carry Mariel Hemingway into space and she’s perfectly fine…riiiight. They gave Superman yet another power that doesn’t make any sense. Apparently he has “brick-vision” which allowed him to rebuild a part of the Great Wall of China that got destroyed in a fight with Super-blondie just by looking at it. And Superman figured out Super-blondie’s weakness just by thinking about it for a while, at least that’s what he told Lex at the end of the movie. I thought he was going to do something interesting when he was first created and rebelled against Lex, saying “I’m the father now.” And yet that was the full extent of his young rebellion, he just went back to serving Lex no questions asked.
And if you can’t tell already, there’s just so much going on in this movie that nothing got the amount of time it needed to fully tell the story. There’s a hostile takeover of the Daily Planet by a tabloid millionaire who put his daughter in charge. His daughter was interested in Clark Kent romantically and supposedly cared about the paper more than following her father. There’s the whole nuclear threat that prompted the boy to write a letter to Superman asking him to get rid of all the nuclear weapons. There’s Lex and his nephew using a strand of Superman’s hair to make Super-blondie who was supposedly an altered clone of Superman who looked nothing like him, had only a couple of the same powers and a ton of new ones, and constantly sparked and buzzed which was really annoying. There’s the romantic plot between Clark and Mariel Hemingway, There’s Perry White getting a loan to buy back the paper, there’s a bit about Clark not wanting to sell his old farm to a developer, instead he wanted to wait for an actual farmer, and on and on and on. And only about half of these plot threads even had a resolution. Most were just touched on and then left behind.
The worst part about this movie is it’s not even bad enough to make fun of it. Through most of this movie I was just wondering where the heck the movie was going with this, or why the heck did they just do that? I was constantly puzzled and not in a good way. Why the heck did Super-blondie have Gene Hackman’s voice? What does that have to do with anything? Why does Super-blondie have a crush on Mariel Hemingway when he’s never even seen her before? Why does he have weirdly long fingernails? How does that even make any sense? Superman fighting himself made more sense than this movie, and that’s saying something. It’s amazing that they got all of the original cast to agree to make this movie considering how it turned out. What a way to end a series. Next week I will be watching Supergirl as well as Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. I’d still like to watch Richard Donner’s cut of Superman II, but it will have to wait until I can actually get a hold of it. Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what I should watch next, until next time this is Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Superman III 1983
If you’ve read either of my earlier posts, you’d know I’m cranking through the Christopher Reeve Superman movies before they’re due back at the rental store tomorrow. That means I’m watching Superman III today and Superman IV tomorrow even though I’m posting both quite a bit later. As they say, it’s all downhill from here. And of course my daughter Jena, not knowing any better, is still more or less excited about seeing more Superman. As a side note, I’m kind of conflicted for when I get around to the Batman movies. I know several of them get pretty dark, especially the Nolan ones, but at the same time Batman is above all else her favorite superhero next to Wonder Woman. But that’s a decision for another time. Feel free to share your comments on the topic though, I’d love to hear them.
Anyway enough stalling, it’s time to talk about Superman III and boy is there a lot to talk about. I won’t go into too much detail about Jena’s reactions to the movie this time. If you read about what she thought of Superman I and II, it’s pretty much the same here. Her favorite scenes were Superman rescuing the kid and his dog, Superman fighting himself, and Superman fighting the giant computer.
Now for my thoughts, I could tell right away that this movie was going to take a turn for the worse when it started off with a Rube Goldberg-esque comedy of errors over the opening credits complete with a blind guy and several pratfalls. It then had Lois Lane going away for no reason (other than Margot Kidder didn’t agree with the producers for firing Richard Donner) to Bermuda and another random couple from the Daily Planet won a free trip to South America for no reason other than a cheap gag later in the movie, while Clark went back to Smallville for his High School reunion and a claim that it would make a great story. While there he ran into Lana Lang, the prettiest girl in High School and his new love interest in this movie. Since Lois was a no-show, this gave Clark another chance at love and the chance to be a father figure to Lana’s son. Personally, I could never get over the fact that he was kind of dating his own mother as Annette O’Toole went on to play Martha Kent in Smallville and that’s what I know her best as.
Then there’s Richard Pryor, more or less the “man” in “Superman III”, in other words he’s almost as much if not more of a main character than Superman himself. So much so that when he sets off a tornado in Columbia, instead of showing Superman foiling the disaster, they showed Richard Pryor re-enacting the scene with a pink tablecloth before he skied off the side of a skyscraper. Yet he still managed to survive the fall without being caught by Superman. Even though he spent half the movie trying to kill Superman, he had a sudden change of heart when he and his employers were on the verge of succeeding in that plan. In the movie he played a genius that acts like an idiot, at one point he even admitted that he had no idea what he was doing. It was basically just an excuse to let Richard Pryor do a bunch of comedy bits which for me were very hit and miss.
The big setpiece in this movie, at least the one that’s not just being described by Richard Pryor, was when Superman came into contact with some homebrew low tar Kryptonite which turned him into drunk-dad Superman. You could tell he’s evil because he always has a grimace on his unshaven face and dirty tights. But luckily Lana and her son came into town and he gets through to Superman with the oh so powerful words “You’re just in a slump!” Because I know when I get drunk and start doing evil and destructive things for the fun of it, some kid telling me that I’m in a slump will perk me right up. He then inexplicably splits into two and has a fight with himself, the good side being represented by Clark Kent. This fight was laughable in the fact that after throwing huge objects at Clark, the thing that knocked him out was an incredibly weak kick to the face. And Clark finally defeated evil Supes by violently choking him to death.
Aside from the non-villain that is Richard Pryor, there’s the rich billionaire that wanted to get richer and his blonde bimbo girlfriend. Of course she’s just pretending to be an idiot so she can… um… show that she’s smart at the end of the movie by saying a couple so-called smart things before being pinned to the wall and… um… that’s it. They hint early on that she’s pretending to be smart and it seems like a set up for something, yet they never really pay it off aside from the other villainess saying “how’d you know that?” before glossing over it. And then the final villain in the movie is a giant computer made from blueprints that Richard Pryor drew on a bunch of random wrappers that the homely villainess suddenly revealed that she knew perfectly well how to use, and became self-sentient and self preservation kicked in, causing it to attack and/or assimilate anything that threatened it including its creators.
Yet somehow through all the ridiculous stuff going on, I somehow enjoyed watching it. I believe I mentioned it somewhere on this site but I’m not here to completely bash these movies even though it may seem like it in this review. Maybe it was all the ridiculousness that won me over. I thought drunk-dad Superman was hilarious, as well as the fake-dumb blonde bimbo sidekick. I thought it was really over the top in the scene where she was seducing drunk-dad Superman and her necklace was a snake and an apple. And even though the comedy was over the top and out of place most of the time, it was genuinely funny some of the time. At least this movie didn’t give Superman some completely random superpower that he’s never had before or since. Check out my thoughts on Superman IV this Thursday to finish this series off. Next week will be Supergirl because I couldn’t easily find the Richard Donner cut in my area, and Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. Leave a comment to let me know what I should check out next. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Superman II 1980
It was Monday night after I had gotten home from work, I still had the stack of Superman DVDs 1-4 sitting on top of the computer, and we had just finished watching the latest Simpsons Christmas episode on Hulu. I thought it was so funny, yet so wrong that Jena laughed the hardest at the part where all the Ralph clones fall out of the back of the truck on fire. Anyway I thought it was a great time to pop in the Superman II DVD, the Richard Lester cut rather than the Richard Donner cut as it was the only version available at the rental store. I am very curious to see how many differences there are in the Richard Donner cut considering that a large portion is basically the same, only with a more serious tone. Though I must admit I did enjoy a lot of the humorous bits in this version.
The thing I noticed throughout the movie was how much more attention Jena paid to the movie than she did with the original Superman movie. There was a lot more action in this movie and much less drawn out exposition. There were a few short spots where she lost attention but quickly got back into it. She was cheering for Superman through a lot of the early action sequences, and she kept asking “Is Superman dead?” during the first battle with the Kryptonians. She didn’t ask in a serious way, but more of a curious way. She seems to be old enough to realize that Superman is just a pretend character on TV and not real. I also thought it was interesting that at first she thought the Kryptonians were superheroes instead of the villains.
As I said earlier, I enjoyed the movie although I spent more time enjoying it for the camp value than the actual value as an entertaining movie. I especially recognized the scene pointed out by Family Guy where Superman peeled the S off of his chest and it wrapped around the guy for just a few seconds. Through the whole movie I thought the brute was the same actor who played Jaws until I just now looked it up. He may not have been the same actor, but he totally felt like the same character. Of course with some added comic relief moments, which I imagined were necessary since they left Otis behind in jail. And after being exposed to quotes of “Kneel before Zod” in other movies such as Mallrats it only became funnier and funnier every time Zod himself uttered that phrase. Of the three, Ursa struck me as the most interesting of the Kryptonian villains, and not just because she was the only woman. It was partly because I hadn’t seen her character referenced in a more recent comedy like the other two, but I also liked one of the little character traits where Ursa collected the badges from the various people they encounter and wear them on herself as a kind of trophy. It was a very minor thing, but it just struck me as interesting for whatever reason.
Aside from the cellophane S, there were a ton of extra powers the Kryptonians had that weren’t in any of the various Superman incarnations that I’d ever seen. Like the telekinesis or whatever it was that the villains used which reminded me a lot of the Zero Point energy that Syndrome used in The Incredibles. And of course there’s the amnesia kiss that Clark gave Lois at the end of the movie so the moviemakers didn’t have to deal with her knowing Clark’s secret in the next movie which they even advertised at the head of the end credits. Why not just go over the top and take a cue from Wayne’s World, a movie that came out years later, and doodly doo the ending away as just a dream. Besides, this version of Lois was smart enough to figure out Clark’s secret after a little more than one movie. Most Loises took several seasons of a television series to get it through their thick heads.
Another thing I found interesting was the solution that I’ve seen in other versions of Superman, well at least Smallville, where they avoided the question of a superpowered manhood and a mortal woman by removing his superpowers before they got into bed together. And again I’m reminded of conversations just like this from movies like Mallrats. Which led to the first connection that I noticed between this movie specifically and Superman Returns as the likely moment where Lois got pregnant with Superman’s child, but that’s something I’ll leave until I actually watch that movie again for this blog.
While the effects were the same caliber as the first Superman movie, they felt a lot more dated in this version. The big fight scene had most of the big hits feeling limp. Lazily being swung around to barely connect with a flying kick or punch that sent the other guy flying off at a similarly lazy pace until they crashed into something spectacularly. I understand that it’s from the limitations of the time, but they had the same limits in the first movie and I just don’t remember having as much disbelief as I did with this movie. My best guess was because the first movie realized a lot of their limitations and didn’t try to accomplish something beyond their means. I understand the need to make the fights bigger, but I felt like they made them too big for the special effects to handle.
As I said near the beginning, I did enjoy watching this movie. It made me laugh a lot, sometimes in the right places, and sometimes in the wrong places. But regardless of where it came from, a laugh is a laugh in my book. While I am looking forward to trying to find the Richard Donner version of this movie, I’ve still got Superman III and IV due back at the rental store so I’ll be watching those next. I’m vaguely familiar with the other two movies and I’m not sure if I should be looking forward to or dreading the fact that the quality of the movies goes sharply downhill from here. Look for those reviews coming up next week on Sunday and Thursday. Until next time, this is Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie nights. Don’t forget to leave a comment, if you’ve seen both, let me know which version you think is better. This version, or the Richard Donner version. And as always, I’d love to hear what movie you think I should watch next.
I assume that when many bloggers can’t decide on something they will use a poll to make the decision for them. And that’s exactly what I decided to do when I needed to decide which movie franchise I should start off the new year and this new site. And out of all of the choices, Superman won. Of course, I was already at the point where I was ready to start this project a couple weeks early, so when I was at the local video rental store and saw that they had all four of the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies in stock and ready to rent, I couldn’t resist and picked them all up to watch the week before Christmas. And I started working far enough ahead that I couldn’t wait until January first and decided to start posting these a week early.
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