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The Science of Superman

The Science of Superman 2006

One of the shows that I used to enjoy when I was a kid was the early programming of the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel back before they became the go-to channel for reality TV freak shows. There were plenty of shows on those two channels that were full of cutting edge technology and the like and in a way, this special follows that format. And while it does remind me of the Batman Tech special that I watched on the DC Universe app a couple weeks ago, where that felt very much like the promotional material for the Dark Knight that it was, while this was released in a similar way as Batman Tech, being shown on the National Geographic channel the day after the theatrical release, it really spread out the clips used between all sorts of Superman shows and cartoons alongside a fair amount of Superman Returns clips. It also helps that it was inspired by an actual book of the same name and they included the author alongside several of those interviewed for the special. Overall, it was a pretty good doc with a lot of interesting information and theories backed up by the shows and comic books of Superman that weren’t just Superman Returns.

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Batman Tech

Batman Tech 2008

I’ve been trying to go through everything in the DC Universe streaming app and while I’ve already seen all of the traditional movies, there’s another category called “Specials” that include the TV specials like the Aquaman Pilot and the Legends of the Superheroes minseries that I’ve already covered here, but there’s also a handful of what appear to be documentaries. And the first one I decided to check out was this one called Batman Tech. While I initially thought it seemed to be more like a DVD special feature for The Dark Knight, it was actually a promotional doc that aired on the History Channel during the Dark Knight’s opening weekend. But all in all, there was just enough there to review it as a short-but-still-feature-length documentary. And while we didn’t get much cinematic Batman, there’s a lot of info from the comics alongside some geeky real world tech stuff.

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Aquaman

Aquaman 2006

As I continue my trial period for DC Universe, I noticed that they had the Aquaman pilot pseudo-spinoff from Smallville available to watch on there. And I also realized that even though it wasn’t a double length pilot movie, it does pass the 40+ minutes for my feature length requirement. And considering I recently watched the new Aquaman, I figured that I’d give it a shot. I was a fan of Smallville and watched it regularly through the first 7 or 8 seasons before dropping off just before the end. I remember hearing about this pilot when it was in the works but I never looked it up until just now. It has a surprisingly good cast in some of the minor roles and it also has someone who seems to be superhero pilot bad luck as Adrianne Palicki was in this failed pilot, the Wonder Woman failed pilot, and the Marvel’s Most Wanted Mockingbird failed pilot spinoff of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As far as the actual Aquaman pilot goes, it’s a fairly standard origin setup for a monster-of-the-week first season. It doesn’t really do anything special or interesting. It’s just the same old format with an underwater theme to it.

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Legends of the Superheroes

Legends of the Superheroes 1979

Batman’s 80th anniversary just passed yesterday and in celebration I finally gave in and signed up for DC Universe’s new streaming app with their 80 cents for the first month sale. The main reason why I wanted to get the app was to watch this DC oddity that I had heard about but never got around to watching until now. It’s not quite a movie, not quite a miniseries, but it’s a two-part TV special that honestly feels like DC’s answer to the Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s ultra-low budget, it feels like a sketch comedy show with superheroes, and it’s difficult to tell what they really wanted to do with this property. It’s one of the very few Hanna Barbera live action properties and was tied into the Superfriends cartoon, but they couldn’t use Superman or Wonder Woman due to their rights being tied up in other places at the time. It’s pretty much one of those so-bad-it’s-good, but it did catch a couple genuine laughs out of me.

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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman 1974

Continuing my month of the more obscure and cult superhero films I’m taking a look at probably the least well known version of a popular superhero going back to the first TV pilot of the Wonder Woman TV show. Most people are familiar with the popular Lynda Carter show from the 70’s, but before they cast Carter they actually shot, filmed, and aired a very different version of the show with actress Cathy Lee Crosby as Diana Prince. And while I haven’t really seen any full episodes of the Carter version aside from a few clips, this felt very different than what I would imagine the later show went on to be. It had much more of a serious tone to it and felt more like a detective show rather than a superhero show. She barely wore the costume, there were no special effects to show off any super powers to speak of, and there was actually quite a bit of death and danger. It was quite fascinating to look back at this version of the character even though it barely resembled anything I knew about Wonder Woman aside from her name and the name of Steve Trevor.
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The Spirit

The Spirit 1987

To go along with the other cult movies that other bloggers have picked out for me, I thought I’d follow along with some cult films of my own choosing. I have no idea whether or not this really counts as much of a cult film, though I have heard from at least two people who have seen this and thought it was much better than the theatrical Frank Miller version. This was made in the mid-Eighties with Sam J. Jones as the lead, better known as Flash Gordon himself. It also had Nana Visitor as his love interest who I was familiar with as Major Kira on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. But most of all, this pilot movie was extremely 80’s. From the music to the cheap sets to the power suits and cassette walkmen, it was very much steeped in the 80’s and for that reason alone, I had a lot of fun watching this. Most of it is even set up to have much more of a comedy feel than an action/detective vibe. It was as close to Adam West’s Batman with a bit more 80’s sensibilities than you could ever get.
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Ben 10: Alien Swarm

Ben 10: Alien Swarm 2009

And now we come to the film that will likely wrap up this month of kids movies unless I happen to squeeze one more in tomorrow. I ran a Twitter poll of a few options to choose, and this was the movie that won. Now I am only slightly aware of Ben 10 as a concept, I know that it started out as a cartoon and has gone through various different series as well as a couple different live action movies and this was the latter of those, and probably not the best choice for an entry point into this universe. But surprisingly this was much less difficult to understand the overall basics of the world than the two Power Rangers films and that’s even including my past experience with the Power Rangers. Considering the fact that it was a made for TV movie, it was much better than I expected. There were some interesting concepts thrown around even though they were treated with kid gloves for the most part. What it did do the most was make me curious about the Ben 10 universe as a whole.
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The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk 1989

My first real exposure to the 1970’s Incredible Hulk series was the final film the Death of the Incredible Hulk, so I decided that I would go ahead and continue the trend by watching the three films that followed the series in the reverse order. This was the second of those films and was originally intended to introduce Daredevil as a possible series in its own right. I find it interesting how television was handled differently back then, there are many series that initially started out as a stand alone pilot movie, and if the movie was successful, then it would launch into production to air the next year give or take. It’s also worth noting that while I didn’t care for the Death of the Incredible Hulk at all, I generally enjoyed this film. There was a lot more done with its television budget in terms of sets and cinematography, and the characters felt more fleshed out. There were still plenty of gaping plot holes and sub par special effects, but they were integrated into the story much better.
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Model By Day

Model By Day 1993

Every once in a while I run across a movie that I don’t really know anything about aside from the title, the year it came out, and the fact that it’s related to superheroes or based on a comic book. That’s all I knew about this film, and after watching it, I suddenly wanted to know a lot more about it, but couldn’t find anything else. All I know is that it’s supposedly a TV movie and the only air date I could find was on the Fox channel March 21, 1994, as well as vague (USA) release date of October 11, 1993 via IMDB. But the kicker is that this is very much an R rated film with a not-insignificant amount of nudity, some swearing, and noted Cinemax queen Shannon Tweed in a minor role. This would lead me to believe that it originally aired on Cinemax or a similar station, but I can’t find confirmation of that anywhere. This film is also noteworthy as the lead is an early role for Famke Janssen who would later go on to play Jean Grey in the X-Men films. I went in expecting a pretty bad film, and it was actually a lot more enjoyable than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a cheezy, slightly sleazy, made-for-TV movie made in the 90’s, but I had a lot of fun watching it, and Famke Janssen had a lot of charisma even back then.
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The Death of the Incredible Hulk

The Death of the Incredible Hulk 1990

As is usually the case, life tends to get in the way of plans. And while I was planning on moving on into some comic book adaptations that weren’t superhero movies, I have yet to watch any of those. And instead, I ended up watching this made for TV pseudo series finale for the old Incredible Hulk TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno for the return of Filmwhys here in a week or two. This film falls in a really weird space in time. It came out the year after Tim Burton’s Batman, but since it was still tied into the television series it retained all of the 70’s and 80’s style of special effects which make it look a lot more dated than a 1990 movie should look. And even though I haven’t watched the original episodes of the show, it really felt like just an extended episode with a tacked on ending to give it some finality.
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