Friday, August 3, 2012


I saw TOTAL RECALL today and I'll give a full review in a different blog post. What I want to discuss here are some of the trailers I saw today and at a recent showing of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

MAN OF STEEL: I really want to be proven wrong about this but I'm going to go on record here and now and state that I have a very, very bad feeling about the Superman movie scheduled to be released next summer. Director Zack Snyder did a good job with both 300 and WATCHMEN but from what little I've seen about MOS, it looks like he's taking a wrong approach to the subject matter.

For one thing, Superman's costume is just wrong. The colors are muted and dark, the "S" symbol looks like something from the Golden Age (nothing wrong with that, if they're making a Golden Age Superman movie, but the new film is clearly set in present day). And the costume looks like it's made out of body armor material. Think about that for a minute and you'll see how utterly wrong that approach is. He's Superman. He doesn't need armor for Jor-El's sake.

The bad costume was one of only many things that were wrong with the profoundly disappointing SUPERMAN RETURNS. Superman's costume should be bold and bright. Those primary colors of red, blue and yellow should stand out from a mile away. And the "S" should cover his entire chest. See any interpretation of Superman by superstar artist Alex Ross to see how Superman should look. Better yet, go back and look at the first (and still the best) Superman film. No one has ever come close to matching the look of Christopher Reeve as Superman in that film. I not only believed a man could fly, I believed that he was Superman. Reeve remains the most perfect casting choice and spot on look for any comic book character ever brought to life on the big screen.

It also appears as if the film may give us a "grim and gritty" interpretation of the Man of Steel. No. That's just wrong. Superman is about hope. Superman is about dreams. Superman is about the goodness inherent in all men and rising to meet that potential. Do the words "truth, justice and the American way" ring any bells? Kal-El is not Bruce Wayne. He's not a tortured soul. He is an icon, a shining, bright beacon lighting the way for men (and women) of all nations. I don't want to see a "dark" Superman.

Time will tell if I'm right or wrong. And I'll admit, I'm basing this hunch off of very little actual information: one photograph, the teaser one-sheet and a very short trailer. Superman was my first superhero and in many ways, he's still my favorite. Please do him right or risk banishment to the Phantom Zone.

SKYFALL: I can't wait for the next James Bond film with Daniel Craig in the lead role for the third time. I loved him in CASINO ROYALE and even though QUANTUM OF SOLACE got mixed reviews, I enjoyed that film as well. I think Craig is the second best Bond of all-time, second only to the man himself, Sean Connery. The trailer looks terrific, plenty of action, intrigue and exotic locations, all of the hallmarks of the Bond film series. Best part of the trailer? When a new, young "Q" shows Bond a handgun that is coded to his (and his alone) hand print so that it cannot be fired by anyone else, Bond raises an eyebrow and says "You must be joking". Those are the exact words uttered by Connery to Desmond Llewellyn when being told about the ejector seat in the Aston Martin DB-5 in GOLDFINGER (which is still the greatest James Bond film ever made). Bring on Bond!

DREDD: I admit to not being a big fan of the British comic book series JUDGE DREDD and all of its various spin offs and permutations. I've read a few issues here and there but it just never lit my fire. I also never saw the reportedly dreadful first film version of this material which starred Sylvester Stallone. But this new movie looks like it might be fun in a mindless, B-movie action film kind of way. Dredd is clearly channelling the ghost of Dirty Harry in his dialogue and delivery of lines. Lots of firepower in this one. Looks like a potential guilty pleasure.

THE HOBBIT: It has recently been announced there will be not one, not two, but three movies based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Three films? Really? Well, thanks for the advance warning. That's three films I won't see on a bet. I never came within the same zip code of any of the LORD OF THE RINGS films and I'll likewise cross against the light to avoid these.

Oh, I know, I'm sure they'll be beautifully shot films, with tons of great special effects but the subject matter leaves me cold. I just don't cotton to this kind of fantasy stuff (says the guy who reads comic books and loves monster movies). I've never read any of Tolkien's books and have no desire to ever do so. Let me tell you a brief story to illustrate my aversion to this material.

I discovered the Conan the Barbarian stories by legendary Texas writer Robert E. Howard when I was in O.Henry Junior High School back in the early '70s. I loved the Conan stories then and now and to this day, I'll read anything by REH at the drop of a hat and know I'll enjoy it. The man was a born storyteller.

One day, a kid in one of my classes (and I forget the young man's identity), saw me with a Conan paperback book and said that if I liked that kind of stuff, I really should read THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I took him at his word and picked up a copy of the first book. I read about the first twenty pages (maybe), threw the book across the room (figuratively speaking) and swore never to pick it up again.

Why? False advertising for one thing. It was nothing like Conan. There was no action, no swordplay, no nothing. It was BORING! There were a bunch of little guys with big, furry feet living in a hole in the ground and talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. You get the picture. And there are three books of this stuff? I don't think so. Give me a sword-swinging Cimmerian any day over this crap by Crom!

I know I shouldn't base my dislike of this material based on an initial reaction from more than 40 years ago. Millions of people have read these books and seen these films and loved them dearly. I get that. I think my chief problem now is the time commitment involved to read four books (THE HOBBIT and the trilogy) about something I'm lukewarm about to begin with. I could read half a dozen or more other books that I know I'm interested in in the time it might take me to wade through this epic. I treasure my free time and chose to spend it on what I want to read, not what I think I should read.

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS: Here's another one I'll avoid like the plague. A martial arts action movie from executive producer Quentin Tarrantino (can't stand him), an oh-so-annoying rap music soundtrack (ugh) and the whole mess is directed by someone or something called RZA. What in the name of the wide world of sports is going on here? Looks like a loud, sloppy, mess of a movie. Pass.

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