Thursday, June 27, 2013

Superman III (1983)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Superman III (1983).

I said in my last post that this movie is first of bad Superman movies. After watching this I can't say that this is worse than first two. This is as good or as bad as first two. In Superman II we saw what Superman and Lois Lane could have had. In the end there was reset and Lois forgot everything that happened. This time romantic subplot is with Clark's teenage crush Lana Lang. Compared to Lois Lana is more down to earth type and and romance is more adult themed than princess fantasy of Lois Lane.

Movie is more down to earth than first two. This time there is no time travel or transportation. There is frozing the lake and dropping that to plant and blowing oil back to tanker. First would have destroyed the plant and second can't work in any realistic way. Turning back tine would have been more realistic and that happened in first movie.

This movie thinks computers can do anything. Half cent thing could work if there was company whose system rounds salaries downward and programmers can get their code to straight to production. I don't think there are many companies where both applies. At least not as large that you could make as much money that Richard Pryor made in this movie. I don't know enough about history of internet to know how realistic Smallville hacking scene was. I have hard time believing that you could connect to banking and traffic control systems when you are trying to connect to weather satellite. Even if you are drunk. And it is even harder to believe that oil pumps could be remotely controlled. Do I need to say something about controlling weather with weather satellites?

Time to go to great lost opportunity of this movie. During movie Superman is given piece of "almost kryptonite". This makes Superman selfish jerk. World doesn't react to this in anyway. Everyone just goes on with their lives and probably hope that Superman doesn't hurt them. Probably because everyone acts like Superman is normal drunken person. People drink in bar next to Superman like he couldn't destroy the whole city if he felt like that. Authorities don't do anything. In real life people would hide and authorities tried to stop Superman. Even if Superman is on their side this time it would be wise to have plan for when he is not. In this movie everyone is like Superman is normal man who has bad day. Then when he gets back to normal everyone is like nothing ever happened.

That is my problem with Superman. Character gives change to show how people react when they have super powerful entity among them. But Superman stories doesn't explore that. Superman is always character with ideal moral character and normal people accept him always to be on their side and never turning against them. Irredeemable showed us what my kind of Superman story could be. Irredeemable's problem was that it burned too bright from get go.

I liked how this movie had more adult oriented themes in middle of all comical stupidity. Lana Lang was regretting choices she made as teen and dreamed of better future somewhere else. Richard Pryor's character was good willing small time con-man who ends up in bigger circles and doing things he doesn't like. I also liked evil guy's bimbo acting secretly smart blond secretary/girlfriend/something. Those three were the most interesting characters of this movie. Too bad evil Superman angle wasn't used better. Christopher Reeve showed in junkyard fight that he could have been more extreme evil Superman if director had wanted it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Superman II (1980)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Superman II (1980).

For many this is best Christopher Reeve Superman. That meant best Superman movie before Man of Steele. Does it hold that place after Man of Steel remains to be seen. This time Superman get real challenge when three villains that were sent to phantom zone in first movie get to earth. Movie starts with re-acted scenes from first movie and then continues with scenes from first movie. Reason for re-acting seems to be that Marlon Brando didn't want to be in this movie. He was only one I saw missing from scenes. It is underlined when Superman shouts for father and mother when he lost his powers. Marlon Brando didn't want to be in this movie and it doesn't matter how much you shout.

Movie also underlines how overpowered Superman is. He gives away his powers to be with Lois Lane. After losing his powers he is eager to get into fight. He want to get first fair fight. He doesn't back down after he is hit for a first time. He needs to get more. After he sees that he could have fair fight as Superman he wants his powers back. At the end Superman gets back to guy who beat him when he was without his powers and shows him who is the strongest. Makes you wonder would he be fighting all the time if he wasn't so overpowered against everyone. Maybe Zod and co saved his life. Otherwise he would have ended up fighting everyone. As Superman he don't fight all the time because there is no challenge.

Lack of challenge is also problem for Zod and co. They get bored after no-one can do anything against them. They are just sitting in White House waiting for something to happen. They wake up when Lex Luthor tells them there is someone who can give them challenge. It is interesting how Zod and co doesn't know what to do when they get what they wanted. Was being the ruler of everyone the only goal? Was the chase better that the catch? Lex Luthor does what he does to be createst criminal master mind of all the time. He made realistic 3d holograms in prison. He could use his skills to make tons of money and that would give him almost everything that he could get by ruling Australia. He couldn't kill or steal but otherwise he could get all the life has to offer. But he seems to want to break the law. What is wrong with Superman villains?

Zod and co should have same powers than Superman.  Then why they can shoot beams from their fingers and use telekinesis? Are those powers to make them bigger challenge for Superman. Like that unreversable lost of superpowers wasn't enough? But that lost or superpowers was reversable after all. Whole thing was there to introduce magical device that helps Superman win at the end and show how much Superman loves Lois Lane. If lost of powers could be reversed, why Superman left Zod and co with Lex Luthor to place where lost powers can be gained again? Back to powers. They also include teleportation. Superman is powerful enough in comics but in these movies he have also powers on telekinesis, teleportation and he can move back in time.

Was that all? No. He can also erase people's memories and knowledge. That was needed because Lois Lane learned that Clark Kent is Superman and she couldn't take that easily. Easier to erase memory and that knowledge that trying to find solution where they can be together. Superman did this without asking Lois could he do that. Makes you wonder how good Superman is after all. That Lois Lane romance made movie good. And then they end it by removing all memory and knowledge about it. Like this movie never happened. Like scene where Lois jumps in to river and waits Superman to rescue her while Superman tries to save her without revealing his secret never happened.

First two movies are generally considered as "good ones". Next movie will be first of "bad ones". If the good ones are like this, what the bad ones are like?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Superman (1978)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Superman (1978).

I have to say I liked this movie until the point Superman went to Metropolis. After that movie turns quite stupid. I would have liked to see more from Krypton and how things are there. Now we only saw build up for next movie and how Council didn't trust Jor-El and forced him to be on Krypton when it got destroyed. Internal politics of council would be interesting to see. Smallville section just showed events than needed to be show and was quite boring. But it looked so good that it was entertaining.

After Smallville Superman goes to north and builds Fortress of Solitude. There we hear that Superman is now 18 years old but Krypton got destroyed thousands of years ago. I didn't expect this kind of movie to use Einstein's theory of relativity that correctly. Theory of relativity says time slows down when objects move faster. Faster the object slower the time. This made me pay more attention to movie. Too bad that this illusion was later destroyed when Lex Luthor reads from paper that Krypton exploded 1948 and Superman travelled 3 years from there to earth. Superman could have used his time not our time. Anyway that was real let down. As was him telling news paper all his weaknesses that anyone who can read knows them and can use them against him. I guess it is boring to be so powerful that there is no challenge fighting against anyone. There is no other reason to do that. He could have given interview with out telling his weaknesses.

There is debate going on what happens after Lois Lane dies. Does Superman travel back in time or does he turn back time? For me it doesn't matter what happened because both implies that Superman can go back in time and change things that have already happened. Big question is now why he doesn't do that all the time or does he and it is not shown? Going back time was so easy that he could do that all the time. Like being indestructible, superstrong and superfast was not enough. He can also go back in time if you win and you don't kill him. Internal struggle could have been done without  this time travel rubbish. If someone says he turned rotation of earth twice in short time, I suggest them to think how much destruction that would cause everywhere.

Now to stupidity that started when Superman got to Metropolis. You see star reporter that can't spell correctly. You see supercriminal that breaks the law because he wants to be greatest criminal mastermind. Lex Luthor should be super smart but in this he is too stupid for himself. Why would anyone say they are criminals when Superman drops them to jail? Clark Kent's co-workers don't see that he is Superman. If I took off my classes dressed like that and call myself Superkvesti everyone who knows me would see that I am Superkvesti. Other superheroes try to hide their identities. First time Superman changes his clothes he uses revolving doors. If he is so fast that no-one sees he is changing clothes inside revolving doors he could change his clothes anywhere.  Where he puts his Clark Kent clothes after he has changed? We get answer to that later when his clothes disappear when he jumps of window as Clark Kent and turns into Superman during the fall. Why he needed revolving doors first time?

Then we should get to flying machines. If this movie told how dangerous human flight really is, we should have much more accidents. In first helicopter scene real pilots would have landed the helicopter without any problems. In this movie it is like he wants to cause as much damage as possible. I am not airplane engineer but I have heard somewhere that one destroyed engine would not cause problems for four engine plane. I don't remember do you need one or two working engines to land a plane. Lightning strikes wouldn't cause that kind of damage. Otherwise planes would drop all the time. I guess someone forced them to have speech telling how safe it is to fly.

I remembered this to be good movie without too much stupidity. It is an entertaining movie with lot of stupidity and high production values. In next movies they didn't try as hard.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Superman vs. The Elite (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Superman vs. The Elite (2012)

This movie is based on Superman comic "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?". First movie shows what Superman stories could be and then it shows what makes Superman stories so bad. To be honest I have never been fan of Superman. I have given Superman change many times, this time included. Only Superman story I have liked so far has been Red Son which is Elseworlds story where Superman is Soviet superhero. Others have problems with Superman character. Superman is too powerful and clean. There is nothing edgy in Superman. He is too virtuous. Irredeemable showed in beginning what you could do with Superman like character if you use all potential. Too bad that they used all potential during first 12 issues and after that it was downward spiral.

Back to this movie. Movie tries to answer question why you should put criminals to jail instead of killing them. Problem is that movie gives better arguments for killing criminals than against. Arguments against killing criminals are more arguments why you shouldn't give anyone too much power.

Superman meets superhero group The Elite. The Elite want to be friend with Superman but Superman doesn't like how they are ready to torture and kill their enemies. Superman has put supercriminal Atomic Skull to prison. When Superman fought Atomic Skull he thought of killing him. Atomic Skull had killed people to make Superman appear. After the fight Superman goes to United Nation to be questioned about fight and damages it caused. Some people doesn't understand why he didn't just kill Atomic Skull. There is war between two distant countries. Another country uses superweapons. Superman goes to see what happens. He doesn't do anything until The Elite starts fighting superweapons. Then he joins the fight.

Atomic Skull escapes and returns killing people. Superman and The Elite stops him. Crowd want The Elite to kill Atomic Skull. They are happy to do that. Superman man is not happy about that but starts to question his way. If he had killed Atomic Skull earlier lot of people wouldn't be killed this time. Atomic Skull is so one dimensional character in this movie that it is hard to think any reasons why not to kill him. Prisons can hold him and all he does it killing people and destroying things. No motivation for this is given. So why not kill and stop killing and destruction.

People s prefer The Elite way of killing supercriminals and they are turning against Superman. Next time when Superman meets The Elite he hears that they have killed all leaders of warring counties in order to stop the war. This makes Superman losing it. Duel is set between Superman and The Elite. During the fight Superman start acting more violently than before and kill members of The Elite. After neutralizing powers of leader of The Elite he tells that it was all for show and Superbots had saved all people including members of The Elite. Superman wanted to show what violence looks like to make people be against violence. Superpowers of The Elite are taken away and they are sent to jail.

Everything is back to normal and Superman is still hero of everyone who doesn't make any deeper analyses. If Superman can remove superpowers, why he didn't do that to Atomic Skull. If that was option why he let him keep his powers and continue to kill innocent people. Why he doesn't do that to other supercriminals? If Superman takes powers away other superheroes whose methods he doesn't like and we are ok with that what stops him taking powers away from everyone else and making him only one with Superpowers? What if he then turned against everyone else? What can we do then?

Another problematic lesson in this movie is that we should let the strongest should set the rules. The Elite says that in one point. Then Superman implements that in the end. Without anyone giving him authority he takes away superpowers of The Elite and send them to jail. All United Nations hearings were just a show. In the end he does just what he wants and no-one is capable of stopping him. What if we don't like same values he has? Does he submit to us or make us submit to him? This movie tells us he will make us see his way.

Lets go deeper. Why did Superman took powers away from The Elite and not from Atomic Skull? Is it worse to be kill to do good that killing just for fun? If The Elite had continued their crusade against bad people Superman wouldn't have any one to fight against and people wouldn't have reason to thank him. Were the reasons selfish after all?

I really liked the movie when it gave arguments against Superman's position. Arguments for Superman's position were total let down and Superbots saving everyone was final nail in coffin. Superman is too powerful to have any suspension and all philosophical content ends up being that Superman is our image of ideal moral being so he has to be right. Not because our ideal morals are right. If he is not right because our ideal morals are right then he is so powerful that he has to be right.

There are many good reasons why not kill criminals but they seem to be too sophisticated for world of Superman.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012)

Forget Dark Knight Rises. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is best Batman movie released last year. It is animated movie but don't let that fool you. It is based on classic Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns. Story is from comic as are the visuals. Some images of comic are recreated for this movie. This is not kids animated movie. I don't realize that live action Batman movies doesn't have blood until you see blood in animated Batman movie.

Batman has retired 10 years ago and it is time for Jim Gordon to retire. There is gang called Mutants that cause problems. Now that he is no longer Batman Bruce Wayne gets his kicks from other life threatening hobbies. Crime wave and some random events are too much for Bruce Wayne. He obeys voices in his head and becomes Batman again.

Everyone is not happy that Batman has returned. He is seen destroying democracy. He is said to create his own enemies. Mutants were there without Batman. But Joker wakes up from coma when he hears about Batman. Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy also plays with this idea. Joker appeared after Batman showed larger than life characters could live outside the law and regulations of society. Kind like copy cats copy crimes that get publicity. Joker and other larger than life characters became what they are because Batman has set an example.

Destroying democracy is easy to see. Superheroes do what they want and are not countable for anyone.  If you don't think they are on your side you see them as bad as criminals. Like two criminals fighting each other. What is superhero doesn't feel like being on our side? They have already forgotten parts of social contract. Why wouldn't they forget the rest of it.

Two-Faces face is fixed and he is released from mental hospital. As soon as he is released he starts his crimes. This story goes deeper than you expect. Two-Face was given normal face but Two-Face sees his new face as ugly face. This drives him hiding his face and trying to commit suicide. Suicide by blowing two towers. If we see this movie as analogy of social contract we could argue, that Two-Face is victim of social contract. Society wants him to be something he is not and this drives him suicidal.This how ever may be more about expectations of society than social contract.

Social contract is agreement that you live by the rules and regulations of society you live in. You agree it by living in society. If there were no social contract everyone would take and do what ever they want when there is total freedom. You could kill and steal as much as you want and others can do this to you too. It is more of philosophical concept that anything concrete. In this movie Batman and criminals are living outside social contract. Strongest  does and takes what ever he wants and others have to deal with it. Batman tells to Gordon that society can't contain mutants. Batman has to deal this issue with rules of total freedom. Which means that he has to show in fist fight that he is stronger than Mutant Leader.

It has been a while since I read the comic. I remember it showed Batman less nice and heroic than this movie. Maybe that comes in next part. Only part I didn't like in this movie was how much there were fist fights. Like it is somehow honorable way to solve who is strongest and best person. He who wins fist fight is right. Dark Knight Rises had same problem. If you live in real only the strongest survive world you would not have honor codes. You would use what ever you can to kill other guy. Honor codes are kind of social contracts and these guys doesn't want social contracts. To be honest Mutant leader is only one not bound by social contract. Batman is still little bounded by them and that my be why he still have some honor codes that almost kills him.

Now the bad news. Next post is not part 2 of this movie. There will be post about second part but currently it is not available. So there will be something else next week.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Men in Black 3 (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Men in Black 3 (2012).

First Men in Black was good movie. I always forget second one right after watching it. It was just remake of first one with J teaching K what Men in Black are instead of K teaching J in first movie. This time they are doing something new. Even so much so that they dropped Frank the Pug, Coffee addicted worms and Zed from the movie. There is picture of Frank on J's wall. Funeral of Zed happen at the beginning of the movie and worms are shown for few seconds. This movie doesn't have as interesting supporting characters or they are not given enough time. I would have liked more Time Travelling Device Guy and David "Sledge Hammer" Rasche as Agent X. This time agent J goes time travelling.  Reason for this might be that Tommy Lee Jones is too old for this kind of... ...movies. At least he looks like that. And in some scenes he look more like CGI than real person. I guess when you have too much CGI real people look like CGI.

Concept of time travel is troublesome in this movie. That could be expected because this is more action comedy than scifi movie. They try to put some sense to concept but doesn't success in that. First The Bad Guy goes to 1969's to kill K. He is successful and K disappears from current time line. Only J remembers the time line where K lived past 1969. Others are like K died in 1969. In first movie K recruited J. It is not too far-fetched that in this K died 1969 time line J was recruited by someone else. Problems is why only J remembers time line where K lived past 1969. Movie gives explanation for this. Explanation is that J was there when time line was changed. If that is explanation, why guy who gave time machine to The Bad Guy remembers K lived past 1969 time line where he gave time machine to The Bad Guy? In K died 1969 time line The Bad Guy didn't need to make time jump. And why did he had log book which told where The Bad Guy went. That log book would have been in K lived past 1969 time line not K died 1969 time line.

Why "only" J remembers K lived past 1969 time line is because young J was there when time line changing stuff happened. I can't see any reason that could have worked. Young J met K only because K survived event that would have killed K. In alternative versions of events young J probably  wouldn't have met K. Other problem in this is that young J comes from car that J, K and J's father came to scene just moments earlier. There were nothing indicating that K would have met young J before. Like young J had just appeared to car in heavily secured area. I would have bought that J remembered because he fought The Bad Guy with K and that somehow temporary linked K to events. I guess that would have been too easy and they had to make a mess about this.

There is still one problem in time travelling in this movie. In original version of events K shot one arm from The Bad Guy and The Bad Guy was arrested. This gave us normal situation. In second version K is killed and that causes The Bad Guy's race to attack earth. In third version both 1969 and 2013 version of The Bad Guy is killed. This put us back to normal situation. Even so much so that J and K had same conversation about The Bad Guy's race than in first time line. Why would they had that conversation? Only reason they had that conversation in first place was because The Bad Guy had escaped. In this time line The Bad Guy died 1969 and J wouldn't have known the race before he time traveled.

There is still problem of J's father. I don't remember was it mentioned in previous movies that J's father had died. I doubt that because it doesn't fit the tone of these movies and it wasn't used to prove a point. In last version of 1969 events J's father is killed by The Bad Guy. We didn't see how things went first and second time. If things went second time like they would have gone without J, J's father wouldn't have been killed because K would have been killed before J's father was killed. Reason why J's father was killed is because The Bad Guy was after K and J's father happened to be in wrong place at the time. First time The Bad Guy was arrested. Last time it was kill or be killer situation between K and The Bad Guy right after The Bad Guy killed J's father. That time it didn't feel like K could have arrest The Bad Guy. So it is likely that J's father wasn't killed during first time or second time. If this is the case why this didn't change anything and why it was like everything happened like it always happened.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Spirit (2008)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Spirit (2008)

This movie went under my radar. I remember seeing the posters and remember one review saying this was bad movie trying to emulate Sin City. This was directed by Frank Miller who wrote Sin City comics. I guess he has every right to emulate Sin City. It has been ages since I read the comics. What I remember them to be dark and odd with some strange humor. The Spirit was not your generic comic hero. There was always something odd. I don't remember  ever I reading origin story or what The Spirit was in comics. So I can't tell how much of that is rewritten for this movie.

In this movie The Spirit is lonely vigilante who heals so fast that he can't die. He has arch enemy Octopus who can't die either. Addition to that there is also Spirit's teenage girlfriend Sand Saref who has gone other side of the law. Everything is as film noir as source material let Frank Miller to go. Original comic was odd comic version of film noir and Frank Miller is master of film noir.  Movie is odd love child of Will Eisner and Frank Miller. There is something in center from Will Eisner. It is covered with Frank Miller visuals. I think movie got spirit of source material. Octopuss's gang was so weird that it could come from comics. Gabriel Macht is as good Spirit as any live actor can be. Eva Mendez and Scarlett Johansson bring female hotness. Samuel L Jackson is almost always good. In this movie also.

There are no big themes in story. This not story driven movie. Visuals and mood are more important. It is hard for me to understand why this got so bad reviews. Did reviewers expect regular action movie? You can't get regular action movie with two main characters who heal so fast that they can't die. Did they only saw Sin City like visuals? Was oddness too much? For some one like me who likes the  comics and likes work of Frank Miller this is good movie. Everything look so good. Even animated sequences work perfectly. Movie has oddness of the comic. You can argue that this has too much of Frank Miller and not enough Will Eisner in it. As fan of Frank Miller that doesn't bother me but I can see fans of The Spirit could have different opinions.

This post was more review than analysing. I wanted to write something about this and content doesn't give much to analyze. I just want people to check this movie and don't be afraid of bad reviews and bad box office. It is shame enough that those prevents us from seeing more Frank Miller movies. This movie shows how good director he is. He could have given us many masterpieces if he had found perfect stories for his style. In this story is only weak point.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sucker Punch (2011)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Sucker Punch (2011).

This is kind of request. I got the movie and have been asked have I watched it ever since. I am not sure if blog post was wanted or just opinion. I write blog post anyway. This show what Zack Snider can do when he doesn't have source material from greatest comic writers. Watchmen comic was written by Alan Moore and 300 by Frank Miller. You can have different opinions about those movie but I don't think anyone can deny that those movies looked amazing. This movie continues that trend. This looks amazing. Story is not the strong point. Visuals before content. New Superman movie Man of Steel Snider's next movie. Based on trailers it looks amazing. I don't expect story to be as amazing. But we will see that.

I am not sure if this is good movie or just good looking movie. Movie aims high and have interesting twists. After seeing the movie it is bit hard to know what actually happened. Movie happens in main characters head and at some points it goes from main characters head even deeper to main characters head. I call them reality, fantasy and game level. Movie starts on reality where Babyfaces mom dies. Her stepfather kills her sister and frames Babyfaces. Stepfather sends Babyface to mental hospital and orders lobotomy to her. By ordering I mean he pays to mental hospital to do lobotomy even when Babyface doesn't need it.

Babyface falls to fantasy level. She sees mental hospital as club where patients are kept as prisoners and prostitutes. What happens in fantasy world also happens in real world fantasy world only shows fantasy version of what happens. When going gets too tough for Babyface, she goes deeper into fantasy world to game level. She dances in fantasy world when she goes to game level. What ever happens in real world makes everyone concentrate on Babyface. This helps other patients to make preparations for escape.

Game level scenes are best part of the movie. In first game level scene Babyface meets old man who tells her what to do in japanese fortress. Then Babyface has to kill three giant demons. Next game level is steam punk world war one where germans are steam-powered zombies and deformed humans. Third game level is castle in hell where they fight orcs and dragon. Fourth and final is train robbery in other planet where they fight agains robots. All these look amazing and you could have made great movie in any of these worlds if you turned down computer game likeness and provided content and back story. What happens in game level also happens in reality but what we see in game level is twisted by two fantasy lenses.

Visuals and idea of two fantasy world are great. Too bad that story can't live up to them. After last game world it seems that what happens in fantasy world doesn't happen in real world and what happens in real world looks like it is still some kind of fantasy world. Too many rules get bended.  Even if you think that reality level is fantasy level too, what happens in end doesn't follow rules of the movie. Reality level being another fantasy level explains somethings but opens new unexplained questions. Like whose fantasy level the reality level is. Only good explanation for all this is that is all is dream. In is not indicated any way but that is only reasonable explanation for everything being over the top and looking unreal. If we assume that reality level is real reality, the ending is too convenient for what else is happening in movie.

This could have been great movie if it all made sense in the end. Too much breaking own rules and too much open questions without even hints of what could be answer.  You can comment this post if you like more detailed explanation what is wrong with the ending. I didn't want to spoil it even when this post has spoiler warnings.