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A few reviews

jrWHAG42

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Superman the Movie is a perfect movie in my eyes.
 

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TM2YC said:
Superman: The Movie (1978)
I haven't seen this all the way through for ages, this time I went for the Theatrical Cut. Even in that shorter version, wow does this feel slow and dated

I get the nostalgia for this movie, but, oh boy, do I not get the unvarnished veneration. It is dull as dishwater at least half the time. As I first said years and years ago, I'd be interested in seeing a focused fan edit of the movie: no Zod prologue, maybe no pre-destruction Krypton stuff at all, a bare minimum of Lex+Otis hijinks, and maybe even no climactic time reversal? Because I agree that Reeve and the score are great. (Kidder... is also there.)
 

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Gaith said:
it's a gripping example of what I like to call a "process movie," ....HBO's Florida 2000 election drama Recount

I think the common term is "procedural".  Big props for the shout-out to Recount!  Great underseen gem.
 
TM2YC said:
Superman: The Movie
wow does this feel slow and dated
The humour is often goofy and misjudged
campy Gene Hack(man) and his two painfully unfunny sidekicks
 
You can (ALMOST) believe that nobody notices they are the same person because Reeve shape-shifts his body between the two. 

YES.  THANK.  YOU.  I totally agree with all that, and that Reeves and Donner are rightfully venerated here.  OTOH, the pluses do not make me totally forget about the minuses.  How film critics can hold this up on a pedestal while constantly dismissing the phenomenal quality of recent super-hero films boggles my mind.  Reeves will always be the gold standard for how to embody a superhero, but that is a cheeeeeeesy movie.  When John Hodgman says "Nostalgia is the most dangerous emotion.", this is a prime example.  Great for the time, but we have improved by lightyears since then.  Well, Marvel has.

Saw a couple things!:
2 movies with very talented casts, but that the directors just mis-execute the story and get very mixed results.
Observe and Report (2009)
Just watch the trailer, it's better than the movie.  Full thoughts here: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/observe-and-report/

Secretary (2002)
Very interesting, but sold out by its ending.  I know the BDSM community was just happy to see a film portrayal that wasn't played for villains or a cheap laugh, but this isn't really a balanced portrayal either.  Full review here:   https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/secretary/

Silver Surfer: The Animated Series (1998)
Back when this debuted I was a big fan of the Silver Surfer comic, and the character was enjoying his highest degree of popularity and commercial success.  A big part of that was the writer/artist team of Jim Starlin and Ron Lim, and so I was pretty turned off when the TV series came out based instead on the “old-fashioned” writing and drawing of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  I also was not keen on the mix of CGI into the hand-drawn animation.  I, the target audience for the show, boycotted it, and so I was single-handedly responsible for it being canceled after 12 episodes.  Har har.

Cut to 20 years later and I decide to finally check it out.  It is a bizarre one.  Who is it aimed at?!  The lines are delivered slow and simplified, and the voice-acting is melodramatic and cheesy like a little kids’ cartoon.  (Thanos, in particular, is very disappointing to go back and see turned into a Mumm-Ra type villain.)  On the other hand, the writing is based off these grand cosmic stories dealing with free-will, escapism, the comfort of ignorance, ends vs means, evolution, and a host of ideas too complicated and mature to easily describe.  Lots of obscure Surfer comic characters are faithfully represented here, and much of the art looks almost directly pulled from old panels from the ‘60s.  It’s a trip, for sure, and worth a watch!  I’m not sure how they ever thought it would find an audience, though.
 

jrWHAG42

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It's weird because I'm a youngin, and I didn't watch Superman the Movie until recent years. I have no nostalgia, I just somehow don't agree with any of these flaws?
But at the same time I do love some modern Superhero movies too, be it Henry Cavill's portrayal of Superman or the MCU.
I guess I'm just easily amused.

Now I feel like watching Superman the Movie. Mayhaps it hasn't been recent enough that I last watched it.
 

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^ It's a fair point.  But I don't think you have to have lived through a time to be nostalgic for the attributes of it.  ( Not that you're doing this but: ) some people just look back at certain cultural periods and idealize them.  I saw this segment about some Americans who have this nostalgic myth of American history but really don't think about the details.  (Just a funny example, I'm not making a political statement here.)

For me, the nail in the coffin for Superman: The Movie is the ending. 
Okay, so the premise is that Superman can fly around the world in reverse to its revolution.  So then we're mean to accept that this would make the Earth turn backwards (it wouldn't.)  And that that would not cause massive tidal shifts, buildings crumbling, huge disasters, etc.  And that it would somehow reverse time.  But it wouldn't reverse everything, only a few specific things about what happened in the film, in order to undue Lois' death.  It's just crazy bananas.  I wouldn't even show a child that kind of ridiculous ending.  Especially because it's universe-breaking.  You now have to explain why Superman doesn't undo every huge problem by just flying backwards.  Phantom Zone criminals escaping?  I'm going to rewind time to prepare for their arrival.  Luthor running loose?  I'll rewind time to wait for him when he exits prison.  Richard Pryor hijacked my movie?  I'll rewind time to not sign up for that script.  It's just a super-lazy ending that erases all the stakes from a real dilemma for Superman: how much can he prioritize the lives of those around him versus the greater good? 
One of the worst endings in movie history.
 

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^ As I understand it, the idea isn't that Supes is turning the Earth backwards; he's just flying so fast he breaks the time barrier and travels backwards. The choice of visuals utterly failed to communicate that, however. As for it being a plot device... I'm of two minds. As a goofy, universe-breaking contrivance, it's kinda charming. But, while she's admirably independent, Kidder's Lois is all-around not nearly as charismatic or engaging as Reeve, so his/Supes' anguish just doesn't work for me. Also of note, that ending was originally going to be the climax of the second movie, undoing Zod's victory (as seen in the Donner cut of the same), which at least is more dramatic.
 

mnkykungfu

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^Where do you get that from? 
They literally show: he's flying backwards, no time-travel.  Then, the Earth slows its rotation, stops.  Still no time travel and he's been flying backwards quite a lot.  Then the Earth starts rotating backwards, and they show scenes that just played out on Earth reversing.  And so on.
 

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^ Could have sworn I heard it from something on the Donner cut of II dvd or online news source, but Googling around reveals only uncertainty. Oh, well. Amounts to the same thing, really. :p
 

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I was seven (almost eight) when I first saw Superman. I can still remember leaving the theater totally pumped up with that Williams score in my head. But even then I thought the reversing time thing was goofy. And Lex never seemed like an imposing villain. My kids are the same age now, so maybe it’s something I should see what they think of it.
 

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We can make logical assumptions, but there's no way to prove for sure that you can't reverse time by flying around the earth unless it's actually tested.
...
Also, in a movie where a guy can fly, you're worried about realism?

These aren't real counterpoints, I don't have a good counterpoint, I suppose it is pretty silly.
 

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jrWHAG42 said:
We can make logical assumptions, but there's no way to prove for sure that you can't reverse time by flying around the earth unless it's actually tested.

As far as I know if you turn fast like Superman around the earth it is the opposite that should happen: your time will be "slowed down" compared to the earth's time and so when you finally stop it would be "as if" you travelled in the future (sadly no way to get back in the past, since you did not really "travel", you just aged slower than the earth.)
Travel shapes youth, as they say!
 

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Gaith said:
^ Could have sworn I heard it from something on the Donner cut of II dvd or online news source, but Googling around reveals only uncertainty. Oh, well. Amounts to the same thing, really. :p

Actually, upon reflection, I think I get what you're saying.  But yeah, the visuals don't communicate that very well at all.  I suppose we have to forgive Donner a little for taking an artistic leap in trying to come up with something with visual flair that would communicate the idea, but I'd say he took a big swing and sadly, missed.
 
jrWHAG42 said:
We can make logical assumptions, but there's no way to prove for sure that you can't reverse time by flying around the earth unless it's actually tested.

Ha ha!  Sure there is, bud.  We have multiple branches of science that would all disprove that idea.  You don't have to get all knowledge from trial and error.
Also, in a movie where a guy can fly, you're worried about realism?

Okay, now I guess this may fall into personal choice.  I've heard something like this argument whenever I criticize bad sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, horror, etc.  It's always like:
-If the cars are coming to life, how do you know simple mechanical tools can't also come to life?! (Maximum Overdrive)
-If they can do impossible flying spin kicks, who's to say they can't learn how to turn into mystical dragons? (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
-If a serial killer can invade people's dreams, who's to say the family's pet bird wouldn't turn murderous and then explode? (Nightmare on Elm Street 2)
-If alien metal landed on Earth in only one place and it absorbs kinetic energy, who's to say it doesn't also heal any wound, give people a genius understanding of how to invent new tech, make them incredibly rich despite zero trade or production, and also become sharp enough to pierce any normal metal?  (Black Panther)

So, here's my take on it as an audience member: throw me a bone, writers.  I'm on your side.  I came to the movie to get wrapped up in a story.  I'm with you, just don't lose me.  If the writers/director just lays a little groundwork to build that world and show how X happened, I'm on board.  If they establish the rules of their universe and this is just a variation of that, I'll go along for that ride.  If their premise is about one thing, but suddenly something incredible but unrelated is thrown on top with no explanation?  They lost me.  Especially if it's a deus ex machina resolution to some plot point they've written themselves into a corner on.  Superman's unexplained time-travelling ability falls into that category for me.  Sorry to shit on a beloved franchise!  That's just my take.
 

jrWHAG42

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I was partially joking, but I appreciate you taking the time to answer seriously. Your last explanation is actually really interesting to read, and I think I may agree.
 

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mnkykungfu said:
Okay, now I guess this may fall into personal choice.  I've heard something like this argument whenever I criticize bad sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, horror, etc.  It's always like:
-If the cars are coming to life, how do you know simple mechanical tools can't also come to life?! (Maximum Overdrive)
-If they can do impossible flying spin kicks, who's to say they can't learn how to turn into mystical dragons? (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
-If a serial killer can invade people's dreams, who's to say the family's pet bird wouldn't turn murderous and then explode? (Nightmare on Elm Street 2)
-If alien metal landed on Earth in only one place and it absorbs kinetic energy, who's to say it doesn't also heal any wound, give people a genius understanding of how to invent new tech, make them incredibly rich despite zero trade or production, and also become sharp enough to pierce any normal metal?  (Black Panther)

So, here's my take on it as an audience member: throw me a bone, writers.  I'm on your side.  I came to the movie to get wrapped up in a story.  I'm with you, just don't lose me.  If the writers/director just lays a little groundwork to build that world and show how X happened, I'm on board.  If they establish the rules of their universe and this is just a variation of that, I'll go along for that ride.  If their premise is about one thing, but suddenly something incredible but unrelated is thrown on top with no explanation?  They lost me.  Especially if it's a deus ex machina resolution to some plot point they've written themselves into a corner on.  Superman's unexplained time-travelling ability falls into that category for me.  Sorry to shit on a beloved franchise!  That's just my take.

I agree with this. Stories should play within the rules they establish. Superman is an extraterrestrial being so he has “powers” but he is living on Earth and all earthly physics seemingly apply with exception of his superpowers. And it does reek of Deus Ex Machina in the same way that Star Wars often solves its issues with “because of the Force.”

But not everyone always agrees (shocker!) on what makes something implausible or a cheat in-universe. My favorite example is the much loved The Prestige. The movie goes along for most of its runtime leading the viewer to believe it exists in a sort of historical fiction world. Suddenly sci fi elements are thrown into the mix to give the story its twist. I liked the movie up to that point but I have a major eye roll once that happens and it ruins the movie for me. But obviously most people don’t see it that way as it’s one of Nolan’s most praised movies.
 

mnkykungfu

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^I loved The Prestige, but I haven't seen it since the premiere, so I'll have to re-watch with that in mind.  Maybe the difference is that I was searching for explanations to mysteries during that whole movie?  In Superman, it just reminded me of the Silver Age comics where he got a new power every month to solve whatever problem he was facing.  Like memory-wipe kisses and expanding S-shields in Superman II.
 
jrWHAG42 said:
I was partially joking, but I appreciate you taking the time to answer seriously. Your last explanation is actually really interesting to read, and I think I may agree.

Ah, no worries.  It just made me think of all the times I've legit heard people say "It's just a movie!" to deflect any criticism.

Continuing my mad quest to watch a bunch of Netflix exclusives this month!:
Earthquake Bird (2019)
Okay, so I lived in Japan for 5+ years and probably have a totally different barometer for how to enjoy films set there.  I hate seeing the same false stereotypes and generic depictions, so it's such a joy to watch a film that nails the subtle weird aspects of how people dress, act, think, etc.  Plus, doesn't hurt that it stars Alicia Vikander, even if they somehow miraculously make her average-looking here.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/earthquake-bird/

Wheelman (2017)
I would've assumed this was forgettable if not for a recommendation by Tasha Robinson (Polygon/Next Picture Show).  It's no-frills but does manage to stand apart with real-time immediacy and unique camerawork.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/wheelman/

Marriage Story (2019)
(When I watch that trailer, a lot of moments of the film seem cloyingly obvious...maybe best to avoid if you want to watch the film fresh.)
It's a catch-22: this film never would've appealed to me if it hadn't gotten so much praise, but because it got so much praise, it's unlikely to live up to it for me.  Full review here: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/marriage-story-2019/
 

Masirimso17

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Gaith said:
TM2YC said:
Superman: The Movie (1978)
I haven't seen this all the way through for ages, this time I went for the Theatrical Cut. Even in that shorter version, wow does this feel slow and dated

I get the nostalgia for this movie, but, oh boy, do I not get the unvarnished veneration. It is dull as dishwater at least half the time. As I first said years and years ago, I'd be interested in seeing a focused fan edit of the movie: no Zod prologue, maybe no pre-destruction Krypton stuff at all, a bare minimum of Lex+Otis hijinks, and maybe even no climactic time reversal? Because I agree that Reeve and the score are great. (Kidder... is also there.)

Gaith, have you seen the @"musiced921" Superman: Up Up and Away Edition? It basically covers everything you described and it's awesome. My problem with it is without the "Turning Back the World" scene there is no real climax and everything's too easy for Supes, though I also agree that climax in the original is awful so it's like a lose-lose situation.

To be honest if they made it so that his selfish actions is what caused Zod and co. to be released from the Phantom Zone (as they originally planned) and they made it apparent that Superman does not turn the world back, but instead his anger and adrenaline allows him to fly so fast he breaks the time barrier (and that he can't do that under normal circumstances or something) it could have worked. Maybe someone (perhaps I) can make an edit like that. As it is though, it's a lazy cop-out at best and complete illogical nonsense at worst.

I love Superman: The Movie but I have to agree that it is often way too slow and the third act pales in comparison to the first two. Now that I think about it Superman II, though it has its problems, is probably the better movie. Yeah it also has random powers, but at least they're not interfering with the storytelling; yes Richard Lester ups the comedy and sets up the terrible Superman III but it keeps things balanced like the Raimi Spider-Man films. In the end I think Superman II is overall better paced, has a better villain, and is just as well told compelling as the first movie (especially the parts shot by Richard Donner), although the first act of Superman: The Movie besides the slow pace is beautiful and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Right now my absolute favorite way to watch those movies is the Jelio / @"L8wrtr" Superman: Son of Jor-El. I think I saw L8 calling his edit "terrible" somewhere and I have no idea why, it's friggin awesome.
 

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Masirimso17 said:
Gaith, have you seen the @"musiced921" Superman: Up Up and Away Edition? It basically covers everything you described and it's awesome.

Nope. I realize it's somewhat arbitrary of me, but I'm not interested in an edit of this movie over 100 minutes long; I just don't care that much for the characters or story. Now, excuse me while I go watch Thor: The Dark World again. :p
 

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Masirimso17 said:
To be honest if they made it so that his selfish actions is what caused Zod and co. to be released from the Phantom Zone (as they originally planned) and they made it apparent that Superman does not turn the world back, but instead his anger and adrenaline allows him to fly so fast he breaks the time barrier (and that he can't do that under normal circumstances or something) it could have worked. 

The problem with this is (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) that Superman goes back and saves Lois.  Okay, but now that still leaves a missile flying towards devastation, right?  Now, you may say "No, but there are now 2 Supermans (men?) existing at that same time, and the original already did what he did".  Ugh, okay, so this gets super into the mechanics of time-travel then, but no matter which methodology you use, it's super messy.

Endgame/Source Code theory: this is now an alternate reality.  Real Lois still died.
TimeCrimes/Interstellar theory: everything that will happen has happened already, i.e. we should've never seen Lois die at all.
Back to the Future theory: unfortunately disproven by both general relativity and quantum mechanics, but let's assume that Superman was somehow going back to his own past to make a new one.  In that case, events would unfold exactly as before, meaning there is still a missile for Superman to stop in order to avoid an earthquake, and avoid having to save Jimmy and Lois.  

The only one that possibly works is that Superman actually flew faster than light, resulting in him being in an alternate reality from now on, oh, and in the past?  We see him talk to a very alive and safe Lois and Jimmy.  Jimmy talks about Superman saving him and Lois complains about earthquakes.  So apparently Superman didn't stop the other missile, just the quake wasn't as bad in this reality because there is no crevasse swallowing up Lois' car.

The time-travelling theory just doesn't hold up.  In fact, if you listen to commentary tracks on the dvds, it's implied that Supes is making the world go back in time, not himself.  Which apparently affects the tectonic plates?  Ugh.  It's just a mess of an ending.
 

Masirimso17

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mnkykungfu said:
Masirimso17 said:
To be honest if they made it so that his selfish actions is what caused Zod and co. to be released from the Phantom Zone (as they originally planned) and they made it apparent that Superman does not turn the world back, but instead his anger and adrenaline allows him to fly so fast he breaks the time barrier (and that he can't do that under normal circumstances or something) it could have worked. 

The problem with this is (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) that Superman goes back and saves Lois.  Okay, but now that still leaves a missile flying towards devastation, right?  Now, you may say "No, but there are now 2 Supermans (men?) existing at that same time, and the original already did what he did".  Ugh, okay, so this gets super into the mechanics of time-travel then, but no matter which methodology you use, it's super messy.

Endgame/Source Code theory: this is now an alternate reality.  Real Lois still died.
TimeCrimes/Interstellar theory: everything that will happen has happened already, i.e. we should've never seen Lois die at all.
Back to the Future theory: unfortunately disproven by both general relativity and quantum mechanics, but let's assume that Superman was somehow going back to his own past to make a new one.  In that case, events would unfold exactly as before, meaning there is still a missile for Superman to stop in order to avoid an earthquake, and avoid having to save Jimmy and Lois.  

The only one that possibly works is that Superman actually flew faster than light, resulting in him being in an alternate reality from now on, oh, and in the past?  We see him talk to a very alive and safe Lois and Jimmy.  Jimmy talks about Superman saving him and Lois complains about earthquakes.  So apparently Superman didn't stop the other missile, just the quake wasn't as bad in this reality because there is no crevasse swallowing up Lois' car.

The time-travelling theory just doesn't hold up.  In fact, if you listen to commentary tracks on the dvds, it's implied that Supes is making the world go back in time, not himself.  Which apparently affects the tectonic plates?  Ugh.  It's just a mess of an ending.

I don’t think it’s worth overthinking how it works but they could have easily had him chase the missiles again.
 

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First Man (2018)

first-man-ryan-gosling-slice-600x200.jpg


Space... the final frontier. This is the voyage of the Eagle. Its five-day (ish) mission: to land two blokes on a barren desert for a few hours. To seek out new rocks, and new... other rocks. And also take a few photos. To boldly go where no man has gone before!

"Dude, what if... the first guy to walk on the moon was as mysterious as the moon itself? What if it turns out that raising two young boys is really as tricky and inexact as literal rocket science? What if the farthest journey anyone ever took was really, like, a journey within, you know?"

I kid, I kid! First Man is a beautiful, engrossing movie. Don't really have more to say about it than that. Definitely worth a watch, and the $5 mint blu-ray I scooped up on Amazon. Another win for director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Golsing.

Also: Interestingly, the Chappaquiddick incident involving Senator Ted Kennedy occurred the very same weekend as the Apollo 11 moon landing. Therefore, mashing this and the 2017 film Chappaquiddick together would certainly make for an, uh, interesting fan edit... (Jason Clarke both appears in First Man and portrays Senator Kennedy, but such an edit could easily omit his scenes from the former.) Could doubtless throw a scene or two from Apollo 13 and From the Earth to the Moon in there, also. History!  :p
 
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