Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sci-Fi Channel Scores

The Sci-Fi Channel has premiered a couple of new shows. One, Eureka, is a good-natured drama about a sheriff who is keeping order in a community of quirky super-geniuses. So far they have shown the pilot and one regular episode. This is the type of show that would have shown up on commercial television 15-20 years ago. The critics would have raved. It would have been scheduled for some dumb time like 7:00 Sunday and it would have been cancelled within a dozen episodes. On Sci-Fi it has a good chance of finding an audience.
The other new show, Stan Lee's Who Wants to be a Superhero? is even more fun. It works on two levels. On one hand, it is a great parody of reality shows like The Apprentice where everyone takes themselves to seriously. You just can't take things too seriously when everyone is wearing tights.
On the other hand, it does have a serious side. In the premier, the would-be heroes are rated according to how well they act like heroes. One was thrown off the show off the bat when he let it slip that he was planing to sell hand-made action figures of himself for $300-$500. Several others failed a test when a task had them run past a crying child. A real hero helps others, even if it involves a sacrifice.
Also, this is probably the most screen time Stan has gotten.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Bad Time for Dogs

The current top two movies seem to have it in for dogs.

In the number 1 movie, Pirates, the dog with the keys seems sure to be eaten by cannibals.

Superman Returns is harder on dogs. In an early scene we see Luthor talking a dying woman out of her money. There is an establishing shot of her mansion including her two small dogs. Later Luthor returns to the mansion and we only see one dog chewing on a dog-sized leg bone. Someone asks, "Didn't there used to be two dogs?" Obviously the dogs were abandoned and one ate the other.

Luthor's girl friend carries the little cannibal around with her until the end of the movie when Luthor suggests eating it.

Now, you don't expect much from cannibals and someone who would kill billions for a real estate deal isn't going to worry about a dog but Superman himself joins in on the canine abuse.

Very early in the movie Clark is still getting his bearings after returning to Earth. He is leaning on a fence at Ma Kent's farm and the dog comes up with a ball for him to toss. So what does Superman do? He hurls the ball over the horizon. The dog takes a couple of steps then realizes that its ball is gone for good.

Granted this is nothing compared to eating the dogs but this is plain mean. You expect a lot more from a Christ image.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Superman Returns

All told, I don't think that Superman Returns was a very good movie. I enjoyed Superman, the Motion Picture and Superman II much better. Even Superman III was more enjoyable although the whole Richard Prior bit was a bad idea.
The problem with Superman Returns is that the director, Bryan Singer, was too respectful of the earlier movies. A lot of the structure of the movie and some of the dialog was lifted from the original movie. They even re-used Marlon Brando which added nothing to the movie.
The problem here is that the tone was very different than in the original. It would have worked a lot better to start fresh instead of continuing from movies made in the 1970s.
Then there is the casting. Brandon Routh did OK but he was imitating Christopher Reeve instead of doing his own version. Kate Bosworth continued a recent trend of putting pretty young actresses in roles that call for older, stronger women (along with Batman Begins and Fantastic Four). I never believed for a second that she won a Pultzer. She didn't even seem up to being a real reporter. She came across more as an intern who couldn't afford a sitter for the child she had at 18.
Regardless of the actress, Lois with a child is just weird.
At least Luthor wasn't over-the-top camp. The original movie had a of of good points but Luther wasn't one of them. On the other hand, Luthor's plans to kill billions was over-the-top without camp.
I didn't care for the Superman-as-Christ theme. This was never part of any other Superman adaptation but it was central to Singer's version.
The movie looks great. The flying sequences are pretty convincing although Superman's take-offs seem a bit gentle.
I don't like the new costume. Specifically, I don't like the texture of the suit or the rubber "S". I don't like Superman's trunks changing into speedos and I don't like the way they padded his "package" so it looked like applause excited him.
Bryan Singer plots often have huge holes in them. This was no exception. Just for starters, we have a new shuttle launch and they let reporters onto the plane? Come on.
What with licensing and all, Warner will not lose money on the movie but it's hard to believe that this will revive the franchise.