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Non-Review Review: The Remains of the Day

It’s a sad truth that Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins are rarely handed roles that allow them to demonstrate their true abilities. The Remains of the Day is an absolutely stunning period drama from Merchant Ivory (which sounds far more impressive than any functional “combination of last names” really should). It’s a rather beautiful look at the classically romantic British character, but also an absolutely scathing attack upon it. It’s a brilliant examination of the inherent tragedy of the stereotypical British detachment, the capacity to maintain emotional distance in order to endure whatever life has to offer. Mister Stevens is the quintessential English butler, but he’s also one of the most tragic central characters I think I’ve seen in quite some time.

All that Remains...

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Justice League International: Volume 2 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

In light of the massive DC reboot taking place next month, launching with a Geoff Johns and Jim Lee run on a new Justice League title, I thought I’d take a look back at another attempt to relaunch the Justice League, emerging from the then-recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I loved the first collection of Justice League International (even though I don’t think the book was called Justice League International yet). It was the perfect example of fun self-aware superhero comics that didn’t need to wallow in grime and darkness to feel confident in themselves. It was wry and cheeky, but still sincere enough that it never seemed too cynical. And, in fairness to Giffen and deMatteis, they actually told some good stories with nice grasps on the characters involved. This second collection can’t help but feel a little bit lighter, somehow, less significant – too tied up in other things to have enough fun on its own terms. Which is a shame.

Built on a solid foundation...

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Twixt a Rock and a Hard Place: Francis Ford Coppola, Movie DJ…

A large part of me has tremendous respect for Francis Ford Coppola, even if his stock was considerably diminished by the twin misfires of The Godfather, Part III and Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the nineties. However, it takes a significant amount of courage to pretty much turn your back on major movie studios and produce a string of relatively independent and relatively experimental films, especially when you could legitimately be described as one of the main architects of modern cinema. Part of me wonders what would happen if George Lucas and Steven Spielberg attempted something similar to the string of low-budget arthouse releases Coppola has directed in recent years. His latest film, Twixt, comes with a gimmick that would put 3D to shame. The director is taking it on tour, and will apparently “remix” it for each and every audience. There’s no guarantee that two different audiences will see the same film.

Mixmeister Coppola...

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Non-Review Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is solidly middle of the road as far as superhero movies go. Perhaps in a less crowded (and less high quality) summer action season it would seem a stronger contender, but the film really shows as Warner Brothers’ first major attempt to produce a big-budget superhero film not directly related to Superman or Batman. It’s perfectly functional, managing to do everything it sets out to in a relatively efficient manner, but there’s never really a sense that the film exists as anything more than a series of plot points that need be checked in order for the movie to cross the finish line. Given the potential of the source material, as well as its relatively unique nature amongst the slew of generic superheroes, a functioning and formulaic adventure can’t help but feel like a bit of a disappointment.

Hal Jordan: Space Cop? It has a nice ring to it...

Note: We also have an introduction to the Green Lantern mythos available, if you’re interested in checking it out.

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All This Flying is Making Me Tired: Superhero Fatigue…

Well, blockbuster season is really kicking into swing at the moment. Next week will see the release of X-Men: First Class, which will be the second major superhero movie of the summer, following Branagh’s superb Thor. There are two more due to touch down before the end of the blockbuster season, Green Lantern and Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s fascinating how large the superhero genre has grown in recent years, to the point where one might legitimately argue that it has subgenres. Part of me wonders if this particular blockbuster fad is approaching its climax – if the superhero movie might out-stay its welcome, and go the way of the Western.

Is the superhero genre's blackest night ahead?

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Non-Review Review: All-Star Superman

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way.

From the outset, it’s immediately clear that All-Star Superman is immensely faithful to the twelve-issue miniseries that inspired it. There are a few key deviations from Morrison’s core text – some of which were made simply to save time or money, but others which are interesting of themselves. Still, this is pretty much as direct an adaptation as we are ever likely to receive – right down to the eight-word introduction (intercut here with the opening action sequence), the power of the origin distilled down to its core attributes. So the movie, based on perhaps the finest Superman story ever told, obviously has a lot of power drawn from its roots – but one has to wonder what the real point of making an animated feature of it ever was.

Shine on...

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Superman Returns & The Question of Consent…

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way. I figured that, today, I’d take a look at Superman-related movies.

As I was watched Superman Returns again for the first time in what seemed like years, a question occurred to me. It wasn’t exactly one that the plot addressed, but it was probably one of those idle little thoughts which is best reserved for the late hours, as one enjoys a pre-bed snack, or fodder for a wandering mind on a long bus journey. The title of this post kinda gives the game away, but read on for more.

A super night...

Note: This article contains fairly basic spoilers for Superman Returns, but I think you probably already know what I’m going to talk about.

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Non-Review Review: Superman Returns

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way. I figured that, today, I’d take a look at Superman-related movies.

You know, Quentin Tarantino once boasted that he had a 20-page review of Superman Returns that the director had been drafting for some years now. This review is going to be long, but it’s – hopefully – not going to be that long. The film has divided fans, movie-goers and film critics since its initial release, killed an attempt to relaunch the “Superman” brand name in the new millennium, made a shedload of money (although not as much as Warner Brothers would have liked). It’s a movie that deserves a large amount of discussion and debate, and it sure has generated it. I’m not a staunch supporter of the film, but I don’t hate it, either. Superman as a character has endured far greater humiliation. Still, it’s a bit of a disappointing continuation to the on-going Superman mythology.

The weight of the world is on his shoulders...

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Like a Good Kick in the Side: Sidekicks and Superheroes – a Childish Combination?

Let’s be honest, a lot of the early superhero movie adaptations – from Richard Donner’s Superman to Tim Burton’s Batman – played fast and loose with the source material that they were drawn from. There wasn’t really the same sense of fidelity that one sense at work in modern comic adaptations, the sense that modern audiences are geeky enough to accept concepts like superhero nostalgia or deconstructions of comic book heroism without having to “sanitise” them for mass consumption. There’s a sense that there’s relatively little that can be deemed “too geeky” or “too corny” for a mainstream audience, at least not if done in the proper manner. However, there is one concept which still seems a little too “out there” for popular audiences: that of the kid sidekick. Captain America: The First Avenger cast its sidekick as 27-year-old Sebastian Stan, rather than the teenager of the comics. Why are we so embarrassed by this one element of superhero lore?

Compare and contrast...

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Superman: Secret Origin (Review/Retrospective)

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way.

I have to admit that I quite enjoyed Geoff Johns’ run on Action Comics. Johns has been one of the most influential writers working at DC over the past couple of years, so it felt right to see him tackling Superman, after years of working on titles like The Flash and Green Lantern. It was an extra special treat because he brought Richard Donner with him for the introductory arc, which restored a sense of continuity between the comic book superhero and his cinematic iteration. You ask anybody to picture Superman, and I promise you that they will imagine Christopher Reeve with his cape flapping in the wind – it feels like the definitive version of the character. And I felt that Johns really tapped into that aspect of the icon. So, I have to admit that I was pretty excited when it was announced that Geoff Johns would be returning to tell the character’s origin story, his Secret Origin, if you will.

That's one super life he's lived...

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