Team America: World Police

Year: 2004
Directed By: Trey Parker
Written By: Trey Parker and Matt Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was in college when this movie came out and I specifically remember scraping money together for a chance to see it in the theater. Sure I needed every cent, food and expenses being what they were for a broke college kid, but this movie was a priority. All my anticipation and penny pinching was validated when I sat down to see it. I don’t know that I’d ever laughed so hard before and I appreciated the satire in all my adolescent political prowess. I’ve since seen it more times than I can count and I love it more with every viewing.

I think this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, top 5 all time comedy hands down. The fact that it features puppets only makes it more impressive. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are nothing short of genius. I don’t know why they haven’t made more movies but I really wish they would. This proves it because it’s so unbelievably exceptional. Everything from the dialogue to the music is just perfect, and they did it with freakin puppets!

I am a proud American but I have not always been proud of my countries actions. This movie captures exactly how I felt back when I was involved and I cared. My political feelings aside, I don’t know that anything has ever summed up America quite like this:

It’s the attitude behind it, the inclusion of all things American from Walmart to Disney World. In a nutshell this is the country I have grown up in.

I love this movie. It’s just brilliant how ridiculous and serious it can be at the same time. It so flawlessly captures the ignorance, arrogance, and the entitlement of America as a nation. I love my country, but I can’t help but laugh. It is what it is and when you can’t change it you have no choice but to accept it. As an American though there is one thing you can’t forget…

As much as I love this movie there are two scenes I can’t stomach. Something too disgusting to watch is to be expected from Parker and Stone now and again. The two scenes I can’t and won’t watch are when Gary violently throws up for what seemed like forever because it is just so disgusting. The second is the sex scene. It’s funny at first, these two puppets are getting it on, but then it goes too far. And it keeps going, and when you think it’s gone as far as it can go it gets more perverse. It’s too much, but it’s easy enough to skip those two scenes and enjoy what it otherwise so perfect.

Back in 04 the leader of North Korea was just as crazy as the son is these days but he didn’t get the attention of the Saddams and Bin Ladens of the world. I have always thought it was hilarious that he got the spotlight in this film. Kim Jong un is crazy and has exceeded his father in gaining attention for threatening the world. Long before he rose to power his crazy sire was calling the shots and this movie serves as a great reminder of those times. I actually like this portrayal of Kim Jong il better even than Saddam in South Park. I love the scene when Hans Blix comes to inspect. “Ah no not fucking Hans Brix.” Blix’s threat that the UN will write them an angry letter is hilarious. Kim Jong il is a villain I always feel a bit bad for because..

I think special mention has to go to the people that brought this movie to life. The people behind the scenes that made the puppets and the work of the actual puppeteers who did such fantastic work. I don’t know who any of these people are but they are exceptional talents. I hope there is still work out there somewhere worthy of their skill. My disgust aside, what they were able to accomplish during the sex scene was pretty impressive. I love when things come to fisticuffs as well. The fighting that ultimately looks like dancing around is just hilarious. They are puppets after all and these puppeteers could only do so much to make the magic happen.

Love it or hate it you can’t help but laugh if you give this movie your attention. While there is plenty of truth said in jest you can’t take this movie too seriously or it is wasted on you. Trey Parker and Matt Stone create a lot of controversy, but they are two of the most talented comedians I have ever had the privilege of laughing at. If you somehow miss the boat on these two then you should catch up on your South Park, and give this movie a chance because you will rarely see anything funnier. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart, and I wouldn’t let my kids see it, but for any mature adult that doesn’t have a stick up their butt this is a must see.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

 

 

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It (2017)

I really caught the fever for this one. As a huge Stephen King fan I spent the summer looking forward to The Dark Tower only to be deterred by the overwhelmingly bad reviews. I made my own journey to the top of the tower a few years ago and I couldn’t bring myself to make a trip to the theater for a version that would disappoint. So I’ve had an itch that needed to be scratched. All the anticipation left me with an unfulfilled fix I needed for Stephen King. As this movie approached I felt that itch grow more menacing, all my hopefulness and anticipation funneled from The Dark Tower and into It.

I have had really strong feelings about IT since reading the book about ten years ago. It left me so appalled that I even swore off King for a year or so before having my arm twisted into giving him another chance. If you’ve read the book I’ll just say it was that thing in the sewer when they were kids, it was too much for me. If you haven’t read the book then brace yourself before jumping into it, in fact I’ve told people for years that they shouldn’t read the book at all because it was all garbage.

I feel differently now. I realized in all the hype that was building in my mind that lots of things happen in a book ranging over 1000 pages and I shouldn’t discredit the entirety because of one thing that happened. So in the days approaching this film’s release I found myself giving the book a second chance. At less than a quarter into it now I find I have really enjoyed it this time around, I hope that thing in the sewer doesn’t happen this time…

The reviews that came out for this movie were really strong so I went into the theater with great expectations. So much so that I couldn’t even wait to see it and when plans to see the Thursday night premier fell through I was determined to see it at the first opportunity. I tried desperately to find a friend to see it with me at first showing on opening Friday but like most responsible adults they were all going to be at work at 1 PM on a Friday. I settled for going down to the office and basically kidnapping one of my co-workers so I didn’t have to sit in the theater by myself.

I wanted this movie to be amazing, I wanted a real and excellent adaptation of a Stephen King book, and above all I wanted this R rated version to scare me at least a little bit. I think the movie succeeded at all these things. I thought it was terrific and I can’t wait to see it again and really imprint it on my brain and memory.

The movie wasn’t entirely perfect and they made a few changes I didn’t like but it overwhelmingly exceeded all my lofty expectations enough for me to gladly overlook any shortcomings it had. I felt like the movie was a little rushed and would have been happy for it to have been longer for more depth. I also didn’t like most of the story changes but find them all acceptable in the bigger picture. Specifically what bothered me was the changing of Mike and Ben about who actually researched Derry’s past. Nevertheless the movie managed to get that back story into the film despite the limitation a 2 hour and 15 minute running time put on the story.

I loved this cast of young actors and marvel at what they were able to do. I only know Finn Wolfhard by name, because of Stranger Things, but they were all great. Wolfhard in particular as Richie Tozier was nothing short of fantastic any time he was on screen. He played such a different character than we saw on Stranger Things too, showing impressive range for his age. I really liked the kid who played Eddie and the girl who played Beverly. All the kids did a really great job though.

I thought Bill Skarsgard was excellent as Pennywise. I heard it criticized that he didn’t talk enough in the part but I didn’t think the character needed to talk much. I think he had large shoes to fill after Tim Curry’s iconic rendition in the role and it was important that he make it his own. Curry was a very vocal Pennywise while Skarsgard was a more visual. I think the version was particularly great because he had such a playful and horrific quality to him simultaneously. When he comes out of the cabinet all contorted or when he is literally bursting onto the scene he is very scary. He has a very childlike quality to him that makes him scarier.

I like that this movie tried to scare me without simply trying to make me feel uncomfortable. So much that passes for horror these days is simply what can be most shocking and/or gross. I saw plenty in this movie that was scary and didn’t have to resort to such gimmicks as torture porn and gore. This movie earned its R rating with language and content but not necessarily with violence or gore.

I really need to see this movie again before I can really sum it all up and discuss it properly. All I can say now is that I thought it was excellent and I want to see it again. If you find yourself on the fence about it then hop over to the yes side and check it out as soon as you can. I am incredibly excited to see how this movie performs at the box office as it ushers us into Halloween season. This movie is definitely worth your time to go see and it actually lives up to the hype.

 

Taxi Driver

Year: 1967
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Paul Schrader

RYAN’S REVIEW

This diary of a mad man is a bonafide classic. Lauded and considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time. I’ll admit I spent a lot of time with it as a teenager studying film and thought very highly of it. After not watching it for more than ten years I sat down to it again last night and I can’t say I found the experience to be a great one.

Truth is, I just don’t love this movie. It’s a rare movie I once owned in the original movie collection but never made it to the next generation. Once upon a time before the turn of the century I had a fledgling movie collection of VHS tapes. I had about 20 something movies on tape before buying my first DVD, which was Se7en incidentally. I would say at least 90% of those movies made it quickly into the new collection on DVD but back then DVDs were expensive and I was selective. This movie didn’t make it because even being the junior movie buff I was then I only wanted it because I felt like I was supposed to own it. Truth was I didn’t like it enough to buy it on DVD and after watching it again I see why.

Taxi Driver made its way into the collection a few months ago as I was nearing where it would sit on the shelf. I again felt that compulsive impulse that I needed to own it. Whether I like it or not it’s a classic film that somehow gives validation to the collection as a whole. So I added it via Amazon as I rounded the Rs and entered the S section of the collection. When I finally reached it as the first T movie I was optimistic about watching it again but can’t say now that the optimism was rewarded.

I watch this movie and I get it, but I just don’t like it. I understand what the big deal is but still don’t buy into it. Maybe if I was watching it in the 70s or had some knowledge of New York City I would feel differently but this one just isn’t for me. I understand what it is supposed to be and is, but I think it is all just ugly. I think it’s an ugly story about an ugly character in an ugly world.

I have heard this hailed as Scorsese’s best work but I strongly disagree. I think it’s a fine example of his skill as a director but I don’t think it’s as good as Casino or Goodfellas. My favorite Scorsese film is actually Gangs of New York and that’s his best movie as far as I’m concerned. He’s made so many great movies at this point in his career it’s really hard to suggest any as his specific best. He made a statement in 1976 with this movie but I prefer the newer stuff. The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, the Dicaprio era as opposed to the De Niro years.

Robert De Niro is great as Travis Bickle but his slow descent into madness wouldn’t be described by anybody as exciting. This movie drags along for almost two hours as the title character grows more disgusted with society and more unhinged in general. De Niro may be great in the part but I hate seeing him play such an unlikable character. He is so awkward as Travis Bickle, even before he starts to drifts into madness. Travis is a sad and lonely guy. Such a fool he doesn’t realize it’s weird to take a nice girl out to a porno flick. Not at all the type of guy anybody should be comfortable with packing heat, much less an entire arsenal of firepower. Despite the “heroics” at the end I don’t think Travis is a protagonist. Was he being heroic in trying to save Jodie Foster in the end or did he really just want to kill some people and settled after he couldn’t kill the politician?

I remember from film class that there was a lot open to interpretation at the end of this movie. We see Travis redeemed and praised as a hero for his actions, even sharing a moment with Cybil Shepard who had dissed him earlier. It’s been suggested that this ending might be a dream sequence. That Travis actually died in the shootout and what we see at the end of the film represents his dying thoughts or something. Personally, I think people over think the whole thing when they ask this question. I see this movie as pretty cut and dry. To the point and very direct. I think for there to be a vague ending that makes you think is just out of line with the rest of the movie. I do find it odd that this mad man is perceived as a good guy and everything works out in the end but I don’t think it’s open to interpretation. I feel like such a question is like trying to squeeze orange juice out of an apple. The movie just isn’t that type of film and I don’t think it has the imagination to be open ended.

Travis is a character disgusted by how much is wrong with the world. He spends his time catering to the worst elements of society and its ugliness rubs off on him. I think the ending where he is the hero is simply ironic and another example of what was wrong with the world. Travis was just a lonely and deranged man. He was angry and needed an outlet for that anger. When his plan to make a big show of killing a politician fell through he went after the only other target he could think of and unleashed that pent up anger and frustration. Does that make him a hero? Two wrongs don’t make a right and vigilantes still go to jail.

I can see how people would like to think the ending was nothing but the product of his imagination. He wanted to be a hero and in his dying thoughts he imagined he had achieved this goal. I think the movie lacks that kind of creativity and it’d simply be a break in continuity to change it all up for the ending. Travis broke the law and wreaked some havoc but all he did was kill bad guys and save a preteen prostitute. On paper it makes for a good story, a reporter can take that and run with it. Nobody knows the guy is actually a psycho and had it not been bad guys it’d have been the man running for President. I think it’s an ironic ending and an example of how ridiculous life can be. Now, his moment with Cybil Sheppard is different, I don’t know what to make of that. Can’t see the poor woman taken out to a porno theater suddenly has a change of heart after reading the paper. More likely she would assume the pervert she once went on a date with had an outburst while visiting the prostitute as a customer.

It was Roger Ebert I think who started the whole theory that the end might be a dream and is one of the people who propped this movie up on a pedestal by calling it great. I don’t agree with him but who am I to argue with arguably one of the most famous critics of all time. I think the whole irony behind Taxi Driver is that like Travis being considered a hero in the end this movie is considered a classic. De Niro is a great actor and Scorsese is a great director but I for one don’t think this collaboration is all it’s cracked up to be. Is it worth your time? Of course it is, because it’s a classic. Despite my opinion of the film it’s too important for my discouragement to matter.

NEXT MOVIE: Team America: World Police (2004)

Swordfish

Year: 2001
Directed By: Dominic Sena
Written By: Skip Woods

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an interesting movie that takes us back to an era when the internet was still young. When not everybody quite understood it or its capabilities. Here’s a movie made in the midst of a changing world and it’s fascinating to look back at this story inspired during those confusing times. I was a fan immediately, but I was a 17 year old with the pause button handy for that expensive glimpse of Halle Berry’s boobs. Truthfully though, all jokes aside, I’ve always been a sucker for a cool action movie and I really like Travolta as a bad guy.

Everybody wanted to re-create The Matrix at the turn of the century. So here is a stylish action movie featuring monologues, techno music, and pretty boy hackers. The movie even features the slow motion effects The Matrix made famous two years prior. Nevertheless as far as Matrix wannabes go I thought this one was pretty cool and I’ll stand by that now.

I particularly like the scene when Hugh Jackman is given 60 seconds to hack something, but has to do with while a chick blows him and Vinnie Jones holds a gun to his head. Jackman isn’t even really typing and that’s what I love about this movie. The capabilities of hackers were so overblown in this era. All they needed to do was tap rapidly at the keyboard and boom something amazing happened. This scene is just so over the top too. Usually I’m really annoyed by a movie that tries too hard to be cool but at 17 I was a sucker for it.

In 2001 John Travolta’s career was just starting to crash again but he was still fairly famous. I have always thought he was in his true element when he was playing a bad guy. This bad guy in particular wasn’t his best as he tries to rock a ridiculous hairdo and facial hair.  Yet is still reminded me of the good old days when he was the bad guy in movies like Broken Arrow and Face/OffI think in this movie his Scientology buddy Tom Cruise called in a favor because one of Travolta’s henchmen is played by Cruise’s brother William Mapother.

I hate to say this but the most interesting thing about this forgotten movie may have been Halle Berry. I don’t think she is a very good actress but she is an unbelievably attractive woman and this movie gave us a glimpse of her breast. To mine and every other horny teenager’s delight there was about 5 seconds in this movie that made it all worth it. You have to understand this predates Monster’s Ball and widespread porn availability on the internet didn’t exist yet, not to a minor anyway. So for a teenager not even old enough to buy a Playboy that 5 seconds featured in this movie were absolutely glorious. Jokes aside Berry does do a terrific job looking smoking hot and being deceptive in this movie. All boobs aside she may really be the best thing this movie had going for it.

It’s interesting that Travolta’s whole deal in this movie is to combat terrorism. This movie came out in June of 2001, just a few months before the tragedy on 9/11. The idea that one man thinks with enough money he can effectively fight terrorism shows the ignorance of the days preceding 9/11 and the actual War on Terrorism.

The twist in the end of this movie isn’t enough to make the whole thing compelling. Yep, best thing about this movie was the five seconds in which we see Halle Berry’s breasts. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it just for that though. So I can’t say this movie is really worth your time. I liked it once upon a time and it takes me back, but that’s no reason for you to watch it.

NEXT MOVIE: Taxi Driver (1976)

Suspect Zero

Year: 2004
Directed By: E. Elias Merhige
Written By: Zak Penn

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this one. It’s one of those movies I watched once about ten years ago and immediately bought a copy of it to add to the collection. There was a period of aggressive expansion for the collection around 2006-2008 when I lived near a used DVD store and could buy lots of movies. I would look for something cool and add it to the collection I was so proud to show off. This movie was one of those added around 06, and I’m excited to sit down and see what it was that caught my eye.

This is a cool movie of cat and mouse but I think what sets it apart is Ben Kingsley. The ferocity he acts with is a remarkable thing to see. The man really is on another level of acting than most of his peers. His performance in this movie is quite impressive but he really catches you off guard with the following scene:

Kingsley can be so unnerving, it’s the look in his eyes. He’s scary enough just on his own but when he has you tied up and at his mercy he invokes another level of fear. I’ve seen him bomb a role before (Iron Man 3) but when he brings it he can startle you out of your seat. Check out Sexy Beast if you don’t believe me.

I think what probably caught my eye back in 06 wasn’t Ben Kingsley at all but more likely Aaron Eckhart. He had blown me away the year before with Thank You For Smoking and I was a really big fan. Eckhart is a good actor and he does a good enough job holding his own against Kingsley in this movie. Can’t help but feel like his career never quite took off after rising around this time and then falling a few years later.

I feel like this movie climaxes with a real Seven vibe to it but it’s not as good. No movie can really match up to “what’s in the box?!?” Nevertheless it’s a good enough ending to an interesting movie. It manages to surprise you a little bit after misleading us with a bit of foreshadowing earlier in the film.

This is a cool movie with a couple of notable performances but it’s nothing spectacular. There are worse ways to spend your time but I don’t know that this movie is really worth it. It’s not bad at all but still manages to be more of the same.

NEXT MOVIE: Swordfish (2001)

Superman II

Year: 1980
Directed By: Richard Lester
Written By: Mario Puzo, David Newman, and Leslie Newman. Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel (characters created by)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now this is a Superman I can at least get into a little more. There are real bad guys for Superman to fight this time around. Not to take anything away from Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in the first film but he isn’t necessarily going to come to fisticuffs with Superman is he? In this movie we have the villains initially set up with the first film. It’s a sequel so tied into the first film that it recounts it during the credits. I like that because in the future, should I ever watch these movies again, I can just skip the first film and catch the recap here.

I am an interested spectator in the conflict that was the Cold War. Let me just say I like seeing this movie where it’s firmly at rest. That’s obvious from Zod’s crony carrying both the U.S. and Russian flag after they crash the party on the moon.

Did I say this was a Superman film I could get into more? I’m not so sure anymore. I added these movies to the collection about 15 years ago, rescued them in fact from a shelf where they would only collect dust. I originally had all four of the Superman films but eventually ditched the last two because I straight up didn’t like them. Having watched these two first movies now I find myself wondering what it was I saw in them.

I hate the scenario where a super hero quits being the super hero and or loses his powers. The whole world is falling to it’s knees in the face of a trio of Kryptonians and Superman is ditching his powers to get in bed with a woman like a horny boy going through puberty. Rash decision much Superman? I like that the first thing he does afterwards is try to pick a fight with a trucker. It backs up my prior argument that Superman is a chump because with out his powers anyone can pretty much beat him up. It was all a waste as Superman runs right back to his fortress of solitude to get his powers back. So Superman is like a horny teenager who will do anything to get some but then realizes he made a huge mistake.

I think Terrance Stamp is great as General Zod. The villains are about the coolest part of this movie. Ursa is a cool villain with the taste of blood in her mouth. She feels all these powers and really gets off on them. I specifically like how she collects badges and pins them on her uniform. She is the scariest of the three because she is the most unpredictable. Zod carries himself like the badass but he is more patient and reserved than Ursa. The muscle is Non who apparently doesn’t have the ability to talk, or think very much for that matter. He may be the muscle of the trio but he’s the weakest of the bunch.

These guys are at their best when they are destroying towns and taking over the White House. Once the fighting with Superman begins it’s pretty lame and disappointing. In fact the scene actually put me to sleep and I only caught bits and pieces of the rest of the film. I remember that Superman tricks them in the end to depower them with red rays from the Kryptonian sun. Weak, I don’t think I missed anything nodding off in this one and I don’t think I’ll be diving back into it again.

I really don’t think I like Christopher Reeve as Superman and I really can’t stand him as the bumbling buffoon Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne would never try to pass himself off as an idiot or fool to keep people guessing #Batmanisbetter. I know it’s a horrible thing to say because Christopher Reeve was a real life hero but I just don’t think he was very good. He looks the part in the whole Superman get up but I don’t think he has the acting skills to blow anybody away.

This movie is not better than the first film and if I’m being honest I don’t really think the first film was that great. It was a terrific achievement and it set the bar for plenty to come but I just don’t care for it. I think Terrance Stamp and Gene Hackman carry this movie as far as it will go. Hackman has the benefit of playing the part this time around without Ned Beatty hanging around as an over the top idiot.

I can’t say with a straight face that these movies aren’t worth your time. I think they need to be seen as an important part of film history but I don’t think they are all that likable. I think they served to carve the path that would branch out into a network of films that have followed. The genre has grown to greater proportions now and I don’t think that these movies stand the test of time.

I don’t own the third or fourth sequels in this series and I don’t own the attempt to start a new series with Superman Returns. I have strong feelings about that one that I have written about before. It lured Bryan Singer away from the much cooler X-Men franchise for a crappy version of a lame superhero. I do think Man of Steel was a really cool movie. I think it was much better than people give it credit for. It’s hard to make a good Superman movie because Superman sucks, but I think Man of Steel did a very good job at it. I liked Henry Cavill’s performance in Batman vs. Superman as well. I thought that movie kind of sucked but not because of the performances of Cavill and Affleck.

So this is it, I’m not seeking out the other Superman movies and I won’t be writing about him again. I did my time riding a sinking ship when I did the entire Star Trek franchise. If you’re a big Superman fan I apologize. Feel free to present your arguments and I’ll entertain the discussion. I guess I’m just more of a Batman guy, to the extent that I’m a DC guy at all. I’m interested in it and I think it’s got some great stuff out there but in my heart I’ll always be a Marvel fan.

Check out the first film and watch this one because they directly tie together. Do it because you should. There is plenty to appreciate if not like in these two movies. I think I have sufficiently rambled on about this movie long enough. If anybody out there wants to make a case for the third or fourth film in this series by all means let me know.

NEXT MOVIE: Suspect Zero (2004)

Superman

Year: 1978
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Mario Puzo (story). Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (creators)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have never really been a big Superman fan but I have deep respect for this movie. It’s been almost forty years since this film came out and it still manages to be influential in an industry that can’t stop pumping out comic book films. This is a legendary movie and the real first comic book movie blockbuster.

The only time I really like Superman when I’m reading a comic is when he’s getting his ass kicked by Batman. Yes they fight frequently and the Caped Crusader always manages to best the impervious pure of heart hero. I’ll get to why Batman always wins in a minute but I’ll start by explaining why I don’t like Superman. He’s too super powered for his own good. He’s an all powerful superhero and that’s totally lame. He has all the damn powers, it’s too greedy. In this movie he even reverses the rotation of the Earth and travels back in time. I’m willing to look aside from the mere fact that the whole thing doesn’t even make sense in the movie (he reverses time but the earthquake still stops?). It’s still just too much.

What makes a hero badass is the fact that he overcomes obstacles, odds, and weaknesses. Superman doesn’t overcome anything, he overwhelms every thing with his sheer power. As long as the sun rises in the morning Superman is going to be just fine and win the day. Even with Doomsday there is no doubt, and certainly none in this movie as he wrangles cat burglers and cats. I know, I know there is some thing about heroes saving cats from trees but Superman doing it is merely a waste of his (and our) time. It’s no accident that Lex Luthor is his main bad guy. He’s just a man but that doesn’t matter because anybody can beat Superman, so long as you outsmart him.

Batman vs. Superman

Now I’d like to talk about this at some length. Let’s first discuss the two:

You have:

A) Batman-Just a man but an intelligent and skilled man. He’s a fighter who knows many different forms of combat. He’s a tactician who plans ahead and knows his enemy. He has the equipment for any problem that arises, even once breaking out the “Shark Repellent Bat Spray.” He is a man who overcomes the odds, a hero in the truest sense.

B) Superman-An alien from the planet Krypton. On Krypton everyone is the same but the sun is red. Put one of them on Earth with its yellow sun and the power of a God is granted. On Earth Superman has super speed, strength, stamina, motherfucking everything. Oh and he also has the power of flight, laser vision, frost breath, X-ray vision, and apparently according to this film the power of time travel. There is a catch though. A rock from his homeland makes him vulnerable, albeit completely vulnerable. Also rays from his native red sun render him average. There is also a villain that somehow holds the surviving people of Krypton hostage and uses it as leverage against him, but that’s beside the point and not in this movie.

Now you put these two together and things should be pretty simple. The super powered alien pummels the costumed human into dust but it never works out that way. Being the badass he actually is Batman is always prepared and he figures out a way to level the playing field. Be it Kryptonite or somehow utilizing the rays of a red sun he depowers Superman. Without his powers Superman is nothing but a guy who doesn’t know how to defend himself. He becomes chump change for Batman, who doesn’t just beat him but beats the shit out of him.

I remember it being a hot topic of debate when Batman VS. Superman came out a couple of years ago. How could Batman ever fight Superman? I’ll admit once as an outsider in the comic world I would have been perplexed as well and agreed with the naysayers. Now I know better though and I always ask them name the vulnerabilities of both. Batman may be just a man, but nobody would ever accuse him of being vulnerable. While Superman falls to his knees in the presence of a green rock. Of course the gazillionaire Bruce Wayne/Batman has Kryptonite. The man literally has all the resources imaginable at his fingertips. Oh the Kryptonite didn’t quite do the trick? Here are some red sun rays for you. Not enough? Here are some of the most super powered weapons available to man to hit you with. That didn’t do anything but weaken him? Batman is more than willing to roll up his sleeves and duke it out with a guy who knows nothing of fighting because he relies solely on the power that’s been taken away.

To sum it up, Batman=badass, Superman=chump. I haven’t even touched their alter egos either. Clark Kent makes it a practice to appear as lame as possible so nobody looks past the glasses. Great disguise Superman. Bruce Wayne on the other hand may be just as cool if not cooler than Batman. He’s super rich, super powerful, and he is just as likely to beat you up as Batman is. While Superman is bumbling around trying to get the attention of Lois Lane Batman is chillin in a hot tub somewhere surrounded by gorgeous ladies, and he only does that for appearances. Clark Kent may kick a football pretty far when no one is looking but Bruce Wayne is the cool guy that drove off with all the cheerleaders.

Getting back to the point… 

I don’t love this movie but I respect it. I think it was quite an accomplishment in 1978. It’s written by one of my favorite authors, Mario Puzo, though the experience might not have been great for him. I know nothing about the experience he actually had during the making of this film but if any of his other books are to be taken into account he did not have the highest regard for Hollywood. Still, he wrote a story that was great for the time and groundbreaking in its material. I love how the sequel was set up from the get go with Zod and his cronies being imprisoned in the phantom zone. You know they will eventually get out of it and Superman will have to deal with them.

They don’t get out in this movie and I think that is the problem with the film. Or at least why it doesn’t hold up. Yeah this movie introduced a wider audience to a character and blew them away with special effects. In hindsight though this movie is lacking in excitement. Superman has no foe to fight with. Yeah there’s Lex Luthor outsmarting him at every turn but you don’t want to see a superhero fighting nature i.e. time or earthquakes. You want to see the hero fighting someone who is an equal match, or the counter opposite. In this movie Superman is saving cats for crying out loud. There’s also that bizarre man scaling the side of the building, which is an awful lot of trouble to go through for a robbery. A superhero always needs someone to fight, cats are for the firemen with their ladders and cat burglers are for the cops. Let those heroes do that work and let the superhero fight the supernatural bad guy threatening the world.

I for one think Henry Cavill is a terrific Superman, and I like him in the role. That being said, he will never be the real Superman. That’ll always be Christopher Reeve, just as Michael Keaton will always be Batman, for my generation at least. Reeve wasn’t the most incredible actor but he was an incredible man. The tragic accident that he suffered was really unfortunate. He didn’t give up though and remained an inspiration to people both in a similar situation and outside of it. While Superman may be a lame hero, Christopher Reeve was a true hero in real life. May he rest in peace.

I think special mention goes to Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. I fear I have seen the last movie Gene Hackman will ever act in and that hurts my heart a little. I don’t think this was a particularly good movie but if I had to sound off what I liked about it I’d start with Gene Hackman. I am a big fan of him as both an actor and a person. Several years ago I heard a story about him being in a fist fight, the man was 70 years or more and fist fighting someone! That’s a real badass and I will get more into him as an actor when we reach Unforgiven in the collection.

I don’t know that special mention is really deserving but if you didn’t notice Marlon Brando is in this movie as Jor-El. He wouldn’t want you to miss that, but truthfully the presence of the Godfather is a big deal. Yet Brando caused such a problem on set and in the aftermath of the film’s success that he was cut entirely from the sequel. On set he was reading his lines off the diaper of baby Superman because he refused to learn them. After the film proved to be a success at the box office he sued for royalties. He ended up making an awful lot of money for a short part and even received first billing for what basically amounts to a cameo.

There is little more than “look what he can do!” in this movie and it’s not enough for me. Maybe it’s as simple as I’m not impressed with what the character can do. This was a big hit when it came out but Superman has regularly failed to be a success as some of the other famous film heroes have. He doesn’t rake in the money quite like Batman, Spiderman, or now Wonder Woman. This was the most successful effort as it was the first of four films and a financial success at the box office.

There was a time when I thought this movie should hold a place in the collection. I still think it deserves a place in the collection but I don’t know that it’s getting a ride in the DVD player again. I respect this movie and like some things about it but overall it is not for me. I think this movie is worth your time because it deserves your time, but I don’t think it is worth anymore of my time.

NEXT MOVIE: Superman II (1980)