Images of Henry Cavill filming MAN OF STEEL (Updated)

Superman’s origin story is well-known and audiences seem to be unable to get enough of it. Many different movies and television shows detail the background and rise of this beloved alien superhero. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel offers yet another take on Clark Kent’s beginnings with a slightly different portrayal of our hero’s home planet and history.

The film begins where Superman’s very life begins, on the planet Krypton. Russell Crowe plays a much more gruff-looking but paternal Jor-El, little Kal-El’s father, who largely has an expository role. Rather than just focusing on the destruction of the planet and the escape of the newborn superhero, there is backstory involving a failed coup on Krypton by a General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his subsequent exile. It is after this plot point that we see baby Kal-El being shuttled off to Earth as Krypton is obliterated and his father seeks to save his son and his race in a last ditch attempt.

The Ol’ Good Daily Planet

This version mostly skips over Clark Kent’s childhood and the audience soon meets him as a drifting adult without any journalism degree or job at the Daily Planet. The few flashbacks we get of his youth have Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane as Martha Kent. They are seen encouraging him to hide his identity in order to protect humans from his own strength.

Clark, played by a handsome Henry Cavill, most known for his role on The Tudors, is aimless and unsure of where he belongs on this planet. He wants to save others with his abilities, but also save himself. Kent soon meets reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) at the site of a Krypton aircraft enclosed in ice and as one might expect from Clark and Lois, he saves her and she becomes fascinated with him. Soon it is revealed that the exiled General Zod has been looking for Kal-El for years and publicly demands his surrender — or else. He has a planet destroying super weapon, and so our reluctant hero must step up.

henry cavill filming man of steel

The script is written by David S. Goyer, who also worked on Batman Begins, and Snyder has directed other popular movies such as Watchmen and 300. From this information the audience can then expect the same sort of well-written, stylistic and exciting display, and although the writing isn’t as nuanced as it should be considering the dark nature of the film, this is mostly what the audience gets.

There is hardly any joy or humor in this movie. The film is devoid of any of the campiness of previous Superman portrayals. The plot goes for a cutting display of human emotion and seriousness, which is interesting considering the backstory is really about the destruction of an alien world with an alien hero.

The action, with Clark Kent coming into his superhero identity, is exciting and intense. There’s a mix of martial art-style fighting and alien military gear laying low Metropolis in a visually stunning and stimulating display of destruction. The pace is quick and concise, the plot unraveling coherently amid the action. The final battle is an tense stand-off that feels surprisingly human — considering it’s between two aliens, and this is a delight, seeing that there was so much military gear and high-tech destruction for the majority of the film.

 

The question of whether you will enjoy this movie may come down to how you enjoy your superhero movies. Do you like them to be campy, with a guarded identity and traditional costumes, some humor to lighten the destruction the planet faces — or do you like them dark, Batman-style, with complex and cutting questions of morality? This iteration of Superman switches most definitely from the former to the latter. If you are a fan of the old format, then this bitter re-imagining may not sit right with you. There is a lot of angst, and Clark Kent questions himself far more than most fans are probably used to. If you want something different, however, then this is definitely an alternate approach.
With it’s new talented, impressive cast of actors, praised director and producer, and unique approach to the Superman lore, Man of Steel is worth a watch, even if you’re skeptical of the dark nature. For more photos of Henry Cavill click here.

Elysium (2013) Movie Set & Review

The 2013 dystopic science-fiction/action movie Elysium creates a world that is divided in two. On the surface-level, there is the expansive, bleak slums, wrought with violence and disease and filled to the brim with unfortunate human beings. Overpopulation has created vast dilapidated communities across the globe. A gigantic, luxurious space station named Elysium floats high above them, the destination where the rich have fled to continue to live their clean high-class existence far away from the misery and poverty that has infected the planet.

Elysium is the ultimate gated community. The upper class live there without disease or want; the poor do not have access. Although the poor occasionally steal vessels to try to infiltrate this floating paradise, the place is heavily guarded, anticipating this type of invasion.

elysium movie set image

The majority of the film does not take place on this space station, but in the destitute wasteland community of Los Angeles on the surface. Robots patrol these streets to enforce order. This is where the viewer meets the ex-criminal main character Max, played by a beefy, tattoo-sporting Matt Damon. After he is exposed to a deadly dose of radiation at his factory job, he is informed that he has only five days left to live and his only hope of surviving is the technology on Elysium. He’s not the only one with a treatable impending death either, as the daughter of his friend (Alice Braga) suffers from leukemia.

The rich of Elysium have access to pods that can cure them of all diseases, even regenerating tissue. This is not technology that is shared with the surface.

And, of course, this isn’t exactly somewhere he can just go.

neil blomkamp elysium

The Women Factor – Elysium (2013) Movie

But Max is resourceful and he does find a way, although it does involve him resorting to the talents he acquired during his criminal past. Shady deals need to be made. Elysium itself is protected by a woman named Delacourt, a defense secretary played by the sci-fi big name Jodie Foster faking an accent. Luckily, she’s not just a simplistic villain who merely wants to protect Elysium and leave it at that — the plot is also padded with a nice coup d’etat motive, adding to her character and the dynamics at play.

This is definitely an action movie, and in that respect it provides. Although the message behind the film is clear — reflecting heavily on current issues, such as the wealth gap and treatment of the poor — it is not heavy-handed. There is no ranting, no diatribes about healthcare access and immigration. There isn’t even a considerable amount of backstory. Most viewers will likely appreciate this, as action is far more entertaining than moralizing. In this manner, Elysium is a lot like South African director Neill Blomkamp’s other film District 9, though not nearly as subtly profound. The allegory is not as direct, and the some viewers may even prefer this.

Humor in Elysium (2013) Movie

Although the majority of the film is violent and bleak, there is some active humor to lift the dreary mood cast by this world, often provided by the villainous character Kruger, played by Sharlto Copley (who also appeared in District 9). And while the overall atmosphere of the movie is dark, it still all looks fantastic — even the endless slums. The robot police and futuristic transportation, envisioned by Blomkamp with the backing of a big Hollywood budget, are cool creations. The apocalyptic landscape is perfectly miserable-looking, capturing a realistic image of absolutely urban rot and out of control population growth. Even the bleak visuals are breathtaking. The visual effects take the cake and are easily the greatest accomplishment of this film.

Did The Visuals “Articulated” the Story in Elysium (2013)?

Unfortunately, the astounding visuals do not carry over to the dialogue. While the lack of background explanation allows for the plot to not be bulky with science fiction details that bog down the viewer, and that’s certainly appreciated, there’s a point in the film where some explanation would be appreciated. Without any explanation whatsoever, some plot points do grow too questionable and may disengage viewers. Some logic is required for continued viewer engagement. Not all viewers will be happy with the presence of deus ex machina devices, yet those do persist in this movie.

A love story also distracts from the action, though other than giving viewers a break from the constant movement and fighting, there is no real substance or purpose to the romance. And while Max initially starts off his mission looking to save himself, it inevitably becomes much more than that. After all, there’s a surface world of abject misery to save. Damon does a good job playing the criminal turned hero role, and keeps the story interesting as some of the unexplained plot elements create an air of fast-paced absurdity.

Blomkamp does a great job creating a dichotomous world, packed with realistic visuals and fascinating dynamics. The action is thrilling and looks fantastic, taking us from one extreme to the next. But the balance between action and plot is lacking, and the plot holes are just a little too glaring, possibly leaving the viewer shaking their head at the absurdity by the end of the climax of the film. For a second film, however, especially after the success of District 9, Blomkamp has shown there’s a lot he can do with a bigger budget.

Green Hornet (2011) Movie Review & Photo Set

Funnyman Seth Rogen’s 2011 superhero comedy The Green Hornet is meant to be a different approach to the popular superhero movie format compared to more serious vigilante stories like Batman and the Avengers. Rogen, of Superbad and Pineapple Express comedy fame, both co-produced and starred in this film, with the assistance of longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg (Da Ali G Show, Knocked Up) as co-writer. The director isn’t quite who you would expect for a superhero movie either: Michel Gondry, known for such whimsical favorites as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep.

the green hornet 2011 movie set1

Right off the bat, the strange mix of genre, director, writers and star create different expectations for this superhero flick.

The story of the superhero Green Hornet originated as a radio show before it moved to comic books, movie poster of Green Hornettelevision and movies, around just as long as Batman and even longer than other fan favorites like X-men. The eponymous hero is rich boy Britt Reid, played by Rogen in this movie, an elite newspaper publisher who inherits the Daily Sentinal from his estranged father and becomes a crime fighter alongside his late dad’s multi-talented auto-mechanic and martial artist Kato, played in this movie by the Taiwanese actor Jay Chou. Their ensuing antics together lead them to upset the mob leader Chudnofsky (played by Christoph Waltz from Inglorious Basterds). In a nutshell, there’s the plot — a more silly version of Batman, essentially.

The Length of The Green Hornet Movie – Problem or Advantage?

Cameron Diaz Los Angeles at the Premiere of The Green Hornet

When it comes to editing, The Green Hornet is a bit too long for a superhero movie at 118 minutes, and it isn’t a random & suitable length for people that usually stream over the internet to watch free movies online. There is notably a lot of filler that doesn’t exactly add to the overall plot and characterization. Viewers could have gone without the filler for a better viewing experience, since the length is pushing it for a comedy and even an action flick. Considering Rogen isn’t exactly pulling off the most smooth and stylish action sequences, we don’t really need well over an hour and a half of them. Cameron Diaz is also in the movie as well, but her character is all but useless and thus her scenes are an unfortunate waste of time.

Superhero -“Teenagers”

Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Los Angeles Premiere at the The Green Hornet

The dynamics between Rogen and Chou work well and together — they’re a humorous buddy/buddy duo. The pair are a relief, compared to the more serious and smug superheroes topping the box office these days, and the bromantic quality of their relationship is honestly the best thing about this film. They are charming. They drink together, banter together, come up with bad ideas together, and it’s fun. Their juvenile behavior and the bro humor matches the likes found in Superbad, but of course that’s exactly what you expect from a relaxed, comedic superhero movie starring Seth Rogen. He’s immature and amazed by everything, far more incompetent than his capable sidekick, and this adds to the overall amusing quality of the storyline. After all, he’s not really being noble — just looking for an adrenaline rush — and so is the viewer.

The whimsy you might expect from a film directed by Gondry is lacking here, perhaps lost in his desire

to make a hit superhero movie with big special effects. His perfectionism and vision does still look gorgeous for what it is, not causing the viewers disappointment in the visuals of the action sequences, even if it’s mostly Kato pulling off the action and Rogen pulling off the slapstick. There is nothing particularly unique going on with the visuals however, which one would assume Gondry would have brought to the film. This is certainly a disappointment and causes one to wonder why Gondry didn’t feel he could do more here.

The Characters Should Have Been More Exposed!

Jay Chou Los Angeles Premiere The Green Hornet

This movie doesn’t ever extend beyond the realm of a simple, fun movie. There’s nothing profound or different going on here, and the combination of talents doesn’t produce a movie that lives up to its full potential. However, it’s still fun and different from other superhero flicks, which is enough to recommend it. This film is especially good if you’re looking for a less-than-serious take on the superhero craze that’s been taking the big screen by storm. Also, if you’re a fan of Rogen’s shtick in general, he’s not doing anything all that different here.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Series Review & Trailer

Daniel Radcliffe picture

Daniel Radcliffe

English filmmaker David Yates returned for his third movie in the Harry Potter series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, the first of two installments that completes the story that took the world by storm for well over a decade.

Emma Watson Picture

Emma Watson

The series’ child stars are now mature, and the themes and internal conflicts have also subsequently grown more mature, including complicated dynamics between the leads. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have all grown substantially, and this shows in this start to the series’ finale. Helena Bonham Carter also puts on a spectacular show as Belletrix Lestrange.

The conflict and tension at the very onset of the film is profound. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is taking over and the powers meant to stop him — the Ministry of Magic — are corrupt themselves. Harry Potter, a hero for so long, is wanted. He and his companions are on the run throughout a bleak landscape, fraught with grave troubles and conflicts between themselves. Their allies are scattered. The responsibility of finding the remainder of the horcruxes, in order to ultimately defeat the Dark Lord, is on them.

Rupert Grint PictureThe emotions are turbulent and for viewers who have followed these characters for years, they might find themselves shedding a tear or two by the end of the movie. The deaths happen very rapidfire. Considering that the target audience has probably also matured alongside the main characters, the heightened level of conflict and devastation seems a natural development.

The action is sometimes a little awkward, since the films have largely been a fantasy school children story, but that awkwardness isn’t so distracting in the end. The events are thrilling, as this film builds up to the ultimate series finale in part 2. It’s hard to not get excited, even if you’re only a mild fan of Harry Potter. If you happened to be in love with Hogwarts as a setting itself, sadly the school is left behind in this movie as the characters roam about the world to complete their mission. The magical whimsy is also sorely missed, making it seem as if something is lacking. There’s no classes, no quidditch.

James and Oliver Phelps arriving for the World Premiere of ‘Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Glimpse of Horror

Alan Rickman attends the premiere of “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows”

There is a lot of dialogue and explanation, which makes the film seem clunky and may disengage some viewers, especially if they aren’t into all the canon and buzzwords of the series. Also, the darkest scenes might be a frightening for very young viewers, as they do often involve torture. It’s also somewhat unsettling to see the long-time friends suffer and mature so much.

Just like the previous films in the series, the visuals are gorgeous, even if they are more bleak. The magic is fun — especially Hermione’s little bag of gear — and skillfully the director has mixed in some much needed humor and wit throughout. There’s a great scene where the epic trio must break into the Ministry of Magic, dressing up like employees in order to accomplish this and using the bathrooms as a route of travel. These scenes are much appreciated in a movie that also presents its fair share of trauma. There’s also a surprisingly sexual scene — at least, compared to the more childish nature of the previous films — between two of the characters.

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Another Great Hit – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

USA. FLORIDA. ORLANDO/OCTOBER: HARRY POTTER UNIVERSAL STUDIOS WALK WITH DRAGON

This is Part 1 of 2, so it’s appropriate that the film ends in a cliffhanger — an amazing scene involving Lord

Voldemort and a visually stunning feat. The stellar cast, full of many big names and brilliant actors, as well as the matured younger actors, makes this movie along with the visuals and dramatic roll of the tension. This movie builds in such a way to make you want to watch the second part of the finale immediately, to see what happens. In that way, this movie can be considered a great success.

Play The Trailer