MAN OF STEEL
* * *
(Dark sci-fi Superman)
”Man of Steel” opens on a distant planet and ends at the Daily Planet. In between we get a dark, somber story of Kal-El’s birth, spaceship ride from Krypton to Earth, flashbacks to his youth where he was raised by Kansas farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Ladd), relationship with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), fight to the death with archrival Zod (Michael Shannon) and acceptance by the earthlings.
More science fiction than past Superman movies, TV shows and comic books of the past, the movie dwells too long on battles and fights, as Krypton spaceships destroy an entire town and do a major job on one metropolis.
There is very little humor and character development, with the exception of Clark Kent, as he finally discovers who he is and why he is here. He must deal with the constant conflict of when, why and how to use his super powers. He is constantly reminded by his father and others that Earth may not be ready for him yet. But when he finally comes out of the closet (no phone booths or closets here, actually), dons his uniform, where the “S” has another interpretation, he becomes one tough dude. All this calls for a rather stoic Superman, and English actor Henry Cavill fits the bill.
The nearly 2½-hour movie brings us to the point where Clark Kent finally gets a job as a stringer for the Daily Planet. It takes a lot of battles and destruction to get him to that point in the Superman saga.
Rated PG-13 with lots of violence.
THE END OF TIME
(Vulgar, loud, dumb, obnoxious attempt at comedy/parody)
Yes, that’s a minus one star rating for this vulgar, loud, dumb, obnoxious attempt at satirical comedy.
Over the 35-plus years that we have been reviewing movies, I can count on one hand the number of times we have walked out on a movie. We lasted almost an hour before we could take it no more.
I have to admit that the young adults in the audience thought that the movie was a riot and laughed out loud as we groaned and sighed.
James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Jay Barachel, Emma Watson and a few other actors play themselves in the irreverent satire on the Apocalypse. They are all at a no-holds-barred (drugs and sex) party at Franco’s LA mansion when the end of time hits. The earth opens up around them. People are lifted into the heavens by strange beams of light, as fire destroys all around them.
But the actors “survive,” if survival means not being good enough to be called as the chosen ones. That’s about it for biblical references. We suffered through watching the actors behave badly, even worse than they did before the apocalypse.
How this movie avoided an NC-17 rating is beyond us. There is one (more after we left, we heard) disgusting sex scene, nonstop use of the F word, continuing drug use and nauseous violence.
A check of Rotten Tomatoes found reviews rating from one to five stars. It is beyond us how any sane person could give it even one star. We even questioned our sanity in lasting as long as we did. We don’t even care how it ended. The beginning and middle were bad enough.
Rated R. Avoid at all costs and light a candle for the direction in which the “art” of movie-making is heading.
* * *
(Third installment of love story)
You will enjoy “Before Midnight” more if you have seen the first two movies about the relationship between American writer Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Parisian businesswoman Celine (Julie Delpy). In the first movie, they meet and go their separate ways. In the second, Jesse reunites with Celine, divorces his wife and marries Celine.
We catch up with the couple as Jesse says good-bye to his son as he goes back to his mother in America. Jesse, Celine and their twin daughters are on a Greece vacation, with friends allowing the couple some time on their own, happily enjoying it until they face the problems between them on a “second honeymoon” type evening in a hotel room.
The movie opens with a long car trip, where the couple banters playfully while the kids sleep in the back seat. It seems like the dialogue will never end. Then they have dinner with old friends in a scene that becomes quite philosophical. Then they take a long walk into town, where they start asking questions about their relationship.
By this time, we were getting a bit bored with an hour of talk, talk, talk.
Then they reach the hotel, planning for an intimate evening, which slowly turns into a serious confrontation, as all of their anxieties, frustrations and resentments toward each other come to the surface. The scene is very realistic and at times agonizing to watch, as you wonder if the couple can survive their problems, as each seems to be holding each other back from where they see their individual needs being met.
The acting is first rate, and the situations are very real. What you must ask yourself is, “Have I bought into these characters enough to sit through an hour and 45 minutes of dialogue?”
If you have not seen the first two movies, this may be difficult. And you just know that there will be an “After Midnight” in the works.
Rate R because of profanity, sex and nudity, all handled quite discreetly. This movie would be of no interest to the younger crowd.
* * *
(Culture Clash Comedy)
This culture clash comedy has a familiar theme: Underdog team overcomes odds to make it to the big game.
No, it is not a sports movie, although the sport of quiddich plays a part in it.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play Billy and Nick, two buddies, quite similar to their characters in the “Wedding Crashers,” who have lost their jobs as watch salesmen. Who needs a watch these days?
They search Google for job opportunities and somehow end up with a chance to compete for internships at Google.
When the mass of young people plus the two oddballs are formed into teams, Billy and Nick end up with the rest of the rejects.
Billy and Nick at first mess up big time, but slowly bring the misfit team around to thinking their “old fashioned” way.
Will their team win?
Will Nick win the girl he relentlessly pursues?
Will the old guys win internships at Google?
The familiar plot line fits neatly into the wonderful world of Google, with sometimes hilarious moments, thanks to the comic timing of Vaughn and Wilson.
The young crowd will enjoy the computer-oriented moments, while us older folks will enjoy the references to Billy and Nick’s world (“Flashdance” being the biggest).
There’s a surprise ending and very clever credits.
Rated PG-13, with some profanity.