What I’m Watching : SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) Revisited after 10+ years!

Dracula Movie Poster

Recalling this is Frank Langella’s Birthday and how much I’m enamored of his performances (particularly his DRACULA I think is hypnotic and astounding), I went looking for films courtesy of streaming/VOD and I came across SUPERMAN RETURNS.

 

Superman Returns Movie Poster

Unlike the vocal few, I’ve always liked Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is not perfect but its weaknesses are minor, and its strengths… deserving of praise.

Watching it today, over 10 years after its release, the film holds up. It is visually stunning to look at, gorgeously filmed and sumptuously framed, outright beautiful. Going for and achieving that feeling of awe, that particularly the first Richard Donner Superman was able to achieve, And it has that romanticized feel, and familial pacing, and doe-eyed optimism that both of the first two Donner Superman movies were able to achieve. But all of this lensed through Bryan Singers unique and ambitious take, his more otherworldly, take on the Man of Steel.

Where some people only saw ‘stalker’ Superman, those of us acquainted with reason, saw an obvious moral quandary tackled head-on. You want a being that can hear you when you call? The price and burden of this means he is always listening and always watching. So the film plays wonderfully with this idea of mensh unt Ubermensh. Of Man and Superman, and the burdens and trials of both.

The film does lose itself toward the end, but not enough to keep the journey from being rewarding, and memorable and fun.

This film falling in solid Bronze medal contention as one of the best Superman Movies of all time, beat out only by those two films that it is a natural sequel and follow-up to, Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.

MAN OF STEEL, as well as the other post Donner Christopher Reeves films are all left far in this films wake.

My grade after revisiting SUPERMAN RETURNS after 10+ years?

Well, Great Bryan Singer Direction, excellent visuals, stunning production design by Guy Hendrix Dyas, great performances by Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois’s son.  Also the flying scenes (all of them but particularly, That flight with Lois, a definite homage to the iconic scene in the first film, and I think it’s great),the plane scene, the yacht saving scene,the Daily Planet globe scene, the eye scene, the car scene that is a homage to a classic comic book cover, the mensh unt ubermensh overtones, and just the sheer fun of it, all of that is a solid A.

If you watch those scenes and don’t feel a sense of awe, possibly you shouldn’t be watching a film called SUPERMAN or there may be something fundamentally broken in you. 🙂

Now in the minus column you have that the Lois Lane performance sometimes grates and the general denouement/climatic battle/wrapup didn’t quite work for me (through I appreciate it more on re-watching then when I initially saw it in the theaters), those are a C- at best.

So averaged together the film as a whole is still a solid B+.

[possible spoilers]Too bad Bryan Singer didn’t get to follow this up, as I would have liked him exploring the dynamics of a SUPERMAN with a family, and a kryptonian impervious to kryptonite, and just some of the other ingenious ideas touched on in this film.[spoilers done]

Revisit it yourself on Netflix or better yet get the Blu-ray with Directors Commentary. The film will stand the test of time against the cynics, romance always does. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.

 

 

Superman: The Movie / Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut / Superman Returns [Blu-ray]

Superman Returns (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Drácula (Blu-Ray) (Import Movie) (European Format – Zone B2) (2013) Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald P

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MOVIE OF THE DAY: SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW!

Kerry Conran’s SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is one of the most sumptuous, imaginative and ground breaking films of all time.

That said I can see why it failed at the box office when released in 2004. The main issue is pacing. There is too much movie to comfortably sit through from beginning to end, and not feel the fat.

True to Conran’s initial impulse, the movie is very much a serial, and works better broken up in chunks, or perhaps enlivened by Chapter Breaks. Which makes it the perfect film for DVD, but not so much for the theatrical experience.

However in terms of visuals it very much deserves to be seen on the big screen. This is seemingly Conran’s first and only film, and what a film it is. One that shall only increase I think in import and prestige, much as the closing song says, ‘As time goes by’.

If you have never watched the film before, or watched it only once, I would say revisit it. I picked up the DVD for less than rental price, and around the third attempt I finally made it all the way through the film, including special features.

In a word… impressive. Try it for yourself!

FAVORITE DOCTOR WHO DvD Commentary! THE POWER OF KROLL?!!

Recorded in 2002 (mere weeks after the death of Terry Walsh, one of Britan’s premier stunt-men, and a stunt man who had a visible role in many episodes of Doctor Who, most notably this one) the commentary by Tom Baker and John Leeson for the 4-part story THE POWER OF KROLL, first aired in 1978, is nothing short of great.

From tales of performing Sherlock Holmes, to a party for Sean Connery, to autograph seekers, to rumors of death, to Migraine Acting it’s just everything a commentary should be.

Tom Baker always a sharp, if at times distracted, speaker on commentaries, here manages to feel completely on… for this one, and delivers a really fun and funny commentary. And it helps that the episode of Dr. Who that this commentary adorns, is actually a very good story (starring Phillip Madoc whose performance elevated every Doctor Who episode he was in [including the 2nd movie]). So a fun story, with a must listen commentary.

And this story is part 5 in THE KEY OF TIME series, a 26 episode storyline. So rather than just purchasing this individual episode, I would recommend the 2009 Boxset that includes the entire KEY TO TIME storyline as well as extras that were not on the earlier individual DVDs (Including an interview with the aforementioned Phillip Madoc).

While this storyline is not in my best Doctor Who storylines (it has major flaws most notably the tedious and lackluster ending which basically made the whole storyline unnecessary) it does have some fun moments in the buildup, and THE POWER OF KROLL is one of those moments.

In addition it is something of a watershed moment in the Tom Baker years. After this his enjoyment in the series, and for the most part the quality of the series (while there would be some peaks, there would be far more often valleys) would be in steady decline, with the uneven John Nathan Turner years on the horizon.

So this is a great DVD to get a sampling of a time in a seemingly immortal series, when it glimmered… very bright… against the coming night.

Doctor Who: The Key to Time (Special Collector’s Edition) (Stories 98-103)! Price your copy here!!

The following breakdown is courtesy of Violin MD @ Amazon.com:

“The NEW 350 minutes-worth of special features details are as follows. All the making-of features are new and NEW commentaries are marked with an *:

I. The Ribos Operation: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 98 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm
2. A Matter of Time – A new 60-minute Documentary
3. The Ribos File – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of
this story
4. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
5. Season 16 Trailer – BBC1 trailer for the forthcoming season
6. Photo Gallery

II. The Pirate Planet: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 100 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Bruce Purchase and director Pennant Roberts
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and script editor Anthony
Read
3. Parrot Fashion – Documentary that includes old and new
interviews, including Douglas Adams
4. Film Inserts, Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
5. Weird Science – A funny look at the science seen in The Key to
Time
6. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
7. Photo Gallery

III. The Stones Of Blood: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 95 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Mary Tamm and director Darrol Blake
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Susan Engel and writer
David Fisher
3. Getting Blood from the Stones – Cast and Crew Interviews about
the making of this story
4. Hammer Horror – Featurette about the influences of horror films
on Doctor Who stories
5. Stones Free – Mary Tamm visits the Rollright Stones location and
talks to local experts
6. Deleted Scenes
7. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
8. Excerpt from ‘The Model World of Robert Symes’
9. Blue Peter segment about the 15th anniversary of Doctor Who
10. BBC’s Nationwide news program segment about the 15th
anniversary of Doctor Who
11. Photo Gallery

IV. The Androids Of Tara: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 97 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and director Michael Hayes
2. The Humans of Tara – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making
of this story
3. Now & Then: The Androids of Tara – compares and contrasts
present day locations as they are now with how they appeared in
the story
4. Double Trouble – a brief history of ‘doubles’ in other Doctor
Who stories
5. Photo Gallery

V. The Power Of Kroll: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 90 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker and John Leeson
2. In Studio – a glimpse inside the studio during recording of the
story
3. Variations – a BBC local news programme visits the story’s
location during filming
4. There’s Something About Mary – Mary Tamm looks back at her
single-season starring role as the Doctor’s companion
5. Philip Madoc: A Villain for All Seasons – Madoc looks back on
his numerous roles as a Doctor Who villain down the years
6. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
7. Photo Gallery

VI. The Armageddon Factor: Special Edition (2 DVDs; 6 episodes; 147 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Mary Tamm, John Woodvine and director Michael
Hayes
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and John Leeson
3. DVD-ROM: 1979 Doctor Who Annual in Adobe PDF format
4. Defining Shadows – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of
this story
5. Alternative / Extended Scene
6. Directing Who – Michael Hayes looks back on his directing career
on Doctor Who
7. Rogue Time Lords – a potted history of errant Time Lords
8. Pebble Mill at One – Tom Baker interview from 1978
9. Radiophonic Feature – a Pebble Mill at One interview looking at
Radiophonic music and effects in Doctor Who
10. The New Sound of Music – Dick Mills talks about creating Doctor
Who sound effects
11. Merry Christmas, Doctor Who – a special Christmas sketch,
recorded on the set of ‘The Armageddon Factor’ for the BBC
Christmas Tape that year
12. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
13. Photo Gallery
14. Late Night Story – Tom Baker reads five spine-chilling stories
from this 1978 series:
a. The Photograph by Nigel Kneale
b. The Emissary by Ray Bradbury
c. Nursery Tea by Mary Danby
d. The End of the Party by Graham Greene
e. Sredni Vashtar by Saki (never broadcast)
15. Easter Egg

Adding up the running times gives us 627 minutes for the box set. All episodes are presented in full frame video, with the original English mono audio and with English subtitles.”