Daily Archives: June 21, 2008

Review: Superman: Doomsday

Superman: Doomsday DVD boxI read somewhere recently that comic books do superhero fights better than movies because things happen too fast in the movies. I understand where that’s coming from, but I’m not sure I buy it completely. Spider-man’s fights were pretty cool in the movies (especially vs. Doc Ock), for example.

Superman: Doomsday, being the animated version of the “Death of Superman” comic book series, had the perfect chance to prove that sentiment wrong. It was a good fight (two good fights, actually), but I suspect the comics had more impact for most people. They simply had more time to be involved in the story surrounding the death in the comics. I think that’s the failure of this movie: they didn’t spend enough time on the lead-up to the death.

Yes, we clearly get the impression that Doomsday is heartless and mindlessly violent, and Superman has to take him down. We also get the impression that he’s tough – real tough. But I never saw anything registered on Superman’s face, or spoken in his lines, that showed me that he knew this might be the most physically challenging thing he’d ever faced – that he might have to sacrifice himself to stop it. That would have put this movie over the top for me – his self-awareness.

I couldn’t help but make comparisons of the final fight with Darkseid in Justice League Unlimited. Though much shorter, it made more of an impact with me because of the speech he made:

That’s the kind of thing this movie needed.

Still, the beatings in this movie were impressive. :)

The one thing I like more about this movie was the scale of destruction wreaked by the fight. That was much closer to what it would be like if a battle this epic were to be fought. Buildings were brought down in no uncertain terms. There were whole blocks ruined by these fights. The final blow thew out a shockwave that was almost nuclear in its force.

There were two fights in this movie. Obviously, you can’t have the death of Superman be the end of the movie. You gotta show the comeback, so the death was only half the story. The second battle pits Superman as the underdog. That one, I think, was done better than the first. More time was spent in dialog expressing the thoughts of the combatants – though I still never got a sense of regret from Superman, which I think would have been appropriate for his character.

The movie could have benefited from an extra 5 to 10 minutes on character moments intertwined with the action. That would still keep it under 90 minutes total.

One other thing: while the body count in this film is high, there are only two instances of blood shown. I’m glad the team decided to keep it “clean” because this is bound to be seen by kids. There is a part of me that wants to see the adult animé version of this, though. Take a look at a contrast between his death in the movie vs. the comic book version:

Superman\'s Death

For all those who want to be spoiled for the first fight, here it is in full. My favorite moment: when he grabs Doomsday by the teeth.
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If you’re into Superman, rent this one. There’s even a moment where Lex surprised me. Maybe I’m too used to Lex in Smallville, but this Lex is cold.

Summer Movie List 2 – Revenge of the Trailer

Back in April I wrote a list of the movies I want to see this year in the theater. So far I’ve seen all the ones I called as a must-see and missed all the others (which, so far, is just Speed Racer).

When I go to the theater, I love to see the previews. I consider them an art unto themselves. It can’t be easy to tease an unfinished movie by pulling out the enticing bits and telling you just enough to get you interested in the story without revealing the whole thing. Good editors can even make a bad movie look great. Conversely, great movies can be hidden behind a poor trailer. But a great movie with a great trailer makes you sit up and go, “wow!”

The problem with seeing all these previews is that they are essentially commercials. Commercials are made to make you want to purchase something you didn’t know you needed. They are there to separate you from your money. So for me, loving trailers is a two-edged sword.

Case in point: when we saw our double-feature, I saw trailers for movies I somehow hadn’t heard about before, and newer trailers for movies I was already somewhat interested in. Then I read Lee’s review of The Incredible Hulk. I thought I was set with my list for the summer, but now it seems I have some revision to do.

So here’s the new list, in order of release, with release date (and my thoughts, if I’ve seen it). Boldface indicates movies I will not miss in the theaters. Italics are the ones I’m going to whine about incessantly if I miss in the theater – the ones that it hurts me to not put in bold. The others I will be disappointed if I have to miss for one reason or another, but once I see them on video I’ll be okay:

  1. Iron Man – May 2 (review)
  2. Speed Racer – May 9 (judging by general reaction, glad I missed it)
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – May 16 (review)
  4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – May 22 (review)
  5. The Incredible Hulk – June 13 (This is so close to being in bold it’s not even funny)
  6. Get Smart – June 20
  7. Wall-E – June 27
  8. Hancock – July 2
  9. The Dark Knight – July 18
  10. The X-Files: I want to believe – July 25
  11. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer – August 1
  12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars – August 15
  13. City of Ember – October 10
  14. Quantum of Solace (James Bond) – November 7

The astute among you (i.e., the ones who have nothing better to do but follow the minutiae of these posts) will notice that City of Ember was added to the list. Bill Murray and Tim Robbins in a sci-fi adventure movie. I love Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, and I love sci-fi adventure, but I would not be sold by that pairing. It’s on my list. That’s the power of a trailer.

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Hancock has also been upgraded to painfully close to a must-see (as has Hulk). When I saw the first trailer, it looked like a fun, but relatively light, superhero movie. This most recent trailer shows that it actually has a plot of redemption and seems well formed. (And they even surpassed the whale bit for funny. Jason Bateman is perfect for this movie.)

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So many movies… so little time.