Friday, July 20, 2012

Superman Returns * * * 1/2

People attending The Dark Knight Rises today will be treated to the first trailer for Man of Steel, which is due out next summer.  This is the latest attempt to reboot the Superman series, just coming seven years after the last attempt, which was Superman Returns.  Superman Returns is not so much of a reboot as it is a sequel that is also highly reminiscent of the 1978 Superman movie.  A few parts of it feel like echoes of the previous film with new twists.  Whether or not you will like Superman Returns depends upon your taste, but it is highly reminiscent of the 1978 Superman movie, which I loved, while exploring new territory that is interesting.

Superman Returns
 explores the Superman story in a post 9-11 world.  After a trip to find his home planet, Superman returns to earth to find that Lois Lane is married and has a child.  It is a world that has mostly forgotten about superheroes.  

I assume that those still interested in Superman are looking forward to Man of Steel.  By now, Superman Returns has largely been forgotten.  Still, the movie received 76% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and I think that it is underrated.  If you fell in love with the first Superman movie,  as I did, then this film has everything you could want.  Watching this movie felt nostalgic, because it does echo some key points from the first movie, but there is enough new material to make it into a good film.  Casting Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor was an act of genius.  He is is brilliant in this movie.

If there are negatives to the movie, it is that it is a little more brooding and that Brandon Routh  doesn't quite look the part.  The 1978 Superman movie states that Superman weighs 220 pounds.  Christopher Reeve bulked up for the movie and really did weigh 220 pounds.  Superman Returns states that Superman weighs only 120 pounds, and the contradiction bothered me. Although Brandon Routh does look somewhat like Christopher Reeve, he also looks too thin for the part.  People expect their superheroes to have some mass on them. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Milk * * *.5

Harvey Milk was a 40 year old gay insurance man who moved to San Francisco and turned into a political activist for gay rights.  He was very successful at attracting other gay men to the Castro street area of San Francisco and organizing them into a substantial political movement.  After three attempts, he was elected to city board of supervisors of San Francisco, making him the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.  Once in office, he fought for a variety of liberal issues, including gay rights.  His biggest victory was to lead a statewide campaign to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have fired all homosexual teachers.

Once in office, Harvey Milk developed a working relationship with Dan White, another city supervisor.  At first this relationship was amicable, but it turned increasingly confrontational as the two men disagreed on issues.  Dan White resigned as supervisor because of his frustration over low pay.  Later he tried to get his job back, but the Mayor refused.  On November 27, 1978, Dan White assassinated both the Mayor and Harvey Milk.

Harvey Milk's death lead to 30,000 people holding a candle light vigil at City Hall.  Dan White's trial resulted in him being convicted on lessor charges and getting a light sentence that seems unreasonable considering the severity of his crimes.  This light sentence sparked violent riots in San Francisco.

The movie portrays Harvey Milk as somewhat nervous, but likable, charismatic and a great speech maker.  The fact that he is a likable character is important in a movie like this.  Most of the gay characters in this movie are likable.  Although I don't know if these people were really the same as the movie portrays them to be, the movie gives us a strong sense that they were fighting for a just cause.  It would be hard to watch this movie and not be somewhat persuaded and moved.

The movie does not try to gloss over that these characters are gay and engage in homosexual acts.  It tries to show the way things were.

What makes this movie a really good film that you will want to watch at least twice?  Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as White both prove what outstanding actors they are.  Sean Penn is truly amazing in this movie and won the Academy Award for Best Actor.  Many of the supporting actors also give really good performances.  Other than the acting, it is hard for me to pinpoint why I liked the movie so much.  Part of it has to do with it being a historical drama, but the rest is that it is just a very interesting story.

Milk is available on DVD and is rated R.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Roger Ebert on the Higgs Boson

"Every second at the Large Hadron Collider, enough data is generated to fill more than 1,000 one-terabyte hard drives -- more than the information in all the world's libraries. The logistics of filtering and analyzing the data to find the Higgs particle peeking out under a mountain of noise, not to mention running the most complex machine humans have ever built, is itself a triumph of technology and computational wizardry of unprecedented magnitude."

"My childhood question remains unanswered: "Why is there something and not nothing?" No scientist at Geneva, to my knowledge, has asked why there is a Higgs boson and not a Higgs boson? But they now know that there is something and not nothing, and they have seen it and identified it and named it and it is as they thought it would be. That is an enormous discovery to come during our lifetimes...

I don't understand the Higgs boson in the way a theoretical physicist does. What I know is that inside that mountain on the Swiss-French border, they went looking for something and they found it. They will keep on looking for centuries after we are dead. Maybe someday they will find God. Wouldn't that be a gas? Whatever they find, they will find more and more and more. It's not turtles all the way down."***

Roger Ebert   

*** This is a reference to a Stephen Hawking story:

Monday, July 9, 2012

FW: Movies?

From: Witmer, Robert


Spider Man


While sitting in the theater I thought, this is the same story different day.  But after listening to some of the reviews I liked it much better.  The main positive points are that  this Peter Parker has more sides to him than the previous versions of his character.  The negatives I agreed with were that the monster was pretty shallow.  The writers missed a big opportunity to a better story with a “Jekyll and Hyde” subplot.



Act of Valor


Pretty cheesy acting but I still liked it for the attempts at realism and sincerity.



Johnny English Reborn


I’m starting to like this guy.



We bought a Zoo.


Not the goofy movie I thought it would be and was pleasantly surprised.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Iron Sky

Watch the trailer and try not to laugh.

40% of Rotten Tomatoes, but I think that it might still be good for a laugh.  I don't know if this is a comedy, but it definitely should be.  I just checked the credits:  No Mel Brooks.