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Movie Review: Man of Steel

man-steel-640

Source: Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

‘Man of Steel’ Review: This Grimmer ‘Superman’ Might Not Soar, But It Flies

Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s take on Superman isn’t perfect, but it’s provocative enough to be a successful tentpole

In 1986, DC Comics published two titles that would forever push the superhero genre toward what has been known as the “grim and gritty” look — Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” (whose tough-guy expressionism inspired both Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s subsequent screen versions of Batman) and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen” (which spawned Zack Snyder’s nice-try effort to wrestle this dark and complex graphic novel to the screen).

Now Snyder (director) and Nolan (producer, shared story credit) have teamed up on the iconographic DC Comics character who seemed impossible to bring into the “grim and gritty”— Superman. Many characters (and comics readers) of the post-1986 landscape have disparaged the legendary superhero as a “big blue boy scout” for his primary-colored uniform and lack of moral ambiguity, but “Man of Steel” sets out to darken up the last son of Krypton and to fit him to the current trend of brooding, haunted vigilantes.

For the most part, it works; in the previous big-screen treatments of the character, we’ve never seen a pubescent Clark Kent deal with the disconcerting sensory overload of suddenly realizing he can hear things from miles away and see through everyone’s skin with his X-ray vision. When teen Clark saves his classmates from a terrifying bus accident (which calls to mind the horrifying opening sequence of Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter”), it’s less cause for celebration than a moment of adolescent angst over the discovery of his difference. Nor have we ever seen a beginner Superman fall out of the sky while teaching himself to fly.

Even that iconic costume emerges in darker hues — the blues are blackish and the reds are more wine-colored. (He’s still ignoring Edna Mode’s “No capes!” rule, which implies that “The Incredibles” doesn’t exist in this film’s world.)

“Man of Steel” begins as Krypton is on the brink of destruction, with the ruling council ignoring the pleas of scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) to figure out a way to save the planet’s bloodlines. Jor-El’s onetime friend General Zod (Michael Shannon) picks that moment to stage a coup, which is akin to seizing the bridge on the Titanic, and even though everyone knows the planet is about to be destroyed, Zod and his minions are still exiled into space as punishment for their treason. (Which makes no sense, but it’s one of the few obvious fumbles in the screenplay by David S. Goyer.)

Baby Kal-El rockets his way to Earth, but the movie leaps forward to adult Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) working on a fishing trawler to get close enough to rescue derrick workers from an oil rig fire, all the while attempting to do so in secret. He eventually hears about an Antarctic expedition that piques his interest, and which provides him with the opportunity to come face to face with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who’s there to do a story on a strange object that’s been found in the ice.

That object is a Kryptonian ship that contains Jor-El’s life memories in its computer, and as Clark flies it away to commune with the father he never knew, Lois traces the mystery man’s identity all the way back to Smallville, where Clark was raised by his adoptive parents Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane), whose values of basic decency and responsibility we see them impart to their alien son in flashback.

By the time Clark puts on the suit, Zod and his crew come out of stasis and take over Earth’s transmissions, demanding that Kal-El be handed over to them, and then it’s fight-fight-fight. It’s worth noting that the melees are pretty spectacular, particularly since both sides are still getting used to their powers on Earth, but there are perhaps one or two too many of them. (The movie runs 140 minutes and feels like it could lose at least ten of them.)

The performances here resonate, though: Cavill gets the character’s square-jawed forthrightness down without sacrificing too much of Clark/Kal’s uncertainty and even bewilderment; his performance and Goyer’s script both go a long way in presenting this character as powerful but not invulnerable, which automatically makes him more interesting. (Bullets still bounce off of him, but the impact makes him flinch.)

The appealing Adams, again with the script’s support, may be the first actress who plays Lois Lane not as a 1930’s-style “girl reporter” but instead as an actual journalist who happens to be a woman. Shannon can, of course, do the villain thing in his sleep by now, and while his Zod doesn’t have the shadings of, say, the hired killer of “The Iceman,” the actor still makes an impact.

There’s no question that the movie reflects current trends in action and superhero movies, from one character’s sacrifice that feels like what a Spider-Man fan might call a “reverse Uncle Ben” to the shameless trafficking in 9/11 imagery: Like “Star Trek Into Darkness,” another reboot that’s also a remake of a sequel, we get planes flying into buildings. “Man of Steel” ups that ante with dust-covered civilians rescuing each other from urban rubble as well.

One major plot twist, which will not be revealed here, promises to spark debate and controversy amongst longtime Superman buffs; if you thought “organic web shooters” was the stuff that message board flame-wars were made of, you ain’t seen nothing yet. (And fans of product-placement drinking games should keep an eye peeled for the many, many on-screen appearances of Sears, IHOP and 7-Eleven.)

All in all, however, this “Man of Steel” flies, even if it doesn’t quite soar. Snyder’s direction feels far more assured than it did in the misfires of “Watchmen” and especially “Sucker Punch,” and now that the requisite first-movie origin story has been accomplished, the movie lays the ground for what could be some thrilling sequels featuring a Superman who’s both exactly what people want to see and a significantly different take on a well-established character.

Hot Toys DX01 The Joker (The Dark Knight) Review

I saw this review of the amazing new Hot Toys DX01 Joker on YouTube and thought I would share it with you. They mention a competitor of ours as a source to get the TrueType body, but we carry these as well.

Flash Forward: QED

qed

While I take a couple of days to digest episode 8 “Rules of the Game” of Flash Forward, I leave you with an explanation of what QED is. While sniping back and forth during their poker game, Lloyd and Simon threw this acronym at each other.

QED

Q.E.D. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum, which literally means “which was to be demonstrated”. The phrase is written in its abbreviated form at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument to signify that the last statement deduced was the one to be demonstrated; the abbreviation thus signals the completion of the proof.

Etymology and early use

The phrase is a translation into Latin from Greek ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι (hoper edei deixai; abbreviated as ΟΕΔ), a phrase used by many early mathematicians, including Euclid and Archimedes. These mathematicians, in particular Euclid, are credited with founding axiomatic mathematics with its emphasis on establishing truths by logical deduction (rather than experimentation or assertion); their use of this phrase symbolizes this emphasis, as well as marking this important step in the development of mathematical philosophy.

Modern philosophy

In the European Renaissance, scholars often wrote in Latin, and phrases such as Q.E.D. were often used to conclude proofs.

Perhaps the most famous use of Q.E.D. in a philosophical argument is found in the Ethics of Baruch Spinoza, published posthumously in 1677. Written in Latin, it is considered by many to be Spinoza’s magnum opus. The style and system of the book is, as Spinoza says, “demonstrated in geometrical order”, with axioms and definitions followed by propositions. For Spinoza, this is a considerable improvement over René Descartes’s writing style in the Meditations, which follows the form of a diary.

Q.E.F.

There is another Latin phrase with a slightly different meaning, and less common in usage. Quod erat faciendum is translated as “which was to have been done”. This is usually shortened to Q.E.F. The expression quod erat faciendum is a translation of the Greek geometers’ closing ὅπερ ἔδει ποιῆσαι (hoper edei poiēsai). Euclid used this phrase to close propositions which were not proofs of theorems, but constructions. For example, Euclid’s first proposition shows how to construct an equilateral triangle given one side.

Equivalents in other languages

Q.E.D. has acquired many translations in various foreign languages. In French, German, Italian and Russian (with English, the main languages of modern Western mathematics) it is respectively C.Q.F.D., for ce qu’il fallait démontrer (or sometimes ce qui finit la démonstration), W.Z.B.W. for was zu beweisen war, C.V.D. for come volevasi dimostrare, and ч.т.д., for что и требовалось доказать. In Spanish and Portuguese it is Q.E.D. for Quedo esto demostrado. There does not appear to be a common formal English equivalent, though the end of a proof may be announced with a simple statement such as “this completes the proof” or a similar locution. Most modern math textbooks in English end proofs with a symbol, often square. (See below.) In modern Greek texts sometimes the initials ο.ε.δ. (for ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι) are used at the end of a mathematical proof.

Electronic forms

When typesetting was done by a compositor with letterpress printing, complex typography such as mathematics and foreign languages were called “penalty copy” (the author paid a “penalty” to have them typeset, as it was harder than plain text). With the advent of systems such as LaTeX, mathematicians found their options more open, so there are several symbolic alternatives in use, either in the input, the output, or both. When creating TeX, Knuth provided the symbol ■ (solid black square), also called by mathematicians tombstone or Halmos symbol (after Paul Halmos, who pioneered its use). The tombstone is sometimes open: □ (hollow black square). Unicode explicitly provides the “End of Proof” character U+220E (∎), but also offers ▮ (U+25AE, black vertical rectangle) and ‣ (U+2023, triangular bullet) as alternatives. Some authors have adopted variants of this notation with other symbols, such as two forward slashes (//), or simply some vertical white space.

In popular culture

The 1982 US television series Q.E.D. starred Sam Waterston as Professor Quentin Everett Deverill, an American detective in Edwardian England who uses a style of logical deduction similar to that of Sherlock Holmes. Hence, the show’s title derives both from the protagonist’s initials (by which he is primarily known), as well as the logical proofs he presents.

Douglas Adams‘ franchise, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, famously uses Q.E.D. to conclude its Babel fish proof, which determines that God no longer exists because the Babel fish is too improbable to have evolved by pure chance; therefore the Babel fish was a proof for God, and as Faith involves no proof, there was no God, QED (using humorous fallacy to mock teleology and intelligent design principles).

Source: Wikipedia

Flash Forward: Ghost in the Machine (Spoiler Alert!)

alreadyghostsAl Gough jumped.

With that, the rules of Flash Forward changed.  People with flashforwards can actually die before their flashforward occurs. Also, this means that people who have had flashforwards might not necessarily live to see them come true.

Celia's FlyerWe find out early in the episode that Celia is left a flyer on her car windshield. It is for www.alreadyghosts.com (which is a real Web site, which directs you to ABC’s home site for Flash Forward). On the back of the flyer, someone wrote “We know you are one of us.” We can also assume that Demetri received the same flyer since we see him surfing that site.

Aaron is visited by a soldier, Mike, who served with his daughter Tracy. He gives Aaron a gift from Tracy: a pocketknife Aaron gave her before she went overseas. Aaron interprets this as a sign that Tracy is still alive.

The FBI team receives a visit from Fiona Banks (Alex Kingston). Al and her discuss their common flashforward. Alex wishes there was a way for her to help the bird that crashed into the window and ease its pain. Al leaves the room in the flashforward to take a call from his attorney uttering the words “I killed her.”

We learn that many people did not have flashforwards. They refer to themselves as “Ghosts.” It seems some entrepreneurial ghosts have set up clubs for this unfortunate group of people. Each meeting has a different Dr. Raynaud. There is an LA club meeting that night.

190px-Raynaud's_SyndromeO.K., I need to do a sidebar here. Again, Flash Forward threw an interesting name at us: Raynaud. In medicine, Raynaud’s phenomenon (pronounced /reɪˈnoʊz/, us dict: rā·nōz′) is a vasospastic disorder causing discoloration of the fingers, toes, and occasionally other extremities. This condition can also cause nails to become brittle with longitudinal ridges. Named for French physician Maurice Raynaud (1834–1881), the cause of the phenomenon is believed to be the result of vasospasms that decrease blood supply to the respective regions. Emotional stress and cold are classic triggers of the phenomenon, and the discoloration follows a characteristic pattern in time: white, blue and red. Viola! The Blue Hand!

 

The Blue Hand ClubMark, Demetri, and Al head downtown to check out the club. They are handstamped with a blue hand. Once inside, one of them needs to play a game of Russian Roulette with a gun. Thinking that Demetri will take up the slack here since we know he is murdered on March 15th, 2010, it comes as a surprise that Al grabs the gun and plays. Al gets to keep the one bullet in the gun which as written on it “Not Today.”

Once inside the main club area, Mark finds another artifact from his board: a matchbook with “The Blue Hand” scribbled inside.

Aaron is revisited by soldier Mike who tells him he was with Tracy when she died. After their Humvee is bombed, he sees Tracy on the ground with one leg ripped off, apparently looking dead. Perhaps she is only unconscious, but Mike did not have time to take a pulse before he had to run for his life.

Back at The Blue Hand Club, things are really rocking. I don’t know about you, but if I had six months or less to live, getting waterboarded or electrocuted would not be on the top of my list of last things to do. The guys learn that people believe that the blue hand represents “a portal. A gateway from one understanding to another. It marks the surrender to the inevitable.” They stop that night’s Dr. Raynaud from killing himself. His reason for trying to off himself can be found in Nietzsche. “If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” Ironically, the potiental cliental for The Blue Hand Club are found using Mosaic.

In what will be a poignant scene after the show, we see Al making him a batch of dirty rice which was one of his favorite meals as a kid.

Demetri comes clean with Zoey about his flashforward. Zoey tries to comfort him in the fact that they have conflicting visions. They can choose which one they want to beleive in.

Aaron gets Mike a job with his company in return for giving him peace.

AlWe wind up the episode with Al leaving Demetri a letter for Celia. We are unsure what Al did to have caused Celia’s death, but obviously it has affected him enough to end his life to save hers. His attorney says it was an accident, but Al keeps insisting it was his fault and he killed her.

So Al jumps saying “I found a way to change the game.”

The episode ends with Aaron walking in his house after work to see his daughter sitting in a chair. “Hi Dad.”

Things we learned this week

The Police - Ghost In The Machine Album Mark Benford was wearing a The Police T-shirt to the Blue Hand Club. While there is some irony in that, I thought it was more interesting it was related to their Ghost in the Machine album.

Who is Annabelle and why does Simon have her bracelet. He was looking at it fondly with a sad look on his face. His child prehaps?

We find out that Nicole speaks Japanese. She is now volunteering at Olivia’s hospital. She knows Japanese culture too (her dad was stationed in Okinawa when she was a little girl). This coincidentally draws Bryce to her and he discusses his flashforward of his mystery girl with her. Nicole is able to help Bryce understand the symbol behind the drawing he has made of the mystery girl. The symbol means “believe.”

Back in London, Fiona puts masking tape on her office window, as Al suggested, so the bird won’t fly into the window and die.

Flash Forward: Halloween, Blue Hand, Quantum Superpositions, Kangaroos and David Bowie

First off, Happy Halloween. I posted some humorous Halloween pictures on another blog on our site earlier today, so check it out after you finish the Flash Forward review.

So Halloween came early this year (Thursday night to be exact). With episode 6 of Flash Forward aptly titled “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps”, we start seeing the future unfold for the Benfords.

But before we discuss the Benfords, let’s discuss David Bowie. Why?

Scary MonstersScary Monsters was one David Bowie’s greatest albums. Scary Monsters was a highly self-reflective album showing how haunted Bowie was by the destructive trappings of fame and superstardom. On the title track, ‘scary monsters and super freaks’ are metaphors for the drugged denizens of a phantasmagoric rock world. ‘When I looked in her eyes they were blue but there’s nobody home.’  I don’t know about eyes being blue but I do know about blue hands.

Episode 6 begins with Simon (Dominic Monaghan) seducing a pretty woman by telling her about “quantum superpositions” and “Schrödinger’s cat” while at the same time, Janis is being operated on to save her life. Like Schrödinger’s cat, she is somewhere between being both alive or dead. Nice metaphor.

Back in LA, Demetri and Agent Al Gough (Lee Thompson Young) head over to coroner’s office to see the bodies of the guys Janis took out in her ambush. Demetri notices a small blue hand on one of the bodies, which was one of the items on Mark’s case wall in his flashforward. Mark also mentioned “Baltimore” relating to the blue hand, so Demetri and Gough head over to Baltimore Street in Silver Lake, which is a few blocks away.

KangarooMeanwhile, while trick or treating, Mark, Aaron, and Charlie see a kangaroo hopping down the street (I loved the Sally outfit from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas that Nicole was wearing).

Dylan leaves the hospital and takes a bus to the Benford’s house. The writers were in full humor of having him wear a pimp costume. His exchange between mihothe bus driver and the guy on the bus defending his “miho” was funny and poignant at the same time.

Dylan walks past Nicole into the Benford’s house and gets himself a cookie from the rooster cookie jar explaining “It’s my house too.” We learn a bit later that Charlie told this to him when taking a cookie in their flashforward life.

Mark sees three guys wearing masks similar to the ones he sees in his flashforward. He chases after the guys (to the sounds of Bowie’s tune) and catches one in the cemetery. Turns out they were just kids afraid of getting caught toilet papering houses.

Demetri and Gough are on Baltimore Street following hand symbols where each hand has only a certain amount of fingers shown to indicate how far to go down the street. They end up at what appears to be an abandoned drug house with blood splattered on the walls and three dead bodies covered in sheets. On the body most visible, the left hand has been dipped in or painted blue.

Mark, Lloyd, and Olivia have a very awkward moment when Lloyd comes to pick up Dylan from their house. As Lloyd looks around, he recognizes the house from his flashforward and comes to realize that Oliva is his love interest in his future flashforward. Mark does not take this well at all, but it seemed to me that Lloyd seemed pretty smug about it. Lloyd states “You’re her” which Mark retorts “Not yet.”

 Olivia and Mark have words after Lloyd and Dylan leave. Mark accuses Olivia from hiding the truth and she confronts him about hiding the fact that he is drinking in his flashforward. Olivia isn’t sure she can stay with Mark since they cannot trust each other anymore.

At the end of the episode, Simon is waiting in Lloyd’s car. Lloyd is not glad to see him saying “our experiment killed 20 million people.”

New things we learned this week:

Simon’s flashforward was interesting. “He had a neck like an ox and smelled like a meat locker.” He explains that he choked the man to death and didn’t know who he was. Sounds like subway noise in the background, doesn’t it?

Lloyd is from Palo Alto, California.

Seems the show’s writers want us to keep thinking about China somehow being involved in the blackout. First we hear it at the hearings last week and it was mentioned by Gough again tonight. However, Demetri is pretty adamant that “China is a dead end” as he states this to Agent Gough.

Demetri and Janis were at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virgina together. Seems Janis drank Demetri under the table.

Olivia does a B-Lynch suture procedure on Janis which apparently will make her less likely to be able to get pregnant in the future.

Nuts to you, squirrelly-o! Toot-toot!

On one of the bodies is some evidence from the Rutherford case which has not began yet. Demetri states “It begins tonight.”

Who is Gough researching and why is it troubling him so much?

Finally, here is my Halloween treat to you; a sequential photo gallery of the blue hands seen in tonight’s episode.

Blue hand image on body

Blue hand on Stop sign on Baltimore Street

Blue hand with missing fingers

Abandoned house blue hand

Blue hand of dead body

Blue hand photograph

Flash Forward Rocks! Spoiler Alert!

Flash Forward Pic

I need to watch Flash Forward a second time before I blog on it, so probably Sunday I will have more to say.

In the meantime, I hope you will help me prepare a list of clues. Each week I will post an updated list for all to review.

Also, did anyone else see (or think they saw) signs, symbols, or other items from LOST? Did the blowing up of the island in LOST cause the blackout in Flash Forward?

Here is the start of my list:

April 29th, 2010
2 Minutes 17 Seconds
Kangaroo in the street
Three Stars Tattoo
Blue Hand
Mosaic
Man awake in the baseball statium in Detroit
D. Gibbons
Who Else Knows?

Stay Tuned!