Category Archives: Movies

iReview :: SUPERMAN THE MOVIE: Extended Cut

Still the “Gold Standard” by which all superhero blockbusters should be measured, director Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE gets a new Blu-ray release of the very rarely seen “3-Hour Long” TV Version!

 

In 1978 director Richard Donner did more than just prove that a man could fly — he made moviegoers believe in a super hero, and it made their hearts soar! Superman The Movie has since become one of the cinema’s most beloved adaptations of the DC Comics icon. The film inspired a franchise that has endured for decades, would incite the studios to seek out their own big screen counterparts, and that’s not to mention how many industry creatives, including DC Comics own Geoff Johns, who were indelibly impacted by the success of the film.

The feature length film was huge at the box office and would be followed by an equally successful sequel; Superman II would itself be well received by critics and audiences alike, though the film would be highly scrutinized and years later fans would learn of the conflicting personalities behind-the-scenes. When the original Superman The Movie made its way to primetime television, the film would receive a “Special Edition” redux and not long after, in a very special televised event, it would be exhibited in a re-edited 3-hour-long TV Version.

Though the Special Edition release has been commercially available on Blu-ray ever since the turn of the new millennium, it’s 3-hour-long cut has only just been given the same attention. For nearly 3 decades this version of Superman The Movie has gone unseen by many, and although it’s being hailed as the “definite” version of the film, it doesn’t diminish the greatness of Richard Donner’s vision. In an era of filmmaking that has become jaded to or expectant of “director’s cuts” or “extended versions” of theatricals Superman The Movie was way ahead of the curve.

A Man Could Fly

I’m reminded of the exhilaration I felt that first time sitting in a darkened movie theater whenever I see that curtain opening at the beginning of Superman The Movie and the opening notes to John Williams’ score. Donner’s movie intro harkens back to the origins of the Man of Steel, who was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster during the Great Depression. The character became a beacon of hope for many who felt powerless and stifled by the threat of war and poverty. Superman inspired a purpose; his incredulous deeds and powers made possible the impossible!

More than 75 years later, Superman is still DC Comics most iconic character and is as relevant a part of the motion picture franchise. The hero will be among the line-up that makes up part of the most anticipated cast of heroes to headline a full-length blockbuster when Justice League launches worldwide in November. In the heroes most recent big-screen incarnation, he is played by Henry Cavill (who will reprise his role in JL) who embodied the Lost Son of Krypton first in Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel released in 2013.

When Cavill returned to the world of DC Comics it was for 2016s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice also directed by Snyder, the film would mark the first time in contemporary cinema that both Batman and Superman, along with Wonder Woman would be appearing on film together. The event would also set the stage for what fans had long hoped would be the case, the inauguration of the expanded cinematic universe that would include a linked-up continuity that would match the pace established by the Marvel Films.

Though the feature-length film received very mixed reviews, it’s the Extended Cut released for home exhibition that truly fully incapsulated the story that should have been played for audiences in theaters. Through the reedit, Snyder was able to flesh out more character nuances and add some filler to scenes that felt stunted in the theatrical release. BvS The Extended Cut benefitted from its release and undoubtedly rallied the troops especially after the successful reception that its follow-up film Wonder Woman got.

3-Hours More Super!

Before the advent and popularization of the now very common post-theatrical release of the “Director’s Cut” of a film, Superman The Movie: Extended Cut was way ahead of its time in delivering a more full-bodied narrative to its audience. The film just released on Blu-ray finally puts into the hands of fans a 188 minute cut of the film, that is a touch different from the “Special Edition” version that was released in 2000, and is touted as the director Richard Donner’s definitive version of the film.

The pace of the film is much more deliberate; the added scenes allow for more story to evolve for example, for the film opens on the planet of Krypton, Jor-El (portrayed by the legendary Marlon Brandon) has just sentenced three criminals to the Phantom Zone (who will infamously return in the sequel to spell doom for Superman). The following scene has Jor-El confronting the Kryptonian council on the theory that their planet will soon face its own destruction, and unless they do something quick, their race will become extinct.

Although Jor-El promises that neither he or his wife Lara will leave the planet, the council detect an energy signature coming from his lab that would suggest they are likely preparing to evacuate and send a sentry to capture Jor-El. Unfortunately, Jor-El’s prediction comes true and the planet begins to crumble, but not before he sends his infant son Kal-El into space. The destruction of Krypton is much longer as its citizens make haste to try to escape, a futile attempt, and as Kal-El’s rocket soars into deep space along its trajectory to Earth, it passes the Phantom Zone prisoners.

When the baby finally arrives on Earth, he is rescued and raised by The Kents in Smallville, Kansas. As an adolescent the young Clark Kent (Kal-El’s new adopted name) must keep his powers a secret from everyone around him. Inevitably Clark must leave home, and after his father dies, he is determined to uncover his true nature. There are extended moments from Clark’s moments on the field in Smallville, and after his dad passes away, his journey North is much more perilous, as we get a better idea of the terrain he crossed before finding the Fortress of Solitude.

The extended scenes runout plenty of the film’s quieter moments, giving breath to scenes like Clark’s first day at the Daily Planet and when he first meets Lois Lane. Christopher Reeve perfectly captures the moment as he sits across from Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane for the first time and takes her in — for Clark it’s love at first sight. The scenes that don’t work all that well are the ones that are applied to Lex Luthor’s backstory. Although the criminal mastermind is expertly played by Gene Hackman, the additional buffoonery doesn’t do him any favors.

Superman The Movie: Extended Cut is worth the experience, and will appease the die-hard fan, but for the definite extended experience the “Special Edition” release is just as eloquent and charming as is the Theatrical Version equally well executed.

Superman The Movie: Extended Cut 2-Film Collection is now available on Blu-ray and can be purchased through the WB Shop www.shopdcentertainment.com.

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Tickets Go On Sale for JUSTICE LEAGUE!

Get ready to join the Justice League when the DC Comics heroes finally arrive on the big screen, you can be among the first to see them in action. Tickets are now available via Fandango!

The time is drawing nearer and with tickets for Justice League finally going on sale, fans will have an opportunity to be among the first to see the team come together. Gal Gadot returns as the Amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman joining Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader! When a threat too big for either of them to handle alone threatens the earth, Batman decides to recruit a team of adventures to prove they can’t save the world alone!

Buy your tickets in advance from Fandango and get this exclusive Justice League poster art!

Check out the exclusive Teaser Trailer appearing on Fandango and visit the site here to purchase advance tickets. Fandango VIP ticket-buyers will also be given the opportunity to receive an exclusive and complimentary Justice League movie poster that won’t be available anywhere else! Perfectly capturing the members of the super powered epic that is already getting some brilliantly positive buzz.

The Justice League will unite on the big screen Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and introduce Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg who will join forces to prevent an apocalypse!

On November 17 Justice League will be released and distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures! Get ready to POWER UP!

 

Coming Soon: THE NEW MUTANTS First Look Trailer is here!

The X-Men’s Universe is about to get very dark! 20th Century Fox has released its first trailer for the upcoming next installment of their highly successor X-Men films franchise. The highly provocative “first look” at The New Mutants sets up some very sinister implications of a world that not only fears and hunts the extraordinarily gifted among them, but exists to frighten them most into submission!

Here is a look at the trailer:

The film directed by Josh Boone is an adaptation of the premiere spin-off of the Marvel Comics comic book The Uncanny X-Men which expanded the world of the imprints most popular characters at the time by including a “new generation” of untrained young people who were also gathered together by Professor Charles Xavier, the X-Men’s mentor and founder. The series was written by Chris Claremont who is responsible for the X-Men’s best-selling run.

Among the familiar faces appearing in the film which will be released in 2018, Game of Thrones fans will recognize Maisie Williams who will embody (most appropriately) the role of Rahne Sinclair, the ferrel beauty known as Wolfsbane. In the book, Rahne is the most obvious link between the two team, being the niece of Dr. Moira MacTaggert, a colleague of Professor X’s who is played by actress Rose Byrne in the films.

Other familiar “New Mutants” that will be appearing in the film include Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot and Magik, the younger sister of the X-Men known as Colossus. The New Mutants is released through 20th Century Fox and will be released in theaters in 2018.

Cover2CVR :: JUSTICE LEAGUE in EMPIRE

Join the LEAGUE! The cover of EMPIRE Magazine puts the JUSTICE LEAGUE front and center…and fanboys everywhere rejoice!

If you’re not yet excited about the upcoming release of the Justice League movie, maybe you’re still suffering PTSD symptoms after 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — which is understandable — though the recent success of Wonder Woman should be taken as hopeful indicator and inspired audiences everywhere that there is hope! One thing is certain, as the premiere date gets closer and the anticipation tightens, the league are looking pretty cool!

On the cover of the latest issue of EMPIRE Magazine the Justice League have been assembled — and that’s not a play on words just because filmmaker Joss Whedon has been recruited to wrap up production on the latest installment of Warner Bros. expanding DC Comics cinematic universe — the Marvel’s Avengers director stepped in for Zack Snyder when a family tragedy forced him to move aside. It has been confirmed recently that Snyder’s will remain credited as “director”.

Come Together

The journey to cinematic blockbuster has been a long one for Justice League and especially dodgy for Warner Bros. Studios and their line of DC based films. The franchise has had an ebb and flow of popularity with audiences; not to mention the competitive pace that’s been set by the Marvel Studios films which have successfully generated a serialized universe that has also recently partnered with Sony to incorporate a certain web-slinger into the mix.

From a Hollywood studio point of view, Warner Bros. and DC have a lot to catch up on. They were certainly given a leg up with the narratively successful take on the Batman when visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan took over that franchise. Nolan and his team of creatives have continued their association with the studio and DC, upon completion of his Dark Knight Trilogy. The reins were ceremoniously passed to Snyder who launched a universe with Man of Steel.

Starring Henry Cavill as Superman, perhaps the most iconic superhero in the entire pantheon of comic book characters, Man of Steel raised many an eyebrow with its darker and more apocalyptic tone. The Superman mythology is one that is often associated with aspiration and hope, and when its follow-up the 2016 teaming up of Batman v Superman hit theaters, it continued on a trajectory that made many moviegoers wonder whether the DC universe was a place worth visiting.

With the advent success of Wonder Woman featuring Gal Gadot in the titular role as the Amazing Amazon, first introduced as part of the trinity in BvS it all seemed to change! Wonder Woman who will star prominently alongside Ben Affleck in Justice League has proven enough of a draw in her own right to raise anticipation and ignite excitement for the first blockbuster to bring the fabled team of DC Comics heavy hitters together on the big screen.

The Justice League Covered

The cast has been making the rounds have appeared as a united front at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con sans Cavill, who has been very secretive about Superman’s role in the film — many suspect that after the hero’s seemingly final moments in BvS he may have become a pawn of the invading alien armies and may not be on the side of the angels when JL hits theaters in November. Regardless EMPIRE Magazine covered the team brilliant in their new issue.

With words by Chris Hewitt the article dives into the behind-the-scenes construction of perhaps the biggest movie ever made (at least until Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War comes to light) and especially the passing of the baton between filmmakers. With Whedon tightening up the post-production of JL and doing some script-doctoring, many have speculated the writer/director famous for his lighter touch has gifted JL with more colorful dialogue.

In the article Hewitt cites the recent reshoots that have recently concluded and will continue to factor nearly into the 11th hour, as Whedon works steadily to finish editing Justice League. Everyone is very hopeful that when the film is complete it will shape-up as one of the best for DC and herald the age of its expanded cinematic universe which will continue with The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg the additional members of the league to appear in the blockbuster.

Justice League arrives in theaters in November. The latest issue of EMPIRE Magazine with the team on the cover is currently on newsstands!

Among the collectibles rolling out in support of the film a series of action figures have been released capturing the group likenesses. Here is THE FLASH!

SPIDER-MAN Comes Home to Marvel Films

He’s been “amazing” and “spectacular” but Peter Parker — the SPIDER-MAN has never had a HOMECOMING like this! However will the web-slinger stand on his own after joining the CIVIL WAR?

Of any other superhero in film, with the exception of perhaps the Batman, everyone’s favorite web-slinger Spider-Man has proven blockbuster gold for Sony Pictures, a fact not lost on the studio who only recently loosened its noose on the Marvel Comics character allowing him to join the Marvel Films cinematic universe! It’s quite appropriate then that the hero’s next silver screen outing has secured as its title Spider-Man: Homecoming since the last time we saw Spidey he was taking on some pretty heavy guns in Captain America: Civil War.

Spider-Man first swung into action joining the rest of the Marvel Films characters in “Captain America: Civil War” now Peter (Tom Holland) is coming home!

Stepping into the very famous spandex will be Tom Holland who did a pretty good job of going toe-to-toe alongside Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) against his longtime Avengers teammate Captain America (Chris Evans) when that group of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes found themselves on opposite sides of the issue. It’s fair to say that young Peter Parker got himself caught up in the middle of the beef when his hero, industrialist Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) persuades the high schooler to fight for his side!

Back In The Swing of Things

We’re about to find out whether or not that was a good decision on Peter’s part, after all, he’s got to come back home to New York City and pick things up where he left off. Directed by Jon Watts this Spider-Man feature is promising to borrow less from its five predecessors, and set up its own web of intrigue. For starters, it will assume that everyone is already invested in our friendly neighborhood amazing Spider-Man and his origin will not be a primary play of the narrative that ensues. We all get it — Peter Parker (Holland) is bit by a radioactive spider, etc.

The film’s arc will apparently pick up shortly after Peter returns from his escapade helping Tony take down Cap and his crew. An eager Mr. Parker is now eager to prove he’s got what it takes to join the ranks of the mighty Avengers, but he’s got homework and high school to think about first. That’s right, Peter is back in high school and this 15-year old is trying to balance term papers and fighting crime. Then there’s the appearance of the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. Everything starts to unravel for Peter when this hi-tech avian hitman moves in on his territory.

Spidey saves the day in one of the film’s most daring scenes which combined practical and CGI effects to bring to life his death-defying rescue of the Staten Island Ferry.

Spider-Man: Homecoming will mark the first appearance of the Vulture, one of the classic villains in the character’s rogues gallery. Adrian Toomes first plague our hero’s existence in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 published by Marvel Comics in 1963. Toomes is depicted as a brilliant inventor who scavenges technology from the Avengers first battle against the alien forces that rained down on New York City in Marvel’s Avengers. Envious of Tony Stark, Toomes has decided to outwit Iron Man and instead will find himself facing off against the two heroes.

Already Spider-Man: Homecoming is winning over fans especially of the established Marvel Films cinematic universe who have been looking forward to seeing this character join the rest of the line-up. With the Avengers: Infinity War promising to deal a dark hand to some of the long-standing heroes that have been apart of this universe (including Agents of SHIELD and Netflix’s Defenders cast) Peter better be careful what he wishes for. Spider-Man has been already been confirmed to play his part in that storyline which will bring everyone together to battle Thanos.

Spider-Man: Homecoming opens in theaters nationwide on July 7 and is distributed by Sony Pictures in collaboration with Marvel Films.

iReview :: TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight

The world of the Transformers is on the verge of collapse and as far as their concerned, they’re taking everyone — including the human race — with them. How can the two races survive when their leader Optimus Prime has been turned into an instrument of destruction in The Last Knight!

Whether you’ve been a fan of director Michael Bay’s Transformers film franchise or not, one thing is for certain, it was the only toy-turned-big-screen star to survive the boom of the new millennium. Hasbro, the toy manufacturer that holds the claim on the property, also attempted to get several of its other brands to crossover, but Transformers was the only one that stuck. A decade, and five films later, audiences are still filling multiplexes to catch their favorite alien robots duke it out!

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More than Meet the Eye

Perhaps the success of the Transformers can be easily equated to the nostalgia factor of the brand. Based on the toy line from the 80s that gave rise to the equally popular animated adventures, the enhanced mythology that has been built around this property has far-reaching resonance with its audience. The idea was always very cutting edge; the origins of these technological marvels, robots from a far off planet called Cybertron engaged in a civil war that lands them millions of miles away from home, and forced to hide in plain sight on Earth.

The evil Decepticons, conquerors by nature, are now determined to rape the planet Earth of its raw resources in an effort to return to their home planet and defeat their enemies, the Autobots, a heroic group of rebels lead by Optimus Prime. The human race finds itself caught in the middle of these two titans as the battle escalates, and the power struggle between the two forces threatens to upend all the good that could come from these newfound allies. When Michael Bay launched the franchise in 2007 with Transformers the film was an instant hit!

Fate of The Last Knight

With the recent trend among movie studios now to dilute franchise fatigue by simply “rebooting” the same brand every other year or so, dusting off some of the old and retooling casts and elaborating on the “origin story” formula, when Paramount Pictures decided that Transformers needed some refreshing, they asked Bay to “move things in a slightly different direction”. The last film Age of Extinction did away with most of the previous three films core group of characters, and recast a proven action hero Mark Wahlberg as the lead human.

His everyman mechanic/inventor Cade Yeager was a step-up from the millennially marketed hero that was keeping the driver’s seat warm. The robots, of course, are the real stars of the film, but Wahlberg brought a new kind of legitimacy to the franchise and was able to kickstart the franchise’s “Generation 2” act which pushed the mythology of the Transformers further than the previous installments. Though the intention all along to build on the world of the alien robots and their connection with the human race was something that Bay profited from putting forward.

Now with the fifth film Transformers: The Last Knight there are suggestions that this will be the last one, at least in this series, and perhaps this may be true especially since its director capitalized from including story points from across the previous films to tightly wrap things up, but also leave a very important plot point hanging just in reach for the inevitable follow-up. What sets this episode apart from its predecessors is how much more richly developed the story is; the narrative is so much more inviting regardless of whether audiences were connected to the previous four films’ narrative or not.

The Transformers are all mostly fugitives being hunted down by humans who want them off the planet and gone, especially after the events that ravaged Chicago (see Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and have gone into hiding along with Cade, but there appears to be an object moving towards the earth and threatening it with annihilation! The humans strike up a bargain with the evil Decepticons, when they learn that Cade is in possession of an amulet that prophecies the arrival of the “last knight”.

It all leads to the inevitable final battle with the humans caught in the middle and Optimus Prime’s alliances in question!

And although everything may feel as if it was tightly wrapped up and delivered to an end, there is that particularly significant plot point mentioned earlier. Among all the Transformers, perhaps the most dangerous has proven the planet-sized devourer called Unicron first introduced in the 1985 animated full-length feature Transformers: The Movie. That creature we learn lies dormant and embedded within our very planet, and it is threatening to awakening soon! So what will that mean for the Earth itself? We’ll have to wait and see!

See the trailer here:

Transformer: The Last Knight directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel and Laura Haddock is now showing in theaters everywhere and is distributed by Paramount Pictures.