Tag Archives: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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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Unboxing…The BATMAN

The action figure collectibles market is again booming thanks to toy makers eager to latch onto the adult collector!

The collectible action figure market has exceedingly grown up with its market, and never more so than in the last decade. Everyone from Hasbro, Mattel to competitively invested Japanese toy makers have invested in the fabrication of sculpting multi-articulated and artfully crafted figures that outweigh their appeal to capture adult collectors, and similarly attract younger investors. The DC Comics universe and all its brand expansion has generated some high-collectible interest especially in the last year.

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Medicom Toy manufacturers Batman action figure based on the film design appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is among one of the best on the market for a 6″ line.

With several movie and television licenses, and a limitless volume of publication imprints to their name, DC Comics must lead the charge on several toy lines that have grabbed collectors attention and garnered major excitement. Among one of the most anticipated films of the year, Warner Bros. launched the blockbuster season with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which expanded on the DC Comics Cinematic Universe and brought together on the big screen for the first time the “big three” including the film’s headliners and Wonder Woman.

The action figure roll out featured for all audiences a selection of 1:18 (3.75”), 1:12 (5”- 6”) and 1:10  (7”) scale at several different price levels. The DC Comics Multiverse line released prior to the BvS film’s premiere in theaters gave fans the first look at the characters distinct looks for the big screen with durably strong, variably articulated and heavily accessorized action figures for general play. The release was also accompanied by figures for the DC TV personalities including The Flash and Green Arrow as they appear in their respective television series.

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Though the likeness of these figures, the detailing and craftsmanship is admirable, for the adult collector, more recent releases will be far more attractive especially in the form of the action figure line from Japanese toy maker Medicom Toy. No. 017 in the line is part of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice series. Let’s examine the Batman action figure now available on the collectible market. I picked up my figure here in New York City’s Midtown Comics Grand Central Station location, and I was skeptical at first of picking up the figure.

The last Medicom figure I purchased was their version of Batman (V.1) as he appeared in The Dark Knight Rises and although the figure was highly-detailed, beautifully crafted and well articulated, it was extremely delicate in construction. The right arm on the initially purchased figure fell out of its socket when it was raised to shoulder height. I exchanged that figure, and the second also suffered from a similar limitation. I resorted to never moving the right arm to keep it in place. Already from the looks of the much sturdier BvS version, that isn’t a problem.

The detail alone on the 6″ figure is astounding. The figure is accurately sculpted to resemble actor Ben Affleck in the kevlar armor suit he dons for most of the film. The proportions are among the best ever for a figure of this size and appear to have been made from a laser scan of the actor in the suit itself. The brass-fitted detailing on the Batsuit, including the utility belt, gauntlet and steel-tipped boots are appropriately worn from battle. The cape is properly fitted under the cowl through to the shoulders and is wired to allow for dramatic poses.

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The figure is packed with movie-accurate accessories including a perfectly sized batarang, Batman’s signature grappling gun and the kryptonite grenade launcher the character uses in the film in defense against the Man of Steel. The action figure is hyper-articulated for an unimaginable number of positions and comes with a transparent stand to solidly pose the figure for display. By comparison to the similarly scaled DC Comics Multiverse figure from Mattel of about the same size, the Medicom figure is far superior and a much better buy for the price point.

The Mattel line, which is meant to appeal to a younger audience, and is manufactured for practical play, is a hunk of a 6″ figure, and for what it lacks in detail it makes up for in articulation, but the Medicom figure is in a class all of its own. Ideal for the serious collector, great for play and posing, this Batman v Superman Batman action figure is a delight. The first in a series that will also feature Superman and Wonder Woman in their movie accurate costume, Medicom is also releases a companion set of figures based on the cast of Suicide Squad to position alongside the expanding DC Comics cinematic universe.

A high-end line of action figures based on BvS from DC Collectibles will also be hitting the market under the brand title of “DC Films” and promises to deliver on the level of the Medicom Toy line, but in the meantime this series is a must have, and at a price mark of just under $50 they are well worth picking up.

On a “Dark Knight”…

One of the most influential stories in comics is gaining all new traction as Frank Miller prepares for another chapter in his “Dark Knight Saga”.

In 1986, when Frank Miller’s epic graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was igniting the imagination of comic book readers, I was sternly navigating away from all the buzz. After all, I was a staunch fan and dedicated to the competitor imprint and with the exception of The New Teen Titans and the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, I didn’t read a lot of DC Comics.

I was devoted to the adventures explored by The Uncanny X-Men and Spider-Man. I depended on my comic book heroes to be simple and accessible — relatable and in the context of a world that I felt I could inhabit.

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If it wasn’t for my comrade David Dayoub who had always a far more sophisticated taste than I — I would never have read Miller’s opus, which was a no-hold’s bar look the Batman mythology — it was a dystopian look at a “future” Gotham City that glimpsed our own reality, taking a shattered-mirror look at governmental corruption and the questioning of heroism — and what makes a “hero”.

The depth and themes of the story were what attracted David to the book; that it centered on one of his favorite characters — The Batman — was only a peripheral pleasure. I can recall how he would describe to me the texture of which Miller was evolving the myth, but to my adolescent mind I grasped with the importance of telling that type of story within the context of a comic book — it didn’t make sense to me.

I remember reading Crisis and whimsically thrilled by the idea that the extensively complicated DC universe and its continuity were about to become “streamlined” and that its most iconic characters including Superman, Wonder Woman, the Justice League and especially Batman were getting major face-lifts, but after turning the first pages into Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns I wondered what direction it would take.

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Frank Miller’s now classic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

The graphic novel established Bruce Wayne as a sort of aging daredevil, disconnected from the world around him and finding reasons not to involve himself with the machinations of the people inhabiting it. Any distraction to keep him from delving into the psychosis of vigilantism that lead him to embody the might of the Batman. But life isn’t so generous and as fate would have it, Wayne will soon be forced back into the cowl.

The Dark Knight Returns would redefine the Batman mythology for next generation of readers, and when Hollywood called the studios would be attracted to the conflicted sides of Bruce Wayne that embraced the shadows in his search for justice. Was Bruce after all only hiding behind his role as a superhero to sate his thirst for revenge? These were only a handful of themes that Miller dove right into.

The Batman would emerge once again one of DC Comics most popular characters, even besting the Man of Steel within the pages of the climax of the series. The character and his origin would be revisited by creators over the next decades and would become the focus of the rebooted Batman Begins franchise, utilizing most of Frank Miller’s influences fro his groundbreaking work.

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Batman dons armor to take on Superman in the original  The Dark Knight series a scene that will come to life in next summer’s most anticipated film.

Next summer when the Dark Knight returns to the big screen, one of the most pivotal moments in Miller’s book will come to life and is at the center of the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice big screen motion picture. Three decades later, Frank Miller is still impacted the culture and with the release of the next installment of his Dark Knight Saga — DKIII: The Master Race it would appear that night still belongs to him.

First Images reveal a Spectacular “Wonder Woman”

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After significant starts-and-stops “Wonder Woman” goes into production and gets a sensational reception by fans!

Although she first had a significant impact in primetime when Lynda Carter portrayed the Amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman has had a perilous journey making it to the big-screen, but it looks like Warner Bros. the studio that has had a string of successes with franchises platformed off of Princess Diana’s male counterparts, has finally focused its energies and the third part of the DC Comics trinity is about to go big time.

Fans were highly encouraged when at 2014 San Diego Comic-Con the first images of Gal Gadot were released with the Fast and Furious actress in full battle armor set to spar amidst titans in 2016’s summer tentpole Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film follows director Zack Snyder’s redux of the Superman mythology, and after much hesitation the filmmaker has admitted the film is a proper sequel to his hit Man of Steel.

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After the winning the role of DC Comic’s most powerfully iconic female lead, Gal Gadot went about to win fans over when the trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered at SDCC.

 

And from the “first look” images revealing a sensually mysterious Diana Prince stealthily hidden beneath a cloak, Wonder Woman is ready for the big screen…in a big way. The character will come between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight in there upcoming blockbuster brawl that will also help to launch the connective franchise series Justice League.

Early glimpses at the Woman Wonder film suggest that the film will be a period piece set during the events of World War II with Star Trek’s Chris Pine in the role of Steve Trevor, Diana’s paramour and ambassador into Man’s World. The story revolves around Diana’s pursuit of the dangerous mad god Ares and a secret weapon that the God of War plans on using to lead down the path to Armageddon.

The behind-the-scene story of bringing Wonder Woman to life is almost as legendary as the origins of the character itself. Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon was initially tasked with writing the script which realized a contemporary imagining of the heroine. That story was soon scrapped for something a little more inline with the comic book origins which set Diana in the middle of the second World War.

The film has already passed hands several times. Michelle MacLaren was originally set to direct until she decided to leave the project over creative differences, until handing the reigns to Patty Jenkins who is currently helming the project for a theatrical release in 2017.

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In full color and full armor, Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman!