“The Death of ‘Superman Lives’; What Happened?” Review

A Superman movie directed by Tim Burton, starring Nicholas Cage? I’ve been making jokes about that killed project for years! It seemed a bizarre concept at best! But now a documentary, years in the making, has dropped giving the full story of the dropped film from Tim Burton, the producers, writers and more.

It is fascinating.

I thought I would just watch for a few minutes; the thing is as long as the movie would have been if it had been made! But the longer I watched, the more captivating the story. Hearing Tim Burton describe his ideas and direction, listening to the producer (he’s OUT THERE), watching Kevin Smith and the later writers talk about their process and scripts submitted, I found myself really wishing I could have seen this thing. The only voice missing was Nicholas Cage, the actor cast to play Superman (what?!?). Even there I could begin to see it watching some of the test footage with him. There’s certainly no denying his love for the character.

Playing into the narrative was the reaction to people when Tim Burton was originally chosen to direct and reinvent Batman, as well as the choice to cast Michael Keaton. It did seem ludicrous at the time, and yet he completely changed the way comic book movies were approached from then on. And Michael Keaton? He was amazing in both his turns as Batman. Hearing Burton describe how he saw the character of Superman, I really began to buy in to it.

And the whole thing was killed after years of development only days before they were to begin filming.

The documentary is great. For comic book fans and superhero movie buffs, it is a GREAT look at an abandoned project still talked about years later.

In the end, I couldn’t believe they chose to risk the money on “Wild, Wild West” instead. I mean, seriously. We lost Nicholas Cage as Superman so we could have Will Smith playing a cowboy in a sci-fi western that flopped. Argh.

Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer

Well, calling me excited for May 17th is an understatement! This thing literally gave me chills. Very, very excited!

And check out the bonus few seconds at the end of the Japanese version of the trailer … very similar to the ending of Wrath of Khan – is it an homage, something to fool us, or a hint at where this one is going?

Brace yourselves. I’m going to be amping up my nerd levels in the coming months.

Wreck-It Ralph

We took the boys to see Disney’s new movie, Wreck-It Ralph the other day and it was a big hit. Our boys, of course, loved it. It’s the story of a 30 year old video game in local arcade and it’s digital inhabitants. Ralph, the villain, is tired of being a bad guy and goes on a quest throughout the other arcade games to be the hero for a change, along the way making new friends and winning a different relationship with the characters in his own game.

For kids, it’s a huge win. There’s a good message about accepting yourself and not comparing to others, tons of video game action, new characters and more. As I was watching it I was surprised to realize there doesn’t seem to be a huge blitz of video games being released to cash in on it … that day is probably coming, though!

For me, it was a lot of fun. Loved seeing the retro style video game characters, seeing Q-bert and crew begging for spare change, and other systems I grew up loving. Definitely well written, fun for adults and kids. We’ll be getting this DVD when it comes out!

Avengers

Heather and I went to see Avengers Saturday night. Here are my thoughts …

  1. It was awesome.
  2. I thought they dragged out bringing them all together – after all, the post credit scenes had already done that in previous films.
  3. Heather thinks point number two is incorrect in that only nerds like me watch the post credit scenes and she didn’t know who most of them were so the beginning was useful for her.
  4. Hulk punching Thor. I about died laughing. I seriously didn’t hear the next few lines because it was so awesome.
  5. Hulk wrecking Loki. See point number four for the level of laughter I once again experienced.
  6. Is a flying aircraft carrier really effective? It just doesn’t seem practical.
  7. It was awesome enough to have two points referencing its awesomeinity. It’s a word.

And now I wait for The Amazing Spiderman.

Hunger Games | Back to the Future

When I was a freshman in high school the second Back to the Future movie hit theaters. I was beyond excited. I loved (and still do) the original film, and was PUMPED about the back to back sequels they had filmed – yes, decades before the Matrix sequels and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Back to the Future filmed parts two and three simultaneously and then released them six months apart. It was going to be epic.

Then my youth pastor ruined everything.

My dad was the associate pastor at the same church, and the two of them were friends. Anyway, Mark (my youth pastor) went to see Back to the Future II with one of the upper classmen and ended up walking out of the theater he was so offended by it. It was rated PG, but apparently deserved way worse according to him. He was furious over how ‘filthy’ it was. He railed to my dad about how it was ‘straight out of the pit of hell.’ The language, the sexual content, the violence. It was a raunchy, trashy, horrible film that would corrupt anyone who saw it.

So I wasn’t allowed to go.

Eventually I managed to see it, and I remember thinking something along the lines of, ‘it’s definitely worse than the first one, but it isn’t THAT bad.’ It just felt like he was making such a big deal over nothing. And besides, a few months later, we were all excited about something else anyway.

That memory is pretty much what has kept me biting my tongue as much as I can over the Hunger Games movie. I find the book and the film deeply concerning. Which is odd because I love stories in that futuristic end of the world scenario; if I can put my finger on it, I think it’s because unlike ‘The Book of Eli,’ ‘Mad Max,’ and other such stories, the Hunger Games was written for kids (in fact, they’ve been surprised by the adult following – they didn’t expect it). A decade ago people were shocked and concerned when J.K. Rowling killed a kid off for the first time in a Harry Potter book. Her body count increased with each book after that, but it doesn’t compare with the level of graphic violence contained in the Hunger Games trilogy – and it dramatically increases with each book. Should this be entertainment for kids?

The disconnect with our young people is who they identify with in the series; Katniss, Peeta, the victims of the over indulgent, wealthy, reality tv addicted dominant culture. Let’s be real. That’s not who our culture and our young people are – we are the villains in this series, but we’re blind to that. The rest of the world is starving while we feast on their labors. There is a strange disconnect where our young people lead a movement to punish Kony for forcing children to be soldiers while entertaining themselves with a story about forced child warfare. ‘It’s just fiction, McNutt. That’s the difference.’ But it doesn’t feel much different than the Roman Colosseum. Two thousand years ago society was entertained by people fighting to the death; today we do the same but with movies and TV. Does it matter if it’s ‘fake’? We celebrate the realism we can achieve and we love seeing it.

But when I say anything, I see the same expression looking back at me that I gave my old youth pastor. It feels like a wasted effort to point out concerns with series. And really, did all the freaking out over Harry Potter do any good years ago? It turns out we didn’t produce a generation of witches and wizards in spite of all the time spent on those books. The bigger goal is challenging young people to ask tough questions about the books and media they are consuming. To actually think about the messages, content, and where it fits (or doesn’t fit) with their faith. They have to learn to see that everything impacts their spiritual life, that there is not some sort of disconnect between Sunday morning at church and Friday night at the movie theater.

KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous

Invisible Children’s follow up video to their viral film, Kony 2012. They respond to some of the criticisms in it, as well as give more detail about the conflict in Africa and Kony.

As someone who has been to Uganda and met survivors, I don’t understand the controversy. Just as we wanted Bin Laden to pay for his crimes here long after 9/11, even once he was reduced to just living in hiding with a fraction of his original power, Africans want to see Kony pay for his decades of terrorism and the countless lives he has ruined and ended. The man is one of the most wanted in the world for a reason.