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Man of Steel

June 19th, 2013 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (2 Comments)

Best movie of the sum­mer? Def­i­nitely! Five stars–minus the parts that bugged me. See below for details.

WARNING: there may be spoil­ers ahead.

If you haven’t seen the new Super­man movie, it’s well worth it. But that’s not to say that it is with­out flaws. And who bet­ter to com­ment on a Super­man movie than a long­time fan? :D  (Except that I am a bit picky.)

Henry Cav­ill wears the suit well. Not every­one can make us believe that they are invin­ci­ble while main­tain­ing an endear­ing qual­ity that keeps us root­ing for them until the bit­ter end. It’s a bal­ance of humil­ity and power. Nicely done.

Every now and then I wished the direc­tor had let Mr. Cav­ill spend a lit­tle more time devel­op­ing the character’s emo­tions. Too many times I just barely began to “feel” a scene, only to have it clipped short in favor of action/graphics. (And I know Cav­ill can por­tray emo­tions because he was great even as a kid in “The Count of Monte Cristo.”) This was espe­cially true at the end of the movie when Super­man screams after Zod is killed. He’s at one of the low­est points in his life. The last Kryp­ton­ian is dead–and at his hand. If only the raw emo­tions had come through. Instead it felt all too super. That was the part where we wanted to see his human­ity. His cape, hair, and suit remained beau­ti­fully untar­nished. There was not even a scrap of shrap­nel on his shoul­der. After all of that, let his suit be torn! Let him be cov­ered in muck. Let the famous curl in his hair frizz! We already know that he’s pow­er­ful, but his clothes shouldn’t have to be. And his hair, no mat­ter how strong, blows in the wind. It should have been a mess. After a bat­tle to the death he should have looked more like a blood­ied glad­i­a­tor than an actor ready for his close up. We want to see him vul­ner­a­ble. We really do!

I liked Amy Adams as Lois. Some peo­ple may have men­tioned that she seems a lit­tle too frag­ile for the role. Eh? .… Pos­si­bly, but I still enjoyed her work.

And thank you WB (or who­ever) for putting in the back­story, which was awe­some. We learn a lot about who Super­man is, where he came from, and why his planet was destroyed. We also learn why Zod has an eter­nal hatred of him and is deter­mined to fight to the death when the two meet on Earth. But.… While the open­ing scene of  Kal El’s birth is ten­der, those feel­ings are barely touched upon before an onslaught of spe­cial effects takes over. I wanted to be drenched in Krypton’s pain. Instead I felt like I was watch­ing a reel of explosions.

Fast for­ward a few decades and Kal El becomes Clark Kent. He goes from job to job try­ing to main­tain his anonymity while being a guardian angel to those around him. This sec­tion reminded me of the orig­i­nal “Hulk” series that ran in the sev­en­ties. In other words, they got it right. At last! Emo­tions were full blown. MY FAVORITE PART was when Clark went to the aid of the men stranded on the off­shore oil rig. When he stood in the fire lick­ing his skin I wanted to applaud. Oh yeah! It was awe­some! And drift­ing in the ocean after­wards was a tremen­dous idea. I felt his pain as he tried to shut out the world. (Good job movie guys!) Another excel­lent spot was when Clark entered the Kryp­ton­ian atmos­phere. I was feel­ing it there.

I’m sad to say that my least favorite part was the por­trayal of Jonathan Kent’s death. Kevin Costner’s act­ing was good, but it was a stu­pid scene. No, I did not miss the part about Jonathan putting Clark’s “secret” above his life. Once again, I think they wrote & filmed it that way for the sake of spe­cial effects. Some­body wanted to make a tor­nado happen. It was a cheesy idea. Cheeeeeeeeeesy! Jonathan is sup­posed to die of a heart attack. That’s the whole point. Clark is sup­posed to learn that he’s just as help­less as the rest of us, at least when it comes to his fam­ily. The scene stunk. Please cut. Rewrite. Film it again and let’s for­get that it ever happened.

My last crit­i­cism is the lack of sparks between Clark and Lois. Hello? They needed a lit­tle chem­istry. Maybe the stu­dio is sav­ing that part for the next movie. I hope so, because if Amy Adams and Henry Cav­ill can’t get it together, then who can?

As a side note, how many build­ings can you knock down before you get grit on your shoes? Cut at least a quar­ter of the city smash scenes, put in more emo­tional exchanges between the actors, shred the cape when Super­man is knock­ing down build­ings, and voila, most of the prob­lems would have been solved.

Lastly, if I’ve deterred any­one from see­ing the movie … let me just say that I plan to buy it and watch it over and over again. Great stuff! I loved “Man of Steel” and can’t wait for the sequel.

The Kennedys

January 25th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

This is a three disk col­lec­tion con­tain­ing a total of eight episodes, each about 45 min­utes in length. Over all the series is very well done. I give it five stars. There might be a quib­ble here or there with a few his­tor­i­cal details, but noth­ing too dra­matic. I was, how­ever, dis­ap­pointed by how many things were not included. The last two episodes in par­tic­u­lar rush through some of the most impor­tant his­tor­i­cal events dur­ing JFK’s pres­i­dency. I would liked to have seen this as a ten episode series, but I guess it’s bet­ter to be left want­ing more, rather than less.

Below is a syn­op­sis of each episode, which may con­tain spoilers.

Episode One: Joe’s Revenge Hour I: This first disk is where we meet the fam­ily. We quickly learn that Joe Kennedy had early aspi­ra­tions for the pres­i­dency, but loses the oppor­tu­nity through mis­takes he made as ambas­sador. In his stead, Joe Junior plans to ful­fill his father’s dream. Obvi­ously that doesn’t hap­pen and the oblig­a­tion falls to Jack.

Episode Two: Joe’s Revenge Hour II: Jack has just been elected pres­i­dent, but is still liv­ing under his father’s thumb. In flash­backs we learn that Jack had no ini­tial aspi­ra­tion to become pres­i­dent. He cam­paigns with­out heart to please his father until he finally finds his voice. It’s a beau­ti­ful moment, and I found myself wish­ing I had been there. The flaws of the Kennedy fam­ily are por­trayed in var­i­ous roles, par­tic­u­larly that of unfaith­ful husbands.

Episode Three: Us Against Them: This is the episode where Jack makes his famous big blun­der, the Bay of Pigs. It opens just before the inau­gu­ra­tion. Rose Kennedy asks her daughter-in-law, Jackie, who has recently had a baby, what she will wear to the inau­gu­ra­tion. Jackie men­tions that she has eight weeks to get her fig­ure back, and Rose snubs her by say­ing that it only took her four. (Oh, to be a woman.) We also see Joe Senior’s influ­ence con­tinue. Joe insists that Bobby become Attor­ney Gen­eral.  Jack tells his father that Bobby doesn’t want to be Attor­ney Gen­eral, and Joe responds, “Well, I want it for him.” And that’s that.

Episode Four: Who’s In Charge Here: Joe dab­bles in the mob with both feet out of the pond. As Attor­ney Gen­eral, clean-cut Bobby attacks the mob head-on. Sound like trou­ble? It is. Once again the pres­i­dency becomes off-limits to Joe, all the while the Berlin Wall goes up. Jack con­tin­ues to bat­tle health prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly the old injuries he sus­tained dur­ing World War II.

Episode Five: Life Sen­tences: The civil rights move­ment is in full swing, though it isn’t swing­ing smooth. Lin­don John­son seems to be the only cab­i­net mem­ber able to com­mu­ni­cate with south­ern politi­cians. As the pres­i­dency pre­pares to sup­port James Meredith’s enroll­ment at Old Miss, as ordered by the Supreme Court, Joe suf­fers a debil­i­tat­ing stroke. The fam­ily mem­bers are left reel­ing as they try to cope with their unre­solved feel­ings. Rose, in par­tic­u­lar, is bur­dened by trou­bling mem­o­ries. Simul­ta­ne­ously, law and order dis­solve in Mis­souri as a near civil war atmos­phere engulfs the uni­ver­sity and threat­ens the state.

Episode Six: The Brink: Jack’s indis­cre­tions cause Jackie deep pain. She takes a trip to Vir­ginia with the chil­dren just before the Cuban Mis­sel cri­sis begins. Ten­sions run high as the entire cab­i­net works together to pre­vent dis­as­ter. This is truly JFK’s finest moment, and true to form, Bobby is con­tin­u­ously at his side. Ethel and Jackie have a can­did con­ver­sa­tion, and Jackie returns to the White House as Jack brings the coun­try safely through what could have eas­ily become a nuclear war.

Episode Seven: Lancer and Lace: The episode opens with Wal­ter Cronkite telling the world that the pres­i­dent is dead. The rest of the episode leads up to that point. Jack’s affair with Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe is ref­er­enced, and as usual, Bobby is stuck clean­ing up the mess. Jack com­mits more defin­i­tively to Jackie prior to the assas­si­na­tion, which is left to the imag­i­na­tion, or mem­ory, and the fam­i­lies reac­tion to Jack’s death is explored.

Episode Eight: Bobby picks up where Jack left off, pro­tect­ing Jackie as if she were a blood rel­a­tive. Jackie even­tu­ally remar­ries, stat­ing the need to keep her chil­dren safe. Bobby is deter­mined to carry on in pol­i­tics, and becomes a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. When the polls show him out of favor he turns to his mother for polit­i­cal back­ing. He begins to rise in the polls only to be assas­si­nated a short time later. As he is dying he asks Ethel, “Was any­one else hurt?” And that’s the end of Bobby. With such a grue­some end to the tale, the episode closes by going through some enthu­si­as­tic scenes that leave the viewer feel­ing like every­thing is fine.

Merlin Season 4

October 7th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

Some­times I just can’t help myself .…

If you haven’t heard of the TV series, Mer­lin, you are miss­ing out. Camelot has never been so much fun. You can catch the ear­lier sea­sons on Hulu, but unless you live in the UK, you’re going to have to wait until March(ish) 2012 to catch Sea­son 4. So, in the mean­time, here’s the trailer.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

September 1st, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Books | Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

There are few books that I have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stock­ett. And, to top it off, the movie was amazing.

The set­ting takes place dur­ing the civil rights move­ment in Jack­son, Mis­sis­sippi. With such a polit­i­cally charged plot, I felt my emo­tions surg­ing and swelling through­out the book. To put it in the words of Min­nie, one of the black maids, “We liv­ing in hell,” just seems to sum it all up. The only thing I didn’t like was the “ter­ri­ble awful” that Min­nie finally explains. I just about gagged in response and still do when I think of it. Even so, clearly a neg­a­tive emo­tion is what the author was going for, and I must say she cer­tainly achieved it! Shudder …

From the first sen­tence, the book trans­ports you to another time and place. One of my favorite seg­ments was when Hilly, the bath­room seg­re­ga­tion ring-leader, tells Skeeter, “There are racists liv­ing in this town,” com­pletely obliv­i­ous to the fact that she is one of them. I love that because I think most peo­ple are blind to their faults. I know I have had my eyes opened once or twice.

Another thing I loved is that the book is full of flawed char­ac­ters that become endear­ing as you get to know them. I love that! In real­ity, peo­ple are flawed. Pre­sent­ing the char­ac­ters in such a way brought so much real­ism to the story.

It is not very often that I feel my socks have been knocked off, but this was one of them. Thank you Kathryn Stock­ett for your won­der­ful work. This is def­i­nitely the kind of novel that I would like to aspire to write. Talk about depth. Wow. Def­i­nitely 5 out of 5!