Thursday, June 29, 2006

Superman Returns

Being genuinely wary of superhero movies, the recent take on Batman in Batman Begins has given me new hope concerning the direction of the genre. While to me Batman is much cooler and more believable than Superman, he still fits into the classic role of a DC superhero that really can't be topped by any other superhero icon. With that said, it's no surprise, then, that I went into the new Superman Returns with not only high expectations but also a genuine interest in the movie. Also, being directed by Brian Singer of The Usual Suspects fame (and X-Men) doesn't hurt.

In this fifth installment of Superman's adventures on film, our hero (Brandon Routh) has gone off to search for his home planet, which astronomers thought was still around. Having found nothing, Superman returns to Earth after being away for 5 years, only to discover that the world has moved on without him. Taking his job back at The Daily Planet, Superman slips back into his role as "mild-mannered reporter" Clark Kent, and discovers much to his dismay that love-interest Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on as well, living with her boyfriend and having what appears to be his child, who is about 5 years old. Elsewhere, Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has escaped prison and travels to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, steals a set of alien crystals and prepares to use them to create a living land mass off the coast of the United States, which will eventually destroy the country as it grows.

The film is not as campy as I make it sound - in fact it's not campy at all. Routh's performance as the new Man of Steel, supplanting the late Christopher Reeves, is genuinely heartfelt, and he fits the role well. Spacey should also be noted for his serious yet maniacal portrayal of Luthor. Like Batman Begins, the storyline and characters are presented very realistically, and it seems as if the filmmakers take great care in portraying Superman as more than a flat good-doer, giving him emotions and feelings.

One should go into the movie with some knowledge of the Superman mythos, as the movie does little to explain backstory and character relatioships, instead relying on its predecessors Superman and Superman II to fill viewers in. Indeed, the callbacks to the original 1978 film are evident in the easily-recognizable John Williams theme, the zooming title text, and numerous lines and other references. Again, like Batman, having not seen the other movies of the series I feel that I cannot fully appreciate these callbacks, however I'm sure someone more familiar with the franchise will.

There is little on the negative side in relation to this movie, however something that bothered me the most was the relationship between Superman and Lois Lane. Because Lois Lane has moved on, there now exists a weird sort of love-triangle between Lane, Superman, and her boyfriend that seems rather inhibiting. Also the kid annoys me for more reasons then he should. Lastly, something about the ending and the length of the movie had it going for Lord of the Rings status. I suppose I really shouldn't complain, though, because I'm sure this movie could have just as easily been another Hulk or Fantastic 4. It appears as though the 15 year wait for this movie, however, has helped the franchise, and with Spiderman returning next year and Batman the year after that, it seems like there's going to be a consistent 3-year cycle of good, faithful superhero movies.

Superman Returns: 7/10
(wonderful special effects and great entertainment, but still not really my genre) Read entire post...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Not Helping Asian Stereotypes

Japan teen torches house, killing 3, over grades

"It's the SOUND that makes me punch INFANTS!" Read entire post...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Journey to the Midwest

So, I was going to update this blog daily with details of my travels around the glorious midwest, however my laptop went out of commission while on the plane. Needless to say, I am heartbroken and downtrodden. I only hope Alice can be fixed soon, because NEOLab (the old desktop) is a big old clunker. With that said, it looks like I'll be doing my trip report in flashback mode.

The aforementioned failure of Alice on the plane marked the beginning of the excitement that could only occur on a trip to our nation's armpit (in case you were wondering, Texas is the nation's groin). You see, I had not yet completed my last paper that was due last Friday by the time my trip got underway, so I planned to finish it on the plane and e-mail it out to my professor. With a dead laptop and no means of finishing (or retrieving) the paper from Alice's hard drive, I went into a panic. Fortunately, the Chicago Marriott I was staying at had a "business center" with Microsoft Word and internet access, so I spent the latter half of Thursday and early morning Friday re-writing and turning in my paper. This was further complicated by the fact that, for the first time in years, I received the blessing of airsickness. The fun of the airsickness carried over into the rental car, and whilst sitting in beautiful Chicagoan traffic (you think LA is bad? go to Chicago) I had to qwell my desire to hurl.

For whatever reason, the massive "luxury" Chrsyler that had been rented for the trip made me consistently nauseous when riding passenger. This reached its pinnacle about halfway between Chicago and Normal, IL (yeah, the town is called Normal), when my mother was forced to pull over and let my stomach have its way with me and the side of the highway. Anyway, I drove for the remainder of the trip and was just fine.

You may be asking what the hell I was doing in the Midwest. Well, I was visiting baseball stadiums. Starting in Chicago, then moving south to St. Louis, heading back north to Milwaukee, and finishing off again in Chicago. You may think this is crazy. Well it is. I don't advise anyone to ever travel to the Midwest (ok, maybe Chicago) ever, especially if you're and OC type person. The air is hot and humid, and rain falls in sheets. On my way north from St. Louis, I was driving along when all of a sudden rain came down in buckets. I mean BUCKETS. For a time I was literally unable to drive and had to pull over due to the density of the rain. Then, quick as it started, the downpour ceased. It's like God decided to fuck with the minds of all of the hapless people who made the mistake of being born in hickville. I'm sorry, but I'm a California person, and seeing weather like that makes me appreciate my earthquakes. Like hell if I'm going to be on "Tornado Watch." Speaking of earthquakes, whoever the hell designed to highways and roads in Illinois needs to be shot. There's so much gridlock over there that it makes a commute up the 5 at 6 o' clock look like a Sunday drive. It's not like you don't have space to widen shit out there, you're in the freaking plains.

Despite what my complaining may seem like, I did enjoy the trip. Milwaukee was an interesting town with absolutely GORGEOUS chesse. Cheese alone isn't enough for Wisconsin to upset Camarillo as my new favorite place, but I suppose it helps. I'm a sucker for cheese. Also, if you haven't been to the Arch in St. Louis, I highly recommend it. Although the attraction is a tourist trap, which I usually hate, anyone who has the balls to ride in a Mercury-sized capsule for 5 minutes (it took less time to go up the elevator in the much-higher Sears Tower) only to be trapped in a small walkway with a few tiny windows to look out of and not go completely insane is a hero in my book. Speaking of the Sears Tower, that's kinda cool too, but the Malaysians beat it in height by a few feet several years ago so it's not the tallest structure anymore. And I suppose the baseball stadiums were nice too.

Seacrest out. Read entire post...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Reconsider This Decision for the Good of Us All

I was digging around on my computer today and discovered a treasure trove of old documents from my Junior High and High School days. Anyway, in ninth grade I had to take Health class, and as part of the class everyone had to take care of a "baby" (a bag of rice) for a few weeks and do all sorts of stuff along with it. Amongst the files for the baby project I found the following gem that was an apparent writing assignment. It is written verbatim as it was originally.

"Dear friend:

Are you really planning to get married? You are only 15 years old! Don't you think that you are a little YOUNG for that? Getting married and having children is a big responsibility for anyone. I do not think that you are ready for the burden of caring for a child. Wait until you are at least 20 years old or until you complete college. Now is the wrong time. I wish you would reconsider this decision for the good of us all.


I urge anyone who is considering marriage to read this plea from 15 year old me and say no to matrimony. Please, it's for the good of us all. Read entire post...