Celebrate National Trivia Day With The Actors Who Could Have Been James Bond!


 

Today is National Trivia Day so I thought why not share some trivia?  I love film trivia.  I especially love trivia about who was considered for certain films.  Hell, one of my most popular posts on the Shattered Lens dealt with all of the actors who were considered for the Godfather!

(I even came up with an alternative cast for The Godfather, even though I consider the actual film to be the best cast film in history.)

I also happen to love the James Bond films.  (Well, not so much the recent Bond films.  I’ve made my feelings on SPECTRE clear.)  As a franchise, I absolutely love them.  So, with all that in mind, here is a look at the actors who could have been Bond.  I’ve compiled this article from many sources.  And yes, you could probably just find a lot of the information on Wikipedia but then you’d miss out on my editorial commentary.

Hoagy Carmichael

Ian Fleming himself always said that his pick for Bond would have been the musician, Hoagy Carmichael.  He even made a point, in Casino Royale, of having Vesper Lynd exclaim that Bond looked like Hoagy Carmichael.  Of course, the first actor to actually play Bond was Barry Nelson in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale.  Nelson is probably best remembered for playing Mr. Ullman in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Barry Nelson, the first James Bond

When Dr. No went into production in 1961, many actors were considered for the role before Sean Connery was eventually cast.  Many of them were very well-known actors and, had they been cast, Dr. No would not have been remembered as a Bond movie.  Instead, it would be remembered as a star vehicle for … well, let’s take a look at some of the better-known possibilities:

Among the famous actors who were mentioned for Bond in 1961: Cary Grant, Richard Burton, James Mason, Trevor Howard, Stanley Baker, George Baker, Jimmy Stewart, Rex Harrison, and David Niven.  (Of that list, I think Burton would have made for an interesting Bond.  If the Bond films had been made in the 1940s, Grant would have been my first choice.  Trying to imagine Jimmy Stewart as a British secret agent is … interesting.)

Once it became obvious that a star was not going to play Bond, the role was offered to Patrick McGoohan and Rod Taylor.  McGoohan had moral objections to the character.  Rod Taylor reportedly felt that the film would flop.  Steve Reeves, the American body builder who became famous for playing Hercules in Italy, was reportedly strongly considered.  At one point, director Terrence Young wanted to offer the role to Richard Johnson, who later played Dr. Menard in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

Of course, the role went to Sean Connery and made Connery a huge star.  In 1967, after Connery announced that he would no longer play the world’s most famous secret agent, there was a huge and widely publicized search for his replacement.  Some of the names that were considered are intriguing.  Others are just bizarre.

Oliver Reed

To me, perhaps the most intriguing name mentioned was that of Oliver Reed.  Reed definitely would have brought a rougher edge of the role than some of the other actors considered.  However, that’s one reason why Reed wasn’t picked.  Apparently, it was felt that he did not have the right public image to play the suave Mr. Bond.

Somewhat inevitably, Michael Caine was sought out for the role.  Caine, however, refused to consider it because he had already starred in three back-to-back spy thrillers and didn’t want to get typecast.  Caine’s former roommate, Terrence Stamp, was another possibility but wanted too much control over the future direction of the Bond films.  Future Bond Timothy Dalton was considered to be too young.  Another future Bond, Roger Moore, didn’t want to give up his television career.  Eric Braeden has the right look for Bond but was German.  Rumor has it that producer Cubby Broccoli even considered Dick Van Dyke for the role, though I find that hard to believe.  An even more surprising possibility was the nobleman Lord Lucan, who was offered a screen test in 1967 and who, ten years later, would vanish after being accused of murdering his children’s nanny.

Lord Lucan

Among the actors who auditioned before George Lazenby was cast in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Michael Billington, Jeremy Brett, Peter Purves, Robert Campbell, Patrick Mower, Daniel Pilon, John Richardson, Anthony Rogers, Hans De Vries, and Peter Snow.

After the mixed reception of both Lazenby’s performance and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Lazenby was soon out as James Bond.  Even today, there’s a lot of controversy about what led to Lazenby being dismissed from the role.  Some say Lazenby demanded too much money.  Some say that Lazenby was merely used a pawn to try to get Sean Connery to return to the role.  Regardless, Lazenby only made one film as Bond.  (Of course, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has retroactively been recognized as being one of the best of the series.)

With Connery still claiming that he would never return to the role, the film’s producers went through the motions of looking for a new Bond.  Once again, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton were considered.  Connery suggested that a talk show host named Simon Dee should play the role.  An actor named Roger Green auditioned.  So did Michael Gambon, though he later said he was turned down because, in his own words, he “had tits like a woman.”  Interestingly, several Americans were mentioned.  Clint Eastwood as James Bond?  Burt Reynolds?  Adam “Batman” West? The mind boggles but their names were mentioned.

John Gavin

And interestingly enough, an American was cast.  John Gavin is best known for playing Sam Loomis in Psycho but he was also, briefly, James Bond.  After Gavin accepted he role and signed a contract, Sean Connery announced that he would be willing to return to the role.  Gavin was paid off and Connery went on to star in Diamonds are Forever.

After Diamonds, Connery left the role for a second time and, once again, Bond was recast.  This time, Roger Moore would finally accept the role.  However, before Moore was cast, several other actors were considered.  Some of the regular possibilities were mentioned again: John Gavin, Simon Oates, Timothy Dalton, and Michael Billington.  Others considered included Jon Finch, Ranulph Fiennes, Peter Laughton, and Guy Peters.  Some of those names are probably as unknown to you as they are to me but it’s intriguing to think that Guy Peters may not be a well-known name but, at one time, there was a possibility that he could suddenly become one of the biggest stars in the world.

Looking over the history of the Bond franchise, it’s interesting to see the number of times that Moore tried to leave the role, just to be talked into returning.  Every time that Moore considered quitting, a new group of actors would be considered for the role of Bond.  In 1979, when Moore said he might not return after Moonraker, Timothy Dalton, Michael Jayston, Patrick Mower (who was also considered for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and Michael Billington were all considered as replacements.  So was Julian Glover.  Ironically, when Moore did agree to return to the role, Glover was cast as the villain in For Your Eyes Only.

David Warbeck

To me, the most intriguing actor mentioned as a replacement for Roger Moore was David Warbeck.  Warbeck was a television actor and model who subsequently had a nearly legendary film career in Italy.  Not only did he play a key role in Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker!, but he also starred in Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat and The Beyond.  He also appeared in the best of Italian Apocalypse Now rip-offs, The Last Hunter.  In interviews, Warbeck claimed that he was under contract to Cubby Broccoli to step into the role in case Roger Moore ever walked off the set.  The likable and rugged Warbeck would have been an interesting Bond.

In 1983, when Moore again said he might not return to the role, Michael Billington (who actually did appear in a Bond film when he played a KGB agent killed at the start of The Spy Who Loved Me) would be once more considered as a replacement.  British TV actors Lewis Collins and Ian Ogilvy were also considered for the role.  In a repeat of what happened with John Gavin in Diamonds are Forever, American actor James Brolin was actually put under contract until Moore agreed to play the role in Octopussy.

James Brolin, in a screen test for Octopussy

After A View To A Kill, Moore left the role for the final time.  Famously, future Bond Pierce Brosnan was actually cast as his replacement until the surge of interest created by his casting led to the renewal of Remington Steele, the American television show in which Brosnan was starring.  Once the show was renewed, Brosnan could no longer work the Bond films into his schedule.

Among the other names mentioned: Sean Bean, Simon MacCorkindale, Andrew Clarke, Finlay Light, Mark Greenstreet, Neil Dickson, Christopher Lambert, Mel Gibson, and Antony Hamilton.  Sam Neill was another possibility and reportedly came very close to getting the role.  Watch any of the films that Neill made when he was younger and you can definitely see hints of Bond.

Sam Neill

In the end, Timothy Dalton finally accepted the role.  Ironically, for an actor who spent 20 years being courted for the role, Dalton turned out to be a bit of a flop as Bond.  He made two movies (both of which were considered to be disappointing when compared to the previous Bond films) and then left the role.

Looking over the contemporary reviews of Dalton as Bond, one thing that comes through clearly is that a lot of people resented him for taking a role that they felt should have gone to Pierce Brosnan.  When the Bond films resumed production with Goldeneye in 1994, Brosnan finally stepped into the role.  Reportedly, if Brosnan had turned down the role, the second choice was Sean Bean.  Much like Julian Glover, Bean may have lost out on 007 but he did end up playing the villain.

Sean Bean

Among the other actors who were reportedly considered before Brosnan accepted the role: Mark Frankel, Paul McGann, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, and Lambert Wilson.  Ralph Fiennes, who has been M since Skyfall, was also considered.

As opposed to his predecessors, Brosnan seemed to be very comfortable with the idea of playing Bond and never threatened to leave the role.  Looking over the Bond-related articles that were published from 1995 to 2004, I found the occasional speculation about whether Rupert Everett would be the first gay James Bond or if Sharon Stone would be the first female James Bond but I found very little speculation about Brosnan actually leaving the role.  Indeed, when Brosnan officially retired as Bond in 2004, it was less his decision and more at the prodding of the franchise’s producers, who felt that the series needed to be rejuvenated with a new (and younger) actor.  After Brosnan left, the series was rebooted and Daniel Craig played the role in Casino Royale.

In the past, I’ve made it clear that Daniel Craig is hardly my favorite Bond.  I loved Skyfall (and I consider it to the 2nd best Bond film, after From Russia With Love) but, even in that case, I felt that the film succeeded despite Craig instead of because of him.  With Casino Royale, we were supposed to be seeing a young and inexperienced Bond.  That’s never come through to me, probably because Craig looked like he was nearly 50 years old when he made Casino Royale.

Among the actors who were mentioned for the role before Craig received the role: Ralph Fiennes (again), Colin Salmon, Ewan McGregor, Henry Cavill, Rupert Friend, Julian McMahon, Alex O’Laughlin, Clive Owen, Dougray Scott, and Goran Visjnic.  Dominic West, who I think would have been great in the role, reportedly ruled himself out because he heard a rumor that Brosnan would be returning to the role.

Dominic West

Daniel Craig, of course, has been talking about leaving the role ever since he was first cast.  I think Skyfall would have been a perfect movie for him to leave on.  (It would have saved the world from SPECTRE.)  However, Craig has apparently agreed to do at least one more Bond film.  Maybe two.

When Craig does leave, who will replace him?  Idris Elba, of course, is probably the most widely discussed possibility.  James Norton has also been named as a possibility.  Others that I’ve seen mentioned: Tom Hardy, Jack Huston, Aidan Turner, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Henry Cavill (again).

My personal choice?  Dominic Cooper.  He’d be an off-center Bond but I think it would still be an intriguing pick.

Dominic Cooper

Who knows what the future may hold for 007?  All I know is that I look forward to the speculation.

Happy National Trivia Day, everyone!

Batman v. Superman Latest Trailer Drops


BatmanvSuperman

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has been gathering steam and buzz since it was first announced a couple years ago at San Diego Comic-Con. The film is now just a little over 4 months away from release. The fact that we’re even talking about latest trailers and clips about this film was an accomplishment all on its own.

This was a project that had been talked about for so many years, but never got on track. While some DC fans might decry what I’m about to say I do think they should thank the success of the Marvel Studios-produced films for getting this film on the fast track to being made. It made DC and Warner Bros. realize they weren’t the big bully in the blockbuster block anymore and needed something monumental to catch up.

With Man of Steel dividing comic book fans this film had to be made whether it made sense narrative-wise or not. Another so-so Superman film would not do. So, what better way to juice up the Son of Krypton franchise than by pitting him against DC’s other juggernaut property: Batman.

So, without further ado, here is the latest trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

6 Reviews To Help Lisa Get Caught Up: Ant-Man, Cinderella, Jurassic World, Magic Mike XXL, The Man From UNCLE, Terminator: Genisys


So, it’s that time of year!  2015 is nearly over and soon, it will be time for me to make out my best-of and worst-of lists.  That means that now is the time that I look over all the films that I have watched up to this point, I realize how many of those films I have yet to review ,and I think, “Oh my God, how did I get this far behind?”

So, here are 6 capsule reviews, designed to help me get caught up!

Marvel's Ant-Man

Ant-Man (dir by Peyton Reed)

Ant-Man has already been reviewed twice on this site, once by Leonard Wilson and once by Ryan The Trashfilm Guru.  Leonard liked it.  Ryan did not.  As for me, my reaction was somewhere in between.  I enjoyed Ant-Man, though not as much as I’ve enjoyed some of the previous Marvel films.  Ant-Man was better than the second Thor film but nowhere close to being as good as Captain America: Winter Soldier.

What I did like about Ant-Man were the performances of Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Pena.  I even enjoyed Michael Douglas’s performance, which is saying something when you consider the fact that, as of late, Michael Douglas has really been making my skin crawl.  I also thought that the film did a good job creating Ant-Man’s microscopic world, even if I’m still not totally sold on the character as a dynamic hero.  I do wish that the film had a stronger villain.  Corey Stoll is such a good actor and capable of doing so much and it was hard not to regret that he was stuck playing such a generic bad guy.

Cinderella (dir by Kenneth Branagh)

Oh, how I loved Cinderella!  The film, a live-action retelling of the Cinderella story, was a gorgeous fairy tale and a wonderful reminder that a film doesn’t have to be dark and depressing to be good.  (In many ways, Cinderella serves as an antidote to not only Into The Woodsbut countless Tim Burton films as well.)  Lily James is beautiful in the title role, Richard Madden is wonderfully charming as the prince, and Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter are perfectly cast as the stepmother and the fairy godmother.

Jurassic World (dir by Colin Trevorrow)

Jurassic World was previously reviewed by Ryan the Trashfilm Guru.  I hate to admit it but I was, initially, one of those people who watched Jurassic World and got annoyed because the film was predictable and the script was a bit clunky.  Traditionally (and, if you doubt me, just read my review of Avatar), it bothers me when a film devotes so much time special effects that it can’t seem to be bothered with character development and clever dialogue.

But then I thought about it somewhat and I thought to myself, you know what?  This movie had Chris Pratt and it had some very convincing dinosaurs!  And, especially when it comes to a summer blockbuster, that is sometimes all you need.

(Why I enjoyed Jurassic World while disliking Avatar largely comes down to the difference between Chris Pratt and Sam Worthington.)

Magic Mike XXL (dir by Gregory Jacobs)

Oddly enough, I had the roughly the same reaction to Magic Mike XXL that I had to Jurassic World.  Yes, there are certain things — mostly concerning the film’s script — about which I could nitpick but what’s truly important is that Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, and most of the original cast of Magic Mike is back and they’re stripping again.  Magic Mike XXL is a huge (heh heh) crowd pleaser, a film that delivers exactly what it promises.

Though Steven Soderbergh served as cinematographer for Magic Mike XXL, he did not return to serve as director and perhaps that’s why Magic Mike XXL feels like a far less pretentious film than the first Magic Mike.  Out of the original cast, both Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer both declined to appear in the sequel.  McConaughey is missed, Pettyfer less so.

The Man From UNCLE (dir by Guy Ritchie)

The Man From Uncle is one of the many stylish spy films to be released this year.  Henry Cavill is an American spy, Armie Hammer is a Russian spy, and Hugh Grant is the Englishman who tells them both what to do.  The Man From Uncle was entertaining.  It took place in the 60s, so there was a lot of wonderful retro fashion and the whole movie moved at a nice, breezy pace.  Ultimately — and I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t exactly fair — The Man From UNCLE suffered because it was released in the same year as Kingsman and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.  Man From UNCLE was entertaining but rather generic.  At no point did it reach the lunatic high of Kingsman’s Free Bird sequence.

Terminator: Genisys (dir by Alan Taylor)

You can read Ryan’s review of Terminator: Genisys here.  I have to admit that Terminator: Genisys confused the Hell out of me.  Not being a huge fan of the entire Terminator franchise (though, yes, I do know what Skynet is and I have seen the first two films), I do have to admit that I sometimes felt lost while watching Genisys.

But you know what?  If you just sit back and relax and try not to think about the film too much — if you just accept it as an action film and watch for the stunts and the explosions — Terminator: Genisys is not the disaster that many critics made it out to be.  I mean, let’s just be honest here.  Most critics would die before they gave a good review to any film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  (Just check out all the negativity that greeted the brilliant zombie film, Maggie.)  After all, Schwarzenegger is an outspoken, confident, cheerfully arrogant Republican and most film critics can only relate to the arrogant part.  (And even then, they don’t ever seem to be very cheerful about it…)  Terminator: Genisys is a well-made and perfectly adequate action film, one that works as long as you don’t spend too much time dwelling on it.  It’s cinematic junk food and there’s nothing wrong with that.

terminator-genisys-super-bowl-ad-debuts

Batman v. Superman Finally States It’s Case to the Public


 

BatmanvSuperman

A funny thing happened to the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer that was set for a release at a special IMAX screening event next week. No one bothered to tell someone with a cellphone not to secretly record the trailer. A lo-res cam version of the first teaser trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was leaked just hours after Disney released the second teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Warner Brothers scrambled to take down the lo-res trailer and made sure to use their power to threaten with legal stuff if people continued to disseminate the illegal recording. During the 24 hours since the leak someone with a much more cooler head over at WB decided to just go the Avengers: Age of Ultron route (that film’s first teaser was also leaked ahead of a planned event) and release the hi-res version of the teaser trailer instead of waiting days for the planned screening event.

So, here’s the very first teaser trailer as Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment finally make their case that whatever Disney and Marvel can do they can do as well.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is set for a March 25, 2016 release date.

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Man Of Steel”


New Man of Steel Poster

I know that, in this day and age, we as a society seem to get off on tearing down our myths and legends and “humanizing” them, but seriously — when did Superman develop a split personality?

Before you jump to any conclusions based on that admitted “gotcha” of an opening line, allow me to state for the record that I didn’t actively dislike Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel, it’s just that it spends its first half or so rather half-heartedly trying to portray its title character in more human terms than we’ve seen in previous iterations before finally throwing all that out the window and deciding that it actually wants to tell a story about a God who walks (and flies) among us, and the film definitely suffers as a result of this abrupt shift in tone.

But first the “plus” side of the ledger : Man Of Steel is pretty much the most awesome visual spectacle the movies have ever produced. I’m no fan of CGI as a general rule, but damn if every single effects shot in this flick isn’t enough to take your breath away, particularly the sequences on Superman’s home planet of Krypton, which Snyder and his WETA-employed staff depict in a markedly new and exciting “biotech on steroids” fashion. When the action goes earthbound, the optical awesomeness continues, never fear, so if spectacle is what you’re after, you’ll walk away from this well pleased indeed.

Pitch-perfect (with one notable exception which we’ll get to in a moment) casting doesn’t hurt matters any, either — Henry Cavill makes an immediate impression in both his Superman and Clark Kent personas; Russell Crowe is suitably above it all as his Kryptonian father, Jor-El; Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are almost too spot-on for words as his adopted human parents; Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White is old-school newspaper vet all the way (even with the pierced ear); and the always-underrated Michael Shannon oozes psychotic menace as lead villain General Zod. Watching all these people at work is a genuine joy.

Granted, the script — by Dark Knight veteran David S. Goyer (from a story co-plotted with the head honcho of this whole enterprise, Christopher Nolan) — doesn’t do any of them any favors dialogue-wise (apparently Kryptonians have evolved beyond good, old-fashioned conversation and speak entirely in grandiose pronouncements — but it’s not like the mere humans in this film are any less prone to dull, dry, wooden,  faux-poetic waxings themselves), but the players by and large manage to rise above the material they’ve been handed.

I say “by and large” (and here comes that exception I talked about a moment ago) because, sadly, one has been dealt such a losing hand that I’m not sure what she could really have done about it — I’m speaking, of course, about Amy Adams’ Lois Lane. Goyer does some brave and interesting things in terms of shaking up the established Clark-Lois backstory ( let’s just say she won’t be sneaking glimpses of him at sly angles when his glasses are off to see how much he might or might not look like Superman), but the cold, emotionally distant nature of this particular big-budget beast means that the whole love story angle falls pretty flat. By the time Goyer, Nolan, and Snyder decide they want to play the Nietzchean uberman card for all it’s worth, the independent, confident journalist we meet at the outset is reduced to becoming more awestruck than she is lovestruck, and rather than being “Superman’s girlfriend” she comes off more as his disciple. Who just so happens to kiss him. I mentioned the abrupt tonal shift in the film at the outset of this review, and poor Lois definitely suffers the brunt of it.

The messianic poses Cavill is forced into during all the flight and battle sequences get pretty old pretty fast as well, it’s gotta be said, and with no real transition period in the way the story is structured between its “simple farm boy from Kansas”  and its “demi-god here to save us all from the evil forces originating from his own homeworld” (that he inadvertently brought here himself, but hey, let’s not dwell on that) segments, well — let’s just say not much thought apparently went into how jarringly that would all play out. Hans Zimmer’s typically percussive, insistent musical score only augments the problem, and while there’s no way anybody was gonna have fans forgetting about John Williams, a “stripped-down,” “less over the top” orchestral accompaniment really doesn’t work when you’re trying to portray Superman as a fucking deity.

Superman purists, for their part,  may also find themselves semi-outraged by more than the snakeskin-fetish-wear take on his costume. There’s no Jimmy Olsen here, no Lex Luthor (although the “Lexcorp” logo appears here and there on props throughout — as do the logos for Sears, 7-11, and an unending and highly annoying litany of corporate sponsors), and “Metropolis” is never mentioned by name even though the entire final act takes place there. So be ready for at least some “nerd-rage” on the internet. Still, if those were the only things that bugged me about Man Of Steel, I’d be feeling a little bit better about it as a whole right about now. Not that I’m all that pissed or disappointed —-just, well, kinda perplexed.

I can’t say that Man Of Steel isn’t a fun movie to watch, because it is — hell, it’s an absolute visual marvel, and if you want to shut your brain off and just be taken along for a wild adventure ride, you’re not gonna do much better this (or any other) summer  Still —my mind kept drifting back to the famous first-encounter-between-Supes-and-Lois scene in Richard Donner’s Superman : The Movie (still the gold standard for all superhero flicks as far as I’m concerned) : when Lois asks him “who are you?,” and he replies, simply and with a smile, “a friend,” that told us all we needed to know right there. Sure, he was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but at the end of the day , Superman as envisioned by Richard Donner, Mario Puzo, and Christopher Reeve was one of us.

By contrast, Superman a la Snyder, Nolan, Goyer and Cavill is above us. He’s not here to help humanity, but to redeem it. He’s not our hero anymore, he’s our savior — whether we want one or not.

Film Review: Man of Steel (dir. by Zack Snyder)


New%20Man%20of%20Steel%20PosterHere the short of it, for anyone looking to make a decision based on what’s being written here (spoiler free part): 

Man of Steel is a great film, though has it’s flaws. The film is a coming of age story of an individual who knows what he’s capable of, but in fearing the world’s reaction to his existence, keeps it at bay until he can discover who and what he is. Where Marvel celebrates the removal of the Masked Hero (with Iron Man), DC looks towards giving the audience a reason why Superman has to be Clark Kent, which I thought worked very well. Carried by some fantastic casting, the film manages to raise the stakes for Superman (and the damage level of anywhere there’s a fight – I’m talking Dragonball Z levels of damage) in a way that up until now really wasn’t depicted well. Rather than taking the lazy route of Superman Returns (which just took Superman II’s ending and ran with it, saying that III and IV just didn’t happen), Man of Steel tries to re-invent things a little, which works on some levels, but not on all.

The faults of the film lie in the same problems that plagued the entire Dark Knight Trilogy. There’s a scene or two that ends without “closing the loop” and work within a bubble of action – a catastrophe occurs for one or two people, but before you can wonder how everyone else in the area fared, you’re left to believe “Well, let’s just assume they’re all okay and everything was fixed.” It’s the same as the Joker throwing Rachel Dawes out of a window and leaving the audience to believe that the Joker’s crew just left the way they came with no fuss or muss. The film also suffers from the physical fight issues of “Batman Begins”. It all moves so fast that in some cases, you’re left with this shaky-cam feel. It almost warrants a second viewing just to try to see the punches / kicks you may have missed the first time around. And the last act has a lot of that. This is the thing that may hurt the film with older movie goers. Imagine having something you’ve grown up with for who knows how long displayed at a speed so fast, it moves like a video game? That could be jarring.

And for those of you want to read more (it may get just a little – very little – on the spoilery side here): 

I’ll start with this. I’m not a huge fan of Superman overall. Although I’ve seen all of the previous film (many of them at the movies), I’ve always thought of Superman as a seriously overpowered character. With the pieces of his own planet being the only thing that could hurt him, what were the chances anyone could find that stuff? For this, I found the Marvel characters more interesting and relatable. How many stories can you really write about the Hulk, or Namor / Aquaman for that matter? That’s where I put Superman in the scheme of things.

That said, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel did manage to invoke an emotion in me that I’ve never felt for the character in all these years – Sadness. It was like watching a Bond film and actually worry about Bond, imagine that. You figure this guy has all these powers, he can frickin fly, dammit. He has heat vision, x-ray vision and freezing breath. One could choose, with all that power to just dominate humanity. It’s Clark’s parents – all of them – that give him the power of choice. To decide as he grows to become who he wants to be and how to use those abilities.  That has to be pretty difficult. One scene hit home for me, involving Clark learning an ability. It’s short, but reflects the isolation of someone who is considered very different from those around him.

I loved Man of Steel. It’s does have its issues, but for me it’s such a step in a better direction for the Superman franchise. That isn’t to say that the films before it were terrible or horrid (save for Quest of Peace, which was utter crap), but Man of Steel brings so much more action and love for the character overall. Where Superman Returns was more of a drama with slices of action, perhaps Man of Steel is best consider a reversal.

When it comes to the story – penned by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, and with Goyer doing the screenplay – I liked where it went. It didn’t try to recreate anything from the first two movies, nor did it sway so far away from it that you wondered what it was all for (Amazing Spider Man, with its thousands of radioactive spiders that could make any scientist Spider-Man with a well timed bite). The origin parts are delivered piecemeal though flashbacks, which allowed the whole story to flow pretty evenly. It’s when the movie gets into the third act – the “Hero has to face said Event” sequence that Goyer loves so much that it starts turning right back into the Batman Begins train sequence. At least the level of the event is big enough so that only Superman could really deal with it, but personally, I’ll admit that I wanted a bit more for what was done.

Casting wise, I don’t think they could have done much better than this. Henry Cavill, who I remember from 2002’s The Count of Monte Cristo and Showtime’s The Tudors, is damn near perfect as the Man of Steel, though he has so much seriousness to him that you wanted to say…”Hey, Hakuna Matata, dude. It’ll all work out. Just lighten up a little.” There’s very little playing around here.  Then again, given the way the character was written this time around, he doens’t have all that much to laugh about, I suppose.

Amy Adams really isn’t the Lois Lane I expected. She’s not written in the style of the intrepid reporter that has to get herself in trouble, but still manages to find herself facing problems in the pursuit of a good story. She wasn’t bad at all, really, but one smart thing the story does is forces her to have to be in the mix of this in less of a spectator role and more of a participant. That I enjoyed.

I gave Michael Shannon a lot of flak for his performance in last year’s Premium Rush, but I owe him an apology. All that craziness in that film is just gone here, his General Zod is subdued and even. I also enjoyed that they gave him something more to work with other than “Dominate the creatures of this planet because we hate the son of Jor-El”. His Villain has a fully plausible reason for what he’s doing, so much so that you could almost empathize with it. He’s not very different from Magneto against the X-Men in that fashion, and I felt it added quite a deal to this story. Don’t get me wrong. Terrence Stamp was great, and his “Kneel Before Zod” was always cool, but the premise in Superman II was a little odd. I figure they’d get bored with us kneeling after a while and just leave the planet once discovering our love for reality tv (Pawn Stars for me).

Someone pointed out online that both of Kal-El’s parents were Robin Hood. Both Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner do indeed play Clark’s fathers and both are used better in this than in previous versions. Each character has a view in what Clark can be become, and both individuals seem to be right, but between the two I thought Costner fared better. One thing about Crowe, he’s given quite a bit to do in this film, which surprised me. I did really didn’t expect to see much of him in this.

Diane Lane is a sweet Martha Kent. While I love Lane in her movies, I don’t know. I kind of feel anyone could have played that. She performs the role well, though. Laurence Fishburne makes for a good Perry White, channelling his character from Hannibal, as does Christopher Meloni as a Military General. I really want to see more from Meloni, actually. The scene stealer, by far (and future Hottie of the Day, if I can find enough pictures of her) is Pandorum’s Antje Traue as Zod’s henchwoman, Faora. Every scene she’s in makes her to be that Darth Maul /   Hellboy kind of supporting baddie, providing as much of a challenge to Superman as Zod. And for the time she has on screen, Ayelet Zurer sells it totally as Lara, siding with her husband to send their child away for a chance at a better life. That can’t be an easy decision for anyone or anything, but I could at least feel she was bothered by it.

Personally, I didn’t want another origin tale. The way I view it, some of these characters are so burned into our minds that we really don’t need to know the back story. However, Man of Steel does provide an origin tale that seems to make sense with the way things are today. We don’t trust what we don’t understand and unless we can catalog and easily reference it to something comparable, we usually consider it something bad. As this story tells it, Superman may or may not have the luxury to openly say “Hey, I’m Kal-El, from Krypton, let me walk among you.” as easily as Tony Stark could proclaim he was Iron Man.

As for the DC Cinematic Universe, if this is the first film that’s going to lay the groundwork, it’s a nice start. It doesn’t leave any breadcrumbs for audience expectation for a Justice League movie, but if  DC is smart, they’ll get whatever the next movie they want to do started right after this. That’s the hope, anyway.

With a new direction in tone also comes a new score. Hans Zimmer knocks the soundtrack out of the ballpark with this one. Bringing together nearly 12 drum legends for percussion (including Sheila E. And Jason Bonham), Zimmer creates a theme for the hero that will undoubtedly be reused in sports venues for years to come. It’s uplifting in places and creepy in others. Some themes borrow a little bit from his own Angels & Demons, but this is something Zimmer is known for. Having listened to the score for most of the week, I’m already humming it off and on.

And what about the kids? The kids should be fine seeing this. There’s a childbirth sequence in the very beginning that may require some explaining to the littlest of viewers, and there’s violence all over the place, but all it’s worth, there’s not a whole lot of blood and very little gore. Nothing anyone who plays Call of Duty on the regular couldn’t handle.

Oh, one more thing. The 3D is good here, particularly in the flight sequences, but you’re not really missing anything if you happen to catch it in 2D. Note that there isn’t anything after the credits with this film.

Trailer: Man of Steel – “Fate of Your Planet”


ManofSteel

Leading up to this film I was still hesitant to embrace it after the underwhelming Superman Returns. I think the more fun and energetic Marvel Studios fare has spoiled me to the the more dour (though still entertaining) take on the DC main heroes (though the Green Lantern one was neighter serious, fun or enjoyable).

The trailers and teasers already released for Man of Steel has focused a lot on the existential question about who or what Superman is and his role on Earth. Some of the teasers and trailers even try to ape the Terence Malick visual-style with the close-ups of waving wheatfields and background narration asking deep questions. But this latest trailer now switches gear and focuses on the villain of the film and more action.

I’m not hugging this film 100%, but this latest trailer has me closer to embracing it.

Will Man of Steel be too dour a la Christopher Nolan or two much a visual overload by way of Zack Snyder or will the two differing storytelling styles be able to meld into a perfect balance to finally give Superman his day in the sun once again.

Man of Steel is set for a June 14, 2013 release date.