Man, Monsters & Gods

A year after Superman Returns was released, Will Smith starred in the film I Am Legend. (I caught this horror movie at my local multiplex, the Empire back on 29th December 2007) While the film was good (difficult to achieve when your costars are all zombies and your closest companion is of the feline variety) it was not really memorable and never deserving of a second viewing. There was a blink and you will miss it moment as Smith’s character Robert Neville drives through what remains of Time Square.

Batman vs. Superman Poster in "I Am Legend"

[Image courtesy of Reid Harris Cooper]

Obviously there was a story behind this Easter Egg, which only die-hard fans would have at first even noticed and then scoured the internet to find some of the answers.

Long term readers will know Superman is my favourite superhero. Yes I can hear you say, “Easy choice, Andrew!” However, it is more about the period of time I grew up when Superman came to the silver screen for the first time (a few years before I was born). Christopher Reeve will always the greatest embodiment of The Man from Krypton. Others will try and fail – Brandon Routh, others will have a good go and perhaps embody only one of the personalities well (Cavill as moody Superman, but rather unbelievable as Clark Joseph Kent). Reeve was the only actor to understand, you are always Superman, but play the character of Clark Kent, rather than this being a completely separate character.

Man Of Steel I caught with Pav, Tom and Ben at the Vue Reading, Screen 4 some three years ago. For some reason, I continue to watch the DC Comic movies with this motley crew. This was convenient on this particular occasion, as I still worked in Reading at the time, so was able to just catch the TVP bus back into town and meet my friends in the Oracle. The journey to catch up three years later would be fought with additional challenges, but more on that later.

After the overall positive feedback received from Man Of Steel, Warner Brothers were keen not to lose momentum (which had plagued previous movies into development hell) and made a surprising announcement one bright afternoon, a mere 69 days after I had seen the rebooted film. Although I rarely post on the social network now, I had to get my frustration out into the inter web.

In July 2012 I saw Batman for what I hoped would be the last time on the big screen at Vue Westfield, with my wife, brother in law and dear friend Ali. It was a major moment, the end of a trilogy and while we had tried in vain to get tickets at IMAX we opted for the Xtreme screens at the premier shopping centre in West London. Once again Samsung were releasing a new flagship device and we got caught up by some marketing people. Ali and I had to explain we had a film to see at 8pm before they would stop the sell and let us go. Why am I bothering you with this story? Well Saturday afternoon, I once again found myself in Westfield, with Samsung launching their S7 smartphone. The marketing budget had been quadrupled. There were multiple stands and even a VR experience, if you spent the time to collect the three stamps. We decided not to bother, particularly when you looked at the queues. We left the shopping centre a little later than expected at 6:30pm and as I watched the clock on the car, I wondered how long it would take me to get to Reading. I was hesitant to call Pav and have to explain I was going to be late. I had been planning this boys cinema trip for many months. I arrived just before 8pm, to discover Pav was the only person to be waiting. Nige arrived a few minutes later (a last minute replacement for Ben, who had dropped out!) We could not wait any longer for Tom, so left his ticket with the man at the desk and headed into screen four, for four tri-annual trip to the cinema. Eventually Tom arrived after buzzing Pav but with very little reception, Pav had to send a message back to explain where his ticket was. We then headed into the packed cinema and found our seats – row K in the VIP section. Just as a trailer for Eddie The Eagle was being shown. I was looking forward to this movie, but went in with low expectations after so many poor reviews from critics.

Is it a little too long? Probably. Has it been toned down to cater for a younger audience? A younger audience, whom with their iPhones in the section ahead of us, decided to take a photograph of the BBFC certificate, for only a heckler behind us to respond with a expletive, which had many of the audience chuckling before the film started. The youth of today, having to record every moment. (I tend to post, when I remember a tweet with the hashtag #cinematrip).

Mr. Affleck I would like to take back my FB comment from 946 days ago. Yes, his version of Batman is very different from Bale (and Keaton). Few people have been able to embody both characters as well as Bale and nobody will ever match the eccentric tenancies of Keaton as Bruce Wayne. However I have to give credit to Ben, he did pull off a credible performance. Being ten years older than Cavill, he had to be put in the work and it shows. This is Bruce’s story and while the critics may not like some of many elements of the film, it does start slow I agree but perhaps this is to build up the tension for the final act. Although I have to say, constantly throughout the beginning, you are wondering when the pace will pick up. There is a great deal of talk and little action. While I am not a fan of Mark Kermode, parts of his review are spot on. Wonder Woman is brought in to fill the need to link in her standalone movie and the follow-up Justice League films. Gal Gadot puts in a solid if somewhat understated performance and she has made a significant change from her appearance in The Fast & Furious franchise, although in my opinion she could do so much more before her next outing in twelve months time.

With DC playing catch up against Marvel, their films will always be compared unfavourably with what has come before. Marvel have always layered their films with a level of comedy that never takes itself too serious. DC as Kermode puts so elegantly confuses murkiness with darkness. Money talks and there was never going to be the case of Warner Brothers letting their key asset lie untouched in the vaults for enternity, but I just wish they had given a clear gap between the Nolan trilogy, a modern masterpiece before letting a new director take over the reins. Comic Books films are by their nature, decisive. You have to pick a tribe, back a team and watch the result unfold on screen (or on paper, if you are so inclined). You have to consider this as a warm-up round. In around six weeks or so, we have Captain America versus Iron Man and I for one will have split loyalties. As much as I love the wholesome action hero, part of me as a process and procedure person finds himself in the camp of Tony Stark. We shall see.

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