Batman · DC Comics · Film · Man of Steel · Movies · Superman · Uncategorized · Wonder Woman

An Open Letter to Zack Snyder

Dear Mr. Snyder,

First I want to say, thank you. I have appreciated and loved you films, especially your work in the DC universe. You were not afraid to take a risk, to explore the depths of these characters, deconstruct them and ask why they are, the way they are. You didn’t just accept the answer, “They are this way, because”. You started at the beginning, built them piece by piece, so we could see their journey and understand why they became what they did. I appreciate that dedication. The journey is what life is all about, even for fictional characters, it’s what helps us relate to them, get in their heads and root for them when they are down or possibly make the wrong choice. You understood that these characters are icons, but dared to show us how they became them.

Second, I want to apologize. No one deserves to be treated as you have. In the end, these are still fictional characters and even though they mean a great idea to so many, they are still just stories. If fans don’t like your interpretation, there will always be another one in a few years, such is the life of comic book characters. You gave your heart and soul to your films and people hated you for it. In much the same way Superman gave his heart and soul in Batman v Superman and people still hated him. Yet, like him, you showed yourself to be a good man, who put the needs of his family above things like work. You know what matters and you help show this world by your actions. Comic book movies and characters are fun and they can be used to teach us things, but they are not as important as family. Thank you for shining a light on the perspective our world is so sorely missing.

Lastly, a huge thank you for the Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman and Justice League arc. I know you didn’t get to finish Justice League, but you have nothing to apologize for. You showed this world much more in your actions by not finishing it. You pointed the way to what is truly important, the hope that we could put what really matters back in it’s place, flesh and blood people, in our lives, who need us. You embodied the characters in your films and for that, I thank you.

Sincerely,

A Fan

Batman · Comics · DC Comics · Film · Hope · Man of Steel · Movie Review · Movies · Superman · Uncategorized · Wonder Woman

Justice League – Review

justice-league-hidden-superman-poster-1040714Listen to The 602 Club review and the Cinema Stories review!

In 2013 Zack Snyder, DC Comics and Warner Brothers started a journey to bring the characters of the comics to screen in a way they had not been seen before. Backed by Christopher Nolan as an executive producer, they began with Man of Steel. Superman’s origin was retold for the first time since 1978, asking the question, “What would it actually be like to actually have this being on our world?”. The saga continued with Batman v Superman, introducing us to a Batman on the edge becoming the villain and an appearance by the enigma known as Wonder Woman. In the end they save the world but lose one of their own. Although Snyder did not direct Wonder Woman, he helped write the story which bookends in the present, to tie into the culmination of all this set up in Justice League.

The Story

The plot of the movie is simple, after the death of Superman, Mother Boxes leftover from a failed invasion by Steppenwolf begin ringing. They sound that the earth is vulnerable and it’s time for Steppenwolf to return to finish what he started. Bruce Wayne has run into the Parademons, scouts for the invasion to come and begins actively recruiting the meta-humans revealed in Batman v Superman to stop what is coming.

Light Shines in the Darkness (Spoilers)

There is a real beauty to the simplicity of the story and it’s themes. Each one of these characters is hiding in some way. Diana’s always been there for the world when it needed her, but she shut herself off from being that inspiration, light and from true human connection after the loss of Steve. Victor Stone (Cyborg) feels lost in the ones and zeros he is now constantly bombarded with since one of the Mother Boxes gave him the ability to be forever connected to all things digital. Barry Allen is socially awkward, living and working with only one goal, to find a way to prove is father innocent of his mother’s murder. Arthur Curry embraces neither the sea or the land, unsure of who he is and still stinging from the perceived abandonment of his mother.

Lastly there is Bruce. He’s hidden so long behind the pain of his parents death, it’s made him, in his own words, less human. He’s hid behind the cowl, which almost completely consumed him. It took Clark to show him the way. Superman’s sacrifice awakens something in Bruce and he begins to slowly reflect the light that Clark had shone so brightly, to others. He shines that light on Arthur and Barry who join the team. He challenges Diana to remember who she is and what she was meant to be and in turn she’s able to nurture that light in Victor.

Coming together, the realize they are not enough. They work to bring Superman back to life with the help of a Mother Box, knowing that he’s truly the world’s only hope. Clark does not take well to being brought back to life until Lois shows up. It’s a touching scene as he’s flown them back to the farm, and they talk in the dawn’s early light. Hope and light are back and in the end he returns to help the team save earth. What makes this so poignant is that it feels like the fulfillment of Jor-El’s prophecy to Clark all the way back in Man of Steel,

You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.

The world we live in has been darker of late. Justice League reminds us that it is only together that we can dive back the darkness. Not through the lock-step unity that Steppenwolf would bring, but through the individual gifts that we’ve been given, working in harmony with one another for the greater good, the sacrificial good.

Characters

This is the best thing about the film. Each one of these characters comes off the screen kind of perfectly. Ezra Miller as Flash distinguishes himself nicely from the one on television. He’s young, inexperience and unsure of his abilities. Cyborg played by Ray Fisher is understated and yet it’s perfect for the role. He’s a young man struggling to find the gift in the tragedy that’s befallen him. Jason Momoa is excellent as the guff man of the ocean who’s just trying to find some meaning in life.

Ben Affleck’s Batman has grown tremendously since Batman v Superman, making good on his promise to not fail Clark in death. Affleck portrays the older Batman trying to learn how to play well with others perfectly. Gal Gadot, what more can be said about how good she is as Wonder Woman? She play’s the progression from who she is at the end of Batman v Superman and in light of the revelations of Wonder Woman so well. Henry Cavill as Superman is a vision. Superman has arrived in all the glory that we’ve been waiting to see from the beginning of Man of Steel. His arc has brought him fully to becoming the icon of truth and justice we all love. Each one of these characters make me want more of each of them. You’re left longing for each of them to be given their next solo outing as well as their next team mission.

The Movie

This movie is by no means perfect. It does feel rushed at only 2 hours. There is a lot happening and it does seem like a bit more time with the stories of the villain, Victor, Barry and Arthur could have helped the audience connect even more with the story. The villain is one note, but it does leave us with more time to focus on the heroes and their journeys to becoming a team. There are places where you wish the effects team had more time with the CGI to refine it and make it better. The best comparison that I can make would be the DC animated films that have come out over the last few years or some of your favorite episodes of Justice League United, if you liked those, you’ll like this. Overall, what wins you over is the team, their dynamic and the charisma they bring to each moment. Justice League is rated 4 out of 5 resurrections.

justice_league_all_in_art_by_bryanzap_dbpl8vd_by_batmanmoumen-dbplph6

DC Comics · Film · Greek Gods · Man of Steel · Movies · Superman · Uncategorized · Wonder Woman

The Wonder Woman/Man of Steel/Batman v Superman Connection

wwsmWonder Woman has hit the ground running since it came out and has only continued to pick up steam. The reviews have put it in the top 1% of superhero movies and it just had the fourth largest 3rd weekend for a superhero movie behind The Avengers, The Dark Knight and Spider-man.

I’ve seen Wonder Woman four times now and I am surprised that more has not been written about how it’s so similar to Man of Steel. The themes in both movies, for both characters are very similar, what is different is the two characters themselves and their circumstances growing up.

Norman Lao said it best on my Facebook so I will quote him here.

“I think the biggest difference between Clark and Diana are the ways they were raised. Clark was an alien raised by humans who worried what “mankind” would do if they ever discovered his secret. The Kents, knowing full well that mankind is in fact laced with a rich history of paranoia and violence towards not only each other, but that which they fear – especially proof of alien existence – i.e. Kal El, makes them, and especially Jonathan, very wary of how they raise and educate Clark until he needs to reveal himself. Diana on the other hand was raised as a warrior amongst other warriors – training and honing herself to defend the world against and the inevitable return of evil without any exposure the gray and ambiguous nature of good and evil and the spaces in between. I think this is where she actually has the advantage over Clark because she has been raised with extreme and concrete definitions of “good” and “evil. She knows and believes what is right and wrong. These are the fundamental differences in the storytelling and what I believe succeed very well in their respective films.”

Even though Diana and Clark are raised in different circumstances, the lessons they learn are not that different. What is most interesting about them is the ways in which watching the sacrifice of a loved one affects their actions forever. Clark watches his father die in a tornado. Now so much has been said about this scene but the best thing I have read on it comes from The Fanboy Perspective.

dghfgfd1hgdftIn the context of Man of Steel, Jonathan’s death is all about sacrifice, not only Jonathan’s sacrifice but it was also setting up Clark’s sacrifice later on in Man of Steel. Clark learning limitations to his powers mattered little in Man of Steel because he wasn’t so incredibly overpowered to begin with, but to learn about sacrifice and selflessness was paramount for the narrative and development for this version of Superman. Clark sacrificed himself, at least according to Jonathan, for the Earth and in the end Superman sacrificed Krypton and the future of his own kin, for us, for Earth.

The fact that Clark could had done A, B or C in the tornado scene is what made this scene so powerful, that it was a conscious decision by Jonathan and that his death was not a fluke of destiny ie a heart attack. Jonathan’s willing sacrifice basically made the man of steel who he is and who he will become, Earth’s greatest champion. Because let’s face it, when Clark finally becomes Superman, he sacrifices himself for us 100%, and I think Jonathan gave him the courage to do that. Jonathan taught Clark his most defining lesson through his own death and I think that’s rather poetic.

Clark sacrificing himself and his life on Earth for the safety of Earth when Zod first showed up demanding Kal El present himself to them, ‘or else’ is powerful, the only way Clark could protect Martha was by volunteering to leave her behind forever. Superman destroying the world engine on what was very likely a suicide mission. Superman destroying the scout ship and the genesis chamber, which was Krypton’s only chance at living again, and Superman ultimately killing Zod, the last of his brethren. It was all about sacrifice. That’s what Jonathan’s death taught Clark, sacrifice and selflessness, and I think that is the absolute epitome of Superman, and what he represents.

Jonathan’s death scene was the underlying pulse of the entire movie and remains Kal El’s moral compass, long after he’s gone. Sacrifice is what Man of Steel was all about in the end. Superman sacrificing himself, his people and Krypton for us, the shamelessly ungrateful humans. Now I think that’s some powerful storytelling right there. Very few comic book movies even attempt to imbue the sort of heart and internal fortitude that Man of Steel did with Superman.

I also take issue with the popular usage of the word ‘Tornadocide’, that word implies that Jonathan had a suicidal intent when he went back for the family dog, he clearly did not want to die. Jonathan had every intention of coming back to his wife and son but the circumstances quickly changed and Jonathan was forced to make a monumental decision in what was literally, a second. Jonathan had explained to Clark before that there were bigger things at stake than their own lives and in that moment, Jonathan had to decide if he had the courage of his convictions, and he did.

wonder-woman-trailer-image-46Now, this scene for Clark is pivotal for his growth as a character and why he will act the way he does later on and Diana has her moment. Ares almost has Diana. He’s almost convinced her that mankind does not deserve her or is worthy of her protection. Like Zod (who’s name is a lot like God), offered Clark the opportunity to remake the world for the Kryptonian people, Ares offers Diana the same choice, to join him and recreate paradise. What happens in that moment, as Diana, tank raised over her head, ready to bring it down on the worst of humanity, she remembers Steve’s sacrifice.

Remembering Steve make the choice to put the lives of his enemies above himself as well as his friends changes Diana forever. She chooses to believe in the truth about humanity, there is a great darkness within them, yet there is also the ability to transcend that darkness though self-sacrificial love. The word agape in Greek means, “selfless love of one person for another” and that is the love with which Diana fights in the name of. She, like Steve, puts herself on the line, even for those that don’t deserve it.

This not only mirrors Man of Steel, but also Clark’s decision in Batman v Superman. Clark willingly chooses humanity and Earth. He says this is his world and he willingly sacrifices himself for it, even though, as we we have seen, half the world is either afraid of him or worse hates him. Sacrifice is the DC Comics mantra in it’s films and each film has been building on this theme. Loving sacrifice is the hallmark of the truest heroes. At the end of Wonder Woman, Diana emails Bruce, thanking him for bringing back Steve to her, but it’s bigger than that. Remember, Diana has taken a step back from suiting up as a hero. She’s been working from the shadows to inspire humanity. What Bruce has reminded Diana of is the lesson Steve taught her so many years ago and that Clark reenforced not that long ago, loving sacrifice is the best way to inspire love and change in others. So at the end of Wonder Woman, we see her go off, to join Bruce as a team, to help stand between evil and the world. The age of heroes has come again.

superman_s_monument__his_monument_is_around_you_by_veku786-da8uwc5.png-2.jpeg

Don’t miss The 602 Club and Cinema Stories episodes about Wonder Woman. For more on Man of Steel, check out The 602 Club #15 and for more on Batman v Superman check out The 602 Club #74 and S20.

Film · Man of Steel · Movie Review · Movie Trailers · Podcasts · Superman

The 602 Club 15: Road to Becoming the Icon

tsc-015-th-squareMan of Steel.

Every once in a while there is a film that arrives that ignites fandom and creates visceral polarization, Man of Steel has been one of those movies. People seem to love it or hate it, in fact it’s Rotten Tomatoes score indicates that in it’s 55% critical reception. As the cornerstone of the DC cinematic universe, it’s an important film that has set the tone for the movies slated to arrive through the year 2020.

In this super edition of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Justice League members Daniel Proulx, Norman Lao and Will Nguyen to discuss this new take on the original superhero’s beginning. We talk about Krypton, the new Superman suit, the nonlinear nature of the storytelling, Lois Lane and the military, the deaths of Jonathan Kent and Zod as well as the nature of this film as a true origins movie. Listen Here.

Books · Christianity · Facebook · Faith · Guardians of the Galaxy · Harry Potter · JK Rowling · Man of Steel · Movie Trailers · Movies · Music · social media · Superheroes · Superman · Technology · Twitter · YA Novels

Owl Post 7-8-14

Owl Post 2-17-12

Click Title for Full Article

Exclusive: Read J.K. Rowling’s new post for the latest Harry Potter ‘gossip’

550w_movies_harry_potter_epilogue_4Can’t get enough of Harry Potter? Then this is for you. Since March, best-selling author J. K. Rowling has been writing original stories about the imaginary 2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals for Pottermore, the online home for the world of Harry Potter. 

Rowling shared her latest Pottermore.com story exclusively with TODAY.com. Written in the voice of the fictional Daily Prophet’s gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter, this post centers around the reunion of Harry Potter and his friends at the Quidditch World Cup Finals. Click here for the new Harry Potter Story 

For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story

taylor-swift-red-largeWhere will the music industry be in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years?

Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it’s just coming alive

Gbj6CRxJustice’ is served with another helping of Superman

Who’s better, Superman or Batman? Zack Snyder doesn’t have to choose a favorite since he’s getting to put both on the big screen at the same time.

The director of last year’s Man of Steel doubles down on A-list superheroes in his follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (in theaters May 6, 2016), teaming a returning Henry Cavill as the big guy in the cape and “S” on his chest with Ben Affleck as the latest cinematic incarnation of the Dark Knight.

Europe Is Starting to Take American Soccer Seriously (Seriously!)

article-2594795-1CC15A9B00000578-590_634x457Did American soccer just win the football world’s respect?

The World Cup is over for the U.S.A. after a heartbreaking loss to Belgium. But that defeat made for what some regard as perhaps the best match of a tournament that has thrilled from the start. More importantly, the U.S. has been called a “world-class team” by the likes of Barry Glendenning, the ever-critical football writer from The Guardian. Glendenning is perhaps not the Supreme Leader of Football (that title belongs to Sepp Blatter), but he is near the epicenter of international football, and he does not compliment teams lightly.

The real story behind the war over YA novels

91o13sPo7VLFew categories of literature right now seem to receive the level of hatred reserved for young adult fiction, which is the subject of nearly endless editorials on its supposed inanity, excessive sexuality, darkness, and girlyness. It doesn’t escape notice that there’s a strong whiff of sexism underlying the wave of YA hate—the genre is heavily dominated by women, and female authors can recount their experiences with sexism first hand.

Coming Out as a Christian

social-mediaI’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live transparently—especially when it comes to my digital life. For as long as I’ve been on social media (I first joined Facebook in 2005), I’ve oscillated between expressing myself honestly and expressing contrived personas that I broadcast on Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else.

Take, for instance, my well-documented love of Rolling Rock. Anyone who follows me on any website knows I’ve posted endlessly about the famously watery beer for the past three years. My Instagram feed was once a veritable shrine to Rolling Rock. My friends gave me four cases of it for my birthday last year. Heck, my Twitter fan club (yes, it’s still weird to me, too) uses a picture of Rolling Rock as its header image! I know how to advertise my love for a product.

Catching Fire · Disney · Film · Man of Steel · Movie Review · Movies · The Hunger Games · The Spectacular Now

Best Films of 2013

MV5BMTQwMDU4MDI3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjU1NDgyOQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_42 :

This was a fantastic movie about the life of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. There are very few films these days that tell an important story that you could also let your kids watch; not only is this a great movie for the family, but it is a good way to introduce the theme of courage in the face of persecution. Harrison Ford shines as Branch Rickey making this my 11th pick for 2013.

ANSIN-MANOFSTEEL-R-PRESSMan of Steel:

You seemed to either love this movie or hate it, there was not a lot of middle ground with fans or the general public. I loved it. This was the first movie that I felt got Superman, especially for the 21st century. Giving us not only his origin story but his growth into the character we all know. This is Superman’s first day on the job, using is powers to their fullest and having to make choices no one ever dreams they’ll have to make. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, this has done one thing no one can take away from it; it has gotten people talking about the grand daddy of superheroes again.

FROZN_014M_G_ENG-GB_70x100.inddFrozen:

When I first saw the preview for this film I was wary, with a talking snowman and no really explanation of the story in the trailer I did not have a lot of hope. I have never been so glad to be mistaken. Frozen is a beautifully animated movie with true heart. Not only is it fun but the themes of true love and sacrifice have rarely been portrayed better in a children’s movie. Classic Disney that is sure to endure alongside it’s best animated films.

american_hustle_ver6_xlgAmerican Hustle:

The movie can be a little inconsistent but the acting carries you through. Each of the actors is in fine form and no one should be surprised to see their names come up during Oscar season. Not as good as Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook was last year, it is still one of the best movies of 2013. This movie is all about our desire to be known and loved as well as the ways we lie to ourselves and to others to make it through life. These themes alone make it worth watching. (It may also make you glad that for the most part 70’s fashion has stayed there).

hunger_games_catching_fire_poster_embedCatching Fire:

There is nothing harder than tying to bring a book to life on film and satisfy the fans; Catching Fire was able to do just that. With a lackluster first film, new director Francis Lawrence captured the gritty reality of Suzanne Collin’s creation with disturbing perfection. Jennifer Lawrence was once again brilliant as Katniss, yet is was Josh Hutcherson’s much improved performance as Peeta that really made this a much better film than the first. This is a strong movie that deserves to be on any top 2013 list.

MV5BMTA1ODUzMDA3NzFeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDgxMTYxNTk@._V1_About Time:

Not just another romantic comedy, but an exploration of the love between a father and son. Using time travel as a way of exploring choices and their impact on our lives, Richard Curtis has created a movie that is just as good as his classics Notting Hill and Love Actually. Unabashedly sentimental and heartfelt, this is not to be missed.

SONY-BDOS-01_Onesheet4.16.13_Layout 1Before Midnight

Continuing the story that began in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Before Midnight is the conclusion to Jesse and Celine’s story. Set nine years after they ran into each other in Paris, they now have two girls and are on vacation in Greece. It is a very real film, pulling no punches in it’s portrayal of the trials of married life. Deply and Hawke are incredible and will sure to be nominated come award season.

short-term-twelveShort Term 12:

This is the story of Grace, a social worker in an at-risk home for teens. It is a heartbreakingly moving film about the need we all have for community and acceptance. Brie Larson gives an Oscar worthy performance and is a break-out star of 2013 as she appears in The Spectacular Now as well. You may have missed this in it’s theater run so seek it out in it’s home release, you won’t be disappointed.

the-way-way-back-poster1The Way Way Back:

I have been trying to give new thoughts on this list so far, but I think I said it best in my review of the movie earlier in the year. “This coming of age story about a boy trying to traverse the canyon between boyhood and manhood will leave you moved and thankful for quitter summer films. This movie is not to be missed.” You can find the movie now, so go rent it and enjoy.

gravity-movie-posterGravity:

An amazing theater experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Sandra Bullock is perfect and George Clooney is in his usual fine form. Alfonzo Cuarón is sure to win best director. The special effects are beyond brilliant and the 3D leaves you feeling as if you are floating in the heavens with the characters. As close as many of us will ever get to being on a space walk.

spectacular-now-final-posterThe Spectacular Now:

No film of 2013 had a greater personal impact than this. I cannot say it better than I did in my review; “This is a powerful film. The performances by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley will leave you in tears as you feel every single emotion of the characters. This is the kind of movie that makes you thankful for the art of cinema. I cannot recommend this film more.”

Honorable Mentions:

The Hobbit: the Desolation of SmaugWarm BodiesStar Trek Into DarknessDrinking Buddies

Movies I Still Want to See:

Blue Jasmine, Lone Survivor, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, Her, August: Osage County, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Philomena and Dallas Buyers Club

Worst Movie of the Year:

Pacific Rim

“Just when you thought summer movies couldn’t get any dumber, they go and do something like this…… and prove us wrong.”

Comment and tell me what I missed or what you think!

Comics · Film · Man of Steel · Movies · Superman

Superman’s History in Infographs

Celebrating the release of Man of Steel last week, here are some fun looks as Superman throughout the years.

Courtesy of Newsarama.com and HalloweenCostumes.com

superman-timeline-130417b-02

The second most recognizable in the world; the evolution of an icon.

SUPERMAN75

Choice · Film · Man of Steel · Movie Review · Movies · Superman

Man of Steel – Review

ANSIN-MANOFSTEEL-R-PRESSDon’t miss The 602 Club review!

Superman is one of the most popular characters in pop culture and his “S” shield is said to be the second most recognized symbol in the world next to the Christian Cross. It is no wonder that Hollywood has struggled for years to bring this character back to the silver screen. Superman had languished in development hell for years and gone from iteration to iteration with some of Hollywood’s most popular names involved; JJ Abrams and Kevin Smith are just two examples. This year Man of Steel, from the minds of Zack Snyder, David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, finally arrives and gives us the Superman movie that we have always wanted to see. These men have weaved a story that is relevant, real, heartfelt and powerful.

Too Good?

Superman has been called boring because he is nothing but a “big blue boyscout”.  Dana Stevens of Slate sums up the issues people have had with Superman when she says,

“Superman’s saintliness is part of what makes him so hard to pull off in our era of dark, brooding, morally conflicted superheroes. Like Mary Poppins, Kal-El aka Clark Kent is practically perfect in every way: honest, pure, brave, compassionate, filial. He can easily come off as a goody-two-shoes when not played by someone as endearingly modest and self-evidently human as Christopher Reeve, whose hold on the character in the public imagination (or at least mine) has never really let go since Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman.”

How do you make this kind of character relevant to a pessimistic, skeptical society that sees truth, justice and the American way a thing of the past?

To do so the creators ask these core questions. If someone like Kal-El existed on our planet how would the world react? Would we accept him or would we reject him out of fear? Would we reject someone who could help us just because we can’t control him? Each of these questions are at the heart of this movie and in doing so the creators have found a way to make Superman relevant for the 21st century.

Different to the Core:

Another way the writers have made Superman relatable is to look at what it would be like to be this person. Kal-El is different and set apart from human beings. This creates an alienation and separation between him and the rest of the world. This sense of estrangement is something that so many of us feel in our lives. We struggle to know where we fit in, that we are loved and accepted and that we are here for a reason.

man-of-steel-kevin-costner-jonathan-kent-and-young-clark-kent-800x600Jonathan Kent loves his adopted son with a fierce passion and will guard his son’s secret at any cost. He implores Clark to hide his unique abilities until he is ready to shoulder the weight. He fears that the world will reject his son. Yet, in it all Clark trusts this man who is willing to die to protect his secret. Much has been made of Jonathan Kent being out of character in this film but for anyone who has been a father or seen a good one in action, he is right on the money. He tells his son, “You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be Clark. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, it’s going to change the world.” Jonathan accepts Clark for who he is, encourages him and teaches him restraint and forbearance, giving him the wisdom that he will need in his life as a man.  It is a beautiful picture of unconditional love, very much at the emotional center of this film driven by Kevin Costner’s phenomenal performance.

On the other side is Jor-El. He and Lara send their son off into space to save Kal. They have given him all that they can to ensure his survival. They send him to a world where he will be indestructible, a god to us. He sends his son as someone who will be a guide to humanity, “You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall, but in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” Jor-El hopes that humans will not make the same mistakes his people have and that Kal-el will be a beacon of hope and a force for good in our world. Clark’s fathers give him a sense of purpose, teach him morality and how one person can be a beacon of hope to the world.

Nature vs. Nurture:

MOS_Trailer-3_003One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is the Kryptonian use of genetic engineering as artificial population control. Krypton was once a planet just like ours with children born naturally and given free choice in who they will become. It lead to a great empire of hope, spreading across the galaxy. To control the population they introduce genetic creation. Children are no longer born of two parents, they are engineered to be soldiers, leaders, workers, teachers and the like. There is no choice, life is predetermined. This lack of adaptability has lead to the destruction of Krypton.

Kal-El is the first natural born Kryptonian in generations. His ultimate strength is not his fists but is adaptability. Zod and his forces cannot change or acclimate, it goes against their very nature. Zod was created to protect Krypton and this blinds him from seeing any solution other than what has always been done. Zod cannot see the wisdom in taking the difficult road of acclimation to earth’s atmosphere, living alongside humans and create a new society. All he can do is act in his nature which cannot adapt or evolve and it is his ultimate undoing.

man-of-steel-faora-pics-e1370575029608This point is further driven home in the fight Clark has with Faora. She is taunts him, telling him that his morality holds him back. She expounds on the virtues of how  amorality has given Zod’s people an evolutionary advantage and that history has proven that evolution always wins. She is proven wrong when Clark’s morality, his sense of purpose as well as his hope and commitment to the love of others spur him on at his weakest moment. It is a strong argument for value of a virtuous life spent serving what is right even in the most difficult circumstances. It also reinforces the power of choice.

Clark chooses his goodness. He and Jonathan have an argument where he talks about wanting to do something productive with his powers. He wants to help others. His upbringing by the Kents and the morality of the Bible-belt America have instilled in him a desire to be force for good. He willingly chooses to put on the suit and turn himself over to the military (who is portrayed very well in this film), knowing that they will then hand him over to Zod. This movie is about the choices we make and how they define who we are. It is our actions not our words that prove what we believe. We have the choice to do good or evil, to serve ourselves or others and it is these choices that grow us into heroes or villains.

Clash of the Titans:

Man_of_Steel_38036When Superman Returns came out the fan community as well as the general movie going audience was disappointed with the lack of action and punching. This movie is exactly what was needed, something super. Much has been made in reviews about the destruction levels that are seen in the last 3rd of the film, that it is completely excessive and unnecessary. What do the reviewers think happens when a gravity weapon starts to reshape our planet or two gods fight each other? The destruction that happens in this movie made it realistic. When two beings like Zod and Superman fight, this is the result. The Avengers is a wonderful movie, but the final battle in New York is weak. There may be a lot of action yet the lack of destruction never has one as worried as you are for Metropolis in this final confrontation.

Man-of-Steel-Trailer-Superman-Zod-Fight1There is another good reason for the destruction we see and that is to justify the choice that Clark makes in resolving the fight with Zod. Many fans have been in an uproar that Superman kills in this film. I believe that this film earns the right to have Superman make this choice. First, Superman does not have a Fortress of Solitude in this film and after the crash of the ship that Zod is in, as well as the loss of the other Kryptonian ships to the Phantom Zone he has no other place to hold or contain Zod. Second, Zod has promised to make the humans suffer and with the destruction that he and Superman wreck in their fight, give us a glimpse at just how bad it could be if he is not dealt with. Third, Superman is responsible for the Kryptonians showing up. If he had never activated the Kryptonian scout ship, Zod and his army would never have shown up. Fourth, if Superman does not kill Zod, he will never give up his quest to destroy humanity. Is it not morally right to kill one person who desires the destruction of the world to save billions? This is the choice before Clark and he makes the right one. The creators had this to say,

“I guess for me–and in the original version of the script he just got zapped into the Phantom Zone–David and I had long talks about it and Chris and I talked long about it and it was like, ‘I really think we should kill Zod and I really think Superman should kill him,’” Snyder explained. “And the why of it was, for me, that if it’s truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained. It’s just in his DNA. I felt like we needed him to do something, just like him putting on the glasses or going to the Daily Planet or any of the other things that you’re sort of seeing for the first time that you realize will then become his thing. I felt like, if we can find a way of making it impossible for him–like Kobayashi Maru, totally no way out–I felt like that could also make you go, ‘Okay, this is the why of him not killing ever again, right?’ He’s basically obliterated his entire people and his culture and he is responsible for it and he’s just like, ‘How could I kill ever again?’”

He said that after Zod’s purpose was taken from him, he was nothing but a killing machine, and there was really no putting him in jail and walking away. He compared Zod’s actions to “suicide by cop,” tying it back to the repeated use of “a good death is its own reward” in the movie. The warrior bred, Snyder said, felt that if Kal-El was capable of killing him, then that was an honorable way to go after having failed his people.

He also said that in potential sequels, Superman having killed Zod will keep the audience from becoming complacent and thinking they know Superman’s limitations.

“I think that when you really put in stone the notion that he won’t kill, it erases an option in the viewer’s mind,” Snyder said. “That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t now have a code that ‘I just won’t do that; I have to find another way.’”

This is a learning experience for Clark, his coming of age story. As Jonathan told him, he had to choose who he was going to be. Clark chooses to put his faith in humanity and give us a chance to survive. Clark makes the hardest choice anyone can by taking a life for the good of the many.

Heart and Soul:

MAN OF STEELThe heart and soul of this film are the characters. Diane Lane, as Martha Kent, nails it. She is supportive and loving as a mother who is making it up as she goes in caring for an alien child. Her consistent, steadfast belief in her son gives him constant strength.  Amy Adams is Lois Lane. She is smart and pugnacious in her search for this mystery man of wonders. Her belief and trust in Clark bring out the best in him and their connection is something that you buy. You never for a second question why these people would be attracted to one another. It is her trust in Clark, her belief that he is here for good that help enable him to put his faith in humanity. Michael Shannon and Antje Traue embody the power hungry Kryptonian warriors with a menace and barbarism that is truly frightening to behold. Lastly, Henry Cavill made you feel everything Clark goes through; the alienation, the loss of his father and the weight of the choice at the end. Cavill carries the film and makes you believe in and root for Superman the entire movie. Casting in this film is spot on for everyone.

There are so many emotional gripping scenes; Clark being loaded into his ship but Jor-El and Lara, his conversation with Jonathan about who he is, Martha lovingly caring for her frighted son. All of these making you truly care about the people and what happens to them. For all the action in this film, it is the emotional resonance that carries you through from the beginning on Krypton to the final moments as Clark dons the glasses at the Daily Planet. Snyder and Goyer have finally given us Superman in a way that makes us believe that he is the king of superheroes. The DC universe is here and this reviewer cannot wait for Man of Steel 2 and the Justice League. This film is rated 9 ½ shields of hope out of 10.

henry_cavill_in_man_of_steel-wide

The 602 Club Episode

Calvin and Hobbes · Facebook · Faith · Man of Steel · Movies · Singleness · Star Trek · Star Trek Into Darkness · Superman

Owl Post 6-4-13

Owl Post 2-17-12

Click Title for Full Article

New KIRKS Judged by Old KHANS:

1ee7718db8d84d8d75576675f3b6649eIt’s practically impossible to keep from comparing this second film in the rebooted Star Trek universe with the second feature film starring the original cast. However, the real seeds of Star Trek Into Darkness aren’t rooted in the soil of the second Star Trek movie, but rather “Space Seed”, the old episode from the original series and ground from which The Wrath of Khan also sprouted. Upon seeing this new film, connections between all three are easily established, but what also gets revealed is both our changing views as a culture and our unchanging nature.

Why I love Superman:

Superman-75-logo__130530225046-275x376With this post we begin our two weeks of daily coverage of Superman, similar to what we’ve recently done with Star Trek and James Bond, counting down to the release of Man of Steel. When I first talked to the bots about doing this, one of them who shall remain nameless (Scarlett Robotica) actually asked, “What would you cover?” What couldn’t we cover? Literally, Supes is one of the few characters who we could write something about his history every day for a year and never run out of material. The only other characters in geekdom who come close to that are Batman and maybe Spider-Man.

The Plastic Fruit of Online Living:

social-media-billboardOnline, Jill is a joyful and encouraging believer. She advocates for the oppressed and raises money for the poor. Every Saturday she tweets about her service at the local homeless shelter. She posts Bible verses several times a day. Based on her social media interactions, her friends seem to love and enjoy her.

Offline, she’s a different Jill.

Before Midnight‘s Rare, Beautiful Message: Love Is Really, Really Hard:

Before Midnight (2013) Ethan Hawk Juli DelpyRichard Linklater’s 1995 film Before Sunrise and its first sequel, 2004’s Before Sunset, tell a pair of simple stories. In the first, a young American named Jesse (Ethan Hawke) strikes up on a conversation on a train with a pretty French girl named Celine (Julie Delpy). There’s a spark, and on the spur of the moment, he makes a suggestion: that she get off the train with him and spend the night walking and talking in Vienna. Intrigued, she takes him up on the rather risky invitation, and over the course of that night, they fall into something resembling love. In the second film, the couple reconnects nine years later, as Jesse (now an unhappily married father) spends the last few hours of his European book tour—he wrote a novel based on their initial encounter—catching up with Celine in Paris. That film ends with the hint that he might make a choice as daring as hers at the beginning of the first: to “miss that plane,” and hit the reset button on his entire existence.

Resolving to Love Calvin and Hobbes (17 Years Later):

Calvin---Hobbes-calvin--26-hobbes-254155_1024_768It’s hard to believe that today (12/31) marks the 17th anniversary of the end of Calvin and Hobbes. While 17 years may sound like a long time, the strip has hardly dated at all. Instead, it is slowly but surely being recognized as the work of art that it is/was, and not just by us. The amount of expression and joy and humanity that Bill Watterson was able to wring out of those four panels over ten short years (1985-1995) is simply astounding. Mark my words: Calvin and Hobbes will go down as one of the abiding cultural achievements of our time.

What Not to Say to a Friend Who’s Getting Divorced:

Divorce is like cancer. Not because you’re sick, but because no one knows quite what to do with you when they see you.

Are you supposed to act like nothing’s happened when you see a friend who recently got a divorce? Do you throw your arms around them in the grocery store and tell them how sorry you are? Do you leave self-help books on their doorstep? Offer to counsel them through a Facebook message?

I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before:

Star_Trek_Group_Shot_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_2048Now I can tell you exactly why this franchise is great.

In the second episode of the seventh season of the fourth Star Trek television series, Icheb, an alien teenage civilian who’s been living aboard a Federation vessel for several months after having been rescued from both the Borg and abusive parents, issues a plaintive cry: “Isn’t that what people on this ship do? They help each other?”

Apple · Christianity · Health Food · Mad Men · Man of Steel · Movie Trailers · Movies · News · Sex · Star Wars · Television · The Clone Wars

Owl Post 5-6-13

Owl Post 2-17-12

Click title for the full article

The Subtle Horror of Mad Men:

mad-men-season-6-key-art-amcMad Men is a horror series. There… I said it. I didn’t believe this until recently. My impression was that it was a dark and brooding drama about the desperate and horny realities of life. This was until I had a conversation with a woman who could not watch the show. “Not watch Mad Men?” I thought… “How could you not watch Mad Men?” “You don’t understand,” she said… “Watching Mad Men to me is like watching horror movies to you.”

Why Does God Care about My Sex Life?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little piece for Christ and Pop Culture about a Q&A session with Tim Keller at The Gospel Coalition conference. I asked about revival, and among other things, Keller said something about sex and the complex nature of doubt. Given that what he said was fairly conservative, had to do with sex and doubt, and, in all fairness, could have been reported more clearly by me, the unsurprising result was a lot of pushback—some legitimate and some not so much. Feel free to read the article and peruse the comment section for yourself.

Is the News Making Us Dumb?

7618660_600x338If you’ve been following the news the past few days you may believe that an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi is being held for mailing ricin-laced letters to President Obama, that more than 60 people died in a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, and that two Eastern Orthodox bishops were kidnapped by terrorists and released the same day. But while each of those items contains a grain of truth, they are mostly false. The bishops were abducted, but major news agencies were fooled into believing they had been released; the death toll in the West, Texas, explosion is 15; and Paul Kevin Curtis was released by investigators who believe he might have been framed. The irony is that the people who were blissfully unaware of the latest news would be accused of being uninformed, when news hounds were likely to be the most ill-informed of all.

‘Clone Wars’ still has life in the ‘Star Wars’ universe:

Obi-Wan-Bo-KatanThere are still some battles to be fought in The Clone Wars.

The Star Wars animated series ended its run on Cartoon Network after five seasons of bringing new characters — and reintroducing some old favorites — into the franchise’s expansive mythos.

But it’s not done yet: Supervising director Dave Filoni is heading up the completion of a few story arcs that were slated for production before Lucasfilm announced in March that it was taking its animation slate in a new direction following its purchase by Disney.

The so-called ‘health foods’ that are probably killing you:

There are so many products on the market these days that are supposed to be good for us — much of it based on zero evidence. Here are 11 commonly touted “health foods” that are actually quite harmful.

1. Fruit Juices

The fruit juices you find at the supermarket aren’t always what they seem. They may have small amounts of real fruit in them, but often they are little more than water, artificial flavor and sugar.

The Future of iOS Is Looking Flat:

The odds are looking good that Apple will ditch the textured, bubbly look of its iOS software in favor of something more modern.

Citing “multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed” on iOS 7, 9to5Mac reports that the software for iPhones and iPads will sport a flatter look:

ManofSteel_banner

919738_532023170176976_517372939_o